As cover crop: The most popular winter cover in the Northeast. Deep extensive roots help prevent compaction and improve soil tilth. Turn under early in spring before it gets out of hand. Decomposed residue exudes allelopathic compounds that inhibit weed growth; may also inhibit germination and growth of subsequent crops, so incorporate into soil at least 3 weeks before planting. Direct-seeded crops with small seeds are more susceptible to rye’s effects than large-seeded crops and transplants.
As food grain: Threshes easily and produces a flour suitable for blending with wheat in breads. Matures earlier than winter wheat. Susceptible to ergot contamination, so exercise caution and have grain tested before consuming: Hallucinations from ergot poisoning are believed to have resulted in the Salem witch trials.
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