MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Interseeding cover crops in corn in Michigan

The second webinar in this series highlights research at MSU on interseeding cover crops into standing corn.

Cover crops interseeded in June in standing corn.
Annual ryegrass, tillage radish and crimson clover interseeded in June in standing corn. Photo by Aaron Brooker.

Corn growers face several challenges when introducing cover crops into their systems. First, after corn is harvested in the fall it is often too wet or cold to establish many cover crop species. Planting early in the season will give farmers a longer period of time to experience the benefits from cover crops and give a wider diversity of cover crop types to choose from. Second, if cover crops are to be introduced into a corn system earlier in the year, we need to be confident that cover crops will not reduce corn yield. Finally, we need to figure out ways to control weeds in this system and which herbicides will control weeds and not damage cover crop species.

PhD student Aaron Brooker and his advisors Karen Renner and Christy Sprague, professors in Michigan State University’s Department of Plant, Soils and Microbial Sciences, have been conducting research on interseeding cover crops into corn between the V1 and V7 growth stages. They tested three different cover crops in corn—annual rye, tillage radish and crimson clover—and a mixture of all three. They also tested tolerance of cover crops to a variety of herbicides. Their research was conducted over four years at multiple locations across the state, including on-farm research to scale up the work done in experimental plots. They found that using cover crops did not reduce corn yield as long as they were planted after the V1 growth stage and weeds were controlled.

To learn more about their research, key findings and recommendations, watch their recorded presentation below.

Brooker and Renner’s next steps to build on this research are to look at different seeding rates and different cover crop mixtures. They will report on these findings next year. For more information on this project, contact Karen Renner at

Cover crop information and resources are available through MSU Extension’s Cover Crops website and the Midwest Cover Crops Council, or contact Dean Baas at

Other articles in this series

This work is supported by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program 2017-70006-27175 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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