The window is closing for seeding Italian ryegrass this spring for many of farmers in the Upper Midwest.
For high-quality forage or plowdown, Italian ryegrass is a great pick. It regrows quickly after grazing and mowing and persists into fall. Now is the time farmers should get it planted.
Basically, Italian Ryegass is a cool-season, European grass that produces best in temperatures ranging from 69° to 77° F. Productivity will decline as daytime temperature highs reach 87° F and above. Italian ryegrass’s ability to perform in mid summer depends on its development of an adequate root stem early in the growing season.
Basically, Italian ryegrass doesn’t love hot weather.
If farmers don’t get it planted and established before temperatures (so that it can develop a good root system), they will be disappointed in their forage yields.
Obviously, conditions vary from year to year, and where you’re located will be a major factor, but the critical point is to get the Italian ryegrass seeded so it can get rooted and established before the season turns hot and dry. During late spring, ryegrass will germinate within 7 days and needs at least an additional four weeks to become well established.
After about May 10 in southern Minnesota, consider switching to warm-season grasses that like hot weather: the millets, sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, forage sorghum, or teff grass. Adjust these dates accordingly at more northern or southern latitudes.