Fertilizing Fall Rye

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 Fertilizer should be applied according to soil test results. Fall rye responds well to adequate phosphorus and to higher levels of nitrogen when compared with hard red spring wheat. In the absence of soil test results, consult the Alberta Fertilizer Guide, Agdex 541-1, for general information applicable to your area.
Place phosphorous with or near the seed at seeding time or band prior to seeding. Typical application rates with the seed range from 20 to 35 lb/ac of P205 to a maximum safe rate of 50 lb/ac. Nitrogen to a maximum of 25 lb N per acre of urea (46-0-0) can be placed with the seed, with good soil moisture. Higher rates than the above can lead to both salt burning of the seedlings and a thin plant stand, reducing potential yield.

The amount of nitrogen safely placed within the seed will vary depending on soil texture, amount of seedbed utilization and moisture conditions. See Alberta Agriculture’s frequently asked questions (FAQ) on seed-placed fertilizer for more information.

Higher amounts of nitrogen can be safely applied with the seed if it is a polymerized form of urea where the nitrogen is released over the period of several weeks.

If soil moisture is marginal for germination, high rates of fertilizer should not be placed with the seed. Both nitrogen and phosphorous can be banded prior to seeding, but take care to avoid loss of seedbed moisture and protective crop residue.

Nitrogen can also be broadcast in early spring when winter survival, spring conditions and crop outlook can be used to adjust the rate of nitrogen application. If applying spring nitrogen, you are limited to urea or ammonium sulfate. Nitrogen losses with broadcast urea can be high due to denitrification and/or volatilization if there is no moisture to take the fertilizer into the soil. If applying nitrogen by broadcasting, minimize losses to the atmosphere by applying just before a rainfall or use a urease inhibitor to slow down the denitrification process.

Possible disadvantages of spring application:
  • weather conditions prevent timely application
  • nitrogen may be trapped on the soil surface owing to lack of moisture
  • requires valuable spring working time
  • risk of nitrogen losses due to surface application increases as soil and air temperatures increase
More Information

For additional information see the Alberta Agriculture publication Fall Rye Production, Agdex 117/20-1.


The author wishes to express a sincere thank you to Walter Yarish, Tim Ferguson, Ieuan Evans, Mike Dolinski, Doug Penney, J. Thomas, Don Salmon, Bob Nelson, Grant McLeod, Keith Briggs, Dave McAndrew, Myron Bjorge, Bob Wroe, Russel Horvey, Alan Toly, Bob Wolfe, Blair Shaw, Bill Chapman, Wayne Jackson, Larry Welsh, Ellis Treffry, Gordon Hutton, Allan Macaulay, Mike Rudakewich and Lu Piening for their constructive criticism in reviewing and improving this manual.

A special thanks to Arvid Aasen who wrote, with the help of Ken Lopetinsky, Vern Baron, Ellis Treffry and Myron Bjorge, the pasture, the hay and silage section.

Prepared by:
Murray McLelland formerly with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

Revised by:
Harry Brook, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Source: Agdex 117/20-1. Revised June 2018.

Other Documents in the Series

  Fall Rye Production
Seeding Fall Rye
Fertilizing Fall Rye - Current Document
Winter Plant Survival of Fall Rye
Pest Control in Fall Rye
Harvesting and Storage of Fall Rye
Fall Rye for Pasture, Hay and Silage, Grazing and Feeding
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Harry Brook.
This document is maintained by Jennifer Rutter.
This information published to the web on November 1, 1999.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 9, 2018.