Sunflowers are being grown in the Northeast for their potential to add value to a diversified operation as fuel, feed, fertilizer, and an important rotational crop. However, early season weed competition can limit the yields of sunflower crops, especially when wet or adverse soil conditions do not allow for mechanical cultivation in early summer. Planting sunflower into a freshly-terminated cover crop of winter rye could help reduce weed pressures. Winter rye would suppress weed germination by covering the ground early in the season, and also through the allelopathic compounds produced in the plants’ roots, which inhibit germination of small-seeded plants. In addition, winter rye, a reliable and winter-hardy cover crop, benefits water quality and soil health, adding soil stability and organic matter between cash crops. Rye has the ability to scavenge nutrients from a previously fertilized and harvested crop, minimizing fertility inputs and keeping the ground covered through the winter.
Vermont, University of Vermont
Darby, Heather; Harwood, Hannah; Cummings, Erica; and Monahan, Susan, "Sunflower Reduced Tillage Trial" (2013). Northwest Crops & Soils Program. 237.