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Perennial Ryegrass Information: Learn About Perennial Ryegrass Uses And Care

Perennial Ryegrass Information: Learn About Perennial Ryegrass Uses And Care


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By: Amy Grant

Annual ryegrass is a valuable rapidly growing cover crop. So what is perennial ryegrass used for? Read on to learn more.

What is Perennial Ryegrass Used For?

There are a number of benefits to planting perennial ryegrass. Perennial ryegrass uses extend from using it as a pasture grass or as sod for the home lawn. It is considered the best cool season perennial pasture grass in many areas. Planting perennial ryegrass for pasture has many benefits. It establishes rapidly, is high yielding with a long growing season, is highly nutritious, recovers well from grazing, and tolerates traffic. This perennial grass is highly digestible for ruminants and is valuable not only as pasture but as hay and silage as well.

Perennial ryegrass is also used for home lawns and other areas requiring attractive turf such as golf course fairways and tees or baseball fields. It wears well, germinates rapidly, and maintains a lush appearance. Other perennial ryegrass information states that it has the highest wear tolerance of all the cool season grasses and is forgiving of very high traffic, making it perfect for use around schools and in park settings.

All the above perennial ryegrass information lends it as the perfect candidate for over-seeding winter dormant lawns and its rapid growth aids in weed suppression.

Perennial Ryegrass Care

Perennial ryegrass is used in cool, temperate climates well suited to coastal regions with moderate temps throughout the year. It thrives in full sun, but will do well in partial shade. It does not tolerate drought or long periods of extreme heat. Like all ryegrasses, it flourishes in fertile, well-draining soil, but perennial ryegrass handles wet soils better than other ryes.

Perennial ryegrass has a bunchgrass growth habit without rhizomes or stolons and perennial ryegrass care ranks between moderate and high maintenance depending upon environmental conditions. Seed at the rate of 6-9 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet (2.5 to 4 kg. per 93 sq. m.) in the fall, or use sod. Germination should take place between 3-5 days and mature turf will take hold within 4-8 weeks.

This fine textured, rich green grass should be mowed when used as lawn cover between 1.5 and 2.5 inches (4 to 6.5 cm.) high. When planting perennial ryegrass to over seed warm season grasses, begin mowing in the spring and gradually reduce its height to encourage growth of the warm season grass.

Fertilize this ryegrass with 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq feet (2 kg. per sq. m.) per year during its active growth period – February through June or October through December. Water this grass often to a depth of 6-12 inches (15 to 30.5 cm.) unless used to over seed, in which case water deeply but less often.

All in all, perennial ryegrass is an excellent pastoral or turf choice of grass for cool weather regions.

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All You Need to Know About Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is widely used throughout the United States, but the way it's used differs from region to region. This hard-working grass is valued for its fast germination rate and quick establishment, which makes it a valuable component in permanent and temporary lawns. Under proper growing conditions in suitable regions, perennial ryegrass forms a lush, fine-bladed lawn that maintains its color into winter. Depending on where you live and your immediate lawn goals, perennial ryegrass may offer just what you need.


Annual Ryegrass (Lolium Multiflorum) Explained

When your lawn demands quick color and fast establishment, count on annual ryegrass to get the job done! Also referred to as Italian ryegrass or English ryegrass, annual ryegrass is a great choice whether you need temporary winter color in southern lawns or temporary support for a permanent northern lawn.

Annual ryegrass is planted all over the world on its own or blended with several grass seed mixtures. This cool-season grass boasts unmatched adaptability to many soils and climates.

This coupled with quick germination, and outstanding grow rates make it a terrific grass type in establishing thousands of lawns and pastures in all, but the hottest of planting regions.


Bison 2 Perennial Ryegrass

A new intermediate ryegrasses with an increased dry matter yield and better leaf disease resistance

CLICK HERE FOR TECH SHEET

Bison 2 is the newest development of DLF’s successful forage intermediate ryegrasses with an increased dry matter yield and better leaf disease resistance. Persistence is the biggest advantage of Bison 2. Even into the third year, Bison 2 outyields a typical perennial ryegrass. For total accumulated forage in three years, Bison 2 is the clear winner.

CHARACTERISTICS:

Establishment: Fast
Persistence: High
Drought Tolerance: Medium
Winter Hardiness: Medium High
Palatability: High
Yield Potential: High
Grazing Tolerance: High

SEEDING:

Seeding Rate:
Alone (lbs./acre): 30-40
Mixes (lbs./acre): 6-10
Seeds/lb.: 227,000
Depth (in.): 1/4-1/2

Planting Time:
Feb.-May Aug.-Sept.
Emergence (days): 5-14
Life Cycle: Perennial

Adaptation:
These grasses have a wide range of adaptability to soils, but thrive best on fertile soils with a pH between 5.5-6.5. They produce well in regions having mild climates. They do not withstand hot, dry weather or severe winters. They will stand fairly wet soils with reasonably good surface drainage. Perennial ryegrass is distributed throughout the entire United States.

Establishment:
Seed should be planted in a well prepared seedbed. In general, the perennial ryegrass component of a mix should be 20% or less since it is very competitive, due to rapid germination and good seedling vigor.

MANAGEMENT:

Rotational Grazing:
BEGIN (IN): 8 - 12
AVERAGE DAYS REST: 15 - 30
STOP (IN): 2 - 4

Harvest Management:
Cut boot to mid-bloom.

Ryegrass is generally cut for hay when seed heads start to emerge. Pastures should be rotationally grazed when spring growth is 3 to 6 inches high. Allowing 7 to 10 inches of regrowth between grazings will benefit yield and persistence. On new seedings, harvest or grazing should be delayed until plants are 10 to 12 inches tall. Ryegrass responds well to good management, such as intensive rotational grazing and fertilizer applications. When used for turf, mowing height should be 1 to 2 inches. Mow frequently enough so no more than 1/3 of the total leaf area is removed. Perennial ryegrass requires moderate to high watering and moderate to high fertilizer requirements. Disease control measures may be needed depending on conditions during the growing season.


Ryegrass has long been included in both sunny and shady lawn seed mixes. These fast growing grasses provide quick cover, prevent erosion and serve as a living mulch until the slower germinating fescues and bluegrass sprout.

Annual ryegrass was the choice grass of the past. Unfortunately, if often dominates the lawn the first season, limiting the growth of fescue and bluegrass plants. Once it dies over winter, annual ryegrass leaves the new lawn full of bare spots. Weeds often move in before the bluegrass and fescues have a chance. Do not purchase lawn seed mixes containing annual ryegrass (which is often called Italian ryegrass).

Turf-type perennial ryegrass is better suited for lawn establishment. It has the same attributes as the annual ryegrass, but stays in the lawn, allowing for a smoother, less weedy transition into a bluegrass-fescue lawn. The finer leaf blade and darker color help this grass blend in better with bluegrass and fescue.

The high level of pest resistance and wearability of perennial ryegrass are added benefits. These features have made it a leading choice for athletic fields. It can also be used to overseed high-traffic areas for quick repair and durability.

Turf-type perennial ryegrass is becoming a larger part of home lawn seed mixes. Some lawn owners use 100% ryegrass in high-traffic areas. They reseed yearly or as needed to fill in thin areas. Perennial rye may be damaged in extreme winters in Northern parts of the midwest. Use mixes with smaller percentages of rye in these areas.

Seeding Rate - 7 to 9 pounds per 1,000 ft 2 for new lawns

Overseeding Rate - 7 pounds per 1,000 ft 2 for thinning lawns

Germination Time - 5 to 7 days

Sod - Not available

Optimum Planting Time - Mid to late August through mid September, mid October in Southern regions is best, or early spring before soil reaches 50°F

  • Quick cover
  • Aids the establishment of lawns
  • Wearability
  • Turf-types blend in with other cool season grasses
  • Some salt tolerance
  • Pest resistant
  • Raise the mowing height of your lawn mower if you haven’t already done so. Taller grass shades out some weeds and forms deeper roots, making it better able to compete with weeds and more drought and pest tolerant.
  • Make sure the blade is sharp for healthier and better-looking grass.
  • Remove no more than 1 /3 the total height of the grass at one time to reduce the stress on the lawn.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn. Short clippings DO NOT cause thatch and break down quickly, adding moisture, organic matter, and nutrients to the soil. A season’s worth of clippings equals one fertilizer application.
  • The amount of fertilizer your lawn needs should be based on the quality of lawn desired and the time you want to spend managing your lawn. High quality heavily used lawns require the maximum amount of fertilizer, while low maintenance lawns need the least.
  • Start with a soil test so you apply the proper amount of fertilizer for your lawn.
  • Fertilize on Memorial Day, Labor Day and Halloween. Eliminate the first two if you are following a low maintenance plan and add a light summer feeding if you are watering and going for a high quality lawn.
  • Increase success and decrease the risk of damage by using Milorganite fertilizer. It’s an organic-nitrogen slow release fertilizer that won't burn the lawn and the iron is an added bonus. Plus, the phosphorous is non-leaching. And when the microorganisms work on the Milorganite it releases phosphorous and potassium bound in the soil, making it available to the grass.
  • Proper watering helps keep your lawn healthy and enables it to out-compete the weeds. Water early in the morning, if possible, and thoroughly when footprints are left behind. This encourages deeply rooted drought and pest tolerant grass.
  • Recent droughts and efforts to conserve water may mean a change of habit. If you allow your lawn to go dormant during drought, minimize foot traffic and play on dormant lawns.
  • Don’t apply herbicides or quick release fertilizer to dormant lawns. The fertilizer will feed the weeds and both can damage the dormant grass.
  • Once you let your lawn go dormant, leave it dormant until the weather cools and rains return.
  • A healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds. When weeds occur it usually means the growing conditions are better for the weeds than your grass.
  • Aerate lawns growing on compacted soil or with a half an inch of thatch or more.
  • Hand dig small populations of weeds. There are some new tools on the market that make this easier.
  • Spot treat weeds using the most eco-friendly products available.
  • Always sweep grass clippings and fertilizer residue off the walks and drives. This simple step keeps unwanted nutrients out of our waterways and eventually drinking water.
  • Never fertilize lawns when the ground is frozen.
  • Consider using a push or electric mower. It’s good for the waistline and the environment.
Problems Grubs, sod webworm, leaf spot, rust, voles (winter), moles (summer), skunks and raccoons digging for grubs Varieties
  • Advent
  • Barage
  • Elka
  • Repell II
  • Tara
  • Manhattan II - seed contains endophytic fungus that increases the plant's vigor as well as drought and stress tolerance


About Perennial Ryegrass Varieties

Ryegrass mixtures are less expensive than those containing ‘fine’ turf grasses only. They are popular for play areas, swimming pool surrounds and nature strips. They are widely used to give quick cover for large-scale planting on playing fields and parks. They are often used for oversowing warm season sporting fields in Autumn to allow for the wear and tear of sports like football played during winter.

Perennial ryegrass has deep roots and withstands heat and dry weather better than bent grass and Chewings fescue, but requires lenient mowing – a 4 cm cut – for best results.

Ryegrass mixtures are sown at heavier rates (typically 3 to 4 kg per 100 square metres) than most other grasses to form an attractive, hard-wearing lawn.


Watch the video: Crazy? About Perennial Rye Grass. Why?