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Book: Ecology, Production, and Management of Lolium for Forage in the USA
Published by: Crop Science Society of America



  1.  p. 101-122
    CSSA Special Publication 24.
    Ecology, Production, and Management of Lolium for Forage in the USA

    F. M. Rouquette and L. R. Nelson (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-603-8


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Perennial Ryegrass for Forage in the USA

  1. David B. Hannaway,
  2. G. W. Evers,
  3. S. L. Fales,
  4. M. H. Hall,
  5. S. C. Fransen,
  6. D. M. Ball,
  7. Stephen W. Johnson,
  8. Irvin H. Jacob,
  9. Marty Chaney,
  10. Woody Lane and
  11. William C. Young III
  1. Oregon State University, Cowallis, Oregon
    Texas A & M University, Agricultural Research & Extension Center, Overton, Texas
    Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
    Washington State University, Puyallup, Washington
    Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
    International Seeds, Inc., Halsey Oregon
    Cascade International Seeds, Aumsville, Oregon
    NRCS, Tacoma, Washington
    Lane Livestock Services, Rosebury, Oregon
    Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon


Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) is a temperate, perennial forage grass noted for fast establishment, exceptional quality, and high cool-season productivity. It is folded in the bud, with dark green, glossy, smooth, glabrous, prominently ridged leaf blades. The collar is narrow with small, claw-like auricles and a 0.5- to 2.5-mm thin-membranous, obtuse ligule. Leaf sheaths often are reddish at the base. Flowering culms are 50 to 100 cm with a spike-type inflorescence with 5 to 40 sessile, awnless spikelets positioned edgewise to the rachis. Perennial ryegrass is adapted to mild, wet climates or irrigated regions. It is tolerant of poorly drained soils with a pH range of 5.0 to 8.3. Optimum growth occurs between 20 and 25°C. It is less persistent than other perennial, temperate forage grasses, but because of its high quality is widely used in dairy (Bos taurus) and sheep (Ovis sp.) forage systems; primarily for pasture and silage. Seeding rates vary from 18 to 24 kg ha−1 in pure stands, reduced to 12 to 18 kg ha−1 in mixtures. Depth of planting is 0.5 to 1.25 cm. High levels of fertility are required for high yields and stand persistence. Economical N application levels are in the range of 160 kg N ha−1 yr. Defoliation management during vegetative growth should allow plants to attain a height of 10 to 25 cm prior to grazing but not shorter than 2.5 cm (6 cm for mechanical harvest). When plants enter the reproductive growth phase, clipping or grazing should avoid removal of elevated growing points until boot stage. Currently, lack of persistence and sensitivity to high temperature and drought are the main limitations to expanded use of perennial ryegrass in the USA.

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Copyright © 1997. Copyright © 1997 by the Crop Science Society of America, Inc., 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA