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Fate of Interseeded Cover Crops Following Corn Silage Harvest

Applied Research

Cody Zesiger
Extension Assistant Professor
Utah State University


Planting companion cover crops (CC) between corn potentially increases on-farm forage in integrated crop-livestock systems. Potential advantages of interseeding CC into corn are a longer growing season for CC when compared to after-harvest planted CC and possibly more biomass. However, a significant disadvantage of growing CC in corn is that the corn canopy will greatly reduce photosynthetically active radiation available for CC growth. In a 2021 trial, severe CC stunting and CC mortality were observed. Additionally, a unique challenge for interseeding CC in the western U.S. is irrigation. For example, in surface irrigated corn, furrowing between corn rows often delays interseeding and CC germination which reduces the CC growth period prior to corn canopy closure. A trial at five sites in Utah was conducted in 2022 because of an information scarcity of Utah-based information on interseeded CC persistence in corn. The effect of corn population on CC establishment, persistence, and biomass was evaluated. Treatments consisted of three corn populations planted in four randomized blocks at rates of 23, 28, and 34 thousand plants per acre. Untreated controls (0 corn plants per acre) were not included in the trial because the study took place in the crop fields of cooperating farmers. CC were planted in interrow spaces at 18lb per acre. Interseeding occurred at corn V6. No significant difference was observed between treatments for CC emergence, CC persistence, and CC biomass. However, there was a significant difference between plant emergence and persistence prior to the first killing frost in 2022, p<.001. Furthermore, there was a significant difference between the frequency of species per square foot, p<.001. Finally, plants per square foot and biomass were positively correlated, r (34) =.54, p=.001 and CC biomass may be predicted using a regression model, p<.001, R2=0.74. Understanding CC fate and predicting biomass can reduce some uncertainty and support pre-plant and post-harvest decisions farmers make when integrating CC into corn.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Cody Zesiger, Jacob Hadfield, Michael Pace, Kalen Taylor, Gale Jody, Clawson Justin, Cody Zesiger, Earl Creech
  1. Zesiger, C. Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84401
  2. Hadfield, J. Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84648
  3. Pace, M. Extension Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84302
  4. Taylor, K. Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84631
  5. Jody, G. Extension Associate Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84701
  6. Justin, C. Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84321
  7. Zesiger, C. Associate Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84321
  8. Creech, E. Professor, Utah State University, Utah, 84321