Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Ryegrass
Additional ryegrass information via the Forage Information System (FIS)
Ryegrass Harvest Management
Seeding year harvest management of perennial ryegrass is dependent on time and method of seeding, fertility, growing conditions, and other factors which effect rate of establishment. However, with favorable establishment and growing conditions one or more harvests are possible in the seeding year. First time harvest or grazing on newly established ryegrass should be delayed until it is 10 to 12 inches tall.
As a hay crop, ryegrass yields may be relatively low unless considerable time is allowed for forage accumulation for fall harvest. Ryegrass plants contain less dry matter and therefore require longer curing time before baling relative to other cool season grasses. In addition, they are more difficult to mow with a sickle bar mower than other grasses.
Established ryegrass pastures can be initially grazed when spring growth reaches 2 to 3 inches in height and the pasture does not risk excessive damage due to wet soil conditions. It may be continually grazed but yield and plant persistence are compromised if it is continuously grazed below 1.5 inches in height. Greater yields are possible when ryegrass is rotationally grazed. A grazing system which allows 7 to 10 inches of regrowth between grazings will benefit grass yield as well as persistence. Animals should be removed from rotationally grazed pastures when the ryegrass stubble is from 1.5 to 2 inches in height. Under grazing, perennial ryegrass-alfalfa mixtures are superior to orchardgrass-alfalfa mixtures in production of crude protein, digestible dry matter, and alfalfa persistence.