Annual Ryegrass is on the higher end of the maintenance spectrum as far as grasses go.
Use this guide to learn more about it and determine if it’s a fit for your needs and environment.
Some Facts About Annual Ryegrass
As opposed to other varieties, ryegrass actually has two different species: annual and perennial.
Annual Ryegrass is now commonly found in the southeast regions of Texas and Oklahoma.
- Southern To Eastern
- Eastern Texas
- Southern Texas
Characteristics & Traits
One important thing to know about Annual Ryegrass is that it has a tolerance for a wide range of soil types, including pH. There has been and continues to be development to improve the seed production, forage yield, and tolerance to cold and disease. Plant selection and breeding has helped this grass become highly valued for cool-
Classified as a cool-season annual grass, this is part of what makes this and Perennial Ryegrass different. While Perennial Ryegrass cannot survive the heat of summer months in places with a climate like the South, Annual Ryegrass has a better tolerence for it.
Annual Ryegrass is shiny
and rich green in ap-pearance. It can also
grow to a height of up
to five feet.
This grass is also known for being a quick grower.
It is reliable and
It is also a non-spreading
Although no grass is perfect and there will be disadvantages to keep in mind as well, Annual Ryegrass can be considered a bit of a “work horse” in the grass world.
So in order to get a better understanding of what annual ryegrass can do, here are some of the benefits:
FOR WEED SUPPRESSINGA mix of Annual Ryegrass with seeds and legumes helps get the grass established and supress weeds. This can be useful for warmer locations but also helps with winterkill in other areas.
SOIL BUILDERThe shallow, yet dense root system of the Annual Ryegrass aids in water infiltration and enhances soil tilth. The speedy aboveground growth also helps to supply organic matter. High moisture and fertility are part of what results to help this along.
TO HELP FIGHT EROSIONThe root system of the Annual Ryegrass is a soil holding system. So the cover or top crop sets up quickly. This is true even with wet, rocky, or poor soil conditions. It also can withstand flooding once established. For exposed areas, grass waterways, and field strips, Annual Ryegrass can help.
EMERGENCY FORAGEThis type of grass is a very palatable forage. The grazing period can be extended over late autumn and early spring. In order to make this happen, let livestock graze the cover crops. This type of ryegrass can also be used in the event that alfalfa winterkills. The establishment time is quick, and the production amount is plentiful in a short period.
FOR A COMPANION OR NURSE CROPAnnual Ryegrass can assist with slow growing fall legumes. It can help them get established, especially in the winter months. In the South, Annual Ryegrass can end up out-competing legumes.
NUTRIENT CATCH CROPThis type of grass can catch left over nutrients and help keep the crops at optimal levels.
Where Did It Come From &
What Are The Varieties?
Annual Ryegrass is native to the southern region of Europe and is often referred to as “Italian” or “English” Ryegrass.As mentioned before, the main two types of ryegrass are Annual Ryegrass and Perennial. If you live in a warmer climate, Annual Ryegrass is the better choice for you. If climate isn’t a factor, then consider if you’d prefer to replant each year with annual or if you’d like to save yourself the maintence and go with perennial.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Here are some of the top pros and cons of Annual Ryegrass’ for you to consider.
- Reliable and versatile, this grass is a quick grower.
- It can be used for important tasks like improving soil structure and drainage or preventing soil erosion.
- Great for winter livestock forage.
- It can outperform small grains in wet soil conditions.
- Annual Ryegrass prefers fertile soil with proper drainage, but it also tolerates rocky, clay, and poor soils with poor drainage.
- In situations where this ryegrass has a biennial tendency, weeds can occur.
- It can itself become a pest in situations where it outperforms another grass or legume.
- Although insects are not usually an issue, rodents can become a pest in situations where ryegrass is being used as living mulch.
- Rust can also be an issue for this type of grass.
- This grass will not perform well during drought or extended periods of high or low temperatures.
Establishment & Maintenance
Even in cooler soils, this type of grass germinates and establishes well. A good shower helps to ensure the seeds are covered and that germination is healthy.
Varying weather and temperatures determine the best time for seeding in various regions.
Annual Ryegrass performs better with fertile soils with proper drainage. However, one of the reasons this type of grass is widely used is its ability to adapt to a variety of soil types including rocky, clay, and poor soils.
It tolerates poorly drained soil situations as well and can outperform small grains on wet soil conditions. In cool regions, this ryegrass has been known to have a biennial tendency. If it makes it through the winter, then it can regrow rapidly and produce seed in the spring.
In areas with mild winters, this biennial tendency, when it occurs, can cause weed growth. In the Midwest and Southern Plains, this can lead to a serious weed problem in wheat and oat crops. It can even build up a resistance to herbicide, making it harder to treat.
Watering, Mowing & Pest Management
Your annual ryegrass may be mowed in some cases and grazed in others.
Keep in mind that a strand may survive numerous years in a vineyard, orchard, or other areas if reseeding is allowed to happen naturally. However, this is only true if the seeds are not subjected to prolonged drought, cold, or heat.
As for pests, it is important to keep in mind that Annual Ryegrass itself can become a weed if allowed to set seed. Although this type of grass can be crucial for the success of an orchard or vineyard, it can also become a pest.
In areas with high fertility, regular mowing may be required to help stop the annual ryegrass from competing with vines. In cases like this, a specialist should recommend which herbicide to use.
The good news is that insects and other pests are not generally a problem with ryegrass. However, rodents can become an issue where this is used as a living mulch. Rust is also a common issue that can occur with ryegrass. Also be on the watch for pin nematodes and bromegrass mosaic virus.
Since Annual Ryegrass can be used for lawns or pasture, it is versatile. However, the approach to care and establishment can vary depending on the use.
The good news is that this type of grass has very few disadvantages. The only trouble is that with Annual Ryegrass, you are not guaranteed a repeat life cycle and you’ll have to put in more time and energy to repeat the process.