Killing Cover Crop Annual Ryegrass – How Are We Doing?

This Annual Ryegrass plant was almost killed. But almost is NOT good enough!

Over the winter of 2011-12 I did nearly 55 cover crop meetings across the Midwest.  And one of the “hottest” topics was how to kill annual ryegrass in the spring. This topic is almost like the Tim Tebow of the cover crop world. Some have no problems managing it and some hate it (cannot get it killed).

During the meetings I suggested that farmers read a really good article on Ag Web that I was asked to help write along with Mike Plumer, Dan Towery, and a few others.   In the article Mike Plumer and Dan Towery both give excellent advice on killing annual ryegrass.  I have also written quite a bit on the blog about killing tall annual ryegrass.  The one theme we make sure producers know is that they need to kill the annual ryegrass dead!

At this point many farmers swear that they have no problems and others just swear!

I have done a couple of videos that I hope help in this matter.  They are pretty representative from what I have seen this spring across the Eastern Corn Belt.  The first video was taken before spraying, the second taken after spraying was done. A third video shows the difference between killing annual ryegrass versus killing cereal rye.

One of my key points is that we be ready to spray again if we see green.  Don’t assume that if you see green that the initial herbicide application will eventually work.

Please forgive the wind noise on the second and third videos. I used the mic but it was very windy.


Annual ryegrass on the left and cereal rye on the right. Look at the massive amount of cover on the annual ryegrass!

This green leaf tells us that the plant is not entirely dead. While we may have a 99% kill this plant will end up producing seed if it is not terminated.

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4 Responses to Killing Cover Crop Annual Ryegrass – How Are We Doing?

  1. Seth Little April 25, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Can’t hurt to add some fusilade or select maxx to glyphosate when killing annual ryegrass. Two-modes of action and no antagonism.

  2. Dave May 5, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Great suggestions! Thanks Seth!

  3. Al April 1, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    Have you had any experience burning off winter rye? I aerial applied last september into my corn and would like to try burning it off this spring. Will this kill the winter rye?

  4. Dave April 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    Burning Rye off with herbicide is a very common practice. Burning off with fire will not kill the Rye.