In the 1970’s, Martin Tvengsberg of Norway, was interested in local history. He came across an old grain-drying sauna from the early 1900’s. He was curious to see if he could find a few grains of the “lost” Finnish Rye lying about in the old building. They found nothing until they got permission to tear up the old floor boards. He found 9 grains and 7 germinated! Eventually, the descendants of those 7 grains made their way to the Svalbard Seed Bank. Last year, a friend in Estonia sent me some seeds of Tvengsberg. I planted them on the summer solstice (June 20th, 2016). I overwintered 20 plants and they all survived. This is a short rye averaging 58″ tall, with many grain bearing tillers (from 25 – 50). It had minor issues with lodging, even during heavy rainstorms with gusty winds. I harvested on July 13th. Keep in mind that the Tvengsberg flowers at the same times as other rye varieties and needs to be isolated to keep from cross pollinating. The kernels are smaller than common rye.
Traditionally, this rye would have been planted around the summer solstice, allowed to grow until early fall and then grazed by sheep to remove the majority of top growth. This is necessary to keep the plant from getting diseased (snow mold) once the snow begins to accumulate and temperatures drop. Like fall planted rye, it will begin to regrow before winter and complete its growth cycle the following spring/summer. One issue I had here in Northern Indiana is that many of my initial plants started on June 20th began to yellow and die back once we got into late July. Excessive heat (upper 80’s – lower 90’s) may have been the culprit. I believe this may not be an issue in areas with cooler summers. In my case, I erected a shade cloth tent over the tops of the plants. This seemed to help and I lost no other plants. Once cooler fall weather arrived, I removed the shade cloth and the plants took off with nice new growth up until mid October. At that point I cut the plants back to about 2″-3″ tall.
Here is a link to a great article discussing Finnish Rye and the history behind the Tvengsberg Rye. http://www.flatbreadsociety.net/stories/14/the-rediscovered-rye