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Cover crop response to late-season planting and nitrogen application



Cover crop response to late-season planting and nitrogen application



Journal of Production Agriculture 10(2): 289-293



Cover crops aid in reducing precipitation runoff, soil erosion, and N losses in highly sloped, mountainous regions. Corn (Zea mays L.) producers in states with late spring warm up and early winters have limited success when planting cover crops following harvest. Studies were conducted from 1992 through 1995 in southern and northern West Virginia to evaluate the groundcover ability of several late-planted cover crops and their dry weight response to fail N application. In most years, vetch (Vicia villosa Roth cv. Common) and Austrian winter pen (Pisum sativum var. arvense L. Poir cv. Austrian winter) produced the least groundcover and dry matter of all species evaluated. Rye (Secale cereale L. 'Abruzzi' and 'Wheeler') was the most reliable and winter-hardy cover crop, regardless of location. Initial soil nitrate-N concentrations at planting averaged 12 ppm in soils with continuous corn-production and no history of manure application (southern experiment) and 40 ppm in soils with similar rotation and a history of manure application (northern experiment). Nitrogen application did not consistently increase the likelihood of cover crop survival, but increased dry matter for some cover crops on soils with low initial N levels. At the southern location, Abruzzi rye planted alone and common rye in combination with common vetch responded positively to additional N application in 3 out of 3 and 2 out of 3 yr, respectively. 'Pastar' rye (1992-1993), common rye (1993-1994), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) (1994-1995), and barley (Hordeum vulgare L. 'Barsoy') (1994-1995) also responded positively to N application at the southern location. Cover crops did not respond to additional N application at the northern location on soils high in initial N fertility. Corn producers in mountainous, highly sloped land should consider methods for planting cover crops earlier to ensure plant survival and to protect soil during the winter.

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Accession: 002790540

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DOI: 10.2134/jpa1997.0289


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