• Soil texture
    crop soil texture
    Sandy to medium-heavy soil
  • Min. temperature
    crop temperature icon
  • pH
    Winter Rye crop pH value
    5.5 -7
  • Water demand
    Winter Rye crop rainfall value
    > 300 l/m2
  • Vernalisation
    Winter Rye crop vernalisation
    0-3 °C, 25 - 30 days
  • Plant density
    crop density

    Hybrids: 200-300 grains/m2

    Population rye: 300-400 grains/m2

  • Seeding Depth
    crop seeding depth
    1-3 cm
Winter Rye
Rye is a very robust cereal crop and can therefore be grown in almost all soils with relatively low average temperatures and at altitudes up to 2000 metres. Rye can withstand temperatures as low as -25 °C and is a very competitive crop on light-textured soils. 

The well-developed root system facilitates a very efficient use of nutrients and water. The early plant development and long duration of the grain-filling phase is a further advantage for the use of nutrients and winter moisture. Rye needs a heat sum  of approximately 1800°C until ripening. 

Rye is a heathy grain used in bread and is mainly processed into flour for human consumption. Further markets are animal feed thanks to its high-protein quality and bio-fuel production. 
Key facts
  • Rye is very resistant to cold temperatures.

  • Rye has a strong root system.

  • Adjust the nitrogen supply to demand in order to avoid lodging.

  • Hybrid and population rye require different fertilization.

General Information
General Information
Nutrient demand
Nutrient demand

Seeding is carried out from the end of September to the beginning of October. The planting density varies greatly between varieties. In very good conditions and early sowing with hybrid varieties (70-75% share), very low densities of 150 to 180 seeds/ m2 are possible. Population rye is sown at a density of 250 to 300 seeds/ m2 and late varieties at a density of 300 to 350 seeds/ m2.

Although rye is a relatively robust cereal, it needs plant protection  treatment to achieve high yields. The stem and bulb eelworm (Ditylenchus dipsaci) is a pathogenic nematode that also affects rye and is prevalent following a mild winter. Appropriate crop rotation and seed dressing can reduce the occurrence of phytopathogenic fungi (ergot, Claviceps purpurea) which has to be controlled by fungicides. 

Due to the early development and high amount of tillering, rye competed well against weeds. A treatment with herbicides should be carried out in autumn.

Winter Rye related desktop image Winter Rye related tablet image Winter Rye related mobile image
Due to its intensive root system, rye is capable of using nutrients very effectively. The addition of nitrogen needs to calculated carefully, because on the one hand it is important for the development of qualitative characteristics, but on the other hand, too much nitrogen can cause lodging. Depending on yield expectation, supply from the soil, and variety, rye needs 90 to 110kg nitrogen per hectare. This is usually fertilised over one or two applications.  

On sandy humic soils, foliar fertilization with copper is recommended. Manganese deficiency is often observed on chalky, sandy soils. The provision of boron has a positive influence on flowering (fertilization at flag leaf or early flowering stage). 
Extracted quantities of rye



(Unit/t of production)


(Unit/t of production)

Sensitivity to deficiency




Moderately Sensitive




Moderately Sensitive








Moderately Sensitive




Moderately Sensitive


B- and Mn-fertilization recommended

The table shows uptake and removal of nutrients per tonne of yield. For a yield of 7 tonnes, 140kg nitrogen is required. Depending on soil properties and previous crops, 30 to 60kg N is provided from the soil. Therefore, a fertilisation of 90 to 110kg nitrogen is sufficient in most cases.

Autumn fertilization

Autumn fertilization image

First application in spring

First application in spring image

Second nitrogen fertilization

Second nitrogen fertilization image

Third nitrogen fertilization

Third nitrogen fertilization image

Autumn fertilization

Fertilization in autumn is seldom necessary. Nevertheless, applying 20 to 30kg nitrogen can be beneficial on fields with low nitrogen supply from the previous crop (cereals or maize), and with a high amount of crop residue. Fertilization with a compound NPK fertilizer (COMPLEX 15/15/15 +7SO3+Zn) also enhances tillering and improves frost hardiness.

First application in spring

The first nitrogen fertilization at tillering (BBCH 21-25) influences the stock density. This application should only provide 30% of the total fertilized nitrogen at the most. An exception can be made for very poorly developed stocks. Phosphorus and potassium are applied with the first dose in spring, if not already provided in autumn. The most efficient choice is a compound NPK+S fertilizer (COMPLEX 15/15/15 +7SO3+Zn, COMPLEX 14/10/20 +10SO3, COMPLEX 20/8/8 +3MgO+10SO3).

Second nitrogen fertilization

Fertilization at the start of bolting (BBCH 30-32) influences the number of ears and the number of grains per ear. This dose regulates the stock density. Very dense stocks are fertilized later at the two-node growth stage (BBCH 32) while stocks with a low density are fertilized earlier (BBCH 29-30) to increase the number of tillers. This application should provide a maximum of 50% of the total nitrogen fertilized. On very light soils suffering from drought in spring, this application can be combined with an application at ear emergence.

Third nitrogen fertilization

A third nitrogen fertilization can optimize the N supply at very high yield expectations. This late application at ear emergence (BBCH 37-49) influences the yield (grain filling and thousand-grain weight). On very light soils with drought in spring, this application can be combined with an application at bolting (second N fertilization).