Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
With the wet weather this spring, I thought there may be a few more acres of rye that weren't harvested for silage on time and were left standing for grain and straw. Rye grain yields aren't as high as wheat or barley but if the value of cover crop rye is anything like it was last fall and with good straw prices, it may not be too bad of a cash crop given that there probably wasn't relatively much expense put in to grow it.
Depending on how good of a job the combine did of cleaning it in the field, the weed seed content and on whether it will be drilled or broadcast, you may want to have it cleaned. If rye is held in bulk during storage, it should be no more than 14% moisture. If it needs to be dried to get down to that moisture level, the temperature of drying air should not ever be over 110 degrees F to avoid any effect on germination.
Since rye is stored over the hot weather months before use, it has the potential for infestation and damage from insects. Whether you store it in a bin, a gravity wagon, piled on a concrete floor or in bags, you should make sure that the storage has been cleaned of any old grain that may be harboring potential storage insect pests. Hopefully with dry grain and good sanitation, you won't have a problem with insects. Most grain protectants don't have rye on the label anyway.
If you plan to sell rye seed, you should be aware that under the current regulations of the Pennsylvania Seed Act, as amended in 2005, anyone selling seed in Pennsylvania has to be a licensed seed dealer. This includes farmers that produce non-certified seed such as cover crop rye and sell their seed to other farmers. In this situation, it cannot be sold under a variety name and must be labeled as VNS (variety not stated) In addition to the license requirement, all seed must have a germination and purity analysis and labeled¹ to provide the following information:
- Commonly accepted name of seed and any seed component in excess of 5% of the whole
- Lot number
- Percentage of weight of all weed seeds²
- Name and number of restricted noxious weed seeds³
- Percentage by weight of agricultural seeds other than those required which may be designated as crop seeds
- Percentage by weight of inert matter
- For each named seed: percentage of germination exclusive of hard seed, percentage of hard seed if present and the month and year the test was done.
A seed dealer license can be attained by submitting an application to the department and payment of an annual fee of $25.00.
These requirements help ensure the quality of seed sold and minimize the spread of weeds to other farms. The Department of Agriculture Seed Testing Lab also offers seed testing services for farmers that plant their own home grown seed and want to know the germination and purity of it before they plant it. Current fees for a combined purity and germination test for barley, wheat or rye is $32.00. Call the seed lab (717-787-4894) for more details on submitting samples.
¹ Labeling requirements vary by the type of seed. Information in this article relates to agricultural seeds such as rye or wheat.
² Weed seed cannot exceed 1% by weight,
³ Restricted noxious weed seeds are limited to 5 seeds per pound in small grains or similar size seed. Seed with any amount of prohibited noxious weeds is not allowed to be sold.