Harvesting and Storage of Fall Rye

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 Fall rye can shatters very easily when ripe. For this reason, it should be swathed when the kernel moisture content is 40 to 45 per cent. Waiting for the crop to dry down for straight combining results in substantial shattering and a volunteer crop problem in following years. New, hybrid rye tends to be more uniform in maturity and can be straight combined when tough, about 22 per cent moisture, then dried down to 14 per cent moisture for long term, safe storage.

Research results from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada station at Swift Current show that fall rye swathed with up to 47 per cent kernel moisture and allowed to field dry (7 - 9 days) suffered no quality loss and graded number one. However, artificial drying of rye grain resulted in downgrading when it was harvested at a moisture content greater than 20 per cent and was further downgraded when harvest moisture levels exceeded 35 per cent. The main downgrading factors were green and immature kernels and low test weight. Therefore, fall rye can be swathed and allowed to field dry without quality loss, but should not be combined and artificially dried until the kernel moisture is below 20 per cent.

Resistance to sprouting is a problem in older rye varieties, and this issue can result in quality loss problems if wet weather occurs during harvest. Some of the newer varieties, such as AC Remington and AC Rifle, have better sprouting resistance.

Rye threshes very easily. Under dry threshing conditions care must be taken to adjust the concave setting and/or cylinder speed to minimize cracking. Care in picking up the swath is also necessary to avoid undue shattering.

Fall rye is ready to harvest before other cereals, including winter wheat and early seeded early maturing barley.

Rye at 14 per cent or lower kernel moisture is considered dry and safe for storage. At 13 per cent moisture, loss of condition due to molds or mites is unlikely. Normal storage bins used for cereal crops may be used to store fall rye.

More Information

For additional information see the 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
Winter Plant Survival of Fall Rye
Pest Control in Fall Rye
Harvesting and Storage of Fall Rye - Current Document
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.