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Winter Wheat Vs Winter Rye: Which One To Choose?

Do you own a deer farm! And are indubitably concerned about their health conditions and food habits? In this case, you must be quite careful about what your deers eat! Winter wheat and winter rye are two such foods you could try for them.  

Not sure which one to pick from these two? That’s where we come to play!

So, which one to choose between winter wheat vs winter rye?

Winter wheat has a growing capability above average. Whereas, growth of winter rye is average. However, winter rye is more preferred by the animals compared to winter wheat. But planting winter wheat is easier than planting winter rye for sure!

Still, thinking about what choice to make? Don’t fret, we have a detailed discussion in our article awaiting you. So keep on reading!

Winter Wheat Vs Winter Rye: Basic Comparison

Knowing about Winter Wheat and Winter Rye is definitely important before making a decision. If you aren’t already aware of how these two make good food for deers, don’t worry. Go through our comparison table below to get a basic idea about them. 

AttributesWinter Wheat Winter Rye
Growth CapabilityAbove AverageAverage
Animal PreferenceYesYes

This should give you some knowledge about winter wheat and winter rye including their growth rate, animal preference and plantation.  

Detailed Comparison Between Winter Wheat And Winter Rye

Now if you have already made your choice, great! But if you haven’t, this section is for you. A basic comparison is merely enough to grasp the whole concept of feeding your deers one of these two. 

Hence we have discussed the features of winter wheat and winter rye in detail. So that you can easily make a list of pros and cons to choosing one among them!

Growing Capability

Winter wheat can endure temperatures below freezing for long periods of time. It can grow in the early stages of vegetative growth. It does, however, necessitate exposure to temperatures below or near freezing. 

To put it another way, winter wheat requires a time of chilly weather. In order for it to be able to produce seed. Winter wheat requires two things in order to perform well and produce good yields. 

The first is cold acclimation, whereas the second is vernalization.

Source: Wallpaper Flare

Winter rye, on the other hand, flourishes in well-draining loamy soil. However, it may tolerate hard clay or sandy soil. Winter rye grows best in a pH range of 5.0-7.0, although it can grow in the 4.5-8.0 range. 

Late in the fall, near the first light frost, winter rye cover crops are sown. It’s best to plant it in the autumn. The best time to plant winter rye is between August and October, depending on where you live. 

Plant winter rye in late October in Zones 6 and warmer. Gardeners in the coldest climates should plant it in the fall.

Source: iStock

Winner: As for the growth, winter wheat takes the lead. Simply because you can plant the seeds and grow them in a lesser time compared to rye. But winter rye is expected to have a lengthy plantation so the growth rate is slower. 

Deer Preference

Deer preferences matter the most when you think of their food. You can not just get your deers anything you think is good for them. And if you do not value their preference, you can not get in touch with them anyway.

You must ascertain their taste preference along with their health conditions too. 

Winter wheat is okay for deer. However, it is basically ideal for white-tailed deer in terms of nutrients. And they also prefer this the most. So, it is a perfect choice as food for the white-tailed deer.

In addition to that, winter rye is also a great choice for white-tailed deer. Not only the white-tailed, but general deer also prefer this as their food. It can be a great attraction for deer

Winner: If you choose the better one in terms of deer preference, winter rye is up! Because it is liked by all types of deer in general. So, winter rye can attract deer more than winter wheat.


Whether you think about winter wheat or rye, the plantation is important. You definitely need to determine the supply or production of it. 

If you think about winter wheat plantations, you’re already one step ahead. Wondering why? Well, it is because you can plant winter wheat quite easily. Moreover, you can get the result in very little time compared to other crops.

To add to that, the cost and maintenance of winter wheat are reasonable. You almost need no fertilizers for their growth.

In contrast, winter rye can require exceptions in terms of soil. You also need more time to grow winter rye compared to wheat. In addition, the cost of the plantation of winter rye is significant. You may need a lot of packs of fertilizers for winter rye.

Winner: Winter wheat is the winner if you think about the plantation. As the plantation process and maintenance are comparatively easier, we put it first!

The Right Cereal Grass

Not sure about your choice yet? No, don’t worry! Because it is quite a common thing to be confused about such similar things. So, get on the final note to make up your mind. And if you have already decided, you can reconsider your decision.

If you consider growing capability and plantation, go for winter wheat without a second thought! But if your concern about animal preference is more, winter rye is up for you!


Does a white-tailed deer prefer winter wheat?

A white-tailed deer benefits from winter wheat as a cool-season feed. Wheat seed heads are an excellent source of energy when fall-planted wheat grows. White-tailed deer aren’t the only ones who can benefit from these. These are also for a variety of wildlife species, both game, and nongame. Spring and summer are the most common times to see these.

Are deer good with rye?

Rye is a cool-season annual cereal grain that grows in the fall and winter. It germinates swiftly and is especially popular among deer. It also has a high level of resilience to grazing pressure. When evaluating the deer selectivity of different cereal grains, rye has always come in second to oats.

Is rye preferred by turkeys?

For a wild turkey food plot, cereal grains are an ideal choice. Wheat, rye, and oats, for example, are excellent options. Remember that of the three, cereal rye is the most winter-hardy. When mixed with clovers, though, it is not a suitable option.

The Final Words

Now you know what to choose between winter wheat vs winter rye! We believe you have no confusion about choosing between these two now!

Make sure you are certain about your requirements and preferences! And then go for it without any hesitation!

Good luck to you!

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