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High yielding 11t/ha from 80kg N/ha Hybrid rye ‘delivers outstanding efficiency’

Impressive rye yields of almost 11t/ha are possible using as little as 80kg/ha of nitrogen with hybrid variety Tayo.

In one Norfolk trial at North Walsham, the variety produced the same 10.84t/ha yield from both 80kg N/ha and 120kg N/ha fertiliser regimes – underlining the crop’s potential to help growers make cost savings.

Results from the KWS and NIAB trials demonstrate that Tayo delivers outstanding Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE), says KWS technical trials manager Olivia Potter.

“Hybrid rye has a lot going for it in terms of marketing opportunities, benefits to the rotations and drought resistance, but it’s ability to produce high yields from relatively modest amounts of applied nitrogen is making it increasingly attractive.

“We’ve known for some time that fertiliser requirements with rye can be roughly half that of a second wheat with savings of 100kg N/ha and more being achievable but Tayo seems to be capable of taking this even lower.

A second wheat grown for feed is likely to require around 220kg N/ha,  says Ms Potter.

A regular hybrid rye would typically require 120kg N/ha. But Tayo has potential to cut this by a further third.

“When you consider milling wheat needs around 280kg N/ha, the opportunity to produce high yields of high value hybrid rye from 200kg N/ha less is very compelling.”

Extensive benefits

KWS hybrid rye product manager Dominic Spurrier says the crop’s benefits extend far beyond just this cost saving. Growth speed gives the crop significant weed competition potential with diseases problems being less of an issue.

“It’s a fast-growing crop with a long drilling window that stretches from mid-September through to early November with a harvest earlier than wheat, so it ticks a lot of boxes with regard to increasing demands for flexibility in the rotation, too.

“It moves through stem elongation faster than any other cereal with trials showing the competition it exerts against blackgrass reducing the viability of seeds by 60% compared to wheat.

Hybrid rye also has much higher resistance to take-all than triticale or winter wheat while inclusion of PollenPlus technology means ergot infection is now significantly reduced, says Mr Spurrier.

“Growers should also factor in properties such as a straw yield being 25 – 30% higher than with wheat or barley and a water requirement 25% less than either of these, making it a perfect choice for lighter land or drought-prone regions.”

Soil moisture deficit (SMD) reached in the late summer is forecast to become much more intense in future years, he explains.

“Last year was very dry in many parts of the country and February 2023 has been the driest on record so water tables in most areas are still significantly behind where they should be,” says Mr Spurrier.

“Growers on free draining, acidic or sandy soils are much more exposed to the effects of SMD on yields and rotational income, so rye has a valuable role to play in mitigating against this.”

Market opportunities

In terms of marketing opportunities, demand is being driven by greater use of rye in pig finishing rations as well as increases in UK rye whisky production and from the food industry. It also has a role as an energy source for anaerobic dirgestion, adds Mr Spurrier.

“Recent developments in rye breeding have opened up a whole new world of opportunities for producers by combining considerable benefits from agronomic and economic perspectives as well as providing reliable demand from growing markets.

“The use of hybrid rye in pig rations is particularly interesting with inclusion levels of up to 60% possible in pelleted, liquid or meal-based feed for pig fattening.

“Trials have shown not just significant cost benefits for such rations but also positive behavioural effects and reduced gut problems from the approach.”

It’s a crop that is fit for the future too with future UK legislation likely to focus on reduced nitrogen and agrochemical use, he says.

“All in all, hybrid rye fits well with current demands to move to more sustainable production systems requiring less inputs while also being able to cope better in terms of the greater variability in climate and growing conditions likely to be experienced in the future.”