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Overseeding Pastures With Annual Ryegrass

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Annual Ryegrass Pastures For Southern USA

Annual Ryegrass is planted for as a stand alone pasture grasses or is overseeded into warm season pasture or grasses for winter forage. Annual ryegrass can also be planted in the Spring in the Northern areas of the USA. While Oregon Grown and Gulf Annual Ryegrass are discussed here there are other varieties to choose from -- see our menu here on the right for additional information.

Cows grazing Annual RyegrassOregon-Grown Annual/Gulf Annual Ryegrass. Oregon-grown Ryegrass is highly preferred by livestock. Either Oregon-grown common Annual Ryegrass or Gulf Annual Ryegrass will provide livestock and other grazing animals with an additional six to eight months of abundant, nutritious pasture which will see a young cow continue to grow and gain while nursing a calf which is also gaining and thrifty. Annual Ryegrass seed may be sown alone or in combination with legumes or small grains.

For decades the annual ryegrasses have demonstrated the ability to produce high quality forage which will not go dormant or off color through the chill of winter and remain productive on into the spring. 

Annual Ryegrass Seeding Rate

Seed planting rate for Annual Ryegrass is 25-40 lbs. per acre. Overseeding will require less seed -- generally 15 lbs per acre. Harrow or aerate for best results to make good seed / soil contact.

Ryegrass germinates in a matter of 7-10 days or less in ideal conditions. Sowing dates vary according to area. Some growers prefer to winter-seed pastures after the first killing frost as a means of eliminating competition from native grasses. Others prefer to sow earlier to give the ryegrass seedlings an opportunity to flourish while the ground is still warm.

First grazing of Ryegrass pastures is possible within about 90 days after planting.

While soil fertility and weather conditions are determining factors, light grazing is often available in about 90 days after sowing. Some operators feel light grazing can begin when the new grass is 4-5 inches high, while others wait for greater growth so that the new plants will not be uprooted by grazing animals.

Because ryegrass quickly develops a strong root system it helps prevent bogging in moist areas and stabilizes precious topsoil.

Recommended rates of nitrogen application and other fertilizers vary according to soil conditions and the region but, in general, applications of up to 150 pounds per acre at or before planting are desirable. A second application may be needed in mid-winter. Remember that the amount of nitrogen may be reduced or eliminated entirely with the companion planting of legumes such as clover.

Advantages of Oregon-Grown Annual Ryegrass

  • Normally supports a growing cow and calf per acre
  • May be sown on existing sod, clean-burned stubble or land not plowed or otherwise prepared
  • May be sown under unfavorable wet or dry conditions
  • Oregon-grown Annual and Oregon-grown Gulf Annual are considered disease-tolerant
  • Does not present endophyte fungus problems as do some tall fescues
  • Recovers rapidly from overgrazing and trampling
  • Usually germinates in 7-10 days

Information above provided courtesy of:
Oregon Ryegrass Growers Seed Commission
www.ryegrass.com

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