20 June 1997

Times right for a rye comeback…

IS the time right for a resurgence in rye growing? According to Paul Brown of Allied Grain (Anglia), it certainly is.

Hybrid varieties and flexible buy-back contracts make the drought resistant crop an increasingly viable alternative to winter wheat, he says.

Deep rooting means the crop is an aggressive scourer for moisture, suiting it well to poor or drought susceptible soils. Agronomy is similar to winter wheat, and disease resistance good, apart from for brown rust.

Hybrids now provide shorter stems and better standing power, although growth regulators are still recommended.

Consistent yield

"Over the past five years, NIAB trials have consistently yielded 7.4t/ha – 3t/acre – on poorer quality soils," explains Mr Brown. "On land where wheat yields are less than 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre) rye is deemed to be the better option.

"Quality criteria is a standard 15% moisture, 74kg/hl and 140 Hagberg. Hygiene and food safety requirements are no more comprehensive than what is expected of any crop going for human consumption."

Flexible buy-back contracts mean farmers have the option of choosing either a £5/t premium over HGCA feed wheat, or 5% over intervention, at time of movement.

"Using the intervention pricing policy, gives farmers a base to their market, offering potential for a healthy premium over feed wheat," says Mr Brown.