Hybrid rye is being mooted by some as a winter cereal crop option with significant potential for the 2023/2024 season.
Trial work has confirmed that the cereal is particularly suited to pig rations.
Rye grows well on lighter land, where drought can be problem, and sites where Take-all is a real challenge.
The cereal is particularly resistant to the disease. It is a September-sown crop and fills the gap very well for a winter cereal that can be successfully established at this time of the year.
A survey carried out by Seedtech at the conclusion of the 2023 harvest confirmed a number of key parameters with regard to the growing and management of hybrid rye crops.
The average yield recorded was 3.8t/ac at 71 kg/hl. Straw yields came in straw at 15 (4×4 bales)/ac.
Trial work carried by Teagasc has confirmed that rye crops will out-yield other cereal options by around 7%, where straw is concerned.
The vast majority of farmers taking part in the Seedtech survey were happy with their rye crops and intend to grow it again. However, grain price is a factor as growers look to the future.
Almost all rye crops were grown after a cereal crop, and most had some level of Take-all risk.
The average quantity of fertilizer applied was 133 units of nitrogen (N)/ac, 27 units of phosphate (P)/ac and 98 units of potash (K)/ac.
The average soil pH value for the crops surveyed was 6.6.
Over half of crops did not receive an autumn herbicide or aphicide. This was probably reflective of the miserable weather last back-end.
Crops reported as ‘average’ or ‘good’ in the spring tended to have higher yields. Lower yields were linked to lower plant populations in the spring.
The only two crops that reported slug damage were the lowest yielding crops.
Most crops got a robust plant growth regulator (PGR) program. Growers tended to report lodging where the PGR program was not as robust but most crops ‘leaned’.
All crops received at least two fungicides.
From an overall crop management perspective, rye crops will be ready for harvest after winter barley but before winter wheat.
This will allow growers to spread the time of their harvesting operations and the field work required during the growing season.
Teagasc is currently working on the development of new market outlets for the grain, both within the monogastric and ruminant sectors.