Know The Source To Avoid Annual Ryegrass Issues

With supplies low, some companies are stretching annual ryegrass seed by mixing multiple varieties, possibly causing emergence and control problems for no-tillers.

No-Tillers seeding annual ryegrass in their rotation should take extra care to identify the source and variety of the seed they’re purchasing or they could run into some unanticipated problems.

In the last couple of years, reports have surfaced about bags of seed being sold to farmers that contain several different varieties of ryegrass with varying genetics and maturities, says Creal Springs, Ill., conservation ag consultant Mike Plumer.

Supply And Demand. Part of the problem has to do with demand. In the Midwest, there’s been a 400% increase in the past year in annual ryegrass seed sales, and most companies ran out of seed in 2012, says Plumer, a retired University of Illinois Extension agent.

With supplies of annual ryegrass seed coming up short, some companies are mixing varieties to stretch supplies.

This may cause the plants to emerge at different times or have differing winter hardiness.

New companies are emerging to meet the demand, he says — but they may not understand that varieties grown in their area won’t overwinter in states like Illinois or Iowa with cooler climates.

“They can state on the tag, ‘variety not stated’ (VNS),” Plumer says. “They can also brand name it and mix in whatever seed they need to so they can fill an order. And it may not be the same varieties from one year to the next. Make sure you work with a known, reliable dealer.”

Limited Acres. The situation may be slow to improve due to questions about ryegrass seed…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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