Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Agriculture (MAgr)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Crop Science

First Advisor

Dr. Chad D. Lee


Rye (Secale cereale L.) is the most popular winter cereal cover crop utilized before corn, but wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) may provide a comparable value due to their similar fibrous root systems. Despite the benefits associated with winter cereal cover crops, drawbacks are possible for the subsequent corn crop. A field study was conducted with three site-years in Kentucky to measure the impact of the three winter cereals across nitrogen (N) management strategies. Wheat produced the most biomass compared with barley or rye cover crops. Wheat and rye needed approximately 100 more kg N ha⁻¹ to reach the agronomic optimum N rate when all N was applied at planting and 40 more kg N ha⁻¹ at sidedress compared with the no-cover crop control. A meta-analysis of peer-reviewed data from the Midwest found that corn following winter cereal cover crops had a more significant response to split N. A partial budget analysis of the field study found winter cereal cover crops are rarely profitable in the first year of adoption, regardless of species or N management strategy. The economic analysis also showed improved returns when N was split, but the mean net result was still negative.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the Kentucky Corn Promotion Council from 2022 to 2024

This study was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (no.: KY006125) from 2022 to 2024