Cereal grains, especially cereal rye, are being used more and more for cover. They're easy to grow and inexpensive. And you can plant them late in the fall.
Cereal rye is probably the most frequently planted cover crop in the corn belt. You can plant it very late into the fall - usually with good success. It works extremely well ahead of soybeans.
Make sure that you're buying from a reputable source, you have a good seed tag, and that the seed has been cleaned properly. The last thing you want is to plant someone else' weeds on your farm.
Cereal rye has a nice root system. We've seen roots as deep as 40 inches. It's a preferred cover crop when battling weeds. It can also bee used as a forage.
Winter triticale is a fall seeded small grain that will overwinter and provide great cover in the spring. It has an aggressive root system as well as top growth.
It is best used as a dual purpose forage/cover crop. Winter triticale can approach corn silage energy values with higher crude protein. It will mature 10 to 14 days later than cereal rye.
It can be seeded alone or in a mixture. It is not recommended for use as a nurse crop for forages such as alfalfa or orchardgrass. Please see TriCal Flex 719 for more information on raising winter triticale as a forage.
Spring triticale is a cross between spring wheat and cereal rye. It can be used in the spring or the fall and needs 50-60 days to reach the early boot stage. Spring triticale will generally winter kill below 20 degrees. It is an outstanding forage crop by itself or mix 50/50 with forage peas.
As a cover crop it provides rapid growth for soil cover, a strong root system, and diversity in a mixture. Spring triticale also works well as a nurse crop for small seeds such as alfalfa or red clover. Please see MilkMaker Mix or Elevator Spring Triticale for more information on using spring triticale as a forage.
CISCO handles a variety called Valor. Valor is an early planted cover crop. It's utilized both as a cover as well as for forage. Some will harvest it for grain.
Barley has a fibrous root system and does a nice job scavenging nutrients. It produces a lot of biomass and is very winter hardy.
Barley is earlier maturing than cereal rye. It can be grazed or harvested in spring ahead of terminating for spring cash crop.
Wheat is probably your last choice for cover crop. It's the most shallow rooted of the grain cover crops.
It's got good fall growth, is inexpensive, is easy to terminate in the spring, and can be used as a spring forage.
For planting guidelines, see our Seeding Information Guide.