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Time Interval Between Cover Crop Termination and Planting Influences Corn Seedling Disease, Plant Growth, and Yield

Experiments were established in a controlled-growth chamber and in the field to evaluate the effect of the length of time intervals between winter rye cover crop termination and corn planting on corn seedling disease, corn growth, and grain yield in 2014 and 2015. Rye termination dates ranged from 25 days before planting (DBP) to 2 days after planting (DAP) corn in the field and from 21 DBP to 1 DAP in controlled studies. Results were similar in both environments. In general, shorter intervals increased seedling disease and reduced corn emergence, shoot growth, and grain yield of corn following winter rye compared with corn planted 10 or more days after rye termination or without rye. Incidence of Pythium spp. increased with shorter intervals (less than 8 DBP); incidence of Fusarium spp. was not consistent between runs and experiments. In 2014, in the 1-DAP treatment, number of ears and grain yield were reduced (P = 0.05 and 0.02, respectively). In 2015, all termination intervals reduced plant population, number of ears, and yield (P = 0.01), with the 2-DBP treatment causing the biggest decrease. A 10- to 14-day interval between rye termination and corn planting should be followed to improve corn yield following a rye cover crop.

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