Northwest Crops and Soils Team Reports on Winter Grain Field Trials

Scientists are on a farm doing research on rye crop production.
Heather Darby and Northwest Crops and Soils researchers evaluate winter rye cover crop populations on Borderview Farm.

It is a busy time of year for grain growers here in the Northeast, including the farmers and researchers at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, Vermont. The University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils team (NWCS) is conducting 10 winter grain field trials including studies focused on rye, wheat, spelt, and barley.

In 2022, the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program awarded a grant to the NWCS team to execute a series of rye-focused trials. Cereal rye (Secale cereale) is commonly grown as a cover crop in the Northeast, but increasing demand for rye grain has many farmers interested in pursuing value-add markets for this cover crop. The aim of the grant program entitled, Capturing Value with Cereal Rye in the Northeast, is to continue research initiatives to evaluate the potential for cereal rye end-uses in food and beverages in Vermont. This project spans three years and will study how variety, fertility, planting and harvest date affect yield and quality, and how this in turn affects different end-uses (e.g. for cover cropping, forage, distilling, and baking).

In addition to the field trials, UVM NWCS team is collaborating with June Russell at the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming ( The goal is to better understand cereal rye market demand, desired rye varieties, and the standards required for various market sectors to help poise farmers to meet the emerging demand for rye. Over the past few months a survey was distributed to the rye focus groups. Survey results of this market research will be shared in 2024.

A farm field planted with research plots of winter rye that shows the difference in growth from early and late plantings.
A rye planting and depth trial at Borderview Farm during April, 2022. The study examined how planting date and depth affect survival and quality of winter rye.

Glynwood will also host rye baking sessions and a rye focused business-to-business event. The event will primarily be a networking event with the aims of cultivating relationships, providing education on cereal rye, and creating sales opportunities for producers. We will send out more information as the event date and time is solidified!

Stay tuned for results through the NWCS website, the NGGC Instagram @Northern_Grain_Growers, and the NWCS Instagram @uvm_nwcropsoil. To receive email updates from NWCS, send an email to and list which crop(s) you are interested in: grains, oilseeds, organic dairy, hops, brewer, dairy, milkweed, hemp, or vegetable. Please include your first and last name, email, mailing address and phone number.

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