Cereal Rye (Cereale)

The Cereal Rye (Cereale) is generally described as an annual graminoid. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer and fall . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Cereal Rye (Cereale) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Cereal Rye (Cereale) will reach up to 3.5 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Cereal Rye (Cereale) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Cereal rye is a commonly used winter cover crop in the northeastern U.S. Due to the late harvest of many crops, fall-planted cover crops often do not make adequate growth to provide winter soil protection, but cereal rye can germinate and grow under cooler conditions than other covers. Cereal rye can also be used for spring forage production, and fed as pasture, green chop, or put up as haylage. It is reported that rye forage may impart an off-flavor to milk. Cereal rye does have an allelopathic affect on some weed species.

General Characteristics

Cereal rye is an erect annual grass, with flat leaf blades and dense flower spikes. Each large spike consists of many 2-flowered spikelets with long awns. The grain is relatively large, typically around ½ inch long. There are 18,000 seeds per pound.

Required Growing Conditions

The cultivar ‘Aroostook’ is expected to produce a satisfactory stand as a late seeded cover crop if a minimum of 260-350 growing degree days (base 40 degrees F) remain after seeding. While ‘Aroostook’ was developed primarily for use in northern climates, it is widely adapted as a cover crop and forage producer outside the Northeast.

Cereal rye is distributed throughout the United States.

Cultivation and Care

The best method to plant ‘Aroostook’ following potatoes, corn, soybeans, and other row crops, is to drill the seed one inch deep using a conventional grain drill equipped with packer wheels. Another satisfactory method is to broadcast the seed followed by a shallow disking or harrowing and cultipacking. Use a minimum of 2 bushels per acre (110 to 120 lb/acre). ‘Aroostook’ rye can also be aerial seeded in standing corn or other row crops. Aerial seeding is very dependent on favorable weather for success. For very late plantings or aerial seedings, 3 bushels per acre is recommended. No seed treatment is recommended.

General Upkeep and Control

There is usually adequate residual fertilizer following a row crop to produce the cover crop. Due to ‘Aroostook’s abundant spring growth, it is important to plow, spray, graze, or cut its stands in a timely manner when managed for green manure, cover crop, or forage. Strong growth can be anticipated in March in the southern part of the Northeast. Northern locations typically begin growth in April. For pasture, extremely rapid rotation or stocking with large numbers of animals is required to capture the spring growth. In areas with high nitrogen availability, take preventative measures for grass tetany or other related reactions; an acclimation period for livestock is highly recommended.

Pests and Potential Problems This section is under development.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Late fall and early spring growth, and prostrate fall leaf growth make ‘Aroostook’ (New York) rye a valuable cover crop. ‘Aroostook’ rye can be seeded in northern Maine as late as September 30th. The leaf area index, (when the plants are growing at 200 growing degree days with a base of 32 degrees F) is significantly greater than ‘Balbo.’ The foundation seed for ‘Aroostook’ rye is produced by the Big Flats, NY Plant Materials Center, and is available to commercial seed producers. Commercially produced certified seed is available from some dealers. Currently, most seed production occurs in the Midwest.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring, Summer, Fall
Growth Duration Annual
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3.5
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Summer
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Toxic to Nearby Plants Yes
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.2–8 pH
Precipitation Range 8–8 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Minimum Frost-Free Days 110 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance High
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability High
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA