By Dale Mutch, Michigan State University Extension
There is still time to seed cover crops this fall. However, time is running out. Cereal rye (secale cereale) is a cool-season annual that tolerates cool soils and temperatures. Rye should be seeded at a rate of one to two bushels per acre. It can germinate at temperatures as low as 33 degrees Fahrenheit and can tolerate 30 F when it is well established.
Rye will outperform most other cover crops when planted in November. Rye produces a deep, fibrous root system that can take up excess soil nitrogen. When planting rye this late into the season, do not expect to see a lot of above ground growth. Rye will overwinter and next spring it will grow very rapidly and should be controlled when it is 8 to 12 inches tall.
Michigan State University Extension advises if you intend on rolling or crimping cereal rye and using the mulch for weed control, you will need to allow the rye to grow to the pollination stage to milk stage. When at this stage, rye will remain on the ground and won't stand up.
The biggest issue for cereal rye this year (2012) is available seed. Contact your seed dealer to see if they have any available.
For more information, visithttp://www.msue.msu.edu. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).