For corn silage

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Green Divider

Overview

One of the most important times to use cover crops is after corn harvested as silage because so much residue is removed from the field, leaving uncovered soil in the winter and subsequent spring.

There are many ways to plant cover crops, please go to this page to look at planting recommendations.

Cover crop species recommendations change depending on where you are.  The map below is divided between Northern and Southern Wisconsin – click one of the maps below to view the recommendations for that area.

Map of Northern Wisconsin
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Open Larger Map Southern Wisconsin Northern Wisconsin

 

Northern Wisconsin

Cover crop options (please click on species for more information and planting recommendations):

Small grains / grasses

rye

Rye

Cereal rye is the most reliable option for seeding grass cover crops after October 1st. If able to seed prior to October 1st, triticale is another grass cover crop option. With sufficient snow cover, both cereal rye and triticale will survive the winter and require termination in the spring. Triticale has higher feed quality than cereal rye, therefore for dairy operations looking to harvest the cover crop in the spring, triticale may be preferable.  If harvesting the cover crop as a forage, significant attention should be paid to restrictions of herbicides used during the previous two growing seasons.

Other grasses, such as annual ryegrass. oats, barley are generally not recommended for planting after silage in northern WI because they will winterkill and there are not sufficient enough growing degree days after corn silage harvest for these cover crops to produce enough residue to protect the soil in the spring.  However, if these grasses are planted sometime during the silage growing season, they may be options.  Please see the pages on aerial seeding and interseeding to read more about those options.

Brassicas

Due to limited time for establishment and growth, it is not recommended to plant any of the brassicas after corn silage.  There is not enough growing degree days left in the season to provide any cover crop benefits.

Legumes

Due to limited time for establishment and growth, it is not recommended to plant any of the legumes after corn silage. There is not enough growing season for them to develop nodules and fix nitrogen.

 

Southern Wisconsin

Cover crop options (please click on species for more information and planting recommendations):

Small grains / grasses

AnnualRyegrass1

Rye

Spring barley and oats can be great cover crops for after corn silage in Southern WI if they can be planted by September 15th-20th.  Because they winter kill, they need to have enough time to put on sufficient fall growth to provide residue to reduce winter and spring erosion. These grasses can also be planted during the silage growing season.  Please see the pages aerial seeding and interseeding to read more about those options.
Cereal Rye and triticale are both cover crops that can be planted well into October in Southern WI.  Both will survive the winter and require some management to terminate them in the spring.  Rye is more winter hardy than triticale so for very late planting dates, rye is preferable.  Triticale has higher feed quality than rye so for dairy operations looking to take a spring forage cut, triticale may be preferable.

Brassicas

It is not recommended to plant any of the brassicas after corn silage.  There is not enough growing degree days left in the season to provide enough growth to gain any cover crop benefits.

Legumes

It is not recommended to plant legumes after corn silage.  There is not enough growing season left for legumes to develop nodules and fix nitrogen.

Extension resources:

Soil erosion concerns after corn silage

UW video on using winter rye after corn silage:

Check out the Midwest Cover Crop tool for more help with cover crop selection!

Page author: Heidi Johnson, Dane County UW-Extension

 

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