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Ryegrass Cultivation; Perennial Ryegrass Facts

Ryegrass Cultivation; Perennial Ryegrass Facts

Ryegrass Cultivation

Today, we will be going through Ryegrass Cultivation and Perennial Ryegrass facts.

Ryegrass, which is scientifically called as Lolium is a gene of almost ten species of grass which belong to the family of Poaceae. There is a large variety of species which are grown as forage and grasses for lawn in African temperatures. Perennial Ryegrass and Annual Ryegrass are the most important in terms of pasture and mixtures of lawn-seen all around the world. Their plants are not at all related to cereal Tye.

Ryegrass is basically of two types. Annual and Perennial. These plants will have a length of 1 meter and have leaves which are dark green in colour. The flowers of this plant will grow in a zigzag manner. These plants will have a root system which is extensive. These plants are also useful in order to control soil erosion.

There is also ryegrass which is poisonous and is called as Darnel which is scientifically termed as Lolium Temulentum. This is dangerous for the animals which are grazing as it contains Neotyphodium species of fungi. The winnowing techniques which have been discovered in the recent era are useful for the separation of seed from rye seed. In the early times, the rye flour used to get contaminated which thereby causes harmful effects on health.

The scientific name of Perennial ryegrass is Lolium Perenne, and the scientific name of annual ryegrass is Lolium Multiflorum.

Annual Ryegrass and Perennial ryegrass are very important for forage production or livestock production. These two species can be established in a simple way and the most important thing is that their versatility and adaptability to any type of soil. The grasses are leafy and these will produce forage which is palatable. These grasses will have almost 75% of dry matter which is digestible and 25% of crude protein. These features will help the grazing animals to regulate the levels of dry matter taken which in turn results in an outstanding performance of animals.

Annual Ryegrass:

Annual Ryegrass is a productive one and it is a winter forage grass. The plantation of this annual ryegrass can be done on a seedbed which is prepared. Then it is overseeded into the sods which are dormant and are also a part of forage crops of summer. This crop can also be used as a winter grazing crop.

Annual Ryegrass is a bunchgrass which is growing rapidly. This helps in the production of several tillers from every plant. Annual ryegrass consists of shiny leaves and auricles which are clasping. These will reach up to a height of 10 inches. The plants which are not grazed will reach up to a height of 45 inches. The foliage of the rye class which is fertilized well is in green colour except at the base of the plant which is yellowish-green. Seedheads, which generally appear in the months of April and May completely depend on the geographic location are spikelets which are arranged alternately on each and every spike. There are almost 12 to 15 florets in every spikelet. The establishment is done in a quick manner and the root system is developed which would be extensively fibrous and moreover competitive to other species of plants.

Origin: The origin of annual ryegrass is in Europe and is grown widely in the United States of America. This annual ryegrass can be grown in any kind of soil and temperatures, mainly when the mild temperatures are extended over a period of time and with moisture in the soil is better. This regress is not tolerant of shade and can be grown on soil which is waterlogged and heavy. This plant can even tolerate small periods of flooding. Annual ryegrass mostly used as a pasture. It can also be used as silage, hay, green chop.

Establishment: The pasture of ryegrass can decrease hay or other requirements of feed which are required for producers of livestock. There would be a disturbance in the yields of hay or other forage crops and these type of fluctuations will affect the area of land of annual ryegrass which has been planted every year. The most common approach of the annual ryegrass plantation is by overseeding of warm-season grass sods. This will also extend the season of grazing about 90 days approximately.

Perennial Ryegrass:

Origin: This type of rye-grass is a winter season bunchgrass. Its origin is Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The perennial ryegrass has auricles which are non-clasping and shorter in size. The seed of perennial ryegrass does not have awns. There are approximately three lakhs seeds for one pound of ryegrass. The root system of perennial ryegrass is branched and the roots are adventitious at the nodes. The blades of the leaf are narrow.

Perennial ryegrass has much persistence than the annual one. It has less persistence than tall fescue. This grows low and will the formation of the seed head does not occur in the year of establishment. There are diploid and tetraploid types of perennial grass. The tetraploids which have four sets of chromosomes have long tillers, seedheads and even the leaves are wider. The varieties of tetraploid are taller and they are less dense. As they have a sod which is more open, they are suitable to be grown in combination with legumes. The tetraploids are digestible as it has sugars, which are soluble and hence, their performance is much better than diploids at the time of grazing. The types of diploids have more persistence and tolerance for heavy grazing.

Perennial ryegrass is well-known in the situations when the grass and the earth’s surface layer are together held by its roots. In this situation, it germinates and establishes quickly with an appeal which is aesthetic. The usage of ryegrass for forage has been reduced when there are extremities in temperature. As per the history of perennial grass, it is clear that it is not much productive or persistent at the time of cold winters or hot summers.

This grass has a potential for the production of the yields which are high along with the forage of excellent quality. This can also be used as a pasture, turf, hay and for all the purposes of conservation. The perennial grass can be established easily and can be grown in combination with legumes like white clover, alfalfa, red clover.

Perennial ryegrass will be able to survive in a large variety of soil and environmental conditions. It can be best grown in the soils which are fertile and well-drained. The most important investment in terms of economics and agronomics in the production of ryegrass is a soil test. Potassium and Phosphorus should be in a medium range and the pH of the soil should be between 6 and 7 for the production to be optimum and persistent. When the perennial grass is seeded along with legumes, then there is no requirement for nitrogen. You need to add at least 50 pounds of Nitrogen for one acre and it is completely dependent on the date of the plantation and the growth expectation is at the time of fall and winter. For the seeding which is to be done in late winter and early times of spring, you need to use 55 to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

The seed you use should be a high-quality one and the variety of seed should be in such a way that it is capable of the maintenance of production and persistence in your locality.

Seedings can be prepared in the first week of August till October and this is completely dependent on the location. The plantation which is made earlier are the best for fall and early winter which would raise the possibilities of grazing. The plantation can be made from March to the first week of May. Seedings can be converted into seed beds which are prepared for plantation. Irrespective of the method of seeding, the plantation should be done at a rate which is optimum and should be placed at a half inch deep, so that there would be good contact between seed and soil. The rate of seeding should be decreased when the seeding is done with a legume. Any weeds which are causing trouble should be controlled along with the insects at the time of establishment by monitoring closely.

Ryegrass Cultivation Practices:

Soil Preparation:

Ryegrass is ideal to be sown during the time of spring or last weeks of summer. The plantation should not be delayed for so long because if the sowing is done in the middle of August or end of August will not give the seeds sufficient time to become stable in the winter which is coming next.

As the ryegrass is tolerant to drought, it is well-known and the seeds have enough time for attaining stability before the start of winter, the seeds should be sown 40 days before the first frost of the fall. The bed should be prepared for sowing before a few weeks by preparing the soil with required amendments and addition of moisture as required.

Read: Soil Erosion Causes, Types, Soil Conservation Methods.

Seedbed preparation:

The seedbed which is prepared well will help in the promotion of high quality of ryegrass. The seedbed should be prepared before 2 months to the plantation date to make sure that the amendments which are added to the soil have a good time to react. The primary step would be to test the soil pH by using a tester which is available at the farm or garden store. The pH of the soil should be between 6 to 7. The soil can be provided with limestone if required in order to increase the pH. Do not start sowing if the level of pH in the soil is below 6. The organic fertilizers which are rich in the content of nitrogen should be added to the soil in order to make it fertile.

For the purpose of grazing, the ryegrass is sown along with legumes like alfalfa or clover so that there would be balanced nutrition provided and also to assist in terms of fixation of nitrogen.


Ryegrass Seeds.
Ryegrass Seeds.

The sowing of seeds should be done at a depth of half an inch. The seeds which are sown deeper will not have the capability to break through the soil surface. Now, carefully pack the soil to make sure that there is good contact between seed and soil. Like all the other seeds, these seeds also need warmth and abundant water for the process of germination to take place. Do not start sowing in the locations which are dry. If the sowing is being done in the fall, sowing should be done in a month before the first frost in the fall.

Ryegrass is very sensitive to excess heat and drought. The locations which have these type of climatic conditions will not support the ryegrass and should be prevented. The root structures of ryegrass are shallow and they need regular in order to flourish.

Maintenance of Ryegrass:

The soil pH should be checked at regular periodic intervals. While checking, the soil should be provided with lime whenever required for the maintenance of a pH between 6 to 7. Rye-grass is very much tolerant to the pH levels which are lower than any other grasses and it can even grow when the pH level is 5. But when you are able to maintain the soil pH, it is always better to go with the maintenance rather than leaving it.

Ryegrass needs lots of water as long as it grows. It will produce very good results in the soil whose fertility is medium. If ryegrass is grown along with a legume, there is no requirement of nitrogen for fertilization. If it is grown individually, then the fertilization is required by using nitrogen. This will be helpful in the process of sowing at the time of spring for the promotion of growth after the harvest.

Proper care should be taken while grazing ryegrass. For paddocks, which are recently established, the grass should be left till it reaches the height of at least 12 inches before the grazing starts. You should not wait for so long for the growth as it may affect the taste and nutritional value. Ryegrass is very much suitable for a rotation of grazing and needs 20 days to reach a height of 3 inches. The ryegrass whose height is below one and a half inches is not at all suitable for grazing and needs to be avoided.

Harvesting of Ryegrass:

For the ryegrass to be harvested as hay, it needs at least two months for the growth. It is sensitive for too much harvesting and overgrazing. Hence, proper care should be taken while doing an assessment for the collection of hay.

Rye-grass is grown for the purpose of hay in spite of its requirement for more water, which demands high water content but gives a less proportion of dry matter for hay.

Ryegrass can be collected just before the blooming starts, or at the time of bloom or before the seedheads formation. It would be always suggested to harvest the hay before one and a half month when the flowers are all set to bloom. If the harvest is done early, then it would result in fewer yields with high quality. If the harvest is delayed, then it would result in high yields with less quality.

You can expect almost two months for the spring plantation when growing ryegrass for hay. If the collections are done subsequently, it can be done at intervals of 30 days.

Saving/Storing Ryegrass seeds:

Formation of the flowers in grasses will be done in spikes which are called as inflorescences. The collection of seeds is not that simple. The removal of spikes which are flowering should not be done as the development of seeds will be done in the inflorescences. After some time, you can notice that there is a colour change in the spike of the seed. Most probably, it turns lighter than its usual colour. The seeds which are matured are brown and it is completely dependent on the species.

It is very much important to remember that the seeds will not come from the spike if they are not matured. For the collection to be done, put your hand around the base of the inflorescence which is matured and pull it in an upward direction in a clasping motion. Then remove the seeds from the spike. The seeds which are ripe are easy to remove.

Now, allow the seeds to get dry in an open container which is large for a few days. The seeds which are small will require fewer days to dry, but the seeds which are large will require much time mainly in slightly wet weather conditions.

It is always not easy to remove the seeds from the spike if it has good shells. Seeds like Pennisetum have catchings which are narrowly attached to them. When an animal comes close and brushes on the inflorescence, the seeds will be snagged. They can stay attached up to a distance and then it gradually breaks and falls on the ground and the germination also takes place simultaneously. The trading of seeds is done with the chaff generally. For the purpose of sowing, you need to rub the seeds and chaff into the soil surface. Moist the soil and press the seeds well.

Read: Seed Treatment Information.

Advantages of Ryegrass:

  • Ryegrass is a very good choice for permanent lawn mainly in cool climatic conditions. The ryegrass will allow the areas which have lost their colour to retain their green colour in the winter season.
  • Ryegrass is very tolerant of drought and fewer pH levels of soil.
  • The germination and establishment of ryegrass are done quickly.
  • Soil stability is provided in winter and again, it dies in the spring.
  • Installation of rye-grass in winter is a wonderful option for maintaining your property green and also healthy in the off-season.
  • The performance of ryegrass will be well in several conditions of soil which includes soils which are heavily textured.
  • Ryegrass is tolerant of drainage which is poor and also soil compaction.

Disadvantages of Ryegrass:

  • Ryegrass does not tolerate close mowing. Ryegrass which is at a height of 2 inches is preferred. If the height of mowing is more than that, it may create issues in attaining a clear cut.
  • Ryegrass is prone to leaf rusts. In August and the first week of September, rust can decrease the quality of ryegrass and reduces its ability to grow in a low level of nitrogen and irrigation.
  • Ryegrass is not tolerant of cold climates.

Read: Growing Cowpeas, Cultivation Practices.

Last Updated: February 28, 2019
Author: Jagdish

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