September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Our first try at winter rye
We have never seeded winter rye before, but last fall the local soil conservation office asked if we would give it a try on chopped corn silage ground. They would cover the $19 per acre seed cost, and hopefully it would control soil erosion on our rolling ground. The paperwork was a bit of a hassle but the conservation office was very helpful.
We seeded half of it right after silage harvest, preparing the soil with a light discing and seeding with a 5400 IH drill. It caught one-fourth inch rain and came up quickly in otherwise very dry conditions. The other half was seeded two weeks later and never got rain until the end of October. When I drove by it in mid November I thought it was a failure. But I grabbed my magnifying reading glasses from the truck, walked into the field, got down on my knees, and behold there were tiny razor thin shoots everywhere.
Last fall we plowed up 400 acres of old alfalfa, so this spring we decided to have the co-op spread 20 lbs of Roundup Ready alfalfa seed plus fertilizer per acre on top of the growing winter rye. They did it about May 10 when the rye was four inches tall, and then we hired my son-in-law, Neil, to double roll it with the big land roller. The rye looked crushed for a week after the rolling, along with getting froze about four times in late April and early May, but it bounced right back.
Spending $150 per acre on alfalfa seed and seeding into standing rye was a new and risky venture for us and the jury is still out how it will turn out. Right now when I look at the small alfalfa plants growing the stand seems adequate and even but not great. What we really need is sunshine so we can chop off the rye, spray the regrowth and let the alfalfa flourish.
I will update you later on how the rye and alfalfa turn out, and I hope all my dairy farming friends are coping with this difficult growing season. It's hard to believe it's June Dairy Month already with so much field work yet to be done.
Vander Kooi operates a 1,200-cow, 3,000 acre farm with his son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Rita, near Worthington, Minn.[[In-content Ad]]