With all the talk about straw of late and livestock farmers fearing a straw shortage with the introduction of the straw incorporation scheme, cereal crops which can produce more straw per acre will be of interest to many.
Speaking at the Teagasc Tillage Conference, researcher Richie Hackett noted that one to two extra 4x4 bales/ac can be produced from rye when compared to a crop of winter wheat.
Approximately 500ha of rye were planted in Ireland in 2020 and this figure is set to increase in 2021.
However, markets for the grain produced are at the early stages of exploration and this is a barrier to increasing area.
Rye grain has a range of uses from distilling and animal feed (particularly pig feed) to whole crop silage and flour production.
Problems with ergot appear to be under control through the use of hybrid varieties.
However, there are other challenges with the crop. Rye is very susceptible to slug damage, there are a limited number of pesticides approved for use on rye and it is a tall crop. Lodging needs to be managed, but generally does not result in large losses, but more research is needed into the crop’s management.