SPRING PLANTED RYEGRASS
Updated: Aug 12, 2021
It's that time again to consider the best options for Spring planted ryegrass.
ITALIAN RYEGRASS vs WESTERWOLD 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 RYEGRASS vs TETRAPLOID RYEGRASS
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.
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