Rye Control in Winter Wheat

Published 2007

Feral rye, also known as volunteer rye, has become a troublesome weed in winter wheat production in western Nebraska. Rye is grown in the state as a cover or pasture crop. It is also being used in wildlife and soil conservation seed mixtures. It is thought that our current rye problems in winter wheat originated when rye plants used for these other purposes escaped into cultivated fields. Since then, the rye plants with the most weedy characteristics (for example, longer seed dormancy) have thrived in continuous winter wheat and winter wheat-fallow rotations.

Feral rye causes problems because it typically matures and shatters before wheat harvest. The presence of feral rye in wheat grain may result in dockage, grade reduction, and a loss of wheat quality. Grain purchasers are increasingly concerned about rye in wheat as recent Federal Grain Standards have reduced the tolerable levels of foreign material allowed for U.S. No. 1, 2, and 3 grade wheat. Additionally, millers and bakers avoid buying wheat contaminated with rye because the resulting flour has poor baking characteristics. Due to these concerns, winter wheat growers who continue to ignore their feral rye problems are sure to take notice at harvest with decreased payments or possible rejection of the grain at the elevator. Feral rye and winter wheat are both winter annual grasses that reproduce by seed. Rye resembles wheat in habit, but may be differentiated from wheat by several characteristics.

Publication Details


Drew J. Lyon

Robert N. Klein

Gail A. Wicks




Publication Date October 01, 2002
Last Revision Date May 11, 2007
Language English


Series NebGuide