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Italian and Annual ryegrasses are large-leaved, providing quality forage in winter and spring, and are best for between summer crop cycles. Proper grazing management optimises the potential of ryegrasses.
These two types of ryegrass are described together because they are used in similar situations. Large leaved, and cool season active these ryegrasses are highly valued for their winter and early spring production of high quality forage.
Annual ryegrass is commonly sown in autumn as a 6-8 month winter/spring crop. In warm, summer dry areas it will persist only to flowering and seed set in early summer. Cultivars can persist longer in mild, moist summer climates with low insect pressures (e.g. irrigated Canterbury and Otago, and Southland).
Italian ryegrasses are more persistent than annuals, typically lasting 12-18 months in drier conditions, and 2-3 years in mild, moist summer areas.
These species are appropriate for between summer crop cycles. The both establish very quickly and in conditions are typically ready for a first light graze in 4-6 weeks.
When sown in March as a winter crop, both species produce a similar amount. Trial data suggests they can grow 7-8 t DM/ha over 6-8 months. Sowing in late autumn will reduce their DM yield.
Italian ryegrasses keep growing into summer, however yield varies largely due to summer moisture