It seems like any open day AgriLand attends lately has a crop of rye growing at it. There was even a tasting of rye bread and beer at Seedtech’s trial site. The tall crop makes for an interesting landscape in a field of plots; it also has some interesting potential.

The grain – which is similar to wheat in appearance, but is taller and some varieties have awns – can be used to produce animal feed (grain or wholecrop), whiskey and bread.

It can also be used in the production of ethanol and in anaerobic digestion. In the UK, the crop is getting more popular for use in anaerobic digesters.

Its high-lysine levels make is an attractive animal feed; the crop has 13% more lysine than wheat.

Rye is known as a low GI (Glycemic Index) source of carbohydrate and is popular in health foods.

AgriLand met Morgan Ging a few weeks ago. Morgan plans to produce rye whiskey at Ballykeefe Distillery, from rye grown on his farm.

A plot of rye at the Goldcrop open day

“We’re also going to be making a rye whiskey later on in the year. We grew rye on the farm last year,” Morgan told AgriLand.

Rye has a very strong straw. The tall crop has stayed standing this year, even in some testing conditions. It is also very strong against disease.

Rye has a strong straw

Goldcrop’s, John Dunne, reported a yield of 13t/ha from a crop of rye last year. He also stated that the low-protein grain makes it suitable for distilling.

He also outlined that the crop is growing in popularity in some countries. In Denmark, 600,000t of the grain was produced in 2012; that figure is now at 14 million tonnes.

“It’s interesting; it’s something that we’re looking at it,” he said.