Annual Ryegrass


  • Entire state.
  • Tolerates poor drainage and close grazing.
  • Soil pH should be kept above 6.0 for best results.


Seed late August-October. Because this species is usually planted with a small grain and/or clover, see Establishment of Cool Season Annual Grasses for more details.

Recommended Varieties†

Early Varieties: Centurion, Diamond T (C, P), Double Diamond (C), Earlyploid, Flying A, Grits, ME-4, ME-94 (P, M), Nelson (C), Prine (C), RM4L, TAMTBO (C, P), Triangle T (C, P), Winterhawk, and WMWL-2 (P, M).

Late Varieties: Diamond T (P, L), Double Diamond (P), Earlyploid (C), Flying A, Grits, ME-4, ME-94 (P, M), Prine (C, P), Ranahan (C, P), RM4L (P), TAMTBO, Triangle T (P), Winterhawk (P,M), WMWL (P, M), and WMWL-2 (M).

Season-Long: Centurion, Diamond T (P, M), Double Diamond (C), Earlyploid (C, P), Flying A, Grits, ME-4, ME-94 (P, M), Nelson (C), Prine (C, P), Ranahan (P), RM4L (P), TAMTBO (C), Triangle T (C, P), Winterhawk (C), and WMWL (M), and WMWL-2 (M).

† Annual ryegrass variety recommendations are broken down into early and late producing traits. Recommended varieties have consistently demonstrated above average yields in UGA variety trials. Other varieties may provide satisfactory yields but were either not consistently above average or were not submitted to the Statewide Variety Trial program.

Notations: * A variety that should not be planted within 100 miles of the Gulf of Mexico or 50 miles from the Atlantic Coast because of the risk of severe yield declines due to leaf rusts or other fungal infections.

M = Mountains; P = Piedmont; C = Coastal Plain; No note indicates the variety is recommended statewide. 

In Depth

Annual ryegrass (commonly referred to as simply “ryegrass” in Georgia) is a well-adapted winter annual that can be planted in prepared seedbeds or overseeded onto perennial grass sods for late winter and spring grazing. Some newer varieties may even provide some late fall grazing if planted early and/or into a prepared seedbed. Ryegrass is also often seeded in mixtures with a small grain and/or clover. It is a prolific seed producer and will reseed in pastures (if allowed to go to seed). Ryegrass has a later grazing season than the small grains and can be grazed until early May in south Georgia and late May or early June in north Georgia when moisture is adequate.

Ryegrass is one of the highest quality forages that can be grown in Georgia, often providing over 70% TDN and 18% CP if grazed in the late vegetative stage. High quality (56-64% TDN and 10-16% CP) can also be expected in the early stages of seedhead development. However, quality and palatability of late season forage can be low due to disease (mainly rust) and maturity.

Since it can produce such high quality when properly managed, it often is planted for high quality hay or silage cuttings (usually 1 or 2) in the spring. It is also commonly planted into dormant bermudagrass hayfields. This is a recommended practice, but the ryegrass should be mowed, cut for hay, or grazed before the bermudagrass comes out of dormancy. This harvesting of ryegrass should be timed (usually late March in south Georgia and late April in north Georgia) so as to prevent the ryegrass from suppressing the spring emergence of bermudagrass.

Hay harvests in late April or May are often difficult because of rainfall. Care should be taken to ensure that ryegrass is dried to a moisture level that is appropriate for safe storage of hay (15% moisture for round bales; 18% moisture for square bales). Alternatively, ryegrass haylage and baled silage can be used to conserve this high quality forage when rainfall is of concern.

Dr. Dennis Hancock
Forage Extension Specialist
Crop & Soil Sciences Dept.