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May 16, 2018
Annual ryegrass difficult to control in pastures when it’s not wanted
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PHOTOS available for download: https://flic.kr/p/25RBLer& https://flic.kr/p/27efaar
FAYETTEVILLE — Annual ryegrass in the pasture — if you love it, keep it. If you hate
it … well, that may be a problem.
A cool season grass, annual ryegrass has very good forage quality for early grazing
and is part of productive forage and grazing systems in many areas of the South. But
it may not be the right choice for some pasture systems, said Dirk Philipp, said associate
professor of animal science and forage researcher for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture.
“The typical annual ryegrass can be a menace in newly established pastures or that
producers like to renovate or keep in specific perennial forage crops,” Philipp said.
Annual ryegrass is prolific, Philipp said, because it will grow vigorously in spring
to complete its annual life cycle. Also, Arkansas’ climate is perfect for it and it
creates vast seedbanks that will persist for years or even decades.
“Annual ryegrass can be a problem in all kinds of pastures with either cool season
or warm season grass,” Philipp said.
To control annual ryegrass in existing fescue fields, Philipp said, stock early to
prevent seed head development. “Short-term, heavy stocking may help reduce ryegrass
forage mass,” he said.
Philipp said to avoid overgrazing these fields because it may result in weakened fescue
stands that are not ready for heavy grazing. That could result in gaps that could
be populated by weeds or the unwanted ryegrass.
In newly established fescue pastures, Philipp recommends brush-hogging to keep the
fast-growing annual ryegrass from growing tall and developing seedheads.
In bermudagrass fields, Philipp said, there’s normally a window in March and early
April when the bermudagrass is dormant and annual ryegrass can be chemically controlled.
That window may be shorter in areas of the South where winters are mild.
Philipp said annual ryegrass may not be a problem in grazed bermudagrass pastures
because the bermudagrass is competitive. But in dedicated hay operations, annual ryegrass
is undesirable, especially when the seedheads show up in hay baled in June or later.
When establishing new perennial pastures, Philipp recommends:
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Fred Miller
Arkansas Agricultural Experiment StationU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Fred MillerCommunication ServicesU of A Division of Agriculture(479) firstname.lastname@example.org