Winter Cereal Rye
Winter Cereal Rye
Cereal rye grows best on well-drained loamy soils but is tolerant of both heavy clays and droughty, sandy soils. It often grows in infertile soils where other cereal grains fail. Optimum soil pH is 5.07.0, but pH in the range of 4.58.0 is tolerated.
Cereal rye is the most winter-hardy of all cereal grains, enduring temperatures as low as -30°F once established. It can germinate and grow at temperatures as low as 33°F; however, optimal temperatures are much higher.
Cereal rye tolerates drought better than other cereal grains, in part because of its extensive root system. It grows best with ample moisture, but excessive moisture during the fall and winter suppresses vegetative growth. Cereal rye does not tolerate flooding. Snow is readily trapped by the cereal rye plant, providing insulation from cold weather and increasing water availability in dry climates.
Cereal rye may be used as a cover crop, grain, hay, or pasture. It is one of the best cover crops where soil fertility is low and/or winter temperatures are extreme. Cereal rye is an excellent choice as a late-sown cover crop. In western Oregon it may be planted any time of the year.
Because it establishes rapidly in cool weather and grows throughout the winter, cereal rye is excellent for protecting the soil from wind and water erosion, scavenging soil-N before it is leached below the root zone, and suppressing weeds.
Cereal rye's extensive root system makes it among the best cover crops for improving soil structure. Incorporating mature residues can improve water infiltration and aeration and add substantial quantities of organic matter to the soil.
Cereal rye has been used successfully in Oregon as a relay-interplanted cover crop in short-statured crops such as broccoli and cauliflower.
Source: Oregon State University