Information gathered from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) was used to compile this summary on how to use annual ryegrass as a cover crop in Ohio. For more information, see the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and the Cover Crop Selector Tool found at: midwestcovercrops.org/selector-tool/.
- Glossy leaves, unlike cereal rye
- Clasping, claw-like auricles
- Red-tinged leaf sheaths
- Winter annual
- Minimum germination temperature: 40 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reliable establishment window (state average): March 29–April 28; July 25–Sept. 28
- Upright growth habit: 12–24 inches
- Preferred soil pH: 6.0–7.0
|Shade tolerance||Very good|
|Flood tolerance||Very good|
- Drilled at ¼–½ inch
- 12–20 lb./acre (pure live seed)
- Broadcast with shallow incorporation
- 14–22 lb./acre (pure live seed)
- Broadcast without incorporation
- 18–24 lb./acre (pure live seed)
Additional planting information:
- 190,300 seeds per lb.
- If manure is applied, tend toward lower end of the seeding rate.
- Broadcasting without incorporation is usually less dependable than drilling or broadcasting with incorporation.
Disclaimer: Rules for Financial Assistance Program Recipients
Individuals participating in financial assistance programs are required to follow Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Appendix A regarding seeding rates and dates. Failure to do so will jeopardize payments. Appendix A can be found in Ohio's Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4, Ecological Sciences Tools: efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/#/state/OH/documents/section=4&folder=-6.
- Dry matter = 1,000–4,000 lb. per acre, per year
- Biomass quantity is highly dependent on planting/termination dates and precipitation.
- Planting after wheat often provides relatively low biomass.
Additional performance information:
- Potential for herbicide resistance
- Rapid establishment
- Heavy nitrogen and water use in spring
- Early planting results in heading (emergence of seed heads)
- Excellent deep, fibrous rooting plant
- Can accumulate nitrates under certain conditions
- Difficult to dry for hay
- May be less effective at reducing marestail than barley or cereal rye
- Does not host root knot nematode, soybean cyst nematode, and sugar beet cyst nematode
- Reported to reduce clubroot in cabbage
|Weed fighter||Very good|
|Mechanical forage harvest||Very good|
|Cash crop interseed||Very good|
- If terminating with only tillage, multiple passes are often required.
- Two or more applications may be required to chemically terminate.
Additional termination information:
- Annual ryegrass is difficult to terminate and is generally not recommended except for specific uses and by highly experienced producers.
- Terminate when it reaches 6–8 inches in height.
- To ensure complete termination, follow best spray practices, and do not plant a mix of varieties.
- Mowing after heading may result in termination.
- Annual ryegrass has the potential to develop herbicide resistance.
- Follow NRCS guidelines for cover crop termination dates to comply with crop insurance.
|Frees phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)||Very good|
|Allelopathic (produces biochemicals that inhibit weeds)||Good|
Delayed emergence: could be a moderate problem
Increased weed potential: could be a major problem
- Must be killed before it joints or after heading
- More difficult to kill after jointing and when temperatures are cool
- Possible weed potential in some varieties
- May be hard to kill with glyphosate
Increased insects/nematodes: occasionally a minor problem
- Could increase the risk of spring cutworm and potato stem borer
- Host for penetrans root lesion nematode
Increased crop diseases: occasionally a minor problem
Hinders crops: could be a minor problem
- Not advised for use in rotations with wheat
- May limit nitrogen (N) availability to subsequent crops that are heavy N users
Mature incorporation challenges: could be a moderate problem
This publication was adapted with consent from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) with content from the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and Cover Crop Selector Tool (midwestcovercrops.org/selector-tool/). It was created under a joint project with MCCC to produce customized introductory guidance about cover crops for all member states/provinces. Ohio cover crop recipes can be found at midwestcovercrops.org/statesprovince/ohio/.
The Midwest Cover Crops Council (midwestcovercrops.org) aims to facilitate widespread adoption of cover crops throughout the Midwest by providing educational/outreach resources and programs, conducting new research, and communicating about cover crops to the public.
Funding for this project was provided by the McKnight Foundation.