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COVER CROPS

Italian Ryegrass

Description

Italian ryegrass is a winter annual plant that requires vernalization (a period of cold and reduced day length) to initiate heading. When sown in spring, very few seedheads will be observed throughout the seeding year. If fall-sown, the plants will head profusely the following spring. Italian ryegrass is extremely high yielding and is typically the highest quality grass. Its lower cost and ease of seeding make Italian ryegrass an excellent choice as a nurse crop for other species or a great short term forage in the southern parts of the Byron marketing territory.

Management

If you have a lot of nutrients on the farm, Italian ryegrass can be a good choice to utilize and recycle those nutrients. It can be easily used to extend thinning alfalfa or mixed stands for one more year. This will result in high yields of excellent quality forage without the hassle of a total stand renovation. Like perennial ryegrass, the waxy coating on Italian ryegrass retards drydown so it isn't a good choice for dry hay.

Establishment

Italian ryegrass can be sown by itself or sown in mixtures, serving as a nurse crop for slower establishing species. Planting depth should be ¼ to ½ inch. Broadcast italian ryegrass sowing into thin stands can be successful, but no-till drilling is the recommended method to thicken existing stands. Depending on the time of planting and conditions, the first harvest can come as early as 45 days after planting.

Italian Ryegrass Chart

UT & OR
KF Allegro Italian Ryegrass

  • Blend of diploid and tetraploid
  • When spring grown (best for North), very resistant to heading
  • Best rust-resistant variety in the Byron lineup
  • Serves as emergency forage in just 40 days
  • Highest yielder in research plots

Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6