Hybrid Rye - High Yields with Low Production Costs

Hybrid rye is a recent introduction to the wholecrop scene which is gaining in popularity with local farmers. Originally introduced for use in anaerobic digestion to produce biogas, it has also performed well as a wholecrop for livestock use.

Hybrid rye has a number of attractive qualities, offering high yields combined with relatively low production costs - especially important at a time when dairy farmers are seeking any means possible to reduce their cost base. KWS Magnifico and Helltop are new high yielding hybrid rye varieties from Germany, suitable as a wholecrop for dairy cows. With yields in excess of 15t/ acre fresh, it offers a wholecrop with high DM yields, D Value and starch.

Agrochemical inputs are lower than for either winter wheat or barley, much like that of triticale and, notably, the crop has a well developed root system, which extracts nutrients from greater soil depths better than most cereals. This minimises N-loss during winter and can help prevent soil erosion.

The crop can be sown from mid-September through to the end of October, although local experience has shown that earlier sowing performs best. Later sowing dates require an increased seeding rate; however crops are generally fast tillering and cover the ground quickly. Hybrid rye is a robust crop which can cope with a wide range of conditions from light through to heavier soil types. Best yields have been obtained on medium to heavy land which has sufficient moisture during the growing season.

With a maximum requirement of 160kgs N / hectare, and needing similar amounts of P and K to any other winter crop, fertiliser costs are lower. Many crops can be grown at a much lower cost where slurry is available. One or two growth regulator applications will be required, depending on fertility.

One big advantage of hybrid rye is its early harvest date in the second half of July, which allows ample time to carry out field work or to establish a new grass sward.

Further reports on hybrid rye will come later in the season, but locally crops are already showing great potential. 

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