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Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Triticale

By Ray Hansen, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University, hansenr@iastate.edu.

Revised by Mykel Taylor, Assistant Professor, Kansas State University. Revised June 2012

 

Overview

Triticale (trit uh KAY lee) is a hybrid small grain produced by crossing wheat and rye. The name combines the scientific names of the two crop species, that is, wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale).

Although a relatively new genotype, the history of triticale goes back to the late 1800s when the first crosses were attempted. Over the next 50 years, isolated experimentation and research occurred throughout Europe and the Soviet Union. It was not until the 1960s that the first commercial releases became available for producers. Both winter and spring types were developed, with emphasis on spring varieties.

Value-added Uses

Interest in triticale has developed around several areas of potential use for the grain. The first area of interest is for use as a feed grain for livestock because it has proven to be a good source of protein, amino acids and B vitamins. It has shown promise as both a forage crop and as an alternative protein source in formulated rations for cattle, sheep and goats as well as chickens and pigs. Feeding trials with both swine and poultry have shown that triticale can replace corn in diets with little effect on animal performance. 

A second area of interest for triticale is use of the straw for biofuel production. Studies in the U.K. have found triticale outperforms wheat as a biofuel feedstock because it uses less nitrogen to achieve similar yields (Davis-Knight and Weightman 2008). Research efforts are currently being supported by the Canadian government to develop triticale as a feedstock with a production goal of 1 million acres of production by 2015.

The third area of interest for triticale is in developing the grain for use in food products. Current triticale varieties do not possess the milling and baking characteristics to be competitive with wheat for use in bread and pasta products. As a food grain, triticale has been recognized as a hardy crop capable of helping combat world hunger.

Production

According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, 464 farms in over 30 states raised triticale. Total production that year was 2.5 million bushel. The states producing the most triticale were (in order): Washington, Texas, California and Kansas.

The majority of the planted acres are used for forage and pastures. Production trends do show steady growth over the last 20 years with a 50 percent growth in production during the last decade. Some of the hurdles slowing growth are inconsistencies, genetic composition and yield in the grain.

In 2008, over 14 million tons were produced around the world. Nearly 90 percent of the current world production, or approximately 12.8 million acres harvested annually, is concentrated in Europe. In 2008, Poland was the leading producer with an annual production of 4.5 million metric ton (MT), followed by Germany with 2.4 million MT and  France and Belarus both producing about 1.8 million MT (FAO).

Outlook

The versatility that triticale offers as a grain, a forage and as a biofueld feedstock adds to the economic viability that sustains the interest in the crop. Triticale will likely continue to experience increased levels of production if it is supported with solid research in genetics, production and utilization.

Sources

Triticale, Field Crops: 2007 and 2002, 2007 Census of Agriculture, National Ag Statistics Service, USDA.

Triticale: A Viable Alternative for Iowa Producers and Livestock Feeders? Iowa State University, 2002.

Other Links

      
Links checked November 2013.

 

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