Waldstauden rye, Waldviertler Waldstaudenkorn, Johannisroggen
Waldstauden rye or German rye (Secale cereale var. multicaule) is a perennial rye species that is traditionally cultivated biennially. In the forested regions of the Wald- and Mühlviertel districts in Austria as well as those of Czech Republic and Poland, Waldstauden rye was planted as the first culture after fire cultivation. It places minimal demands on the soil and is sowed around Johannis Day (24 June). The young cereal plants are subsequently grazed (or also mowed) which promotes stocking. After stocking, the plants develop over winter and then form heads relatively early in spring. In the second year the cereal is threshed and the grain is used for human consumption or animal feed.
Waldstauden rye is characterized by it hardiness, high stocking degree, tall height and small grain size. The intensive flavor of this food cereal (probably reflective of its high bran content) and the high content of vitamins and minerals are extremely prized. Waldstauden rye bread is very dark and moist, with a full rye flavor. This species can be easily distinguished from other varieties.
Waldstauden rye, incorrectly often termed "Urroggen" ("ancient rye"), is a variety of cultivated rye. One part of the German name ("Staude": shrub) refers to its biennial characteristic. The first part ("Wald": forest) stems from the crop succession after fire cultivation. Since such slashing-and-burning was typically restricted to smaller forest areas, Waldstauden rye plants originally grew in forest clearances.
As slashing and burning is no longer practiced today, the traditional cultivation method and grain uses are under threat. Currently, Waldstauden rye is planted as grazing plants for game. At the same time, the Demeter farmers in the Waldviertel district are at the forefront of the efforts to promote traditional cultivation practices and grain processing.
The Waldstauden rye population that is distributed across the province of Lower Austria is relatively homogeneous and most likely stems from a small initial population.
Waldstauden rye is potentially endangered as a bread cereal due to its minimal cultivation area.
Waldstauden rye faces the threat of interbreeding with other rye varieties. In seed production, such hybridization should be prevented by spatial separation or by delayed sowing (and therefore a later flowering period) of Waldstauden rye. A sample of the variety Waldviertler Waldstauden rye has been deposited in the Genbank Linz and in the Arche Noah Sortenarchiv.
Waldstauden rye is currently being marketed as grains, polished grains, flour and noodles. There is no budget for an adequate marketing campaign.
The region's farmers are closely cooperating with Arche Noah and the Universität für Bodenkultur (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences) (Institut für Pflanzenbau, Dr. Heinrich Grausgruber). This cereal is largely being processed and marketed by Meierhof (www.meierhof.at).