Small Grains Production and Management

The small grains production and management program focuses on the profitable and sustainable production of wheat, barley, oats, and rye. We collaborate with growers as well as other researchers and breeders to develop the best management practices for today that also maintain and improve the environment for future generations. 

Research-based information and educational events help growers and agricultural professionals make informed, timely production decisions to improve small grains production. Research provides answers to immediate concerns while also addressing future needs and questions.


Increasing the profitability of small grains in the production systems found across Minnesota is the underlying goal of all our small grains research. Applied research focuses on getting the right grain variety in the right agronomic setting and using best management practices to maximize yield and end-use quality and minimize costs.

We take an integrated approach to small grains production and collaborate directly with growers as well as a diverse group of researchers, including breeders, plant pathologists, soil scientists, and climatologists. Trials are conducted on NWROC research land and in the fields of cooperating growers throughout the state. Together we research the effects of inputs, develop decision support systems to assist in the timely application of those inputs, and research alternative production systems to improve small grain production throughout Minnesota.

Research tries to anticipate future obstacles and trends before they emerge, so information is available to growers when needed. For example, we examined how potential climate changes will impact productivity of the different small grains and thus their place in Minnesota cropping systems. Currently, we are exploring the potential of rye for Minnesota’s burgeoning brewing and distilling scene. Rye is not only the most winter hardy but thrives where wheat, barley, and oats falter, making it well suited for organic and low-input production systems.


We share our research results and best practices with growers and ag professionals through both digital media and in-person. Collaborating directly with growers ensures that grower concerns are addressed, research outcomes are understood, and best practices are adapted into small grain production systems.

Specific small grains outreach programs include:

  • 3 major annual programs
  • a field guide
  • websites
  • several other extension publications