Winter Rye

Last year we didn’t plan on planting for market this year because we were both working full-time jobs that took us away from home sometimes seven days a week. We had planned to wait three more years before going full-time with our farm market business. Well, things didn’t go the way we’d planned and now I am home, so we decided to pursue our farm market business full-time this year. Yay, but …

There’s one problem … last year we didn’t leave the field prepped for planting early this spring. Instead, we left it planted with Winter Rye that we had planned to harvest as mulch for a smaller garden. That was a great idea – then. Now, however, needing to get started with this season’s planting, we find ourselves waiting for the rye to die back. We cannot plant until it is drying or dying and that probably won’t be for at least three to four more weeks. 😦 Winter Rye has a thick, deep root system that makes it difficult to kill off by tilling so that’s out; it’ll just grow back. The only way to guarantee its demise is to spray herbicide which we will never do.

So we wait and we wait for the rye to mature and dry on its on. We have already mowed it down three times. This week we plan to mow one last time then give the rye a shallow tilling. Then we’re going to give it about two more weeks then till a little deeper. Hopefully, after all this, the rye will be under control enough to get summer veggies planted. We will never again use Winter Rye as a winter cover crop in areas that need planting before May 1st.

rye in background
Winter Rye is growing in the background.




2 thoughts on “Winter Rye

  1. Ouch. I haven’t heard this before about winter rye. We use it as part of our cool weather cover crop mix and I’ve never noticed a problem with tilling it in (something I’ve been doing most of today). I’m going to pay more attention to this now!

  2. Here in Alabama the winter rye grows until the temperatures warm to summertime heat. It will usually die back on it’s own by early May. We are just supper eager to get started. Since this post, we’ve tilled again and the stuff is still green in some places. Tomorrow I’ll start working it anyways and just dig out the clumps.

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