Characteristics of Agricultural Grass

This is our quick guide to the characteristics of the different grasses used in our mixes.

Perennial Rye Grass (PRG)

This is the most persistent type of grass and is the most widely sown species. It is the main grass used in any medium-long term mix. It yields around 13-15T DM/ha, which is lower yielding than Italian ryegrass but perennials last longer than Italian ryegrass and Westerwolds at around 5-7 years (depending on heading date). It is a versatile species as it can be cut or grazed. Different varieties of perennials are subdivided into diploids and tetraploids and then divided further into early, intermediate or late - meaning that they provide grass growth at different times of the growing season. 

Italian Ryegrass (IRG)

This is one of the highest yielding grass species available in the UK and can provide around 18T DM/ha/year in the correct conditions. It is a short-lived grass, lasting for two years. It has a very open growth habit, with fewer tillers than other grasses and is best suited to cutting rather than grazing regimes. It will start to grow when the soil temperatures reach 3˚C, therefore growing earliest in the spring and latest in the autumn compared to other agricultural grasses. 

Hybrid ryegrass, lolium multiflorum x lolium boucheanum (HRG)

Hybrid ryegrass is a cross between Italians and perennials, inheriting characteristics of both species. Most varieties have more Italian genes within the plant, making it a useful species for intensive farmers, due to the high conservation yields. Hybrids also have more tillers than straight Italian ryegrasses due to the perennial gene within the plant, which increases ground cover. This also makes hybrids suitable for grazing. 

Timothy, Phleum pratense

This is a winter hardy species, which thrives in difficult conditions such as on heavy or wetland. Timothy also copes well with drought or on lighter soils, due to its deep rooting system. It is a very common species found in pasture throughout the UK. This is mainly due to its ability to provide good mid-summer growth and maintain its palatability when other grasses may be losing their D value. Timothy is suited to both cutting and grazing and grows when ryegrass growth slows down in the summer, filling the mid-season gap. 

Westerwald ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum westerwoldicum

These are annual grasses which are very fast to establish but are relatively short-lived. It is the only grass to produce a stem and seed head from a spring sowing, making it suitable for the production of hay for horses. It is a very good N lifter and seeks out and mops up nitrate in the soil.

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