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Effect of Rye Cover Crop Management Methods on Cotton Growth in a Conservation System
Ted S. Kornecki
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In conservation agriculture, cover crops must produce sufficient biomass for effective soil coverage and managed appropriately to avoid planting problems. Producers have been inquiring about proper cover crop management including suitable rolling cover crop directions (with respect to planting cash crop) and row cleaner type to be successful in a conservation system. A field experiment evaluated the effects of different rolling directions of cereal rye relative to cotton planting. A no-till planter with commercial row cleaners and a custom residue pusher was evaluated based on cotton stand, emergence rate index (ERI), and cotton yield. Two Alabama locations were chosen to account for different climatic and soil conditions. Cereal rye was terminated with a roller/crimper and glyphosate. Parallel rolling to planting cotton and non-rolled residue using any of the tested row cleaners generated the highest cotton stand when compared to no row cleaner. The DawnTM row cleaner with pusher had a higher cotton stand, especially for non-rolled rye, by effectively pushing residue against the soil surface while planting. Stand was highly correlated with ERI (R2 = 0.99); the fastest ERI was obtained with the parallel rolling with all tested row cleaners. The slowest ERI was with perpendicular and diagonal directions with no row-cleaner. Cotton yield mostly depended on weather; however, row-cleaner treatments had an effect on yield with a lower yield for no row-cleaner. Higher rye accumulation on row cleaners was for standing rye and the Dawn row cleaner due to wrapping and required more time to clean from the planter.