ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

Anything I can do about pasture grass in my rye?

Posted June 8, 2006

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Click here to send it to Jeff.

Dear Jeff,

David here—I'm the guy who stopped by there with my daughter on the way back to Michigan from Washington, D.C. (where we bought our car). Anyway, I have a problem and I need a quick suggestion. I rented a field that had been farmed for 20 years and used as pasture. I rotovated it (12 foot) and planted rye (I have a crimper). My rye is coming up fine, but I did not have an adequate kill of the native grass and now I have pasture grass growing between my rye. Any suggestions?

David Jansma

Dear David,

Of course I remember our visit and our conversation. Often it is difficult to give advice via e-mail without seeing first-hand the situation in the field, but here is my recommendation. Given the fact that you don't want to use herbicide—and we know the roller will not kill perennial grasses—I suggest you use tillage to establish a good seed bed. I realize this is not your first choice, but often nature deals us a hand that requires us to change our plan and move on to plan B. This is such a case. I'd moldboard plow the rye and grass. The other option is to let the rye stand and harvest it for grain (if the stand is good). Then plow the field and try again.

Good luck,