In the world there are about a dozen types of ryegrass however, in the United States only two typesuntitled.png
of ryegrass are used, annual and perennial. Perennial ryegrass is mainly used in the central United
States. Annual ryegrass is used for overseeding in the South. These types of ryegrass have been in
the United States since the early 1900’s. Over 50 improved varieties have been developed during the
past 20 years.

In the southern part of the United States ryegrasses are used for temporary turfgrass for overseeding dormant warm season grasses and appear each fall from natural reseeding. Perennial ryegrass is used in the transition zone with bluegrass for sports fields.
Perennial ryegrass is a popular turf grass, especially in the south because it can remain green during the entire winter. Perennial ryegrass can be used as a winter cover or forage crop in warmer climates. It can also be used in mixtures with red clover in rotation with strawberries, nursery stock, or vegetables. Normally perennial ryegrass is allowed to grow for around 3 years, during which soil improvements and sanitation is provided, then it is plowed under as green manure.

Cool and moist environments are best for ryegrass use. Ryegrasses do well in non-extreme temperatures during winter and summer. In the transition zone, perennial ryegrass may be used as permanent turfgrass and in the South used as a cool season annual. Both types of ryegrass are susceptible to being killed in low winter temperatures, even
though perennial ryegrass is more cold tolerant that annual.

Throughout the years ryegrass has become compatible to different types of soil but favor moist, well drained, fertile soils. They have hardly any drought tolerance and must be irrigated during dry periods to ensure survival. Ryegrass has a high shade tolerance, which is good in the south where shade is used to defend against harsh summer temperatures. This helps perennial ryegrass survive the hot, dry summers in the South.

In the South, most types of ryegrass are popular for temporary grass cover during the fall and winter. Ryegrass has a high and quick establishment rate from seed which makes it a good idea for protection against erosion. It can also be sued to provide green color during winter months when bermudagrass is dormant.

Ryegrass is also used very often for overseeding athletic fields, golf courses, and lawns during winter months. The improved turf-type perennial ryegrasses have greater cold tolerance, wear tolerance, disease resistance and persistence than the older types. New varieties also have better turf characteristics - finer texture, greater density, darker color and better mowing qualities.
Ryegrass flowers in early spring and seeds mature in early summer. Annual ryegrass is prolific seeders and natural reseedings develop each fall where the grass is managed to produce seed. In the lower United States it is common to find on the sides of the roads.

Ryegrass is characterized by bunch-type growth habit and spread by profuse tillers. Ryegrass stems are straight and can reach between 1 and 2 feet. The leaf sheath is about as long as the internodes and auricles are claw like, unusually clasping the sheath.

Mature ryegrass seeds are 5 to 7 mm long, lanceolate and with or without awns. Annual ryegrass is rarely awnless; perennial ryegrass (L. perenne) is awnless. Unlike most grasses, the rachilla segment on the basal floret is long and stout. Seeds of ryegrass are very similar to those of tall fescue. However, in ryegrass the rachilla segment has parallel sides and the apex is not expanded (knobbed). In tall fescue, the rachilla segment is tapered at the base and the apex is expanded into a disk, or knob.

Improvements to ryegrass are mainly in perennial ryegrass. Improvements were made in the areas of the turfgrass’s density, texture, color, mowing quality, heat tolerance, cold tolerance, disease resistance, insect resistance, and drought tolerance.

Ryegrass is popular because of its quick establishment rate. Annual ryegrass has a seeding rate of 20 to 30 at 22 pounds. Perennial ryegrass has a seeding rate of 12 to 20 at 22 pounds. On golf courses and athletic field’s seeding rates of 25 to 40 pounds of ryegrass seed per 1,000 sq. ft. When mixing with bermudagrass lawns ryegrass can be seeded at 5 to 7 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. Though ryegrass grows fast it not aggressive because it spreads by growing large clumps instead of sending out rhizomes or stolons.
Seeding should be done 2 to 4 weeks before the first frost. If overseeding occurs too late cold temperatures may delay germination. In a prepared seedbed, ryegrass can be planted earlier, 10 to 12 weeks before the first frost. In a prepared seedbed seeding rated can be reduced. It is important to keep seedbeds moist for 2 weeks after seeding, after which watering frequency can be reduced. Fertilizing the seedbed before planting can help increase seedling growth. Applying fungicide gives protection during the seedling stage.

Ryegrass requires a high amount of maintenance. Ryegrass has a higher frequency of watering, fertilization, and pest management that any other southern turfgrass. During the spring ryegrass required twice weekly mowing, at 2 to 3 day intervals, for grass heights above one inch and daily mowing at heights below one inch.

Due to a low drought tolerance ryegrass needs frequent watering during the spring and through the summer. On golf courses and athletic fields daily watering is normal. On lawns, ryegrass will be the first grass to show signs of drought stress.

Ryegrass is victim to various insects and diseases during the spring, summer, and fall, especially during the seedling phase. Preventive measures need to be taken to ensure a healthy turfgrass. The dark green color of ryegrass attracts moths that lay eggs.

Vital stats about perennial ryegrass include: Hardiness zone:3-9, Optimum pH:5.8-7.2, Days to germination:5-10, Mowing height:3-4 inches, Water requirements: average, Growth spread:via clumps, Nitrogen requirement:2-3 pounds per 1000 sq. ft., Shade tolerance:low,Disease resistance:high, Insect resistance:high, Heat tolerance:medium, Cold tolerance:medium.