Winter Rye

Nature & Nurture Seeds

Secale cereale


Pkt (1.5 oz ≈1612 seeds)
VALUE SIZE: 12 oz (≈12,900 seeds)
Certified Organic

Multipurpose annual, crop that makes a great cover crop but also produces straw and an edible cereal grain for eating, brewing, and distilling. Rye is very cold hardy and will survive winter as cold as zone 3. We often plant rye mixed with hairy vetch in fall to protect bare soil over the winter. Sow it any time of year to cover any bare ground even in pathways. Can be mowed but will eventually make seed heads. 

Cover crops are plants that are grown specifically to improve soil. Though rye can be grown any time of the year, it is the most common fall-seeded cover crop in northern regions, since it is extremely cold hardy and can germinate in soils as cold as 35°F. Well-adapted for a wide range of soil conditions, rye is excellent at covering the soil over the winter to minimize soil compaction, soil erosion, and nutrient leaching and runoff. It also helps soil drying in the spring. Over-wintered rye can outcompete weeds as well as prevent germination of some weed seeds. We often plant rye mixed with hairy vetch in our fall-seeded cover crop mix and like to use it to cover any bare ground in the summer especially our pathways between beds which are mowed. Rye can be tilled into the soil (as "green manure" adding organic matter to the soil), cut and left to decompose in place as a mulch, mixed into the compost pile, or fed to livestock as a high protein meal. If left in place, allow 7-10 days after killing the rye before planting the next crop, to allow biomass to decompose slightly. This is an open-pollinated, un-named variety from Albert Lea Seed in Minnesota.

Dried rye seed heads are beautiful in dried floral arrangments.

Additional shipping charge for the Value Size

Sow seeds directly outside anytime March to mid-Oct (September is ideal for use as a winter cover crop). 1 oz covers approx 55 sq ft (1.5" spacing between seeds). Plant seeds ¼-½“ deep (you can drag the back of a leaf rake to cover them) or they will germinate uncovered if kept constantly moist. Rye is widely tolerant of soil type and moisture, and can germinate in soils as cold as 33°.

Rye will only produce seed heads if exposed to winter temperatures (vernalization), though it can be spring planted as a cover crop (green manure, weed supression, nutrient scavenging). Grows well along with hairy vetch, typically at 2 rye : 1 vetch ratio by weight. Rye is often killed in spring by plowing, tilling, tarping or crimping when it is at height of ~20". Rye can also be killed by mowing right as the crop begins flowering.