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Perennial & Annual Ryegrass

Origin

Ryegrasses originated in southern Europe, North Africa, and southwest Asia. Perennial and annual ryegrass are probably the most widely used of all grasses around the world for both forage and turf uses.

Description

Ryegrasses are in the Lolium family and are cool season grasses, they are bunchgrasses with a shallow fibrous root system. Both ryegrasses have good forage production potential from straw and fall growth offering a good fit in livestock production areas. Perennial ryegrass could be best described as a winter wheat alternative in viewing the perennial ryegrass seed production system with annual or Westerwold ryegrass being strictly an annual grass under Manitoba conditions. These grasses are utilized both as a forage crops and as turfgrasses with specific varieties available for both of these uses. Leaves are dense, dark green, glossy and folded when young. Ryegrass looks very much like quackgrass with the seed very similar. In perennial ryegrass a vernalization period of cool temperatures is required for induction of flowering. Straight or slightly curved spikes up to 30 cm long contain 5-40 spikelets. Each spikelet has 5-10 fertile florets. With seed similar to quackgrass, market demands seed free of quackgrass and wild oats


Perennial Ryegrass - Lolium perenne L., - A Winter Wheat Alternative

Adaptation

Perennial ryegrass is used as a forage and a turfgrass in Europe, the British Isles and New Zealand with considerable use in North America for both forage and turf it's use in western Canada for forage is limited because of winterhardiness limitations. Perennial ryegrass performs well on soils with good moisture holding capacity and is particularly adapted to moist production areas. Under western Canadian conditions winter survival may be a problem so many producers are looking at it as a 1 year seed crop with the best option appearing to be seeded in late summer.

Perennial Ryegrass Seed Production System

Seeding Rate - 8 - 10 lb/ac

Seeding Date - Late August as clear seeded or in spring with a cover crop

Row Spacing - 12 inches

Seeding depth - max. 1/2 inch

Seed Value - $0.35 - 0.60/lb for certified seed

Expected Yield - 600 - 800 lb/ac to high of 1200 lb/ac

Years of Seed production - production as one seed crop

Fertility - 80 - 100 lb. N in fall after growth is halted

Harvesting - Perennial ryegrass is a challenging crop to harvest because of it's indeterminate growth. The proper timing of harvest is critical in maximizing seed yield and seed quality. Perennial ryegrass is swathed, windrowed and allowed to dry for 5 to 10 days before threshing. The proper time to swath ryegrass is when 1-2 florets come off the head when pulled between fingers. Crop will be greenish with a seed head moisture of 45-48%. Direct combining should be avoided as the crop shatters very easily when mature. Seed is dried in the windrow to %12.

Seed Cleaning - Top screen 3/64 x 5/16, bottom screen 5/32

Varieties

many varieties available, varying yields and maturity dates

Cultivar

% of Norlea

Seed Yield (kg/ha)

Affinity

72

478

Aquarius

48

318

Norlea

100

667

PR186

83

554

Stallion Select

66

440

Mean

 

491

Manitoba 1996 variety performance test - location Arborg

Westerwold Annual Ryegrass - Lolium multiflorum


Description & Adaptation

Annual (Westerwold) ryegrass is used as a forage grass in many parts of the world due to it vigour and high yields. It performs well on soils with good moisture holding capacity and is adapted to moist production areas. Westerwold ryegrass is an annual crop that must be seeded very early in the spring with seed crop harvested in late August. Plant growth is very vigorous with the crop having excellent forage production potentials along from straw and fall regrowth along with seed crop. Markets demand and pay a premium for seed free of Wild Oats and Quackgrass.

Westerwold Annual Ryegrass Seed Production Notes

Seeding Rate - 12- 16 lb/ac

Row Spacing - 6 -12 inches

Seeding depth - max. 1/2 inch

Seed Value - $0.25-0.35 / lb for Certified Seed

Average Yield - 600-800 lb/ac to a high of 1200 lb/ac

Seed Production Life - 1 year

Soil Fertility - 80 lb of actual N and 30 lb. of actual P per acre should be incorporated before seeding

Harvesting - Annual ryegrass is usually swathed at about 45% seed head moisture and combined at about 35% seedhead moisture. As the seedhead moisture approaches 35% the crop is very vulnerable to shattering

Variety Selection - a large number of varieties are available with variable seed yields and maturity. Pick an early maturing variety for Manitoba seed production

Variety - Westerwold Ryegrass

1996 Arborg Yld Kg/ha

1996 Carberry Yld Kg/ha

Barspectra

282

604

Wesley

291

584

Agraco

272

605

Elunaria

279

549

Tororo

490

690

Aubade

379

676

Arborg seeded June 8/96, Carberry seeded June 2/96 Forage Production - 1996 tests in Saskatchewan at the Melfort research station indicated very good forage production in a seed production system. Straw yields of 3 to 4 tons/acre with a protein level of 12% and fall regrowth of 1 ton/acre with protein levels of over 22% make this a very valuable component of production.

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