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FutureStarrVirginia Wild Rye
First, a few people always start a company. And then others join them over time. Finally, others come along and help them bring the business to the next level. At one of the earliest days of the company, I was given a challenge: we needed to produce a new bread that tasted and looked different. Other than the flour, we didn’t have any ingredients or equipment. But we did have some time to think.Virginia Wild Rye is a graceful, short-lived perennial similar to Canada Wild Rye, but with a smaller, less showy seed head. It actively grows during the spring and fall when soil temperatures are cool. Common companions to this cool season grass are warm season grasses like Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Switch Grass. As shown in the above photo, Virginia Wild Rye turns attractive shades of tan and crimson in the fall.
As a fast-growing grass, Virginia Wild Rye is a good choice for erosion control and stream bank stabilization. It prefers rich, moist areas in clearings or along the forest edge, but can also grow in drier, sunny conditions as well. Its tolerance to shade makes it a good pioneer species for woodland restorations, especially when planted along with Bottlebrush Grass. This species readily reseeds. For these reasons it can also be used as a native Cover Crop. Use 1-5 lbs per acre when seeding with your native seed mix.Various insects feed on Virginia Wild Rye and other Elymus spp. (Wild Rye grasses). These species include the leafhoppers Dorycephalus platyrhynchus, Elymana acuma, and Sorhoanus orientalis; the aphids Carolinaia howardii, Carolinaia rhois, and Sipha elegans; and such polyphagous stink bugs as Acrosternum hilare (Green Stink Bug), Brochymena quadripustulata (Four-humped Stink Bug), Coenus delius (Coenus Stink Bug), and Euschistus servus (Brown Stink Bug); see DeLong (1948), Blackman & Eastop (2013), and Rider (2009).
Other insect feeders include Chaetocnema pulicaria (Corn Flea Beetle), the leaf beetle Chalepus walshii, Sphenophorus minimus (Little Billbug), larvae of Tetramesa elymi (Wild Rye Jointworm) and Tetramesa tritici (Wheat Jointworm), larvae of Mayestiola destructor (Hessian Fly), and larvae of Cephus cinctus (Grass-stem Sawfly); see Clark et al. (2004), Vaurie (1983), and Felt (1917).Vertebrate animals also use these grasses as a source of food. When Virginia Wild Rye grows near wetlands, the seedheads are sometimes eaten by the Mallard, Lesser Scaup, and other ducks, while Canada Geese feed on the foliage (Havera, 1999, personal observation). The White-Footed Mouse, Prairie Deer Mouse, and wild House Mouse eat the seeds (Whitaker, 1966). Prior to the development of its awned seedheads, this grass is also palatable to horses, cattle, and other livestock. Sometimes the seedheads become infected with an ergot fungus, making them toxic to such grazing animals. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)