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A picture of a Winter Rye

Winter Rye

Secale cereale

Also known as

Ryegrass, Rye

Secale cereale flowering, rogge bloeiend (1) by Rasbak (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Light watering
Frost Hardy


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size








6 months to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has no fragrance

More images of Winter Rye

A close up of a Secale cereale flower on a plant
A close up of a green Secale cereale plant

Winter Rye Overview

Secale cereale is commonly known as Rye grass, Forage Rye or Hungarian Grazing and is mostly grown by gardeners as green manure as part of a crop rotation plan. One of the best for growing over winter in almost all locations and soil types. It develops deep roots drawing up nutrients, holds the soil together and prevents nitrogen from being lost over the winter. An excellent weed suppressor, it emits a seed inhibiting chemical which can prevent the germination of small seeds. Crops planted afterwards may fail if this chemical s not allowed a month to disperse after being dug back in; however, it does not harm transplanted seedlings. Originating from Turkish area, Secale cereale has been harvested since Neolithic man, grown extensively as a grain crop, it has and still is, used for flour in the production bread, crispbread, beer, whiskey, vodka's and as animal fodder. It is high in carbohydrates and survives where other grain crops such as barley and wheat will not.

Common problems with Winter Rye

Generally pest & disease free

    How to harvest Winter Rye

    Collect seed in summer,

    How to propagate Winter Rye


    For green manure, sow seeds between August and October direct to the prepared area. High rainfall can affect the success of the germination; however, seedlings will require additional water during hot, dry spells to get them established.

    Special features of Winter Rye

    Ground cover

    Can be planted as a cover crop/green manure during winter months and dug in after 2 to 3 months.

    Other uses of Winter Rye

    Cereal, food


    Rye grain is used in a variety of ways, from flour, crispbread and animal fodder to alcoholic drinks such as whiskey, vodka and beer.