Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Ryegrass
Additional ryegrass information via the Forage Information System (FIS)
Normal winter temperatures in Pennsylvania are mild enough to allow ryegrass seeding in either the spring (April or May) or late summer (before August 15 and 25 in northern and southern Pennsylvania, respectively). Ryegrass may be seeded alone; however, to improve hay yields when growing ryegrass a mixture with a legume is recommended. Legumes, such as alfalfa or white clover in the mixture will also provide some nitrogen to the ryegrass and can also improve the quality of forage produced. Ryegrass seedings have been successful in both a clean, tilled seedbed and in existing grass sod. However, when no-till seeding, the existing grass sod should be mowed or grazed very short or desiccated with a chemical prior to seeding to reduce competition. Ryegrass should be band seeded 0.25 to 0.5 inch deep. If the seedbed is dry and press wheels are not used, cultipack before and after seeding for additional stand insurance.
Ryegrass seeding rates depend on its intended use and the condition of seedbed. When seeding into a well-prepared seedbed, 15-20 lb per acre is recommended. When seeded with a compatible or adapted legume (alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, and white or red clover) 4-8 lbs per acre is recommended. In a USDA-ARS Pasture Research Laboratory study, alfalfa yield was not effected by ryegrass seeding rate (6 to 18 lbs per acre) in late summer seedings of alfalfa-ryegrass mixtures. In the same study, alfalfa became the dominant species within one year regardless of seeding mixtures, even when seeding rates heavily favored ryegrass establishment.