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Alternative Cereals

Alternative Cereals

Triticale is the product of a cross between wheat and rye initially developed within the last century. Significant progress has been made with this crop in recent years, leading to a renewed interest in the potential of Triticale. This crossing of wheat and rye aims to amalgamate the high yield potential and grain quality of wheat with the favourable characteristics of rye such as increased pest and disease resistance, drought tolerance and adaptability to marginal conditions.

Triticale is especially suited to marginal lands and areas where disease pressure is particularly high. Another advantage of growing Triticale over other cereals is that the agronomy is quite simple relative to other winter cereals and the amount of spraying and chemical inputs is minimal.

The only difference between Triticale and wholecrop Triticale is the harvesting date.

The cost per tonne of Dry Matter (DM) of wholecrop is also very competitive, especially when compared to grass silage. Wholecrop triticale is a flexible source of forage as the attractions include:

  • High yields of DM of consistent quality (5 t DM/ac) from a single harvest
  • High starch content (30-35%)
  • Can be grown in all regions of the country 
  • Easily grown with minimum of inputs
  • Eligible for full cereal aid
  • Produces no effluent
  • Sown as per winter cereal in Oct/Nov
  • Harvested in August when it’s a lull time for silage contractors
  • Harvested in good field conditions
  • Opportunity to reseed or put in another winter cereal crop after being triticale is harvested.


Site Selection
Triticale will grow on most soil types. As Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye, it exhibits good heterosis and will grow well in sites considered unsuitable for other cereals. Earlier harvest allows sowing of a catch crop or reseeding.

Does best when sown in mid October at a seeding rate of 125 to 155 kg/ha (8 to 10 stone per acre). Increase seeding rates upwards towards 12 st/ac where sowing into mid November..

Triticale has the potential to outyield winter barley and its potential comparatively better than either barley or wheat on more difficult or less fertile sites. This is primarily due to its more extensive and deeper rooting system. This attribute makes it a better choice in second or third wheats.

Apply fertiliser as per winter wheat crop. Reduce the total nitrogen by 20-25%. Split timing will also reduce the risk of lodging.

Weed infestation may reduce the feeding value and effect the ensiling process. Spring weed control using Ally and Eagle is very effective.

Triticale has very good disease resistance with many crops not requiring any fungicide. One broad spectrum fungicide spray between growth stage 31 (first node) and growth stage 49 (first awns visible) in high disease pressure areas has proved worthwhile in terms of yield response.

The incorporation of semi-dwarfing genes into modern varieties has Regulator greatly improved standing ability. The use of Plant Growth Regulators (PGR’s) are worthwhile to reduce the risk of lodging. Apply from first node to flag leaf to reduce crop height and strengthen straw. A reduced rate of CCC is adequate, 1 l/ha or ¾ pts/acre should be fine.

On less fertile sites, with a lower risk of lodging, the omission of a PGR could be considered. In these circumstances, varietal choice, yield potential, etc. must be taken into account.

Where harvesting for grain, cut as per normal wheat/barley /oat crop.
The nutritive value of wholecrop changes as the crop matures and as water soluble carbohydrate is converted to starch. The target DM for harvesting is 35-40%, equivalent to the ‘soft cheddar’ or ‘soft cheese’ grain stage. Harvesting at the correct stage is all important as harvesting too early will result in a lower DM feed with little starch, while harvesting too late can cause preservation and grain digestion difficulties. A chop length of 7 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) is optimal to ensure good clamp compaction.

Wholecrop triticale can be fed as a large proportion of the forage programme or is the ideal complement to low DM grass silage, in both dairy, cattle and sheep feeding systems.
Wholecrop triticale contains approximately 50% grain and has higher intake potential than grass silage. However, like other wholecrop cereals, it needs to be supplemented with a protein source (PDIN), particularly if fed with a low protein grass silage. Wholecrop is also deficient in vitamins and minerals and needs supplementation.

Generally there is no requirement for straw when included in a TMR feeding system.

Available Alternative Cereals Varieties

  • Seedtech

    Hybrid Rye 

    • Exceptional on farm performance 2017-2019 (c. 10-11 t/ha grain yield) 
    • Less fungicides & nitrogen than winter wheat 
    • Very secure harvest with very low risk of lodging, sprouting and Fusarium 
    • Very suitable for wholecrop, as grain markets are developing 
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