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  • Writer's pictureCapstone Seeds


Updated: Aug 12, 2021

It's that time again to consider the best options for Spring planted ryegrass.


It is critical now, that you chose an Italian Ryegrass over a Westerwold Ryegrass. In the past there has been much confusion with regards to the differences between the two. It can be devastating for a farmer to watch his so called "Italian Ryegrass" head out in the early summer.

The differences can be explained as follows:


  • Spring planted Westerwold ryegrass will produce seed in late spring or early summer, thereby losing quality and production immediately.

  • Autumn planted Westerwold ryegrass often overwinters, then produces seed in late spring or early summer and does not require vernalisation to head.

  • There is very little regrowth when Westerwold ryegrass heads or flowers, therefore its evident that Westerwold ryegrass should only be planted in Autumn.

  • Westerwold ryegrasses are earlier maturing than Italian's.


  • Italian ryegrass on the other hand can act as a biennial.

  • Spring planted Italian ryegrass will rarely produce seed during the seeding year or summer and therefore provides high quality forage.

  • A good Italian ryegrass will also produce a very high biomass on a short period.

  • They need to vernalise to head or flower. Vernalisation is where the plant is subjected to cold temperature of 4-7 °C for a certain period.

  • Autumn planted Italian ryegrass will produce seed heads during the next summer after planting.

  • Many true Italian ryegrass varieties will produce additional forage after heading plants have been harvested or grazed.

  • It is best to purchase certified seed to ensure varietal purity.

  • Italian ryegrasses are later maturing than Westerwold's.

  • Italian ryegrass establishes quickly, has early spring growth, rapid regrowth or recovery after cutting or grazing and offers good digestibility.

  • The other option when selecting a spring planted ryegrass is to consider their ploide.



Diploid ryegrasses have two sets of chromosomes per cell, compared to a tetraploid which has four. Diploids combine yield and robustness, ensuring that even in less than ideal conditions, they will deliver for your stock.

  • Densely tillered

  • Competitive with weeds

  • Cope with lower fertility

  • Ideal for grass to grass situations

  • Can handle wetter environments

  • Can be set stocked or rotationally grazed

  • Approximately 500 000 seeds per kg resulting in a recommended sowing rate of 10 - 20 kg /ha


Intensive farming systems require ryegrasses that produce bulk, high quality feed, to drive animal performance and productivity. Tetraploid cultivars are a significant tool in helping achieve this goal, being naturally high in sugars (water soluble carbohydrates).

A tetraploid plant has four sets of chromosomes per cell (a diploid has two sets) which simply means tetraploi