Small grains, which include winter and spring wheat, winter and spring barley, oats, and rye, play an important role in crop rotations on many New York farms. Under good soil conditions and management practices, small grains can produce profitable yields of grain for the cash market or farm feeding. Equally important is the value of the straw crop.
Oats and rye tolerate acid or poorly drained soils better than wheat or barley do. Nevertheless, maximum yields of both crops are attained on moderately well-drained or well-drained soils with a pH above 5.8. For maximum wheat production, wheat must be cropped on moderately well-drained or well-drained soils with a pH above 6.0. Barley requires well-drained soils with a pH above 6.3, the same as needed for alfalfa production.