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2017 Projects: Nitrogen for Winter Cereals as Double Crop in Corn Rotations

Due to the drought in 2012, more farmers are interested in growing winter cereals as double crop, benefiting from the protection offered by the cereal as cover crop and harvesting the cereal as forage in May to increase per acre crop yields. Properly managed, these crops have supplied, on average, 2 tons of dry matter per acre while in some fields in 2012 and 2013 we measured up to 4 tons of dry matter of high quality forage from winter cereals planted after corn silage, even with little growth in the fall. Our main nutrient management question with growing winter cereals for forage is: how much N do we need at green-up for optimal economic yield? On-farm trials (4 times replicated) were implemented this spring of 2013-2016 to quantify crop response to N addition (5 N rates at greenup: 0, 30, 60, 90, and 120 lbs N/acre). In total, 63 on-farm trials were established and harvested these past three years. Additional work is ongoing to determine what drives differences in optimum N rate across sites.


  • Determine the nitrogen need of winter cereals (cereal rye, triticale, winter wheat) seeded after corn silage harvest and harvested for forage prior to corn planting (at flag leaf stage) in May.

Initial funding for this project comes from Federal Formula Funds, Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) and a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant for the Upper Susquehanna Watershed (under Upper Susquehanna Watershed Coalition leadership). Current funding comes from Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) and a grant from Northeast Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (NESARE). Contact Quirine Ketterings at if interested in more information on this project.

If you would like to receive more information or have questions, contact Quirine Ketterings ( or 607-255-3061). You can also write to: Quirine Ketterings, Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, 323 Morrison Hall, Ithaca NY 14853.