Understanding Quality Standards for Cereal Rye to Help Farmers Access Value-Added Markets for Malting, Distilling, and Baking

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2018: $14,971.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Vermont and State Agricultural College
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension

Information Products

Rye Production Guide (Manual/Guide)
2019 Winter Rye Variety Trial Report (Article/Newsletter/Blog)
2019 Winter Rye Nitrogen Fertility Trial (Article/Newsletter/Blog)
2019 Winter Rye Harvest Date (Article/Newsletter/Blog)
Rye Baking Trials (Multimedia)
2020 Winter Rye Nitrogen Trial Report (Article/Newsletter/Blog)
2020 Winter Rye Harvest Date Trial (Article/Newsletter/Blog)
2020 Winter Rye Variety Trial Report (Article/Newsletter/Blog)


  • Agronomic: rye


  • Crop Production: fertilizers, varieties and cultivars
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, value added
  • Pest Management: cultural control

    Proposal abstract:

    Rye (Secale cereale L.) has been grown in the Northeast for decades, predominately as a cover crop or livestock forage. Recently, there has been an increasing demand for rye within the food-grade market but limited information on rye quality that is appropriate for each end-use. The solution is to determine quality parameters of rye that would be suitable for malting, baking, and distilling. We know from anecdotal evidence (from local bakers) that standard analyses used for hard red wheat is not likely the same as for rye. It is unclear if this is also true for malt and distilling. New varieties of rye have started to be released which indicates the increasing demand but understanding what qualities these varieties have that might make them suitable for each end-use is not clear for the farmers or processors.

    Therefore, it is our intention to conduct large-scale rye variety trials at our partner farms in order to determine what varieties are suitable for each end-use. In addition, trials will be done on how fertility effects protein levels in rye and harvest date, which may also affect rye quality. Rye from variety, fertility, and harvest date trials will be evaluated for disease, yield, quality, and experimented with malting, distilling, and baking. Results from these trials will be shared through field days, conferences, workshops, videos, research reports, and through the development of a cereal rye production guide.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Local bakers, maltsters, and distillers are eager to source locally grown rye for their products however, limited information is available on the necessary quality requirements. Farmers are interested in producing rye but have found it challenging to source varieties ideal for the end-users needs. It is also unclear how harvesting and fertility management impact rye quality and subsequent end-use quality. We have a good understanding of how variety selection and management influence wheat and barley quality but this same information does not exist for cereal rye.

    The objectives of this project are to:

    1. To evaluate yield and quality characteristics of cereal rye and determine most appropriate uses for each variety.
    1. Determine the impact of nitrogen application timing on protein concentration and quality in cereal rye and subsequent impacts on end-use possibilities.
    1. Determine the impact of harvest timing on pre-harvest sprouting and overall quality in cereal rye.
    1. Identify cereal rye quality parameters necessary for specific end-uses, i.e. malt, distilling, and baking.

    These objectives will be met through on-farm research and collaboration with end-use partners to develop best practices for cereal rye production. Ultimately helping farmers improve their ability to meet the requirements of a value-added market.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.