MSU Cover Crop Team Webinar Series: Planting green – Cereal rye and soybean

The third webinar in this series highlights research at MSU on interseeding soybean into standing cereal rye cover crops.

Interseeding soybean into standing cereal rye cover crops.
Interseeding soybean into standing cereal rye cover crops. Photo by Erin Hill, MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.

When using cover crops to suppress weeds and improve soil health, the longer they are able to grow in the field the more potential benefit they can provide. “Planting green” is a technique where cash crops are planted into a live cover crop. Advantages of planting green may include erosion control, moisture retention, added biodiversity, weed suppression, microbial and insect diversity, building soil organic matter, reducing soil compaction and retaining nutrients. There are also some potential disadvantages, including creation of difficult physical planting conditions, reduced soil moisture, delayed or reduced cash crop emergence, reduced nitrogen availability, cover crop acting as weed, reduce efficacy of herbicides or increased pests.

Erin Hill, weed diagnostician, and Christy Sprague, professor, at Michigan State University’s Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences conducted research testing some new ideas about planting green. In her talk, Hill shares details on their research looking at cereal rye termination timing in relation to soybean planting and Feekes stage of the rye. Their findings determined the effects of planting soybean into standing cereal rye cover crops, and the impacts on weed suppression, soil characteristics and soybean productivity.

They also looked into a variety of methods to terminate cereal rye and the impact of fertilizing the rye. They found that planting green had the potential to suppress weed emergence with no impact on soybean yield when the cover crop was terminated at the time of soybean planting. Terminating cereal rye after soybean planting also showed the potential for weed suppression, but risked yield reduction in soybeans planted in mid-May or later.

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

For more information on this project contact Erin Hill at or 517-432-9693.

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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