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Dormancy, Longevity of Seeds in Soil, and Management of Annual Ryegrass as a Cover Crop in the Midwest

On farms in the Midwest, Annual ryegrass has sometimes been observed in fields a year or more after the original seed was planted. There is a perception that when it is planted as a cover crop in the fall, it does not always germinate well if soil temperature or other environmental conditions are not suitable, instead it may grow in the spring or in the following fall, causing potential “grassy-weed” problems in corn, soybean, or wheat fields.  It is suspected that this phenomenon may be caused by dormancy of the original planted seed, which is known to some as “latent seed carryover”. The objective of this article is to discuss this phenomenon, shed light on the causes and suggest ways to control ARG in the spring.

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