Effect of rye shading on corn roots and shoots in traditional and short stature corn United States Department of Agriculture
Alyssa Koehler, University of Delaware Jarrod Miller, University of Delaware Erin Sparks, University of Delaware
Within the Mid-Atlantic region, greater than 22% of total cropland is planted into fall cover crops. Incentive programs have encouraged farmers to experiment with delaying termination to allow for greater cover crop biomass and removal of more nitrate from the soil. Shading from increased biomass can lead to advantageous weed control, but also to elongation of shoots with unknown impacts on lodging and disease development. To combat losses from lodging, companies have been developing short stature corn hybrids with commercial release anticipated in 2024. These hybrids may play an important role in the Mid-Atlantic cover crop system where high winds and hurricane damage are annual threats. The objectives of this project are to 1) Measure the effects of rye termination timing on shading, disease incidence, and lodging susceptibility in traditional stature “tall” corn (research); 2) Measure the effects of rye termination timing on shading, disease incidence, and lodging susceptibility in short stature corn (research); 3) Develop and deliver extension programming to increase awareness of the interactions between cover crops and early season corn growth and how corn varieties may affect lodging and management techniques (extension). Through this integrated research and extension project, we will address relevant stakeholder concerns regarding cover crop termination timings and how short stature corn may fit into the Mid-Atlantic rotation. Improved understanding of shading effects, disease incidence, and susceptibility to lodging will inform extension recommendations on emerging approaches for maize producers.