The USDA’s Economic Research Service [ERS] said farmers utilizing cover crops most commonly choose rye grass or winter wheat. Researchers reported which cover crops were grown the fall before planting corn, cotton, and soybeans. For corn fields intended for use as grain or silage in data from 2016, more than 90% of acres with cover crops used a grass or small grain cover crop, such as rye, winter wheat, or oats. At 63% of acreage, rye was more than twice as common as winter wheat, at 26%, as the cover crop on corn for grain fields.
Rye and winter wheat were also the most common cover crops on soybean fields in 2018. Winter wheat was the most common cover crop used on cotton fields in 2015. This likely reflects the role of wheat stubble in protecting cotton seedlings from wind and the potentially negative impact of certain chemicals produced by cereal rye on growing cotton plants.
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