Brian Kessel of Lamoni, Iowa has been growing cereal rye for seed for over seven years, noting, “I can grow it a lot cheaper than I can purchase it.”
Drilling early: Brian typically no-till drills immediately after he has harvested soybeans on the rye production fields. In 2021, he plans to drill his rye crop the last couple days of September. On a couple occasions, he has drilled as late as the first week of November, but he notes, “If you get it started by the first part of October, you typically get more growth, and better yields.”
Brian drills on 7.5 inch centers at a ¾- 1 inch depth, depending on moisture conditions. He’ll seed 90 lbs/acre rye on better fields and closer to 120 lbs/acre rye on poorer quality fields. Brian says, "The drill gives us a more consistent stand than broadcasting or flying it on."
Choosing a variety: Named cereal rye varieties have worked best on Brian’s farm. “With named varieties, the crop heads out at more or less the same time, and you get a cleaner sample when you combine. With VNS, it can mature over the span of two to three weeks,” he explains.
Fertility and management: Brian applies hog manure, chicken litter or variable rate P and K before seeding rye. If he applies synthetic fertilizer, he top-dresses 60# N in the form of AMS in the spring. He does not add synthetic N in the spring on manured fields. “We’ve had some lodged rye with too much nitrogen,” says Brian, “And if a field has a lot of weed pressure, you might hit it with 2,4-D in the fall or spring.”