Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. David Van Sanford

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy Phillips


Winter rye (Secale cereale L.) is a small grain crop characterized by outstanding tolerance to drought, low temperatures, soil salinity and relatively low nutritional requirements. Rye is widely used as a cover crop, well known for its deep root system and outstanding nitrogen scavenging ability. This crop is widely used as a feed for livestock but also it is beneficial in human nutrition. Because of its versatile use, nutritional benefits and unique aroma and flavor, especially for bread and whiskey, there is an increasing interest in this crop in the United States. Unfortunately, rye grain production in the United States, is not sufficient to meet the demand of distillers and bakers, partially because of rye management knowledge gap, that leaves farmers with uncertain success if they choose to grow this crop. Another limiting factor is a lack of rye varieties suitable to specific farming regions, especially Kentucky and other mid-south states. In this dissertation the results of experiments leading to an increase in winter rye production in Kentucky are presented. The aims of this dissertation are: 1) test rye varieties available on the US market and determine varieties most suitable for the Kentucky environment; 2) establish an optimal planting date of winter rye; 3) determine the influence of nitrogen fertilizer rate on rye grain production profitability, and 4) quantify the variability and heritability of sensory attributes in rye. Our results showed that varieties of the highest success in Kentucky are both European hybrid varieties and open-pollinating varieties. The highest average yields were obtained at intermediate and late planting dates (between mid-October and early November). Another important finding was that lowering nitrogen rate brings a 66% chance of increased rye grain production profitability. In terms of aroma and flavor, we found high variability in rye flatbread aroma and flavor and heritability estimates of several rye flatbread sensory attributes ranging from 0.29 to 0.57. These findings support the idea that rye can be successfully grown in the mid-south of the United States, and the specific aroma and flavor heritability findings can be used in a future genetic improvement of winter rye.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the Dendrifund in 2019-2023