Hybrid Rye A Trilogy of Options
21st September 2018

Hybrid Rye being harvested for whole crop silage near Rathfriland, Co Down July 2018

Originally introduced to Northern Ireland for use in Anaerobic Digester’s 6 years ago, the acreage sown to Hybrid Rye expanded and very quickly we found it being grown not only for Digesters with biogas yields similar to maize achievable, but also as a whole crop for silage. Potential yields of 16-18 Tonnes per acre fresh weight at 35% dry matter has resulted in tremendous animal performance when fed on both dairy and beef units. The starch from the grain coupled with the high digestibility of Rye straw leads to a very rumen friendly silage and increased performance.

This harvest just finished has seen a further development with the first Rye grain combined locally in Co. Down with a very pleasing 3.5T/acre and a very valuable 16 round bales of straw per acre. Rye grain with its high Lysine content is particularly suitable for feeding Pigs, and in Denmark, more Rye grain is used in pig diets than other cereals.
Hybrid Rye is one of the most sustainable cereal crops and is very efficient in terms of its carbon footprint, water use and nitrogen usage, and offers significant cost savings compared to Wheat,  particularly in a second or third cereal situation were grain yields have been typically in 3.5 to 4.0 Tonnes per acre. This August saw the completion of a Rye trial at Crossnacreevy, and varieties such as Eterno from KWS have yielded in excess of 4T per acre, under local conditions. Across the UK, growers are reporting farm wide yields in excess of this and are finding other benefits such as increased black grass suppression and early harvest particularly advantageous.

At Fane Valley, we offer varieties from the leading Hybrid Rye breeder KWS, such as Propower, Progas, Eterno a new dual purpose variety suitable for both combining and whole cropping, and Helltop, from Nordic seeds in Germany another proven variety with good standing power. The KWS breeding programme has produced varieties with ‘Pollen Plus’ a gene that increases the formation of pollen, ensuring rapid pollination of grain sites, consistent grain yields and a reduction in ergot susceptibility
Agronomy for Rye is relatively simple and much less complex than for wheat. Drilling begins in mid-September running through to early November, although earlier sowing is recommended.  Drilling depth should not exceed 2cm as Rye has a weaker coleoptile than Wheat and Barley and if drilled deeper can lead to weaker plants.

Pre emergence herbicides, containing Diflufenican and Flufenacet can be used as for Wheat or Barley at similar rates. Come the spring care should be taken to ensure timely application of Plant Growth Regulators as the crop is fast to move through its growth stages, and can quickly pass the latest safe stage of application. The application of Nutrients will be a combination of fertiliser and organic manures/digestate and nutrient plans need to ensure Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash are available to the crop in the correct balance and correct timing. Of all the cereals Rye is the first to enter rapid growth, as day length increases in early Spring and Nitrogen will be required in late February to feed this growth. A robust but simple fungicide programme using Triazole and Strobularin chemistry is advisable as Rye is susceptible to Brown Rust and we must aim to keep the plant disease free and maximise green leaf area for maximum grain fill.

Looking to the future it appears the combination of high biomass yields and strong disease resistence in combination with the lower cost of growing Rye will lead to further increases in the acreage sown. The Digester and Livestock whole cropping market is well established, but given the Grain and straw yields of Rye, combining of Hybrid Rye could well see expansion as growers look outside of traditional markets, for their grain.

>> For more information contact your local Agronomy & Forage Services representative on Call: 028 4066 2521