The plant is a good green manure crop. It is fast growing with an extensive and deep root system. It is especially useful if sown in late autumn.
Its growth over the winter will prevent soil erosion and the leaching of nutrients from the soil, it can then be incorporated into the soil in the spring. The extensive root system also makes this a good plant to use for soil stabilization, especially on sandy soils.
Rye is a widely cultivated temperate zone cereal crop. It is able to withstand severe climatic conditions and can be grown much further north and at higher altitudes than wheat.
The straw is used as a fuel or as a biomass in industry. It is quite strong and can also be used in thatching, for paper making, weaving mats and hats etc. Other uses for the straw include as a packing material for nursery stock, bricks and tiles, for bedding, archery targets, and mushroom compost.
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils but prefers a well-drained light soil in a sunny position. It thrives on infertile, submarginal areas and is renouned for its ability to grow on sandy soils. Established plants are drought tolerant.
Sow March or October in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.
Seed - cooked. A common cereal, it is used especially in N. Europe to make bread. The seed contains about 13% protein. The grain also contains some gluten, though not as much as wheat, so it makes a heavier bread than wheat. It can also be used to make cakes etc. The seed can be sprouted and added to salads. A nutritional analysis is available.
Malt, a sweet substance produced by germinating the seed, is extracted from the roasted germinated seed and used as a sweetening agent and in making beer etc.The roasted (ungerminated) seed is used as a coffee substitute.