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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUSTAINABLE FORAGE PRODUCTION FOR LOW-INPUT FARMING SYSTEMS

Location: Forage and Livestock Production Unit

Title: Annual (Italian) ryegrass. A cool-season forage for small farms

Author
item Bartholomew, Paul

Submitted to: Grazinglands Research Laboratory Miscellaneous Publication
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: January 31, 2009
Publication Date: February 26, 2009
Citation: Bartholomew, P.W. 2009. Annual (Italian) ryegrass. A cool-season forage for small farms [abstract]. Grazinglands Research Laboratory Miscellaneous Publication. 1 p.

Interpretive Summary: Abstract only.

Technical Abstract: Cool-season forage supply is a problem for many livestock producers in the southern plains. On land typical of many small farms in central and eastern Oklahoma (producing about 3000 lb per acre of warm-season grass) annual (Italian) ryegrass has been the most reliable and the most productive cool-season grass species tested. Because annual ryegrass is easy to establish, even without cultivation of soil it is a good choice for small farmers who do not have easy access to field equipment. Overseeding ryegrass on dormant warm-season pasture is especially advantageous because this will allow forage production during both the warm- and cooler seasons of the year. Ryegrass can be successfully established into warm-season pasture between mid-September and mid-October using a no-till seed drill or by broadcast sowing. When overseeded on warm-season pasture ryegrass is unlikely to produce high yields of forage in the fall. With up to 50lb of actual nitrogen per acre applied in mid- to late February, early spring ryegrass growth is encouraged and about 20lb of grass dry matter is produced for each 1lb of nitrogen applied. Spring grazing should be scheduled to begin between 4 and 6 weeks after fertilizer application, at the earliest mid-March, and at latest mid-April. If ryegrass is grazed-out by early to mid-May the warm-season pasture will regrow without competition from the cool-season grass. Managed in this way, the ryegrass will supply early-season grazing and existing warm-season perennial grasses will provide herbage in late-spring and summer.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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