March 16, 2015

16/03/2015: Hybrid rye has potential to be the new second wheat

Hybrid rye could eventually take a chunk of the UK wheat area by delivering attractive margins and bringing major rotational benefits as well, Farmer's Weekly reports.

Rye has traditionally been grown for milling, but during the past couple of years the area of hybrid rye has increased as a result of the crop being grown as a feedstock for biogas plants.

Yet for growers who cannot tap into the AD market or grow on a milling contract, Agrovista’s Craig Green believes there could be interest in other opportunities in the feed market, either for wholecrop or grain if more varieties suitable for grain harvest come on to the market.

And in Denmark, rye is set to become the main cereal for its cattle pig sectors.
Even with the new markets, growers will only select hybrid rye if it delivers a better gross margin compared with wheat. This is likely to be on lighter soils, where it performs well due to its extensive rooting system, which scavenges efficiently for nutrition and where wheat would drought off, he says.

Input costs are lower with less nitrogen required and reasonable fungicide costs compared with wheat. Crown rust and mildew are less demanding and older chemistry such as triazoles and strobilurins can be used, although doses must be maintained to prevent resistance developing, he adds.

The biggest constraint for growers will be its height – it reaches to almost six feet, which means no scrimping on growth regulation.  And although it is billed as a lower-input crop, Mr Green is keen to point out that it shouldn’t be seen as a cheap crop to grow.

But rye need not be restricted to the lightest soils. “The better quality soils you give it the bigger the yields.”

And Mr Green believes it could also find a position on farms where blackgrass is proving problematic.

Agrovista’s trials across the UK have demonstrated the smothering capability of rye and the effect it has on diminishing blackgrass populations by cutting out the light that reaches the base of the plant. Whole-cropping before any remaining seeds are viable then prevents any further seed return.

Therefore, in medium-pressure situations where the gross margin of wheat is already suffering because of blackgrass, or growers are considering a switch to spring wheat, rye could offer a viable alternative.


Read more HERE.

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