Hybrid Fall Rye

Aug 12, 2022

Hybrid Fall Rye
The need to know about growing Hybrid Fall Rye.

Hybrid Fall Rye is becoming a more popular commodity to grow these days and with the environmental conditions we have experienced this past year, it is a great option for those unseeded acres. Today’s Hybrid Fall Rye is not like the rye our grandparents used to grow, this is a crop that we want to plant on our good land and manage like we do our spring wheat crops.
When choosing a piece of ground to plant fall rye on, you want to look for a good field that has reasonable drainage. To help prep the land for seeding, a pre-seed burn off is recommended to deal with any weed issues prior to crop emergence and help reduce weed pressure in the spring.
Seeding Dates: For those who have unseeded acres from this past season, planting can start as early as August 15th. If planting begins any earlier than that, there is potential for yield loss. Unlike winter wheat, fall rye will not over mature before the winter due to having to be through dormancy before being able to head. Seeding rate is dependent on when you are putting the seed in the ground. Seeding in the range of August 15-31st the ideal rate would be 0.8 of a unit per acre, September 1-15 1 unit per Acre and Sept 16-20th 1.2 units per acre. Ideally you are looking for 18.5 plants per square foot. Hybrid fall rye is different from other cereals in that it has a much more robust root system and develops significantly more tillers which is why hybrid fall rye is planted at significantly lower seeding rates than winter wheat or conventional fall rye. Seeding should be at a depth between ¾ inch to 1 inch and with a 7 – 8 inch row spacing.
Fall Fertilizer: To get your fall rye off to a good start you will want a good blend of KPS as per your soil sample requirements, with just a small start of N. Most importantly, the majority of N requirements should be applied in the fall right before freeze up or first thing in the spring, preferably before the fall rye comes out of dormancy. The danger of putting all your N requirements down at seeding time is that the plant will use more than it needs in the fall, therefore not leaving enough for the plant to use when it comes out of dormancy in the spring when it is most important. The rye plants start to come out of dormancy when ground temperature warms to about 0C for more than 2-3 days in a row, and the plant will be searching for N about 3 days after coming out of dormancy. The quicker the plant can reach nitrogen the better, as yield is already starting to be established by the 32nd growing point.
Herbicides: As stated earlier, a pre-seed burn off is highly recommended to help with early season weed control. However, if in-crop herbicide is required than early use of registered products when the crop is under 3” tall and before jointing is recommended. Hybrid Rye does not do well with in-crop herbicide applications, as traveling in crop after the 32nd growing point will encourage late tillering which will allow for more ergot. Higher ergot counts are typically caused by mechanical damage to the hybrid rye.
Extra Notes: Hybrid Fall Rye has around 300 times more pollen bred into the plant compared to conventional rye. This means that pollination is more even across the field and allows for a shorter flowering time and a higher pollination of every floweret. If the flowerets are all pollinized, then ergot will have less chance of being able to set hold in the crop. Another way to help combat ergot is to mow grasses along ditches and headlands before they go to head the growing season prior to planting which will help reduce ergot spores.
Harvesting: Another benefit to the hybrid fall rye is that it can be straight cut easily as grain filling and ripening is generally uniform. Before using a desiccant on the crop to help with pre-harvest weed control and dry down, check with who the grain is marketed. Not all will accept grain that has been sprayed with glyphosate. When combining, use lower cylinder threshing speeds and manage the concaves to minimize broken and peeled kernel to help maintain the highest quality for millers, distillers, and maltsters. Harvesting at a slightly higher moisture level can reduce harvest damage and help achieve good quality grain. However, harvesting with moisture levels over 18% can adversely affect quality and falling numbers when dried.
The saying is, plant the seed in the fall, fertilizer before snow and remember to come back and harvest.

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