Annual Ryegrass Essay

Submitted By michasv
Words: 862
Pages: 4

Annual Ryegrass
Common Name: Annual Ryegrass
Family Name: Poaceae
Scientific Name: Lolium multiflorum
Origin: Europe
Cool Season Annual
Planting: 25-35 lbs per acre from mid August to mid October
Best adapted to Clay or Silty soils with adequate drainage
Little weed problem due to cool season

Annual ryegrass, which is also referred to as Italian ryegrass, is a high-quality, winter annual bunchgrass. Annual ryegrass grows 3-4 ft tall and is yellowish-green at the base, with glossy leaves. The plans form an extensive, dense root system, even in low fertility and acidic soils, which makes it ideal for use as a form of erosion control on sloping fields and grassed waterways . The leaves of annual ryegrass are dark green and shiny with smooth edges and clasping auricles. Annual ryegrass can be distinguished from perennial ryegrass in with its long, clasping auricles and awned seeds, while perennial ryegrass has short, non-clasping auricles and the seeds have no awns. In addition, annual ryegrass seeds are larger than perennial ryegrass seeds. Annual ryegrass grows on a wide variety of soil types and has a preferred soil pH range of 5.5–7.0. If well established, ryegrass can even produce well on heavy, temporarily waterlogged soils. On the other hand, it does not tolerate shade for extended lengths of time. Annual ryegrass is best suited to higher, cooler elevations and humid areas. In Hawaii, it can be planted year-round at elevations above 1500 ft. At lower elevations, the best time to plant annual ryegrass for optimum growth is during the cooler months of August and September. Because of its quick regrowth, early spring growth, and extended grazing in late fall/early winter, annual ryegrass has greater overall productivity than most other cool-season grasses during its growing period. This characteristic makes it useful to producers trying to maximize the number of grazing days on their farms. It has been proven that planting ryegrass early is best for late fall and early winter grazing possibilities. Recommended seeding rates for pure stands are 20 to 30 pounds per acre or 12 to 15 pounds per acre if seeded with a small grain or a legume. Seeding can be made into a prepared seedbed or it can be no-tilled into killed sods, crop residue fields, or dormant Bermuda grass. Burning off old summer vegetation and disking has proven to be one way to maximize ryegrass production while establishing the grass. When drill-planted, the seed should be placed at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch. Annual ryegrass is a competitive plant and will require good grazing management and competition control to keep a legume growing with it. When seeded with legumes, an application of nitrogen should be minimized because it will increase competition. Annual ryegrass should not be seeded into a thick, vigorous stand of a cool-season perennial grass, such as tall fescue, because competition will be excessive for the seedling annual ryegrass plants. In the southeastern United States, annual ryegrass is the primary forage used in many beef and dairy cattle production systems because it provides high quality forage from late fall through late spring and can be productive into June, depending on temperature and rainfall conditions. In a typical annual ryegrass-based forage system, annual ryegrass is grazed from November through early March. Regrowth can be harvested as haylage or balage, or hay in mid- to late-April. For the best compromise between yield and quality, cuttings for hay or silage should be made in the boot to early head stage. Grazing can begin in fall when plants are 8 to 10 inches tall, and ryegrass can be grazed to a height of 2 to 3 inches. Since annual ryegrass