Growing winter cereal rye (Secale cereale) (WCR) has been identified as an effective in-field practice to reduce nitrate-N and phosphorus (P) losses to Upper Mississippi River Basin, USA. In the Midwestern USA, growers are reluctant to plant WCR especially prior to corn (Zea mays L.) due to N immobilization and establishment issues. Precision planting of WCR or ‘skipping the corn row’ (STCR) can minimize some issues associated with WCR ahead of corn while reducing cover crop seed costs. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of ‘STCR’ vs normal planting of WCR at full seeding rate (NP) on WCR biomass, nutrient uptake and composition in three site-yrs (ARC2019, ARC2020, BRC2020). Our results indicated no differences in cover crop dry matter biomass production between the STCR (2.40 Mg ha−1) and NP (2.41 Mg ha−1) supported by similar normalized difference vegetative index and plant height for both treatments. Phosphorus, potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) accumulation in aboveground biomass was only influenced by site-yr and both STCR and NP removed similar amount of P, K, Ca and Mg indicating STCR could be as effective as NP in accumulating nutrients. Aboveground carbon (C) content (1086.26 kg h−1 average over the two treatments) was similar between the two treatments and only influenced by site-yr differences. Lignin, lignin:N and C:N ratios were higher in STCR than NP in one out of three site-yrs (ARC2019) indicating greater chance of N immobilization when WCR was planted later than usual. Implementing STCR saved $8.4 ha−1 for growers and could incentivize growers to adopt this practice. Future research should evaluate corn response to STCR compared with NP and assess if soil quality declines by STCR practice over time.