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Annual ryegrass

Annual ryegrass, or annual chaff (Lolium multiflorum), is a fodder crop related to annual cereal (bluegrass) grasses.

Economic importance

Annual ryegrass is grown in a mixture with annual legumes for green fodder and for fodder for the winter. When laying cultivated pastures, it serves as a cover crop.

Hay and green mass of annual ryegrass are well eaten by all kinds of animals. By the beginning of flowering, the protein content is 16.7%. In the year of sowing, it gives a good fodder mass.

The chemical composition of the dry mass of annual ryegrass: protein 17.4%; fiber 23.2%; sugar 13.3%. The chemical composition of the mixture of ryegrass, oats and vetch: protein 20.2%, fiber 23.4%, sugar 9.8%.

100 kg of green mass contains 19.1 feed units and 1.7 kg of digestible
protein. 100 kg of hay – 57.0 feed units and 4.9 kg of digestible protein.

It is used for landscaping lawns and sports grounds, as it is able to quickly form a turf mass. It is characterized by high tillering, a long period of shoot formation, the ability of
vegetative propagation and good aftertaste. With sufficient moisture, shoot formation occurs throughout the growing season – from tillering to ripening.

The root system of annual ryegrass contributes to the formation of a finely cloddy soil structure.

Cultural history

Annual ryegrass is obtained in Holland from perennial ryegrass many-flowered, which is short-lived.

It has long been cultivated in the countries of Western Europe and North America as an early-ripening fodder cereal.

In Russia, it has not yet become widespread, it is considered a promising fodder crop for intensive farming for the forest and forest-steppe zones.

Cultivation areas

Thanks to a very short vegetation period (60-90 days) it can be cultivated up to the Kola Peninsula.

Main areas of cultivation: Non-chernozem zone, Urals, Western and Eastern Siberia, Far East.


The yield of hay for 2-3 cuttings can reach 6-8 t/ha, green mass – 20-25 t/ha, seeds – 500-1000 kg/ha.

Botanical description

Annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam. var. westervoldicum Wittm.) is an annual plant of the bluegrass family.

The root system is fibrous, well developed, located mainly in the arable layer of the soil.

The stem is thin, straight or curved, 50-60 cm high, sometimes 90 cm high, well leafy.

The leaves are linear, shiny on the underside, slightly rough on the top.

The inflorescence is a loose spike, 15-18 cm long, has 12-25 spikelets. Unlike wheatgrass, spikelets are located with a narrow side to the spike rod.

The fruit is an elongated, lanceolate, hairless caryopsis, gray, light gray or brown. Weight of 1000 seeds 1.8-3.2 g.

Biological features

Cold resistance is high, undemanding to heat. Seeds germinate at a temperature of 1-4 °C, seedlings appear at 8-9 °C. The optimum temperature for germination is 20-25 °C. Seedlings withstand frosts of -2…-3 °С.

Annual ryegrass is a moisture-loving plant. Does not tolerate drought well. With a lack of moisture, bushiness, plant height and yield decrease.

Long day culture.

It grows well on various soils: clay, loamy, sandy loam, drained peatlands, moist lands. It can also grow on carbonate chernozem and acid podzolic soils. Well cultivated soils are optimal.


An annual ryegrass germinates, giving one germinal root.

The tillering begins in the phase of 3-4 leaves. With a continuous sowing method, tillering is 3-6 stems per plant, with a sparse standing – up to 200 stems. Shoot formation continues throughout the growing season, which makes it possible to receive several cuts during the growing season.

Annual ryegrass quickly forms an above-ground mass, belongs to early-ripening cereals.

Flowering occurs after 35-60 days from emergence. The vegetation period is 60-90 days.

In the north, it allows you to get 1-2 cuttings, at the latitude of Moscow and to the south – 3 cuttings during the year. The first mowing is carried out 35-50 days after germination. Usually 30-35 days pass between the first and second cuts, 45-50 days between the second and third.

Crop rotation

Annual ryegrass is cultivated in fodder and field crop rotations. Under it allocate fields intended for sowing annual grasses.

Winter and spring cereals, leguminous and tilled crops are considered good predecessors .

Serves as a good predecessor for cereals and row crops.

Annual ryegrass gives good results in mixed crops with annual legumes, while hay yield increases by 1.5-2.0 t/ha, and protein yield by 100 kg/ha (All-Russian Research Institute of Fodder).


It responds well to the application of nitrogen fertilizers, while the yield of green mass increases by 1.5-2 times.

Based on experimental data, the following fertilizer application rates are recommended for annual ryegrass: nitrogen – 100-150 kg/ha, phosphorus – 200-300 kg/ha, potash – 100 kg/ha, or N30-45P30-45K30-45. Phosphorus-potassium fertilizers are applied in autumn under autumn plowing, nitrogen fertilizers – in spring before cultivation.

After the first mowing, top dressing is carried out at 100-150 kg/ha with nitrogen fertilizers.


Soil cultivation is carried out similarly to cultivation for crops of early sowing time (early spring crops).


The seeding rate for pure seeds is 20-30 kg/ha, in grass mixtures 10-14 kg/ha, for seeds with a wide-row method – 10-14 kg/ha.

Embedding depth – up to 2-3 cm.

The sowing date is the earliest, usually at the same time as early spring crops.

Sowing methods for forage – ordinary ordinary, for seeds – wide-row with row spacing of 45-60 cm.

The seeding rate in grass mixtures is 100-120 kg/ha of spring vetch or 120-150 kg/ha of lathyrus, or the same seeding rate of alkaloid-free yellow lupine seeds. The timing of sowing grass mixtures is determined by the optimal timing of sowing legumes. Sometimes overseeding is carried out under the cover of a vetch-oat mixture or used as a cover crop when sowing perennial grasses. In the latter case, the seeding rate is 15-18 kg/ha.

Annual ryegrass can also be sown under fiber flax . After pulling the flax, it gives a good herbage, which makes it possible to use the flax for spreading straw.

With seed culture, sowing is carried out in its pure form.


Harvesting for hay begins during the earing period – the beginning of flowering.

For seeds, harvesting begins when the seeds reach full ripeness on the central stem. Seeds fall off easily, so separate harvesting is recommended.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.