Annual Ryegrass IS NOT THE SAME as Cereal Rye

The name “rye” in both cover crops is confusing.  Annual ryegrass is a grass; Cereal rye is a grain, more like wheat.

Both are used for cover crops and forage.

Here are some basic differences, with the most distinctive in bold:

1.                   Annual Ryegrass                                                                         2.      Cereal Rye

Seed size/weight –     very small (26 lb/bu)                                                          larger (56 lb/bu)

Plant date –         varies, but late Aug/early Sept. best                                    can be planted later Sept.

Seeding rate –     drill: 12 – 17 lb/ac; aerial: 25 lb/ac                                               drill: 45 lb/ac.

Winterkill –        med. risk, less with 40 days fall growth and snow cover                          no

Deep rooting –     yes, to 60 inches over a few years                                   not as deep, 24 – 36 inches

Top growth –      10 ” to 12″ in spring, before burndown                    20″ at burndown, can get to 72″

Nitrogen –       sequesters N; releases N after burndown                     sequesters N; too much in stalks

Management –    care in burndown; no volunteers!                         easy kill; careful w/ over growth

Allelopathic –                              no                                                          yes, with certain crop seeds

Cost –              less $/ac. because of low cost/# and fewer #/ac.                higher cost/# and more #/ac