Crop Type: Open field crop

Breeding system: Predominantly allogamous

: description

Rye is an annual grass crop grown for its grain, and also for forage or as a cover crop. It is part of the family Poaceae and is closely related to both wheat (Triticum) and barley (Hordeum). Because of its tolerance to low quality, acidic soils and drought, rye is sometimes grown where wheat cannot be grown.

Wild perennial rye Secale montanium L. is the ancestor of cultivated rye.  Forms of wild perennial rye are found in Turkey and Middle East. It is presumed that rye domesticated gradually from a weed plant of barley and wheat fields to a cultivated plant. When wheat cultivation moved more north in Europe to areas of cool climate its companion weed became more abundant. In Mediterranean area dark rye was not appreciated, it was rather a distress nourishment. When the cultivation of the rye moved more north in Europe, its value and significance as the bread grain was noticed.

Rye is generally considered the hardiest annual cereal crop. Production of antifreeze polypeptides allow rye to grow well in colder temperatures, even those below freezing (Hon et al., 1994). This makes it ideal as a cover crop or a winter crop. Additional benefits of rye as a cover crop include increased soil quality and porosity (Zhang et al., 2007).

Rye is a wind-pollinated plant and crossbreed readily with nearby cultivated ryes. 

  • Hon, W., Griffith, M., Chong, P. and Yang, D. (1994). Extraction and Isolation of Antifreeze Proteins from Winter Rye (Secale cereale L.) Leaves. Plant Physiology, 104(3), pp.971-980.
  • Zhang, Y., Lee, G., Joo, J., Lee, J., Ahn, J. and Park, C. (2007). Effect of Winter Rye Cultivation to Improve Soil Fertility and Crop production in Alpine Upland in Korea. Korean Journal of Environmental Agriculture, 26(4), pp.300-305.