Rye Grain

Asked June 14, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT

Last fall we planted Rye Grain for a cover crop and it is doing very well, it did part of what we planted it for so far which is block the bad weeds from growing. My question is we have a pumpkin patch and I was wondering if after we plant the pumpkins if we can keep the rye up on the sides of the plants or do I need to knock it all down, and then I was wondering if I am able to leave the Rye up is there a chance that we may be able to avoid squash bugs?
We are planning to knock down the rye only in the areas where were going to be planting about a push mowers width (18 inches +\-).

Washington County Minnesota

5 Responses

Be sure the rye doesn't grow tall enough to shade or otherwise compete with the young pumpkin plants. An eighteen inch space might not be enough to prevent that.

Although cover crops are usually put down in the growing plan you have adopted, it might not be necessary to cut the rye. Presumably the pumpkin vines will grow up and over it as they develop.

We don't know what effect, if any, the presence of the rye will have on squash bug numbers.

The Rye is now over 5 ft tall and starting to die back slightly do you think that we would need to cut it back some to allow more light in the rows or just cut the rye down slightly around the pumpkin rows?'

Also I'm wondering what we could plant in the fall of this year instead of the Rye Grain as we have a few people who are allergic to Wheat and Rye? The reason we planted the rye last fall was for 2 things 1 to control the weeds (success) 2 to reintroduce some nutrients into the soil from years of planting in about the same general area for a number of years.

Cutting the rye back will benefit the pumpkin vines. Full sun is best and rye five feet tall must be creating shade, at least early and late in the day. Of course the amount of shade cast depends upon how wide you made the growing space before planting the pumpkins.

Rye and hairy vetch are the only winter cover crops commonly grown in Minnesota. However, hairy vetch must be planted in late August or early September to survive over winter. It might not be convenient to plant it while the pumpkins are still growing. That's assuming you want to cover the same growing space for next year's pumpkin crop.

What about Buckwheat as a cover crop or something similar as a cover crop? Is there something such as something that will grow basically at ground level and still provide the same results?

Also what would be a better thing to do with the Rye currently cut it down and leave it lay in the field or would it be better to just knock it down with cutting it down like with the Hairy Vetch?

Scott Hanson

Please direct questions about alternatives to rye as a cover crop for pumpkins to Extension Educator Karl Foord: