Last updated on February 23, 2014

Note: This information was developed from lecture notes for the Farm and Industry Short Course at the University of Wisconsin.


Triticale is a synthetic crop that was made by crossing wheat and rye The intent was to combine the VIGOR and HARDINESS of rye with desirable AGRONOMIC and QUALITY characteristics of wheat The first triticale plant was reported in 1875

Triticales are either HEXAPLOID (6 genomes/nucleus) or OCTOPLOID (8 genomes / nucleus)

Hexaploid: RYE X DURUM WHEAT 2X 4X 3X colchicine 6X

Octoploid: RYE X HEXAPLOID WHEAT 2X 6X 4X colchicine 8X 

Early work dealt primarily with octoploid triticales Since the 1950's, most of the effort has been on hexaploid triticales because they have less sterility


Triticale is an annual grass that more closely resembles wheat than rye Winter and spring types

Infloresence - a spike Spikes are larger than wheat and rye spikes Spike structure are same as wheat and rye Almost always have a secondary kernel between the two primaries

Triticale glumes are large and thick Triticale is a self-pollinating species Triticale is free-threshing: same as wheat & rye


  • Cool season crop
  • Requires increasing daylength to flower


Similar to wheat and rye Triticale has better resistance to smut, bunt, and mildew than wheat

Triticale has fewer problems with ERGOT than rye - Important in terms of feed and food value, as ergot can cause toxicity problems 

Triticale needs better resistance to scab 

Triticale may have threshability problems - may be difficult to thresh kernels out of its thick spikes


Protein - Slightly higher protein % than wheat - Somewhat better balance of amino acids than wheat and rye

Feeding value - Studies with pigs and poultry have shown that triticale grain is good feed - Similar to wheat in DIGESTIBILITY, and is 10% higher in BIOLOGICAL VALUE and NET PROTEIN UTILIZATION

Overall, it is considered to be a better feed than wheat and is certainly better than rye 

SHRUNKEN KERNELS AND TEST WEIGHT - Progress has been made in making triticale kernels plumper, but improvement needed 

Preharvest sprouting - is a problem because triticale's large, thick spikes dry out slowly after a rain. Preharvest sprouting does not have much of an effect on feed quality, but it significantly reduces milling and baking quality

Food use: Triticale bread is usually made with 70% wheat flour and 30% whole-grain triticale flour


  • Currently, there is more interest in WINTER TRITICALE than in SPRING TRITICALE - Most of the triticale in Wisconsin is grown in the northern 1/3 of the state
  • Most of the triticale grown in Wisconsin is harvested at heading as forage
  • Triticale produces high forage yields
  • Triticale has good forage quality
  • Some triticale is being grown to maturity and harvested for its grain and straw
  • Most triticale grain is fed - Very little marketing of triticale grain

WINTER TRITICALE vs. WINTER WHEAT - Some triticales have produced more grain than winter wheat checks, but yield advantages have not been large

  • Winter triticales average about 10" taller than winter wheats
  • Winter triticales have averaged 400-600 lbs/a more straw than winter wheats
  • Winter survival: Better winter triticales are about the same as the better winter wheats


  • Considerable progress has been made, but there is room for improvement
  • Resistance to scab
  • Improved threshability
  • Plumper kernels and higher test wt
  • Preharvest sprouting

If you would like to subscribe (or unsubscribe) to updates during the growing season, click here.
©  1994-2024