Planting Winter Triticale Guide What You Need To Know

Tinter Triticale A Green Manure Cover Crop

Field winter triticale

Winter Triticale is a self-pollinating annual winter grain developed by crossing winter wheat and winter rye together.

You can use winter triticale as a cover crop and grow it for use as green manure to add nutrients and organic material into the soil while preventing weeds from moving in.

Cover crops have gained in popularity with many home gardeners. It doesn't just help us to protect our soil but increase its nutrients and fertility.

The best pH is 5.5 ro­ 6.0, but a pH in the range of 4.5 ­ 7.0 gets tolerated well by this plant.

Because triticale is so simple to grow and requires minimal tending, it has gained popularity with many gardeners.

Being a deep-rooted plant, it helps us break up clay soil while improving the aeration of the ground. The roots will pull nutrients deep in the ground and move them into the leaf blades.

It is also a helpful plant to build up our soil by adding lots of organic matter back into our soil.

What Is Winter Triticale

Winter triticale is a manufactured crop with an upright winter annual grass initially developed in 1875. The cross would only create sterile offspring at this point, making it of little use.

It was not until the 1930s that techniques were available to produce a fertile hybrid.

This hybrid was created to combine the benefits of having ryes hardiness and wheat's self-pollination capabilities and uniformity attributes.

There are two primary types of triticale hybrids, specifically spring and winter hybrid types.

Pika and Bobcat are two specific types of winter triticale commonly used in the U.S and Canada.

Winter Triticale Scientific Name

Triticale (x Triticosecale Wittmack) gets its name originates from its parents, Triticum and Secale (Latin names for wheat and rye).

Winter Triticale Growth Stages

  • 1) Germination
  • 2) Seedling growth
  • 3) Tillering
  • 4) Stem Extension
  • 5) Heading
  • 6) Flowering
  • 7) Ripening
winter wheat growth cycle

Winter Triticale Varieties

There are 4 common varieties of Winter Triticale in use, with the first two most commonly used in the U.S and Canada.

  • Pika
  • Bobcat
  • Modus
  • Disco

Winter Triticale Planting Dates

It is an annual small-grain cereal planted from early September until late October. If you have already worked with winter wheat, you need to plant the triticale 2 weeks earlier.

There are 2 times when we can plant it.

Winter Cover Crop

You will want to estimate the average time your area gets its first frost. Now take an average of 8 to 10 weeks before the frost date; that is when we need to have our triticale seeds planted.

Where I live, I need to have it planted the first or second week of September, and other areas can wait as late as mid-October.

In our home gardens, it is most commonly planted in the fall to help protect our soil over the winter months from erosion and nutrient loss. It will come out of dormancy in the spring and start regrowing.

In the early spring, after it grows to around a foot high, it can be tilled into our soil as a source of green manure.

Dual Cropping

We could use it in spring because of its fast finishing time and use in double cropping, but this gets used more in the farm industry than home gardens.

Winter Triticale Seeding Rate

The recommended seeding rate for CDC Osprey is 1.5 bu/ac (90 lb/ac). So on a large plot of land, the average winter triticale should be seeded at a rate of not less than 110 lb/ac.

I like to use 4 seeds per square foot when planted on my small home garden plot.

While I will plant them directly in my garden plot, you can start them inside first and move them once in the seedling stage to ensure complete coverage of your plot.

When starting them in pots, it's best to go with something like peat pots. These are biodegradable and can get directly placed in the soil, reducing our chance of hurting the plant's roots.

Winter Triticale Germination Time

On average, it will take 6 to 8 days for the triticale to germinate, but it can take up to 2 weeks.

It does not matter what tillage system you want to plant the rye seeds between 1 and 1.5 inches deep, and having good seed-to-soil contact will help it germinate quickly.

To sprout, they need a minimum temperature of 38℉. But you will see quicker and higher germination rates when the soil temperature has warmed to 55°F.

Seeding depth: Drill 1-2" deep or broadcast and lightly till-in.

Planting Winter Triticale

You can sow the seeds very similarly to how you would lay down grass seeds.

Before seeding, you can prepare your soil by adding manure or compost into the ground.

First, get a garden rake and level your soil. Now spread the seeds over the plot and rake the ground again.

We want the seeds covered between 1 to 2 inches to prevent birds from coming and eating them up.

Now get water and make sure the area is nice and moist. You will want to ensure it does not get overly dried out before the seeds move to the seedling stage.

The pH level should be close to 5.5-6.0 for optimal growth from them.

Winter Triticale Fertilizer Recommendations

It has almost identical fertilizer requirements to wheat for optimal growth and efficiently uses nutrients.

Nitrogen (N)

To maximize nitrogen with winter wheat best time to apply it to your soil is during the spring at green up.[6] Winter triticale should benefit similarly.

For small gardens just protecting the soil over the winter months, nitrogen can get applied when planting, or you can mix in a winter legume plant to provide it.

Phosphate (P)

Phosphate (P) must be available right at seeding. Phosphate is essential for the plant to grow a strong root system.

If the root system does not fully develop, there is the possibility that our triticale will die off over the winter.

Just like wheat broadcast P may be better than no P, but the difference in efficiency between the two is pronounced.[1]

Potassium (K)

If you see pale green and wilting leaves or a yellowing along the margins of the older leaves, we need to add more potassium.

Low potassium levels reduce the plant's ability to stand and lower disease resistance.

This deficiency is most common in sandier soil or one with continuous soybean production.

How Much Water Does Triticale Need

If it is grown for succulent feed for livestock, it can get successfully grown with as little as 12 – 16 inches of water from the start of its growth to the finish.

How Long Does Winter Triticale Take to Grow

Typically it takes about seven to eight months to reach full maturity of its seeds and grains.

Winter triticale matures about one week later than winter wheat and two weeks later than fall rye under similar growing conditions.[7]

It's important to remember the growth time over the fall and then coming out of dormancy in early spring all count towards this time frame.

How Tall Does Winter Triticale Grow

It is going to depend on how long you allow it to grow.

I like to cut it down on my plot when it reaches one foot tall, and then I till it into the garden as green manure.

But if you leave it and let it fully mature, it will reach three to five feet tall.

Winter Triticale Cover Crop Benefits

  • Very resistant to leaf and stem rust, common bunt, and smut.
  • Protection for your garden soil in winter
  • Tilling it into your ground as green manure helps improve your soil's fertility.
  • Withstand drought better than many other cereal grains
  • It can grow in low-fertility soils where other cereal grains may fail.
  • Ability to scavenge residual soil Nitrogen for use by other plants later.
  • It has some allelopathic effects that can inhibit weeds' germination and growth.
  • It works for dual cropping with a second plant, like corn, soybeans, or alfalfa, in many climates.
  • Like other cover crops, it mixes well with other plants.
  • Grows well in most soil types.
  • A deep root system allows for more organic matter in clay soils, improving the soil's tilth.


Winter triticale is growing in popularity with many home gardeners. It protects our soil from erosion while increasing its fertility and beneficial microorganisms.

It is a great soil builder and can also get tilled into the ground in spring as green manure to improve the quality of our soil.

If you decide to use it as green manure, you need to wait two weeks before your next planting to allow it to begin breaking down first.

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