Winter Rye Grain (also known as Cereal Rye/Fall Rye) is a very widely used fast growing winter grain most commonly planted in the fall as a cover crop or cash crop for the next spring.
Winter Rye is very cold tolerant, with the ability to be planted later in the fall and will grow earlier in the spring season than other winter grains, allowing more flexibility with harvest and more tonnage in the spring.
Winter Rye will produce a large amount of bio-mass, up to 4 tons of forage per acre for livestock when cut for haylage or silage and when harvested often contains 15% protein and is very suitable for lactating dairy cows.
Winter Rye is very fast growing and makes an excellent cover crop. Used as a cover crop, Winter Rye will reduce the potential for nitrate leaching into groundwater and it conserves N fertilizer inputs, which saves money. Winter Rye will rapidly produce ground cover and will hold soil in place against erosion caused by wind and water. Winter Rye’s deep roots also prevent compaction in annually tilled fields, because of its extensive roots have a very positive effect on soil tilth.
Plant 1-1 1/2″ depth
Winter Rye is best planted in the fall in the Midwest, between Sept 1st and Nov 1st, depending on the season.
An application of manure prior to planting, will supply adequate Nitrogen and other nutrients for optimum yields.
Another manure application is recommended just after harvest in May or June.
Winter Rye can withstand drought better than other cereal grains, in part because of its prolific root system.
Winter Rye can also grow in low-fertility soils where other cereal grains may fail.
Optimum soil pH for Winter Rye is 5.0 to 7.0, but pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.0 can be tolerated. Winter Rye will often respond to a modest application of nitrogen (N) fertilizer, but when it follows corn and other crops that have been well-fertilized with N it seldom requires additional fertilizer. Winter Rye can be hard to kill off if let grown too long in the spring and excessive amounts of spring residue produced by rye can delay cash crop planting and actually decrease the availability of N to subsequent crops as N is tied up or ‘immobilized’ by the decomposing residues. To avoid these problems, and to avoid ‘grow-back’ of the rye, it is best to thoroughly incorporate it when it is between 12 and 18 inches tall and still relatively succulent.