Can Rye (Secale cereale L.) be the Leading Annual Forage Crop in the Southern Great Plains?.
Malay Saha, Jerry Baker, Jennifer Black, Andrew Hopkins, and Joe Bouton. Forage Improvement Division, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, 2510 Sam Noble Pkway, Ardmore, OK 73401
Livestock and forage production are the largest contributors to agricultural income in the southern Great Plains of USA. Small grains are grown primarily for cool-season pasture when farmers do not have much choice for grazing animals. Among the different small grain crops, rye (Secale cereale L.) has the best potential to meet the need for early fall-winter forage. Noble Foundation is the only organization in the region concentrating efforts to the genetic improvement of rye. Several rye cultivars have been released from the Foundation's breeding program. In multi-location trials, total and early fall-winter yield of rye lines and cultivars varied from 4,281 to 7,650 and from 1,063 to 4,219 kg of dry forage ha-1, respectively. In light textured soil of Burneyville, OK, the total yield of rye, wheat, triticale, and oat lines varied from 9070 - 6337, 7365 - 4955, 7392 - 4027, and 7120 - 3422 kg of dry forage ha-1, respectively. The recently released rye cultivar ‘Maton II' out yielded all previously released rye cultivars from the Foundation's program for both total and early fall-winter forage in southern Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. The yield of Maton II was the highest among all the rye, wheat, triticale, and oat cultivars evaluated at Iowa Park, TX, during 2005-06. Rye cultivars are advantageous because they are winter-hardy and disease resistant in relation to other small grain crops mentioned above. The forage quality of rye cultivars is fairly comparable to other small grain crops. It appears that fall-sown rye cultivars have the potential for extending the grazing season in the southern Great-Plains.