Annual Ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) is a highly adaptable short duration cool-season grass native to southern Europe. It is widely distributed throughout the world, including the Americas. For our climate in Tennessee, Annual Ryegrass is commonly used as “winter fill” for lawns, being seeded into stands of warm-season grasses near their Fall dormant period. The ryegrass will grow throughout the winter and into spring. In
the summer, the return of hot weather initiates regrowth of the warm-season grasses as the ryegrass dies off. Annual Ryegrass can also be used as a winter cover crop, or for livestock forage.
Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is a cool-season turfgrass often combined with Kentucky Bluegrass. Rapid germination and aggressive establishment are traits that make this grass popular for overseeding and renovation of lawns. In Tennessee, Perennial Ryegrass is widely used as winter cover for dormant Bermudagrass lawns.
Commonly called “rye” or “winter rye”, Cereal Rye (Secale cereal) is a grain with a growth habit similar to wheat. In the USA, rye is harvested for grain and is also grown for pasture, hay, and as a cover crop. For use as a green manure, Winter Rye is the most hardy of all cereals and usually exhibits strong growth during the cool temperatures of late Fall and early Spring.
If, like me, you’ve had confusion in the rye, I hope this short summary has been helpful.
sources: Annual Ryegrass, Forage Management in the Mid-Atlantic, Maryland Extension fact sheet 775. HortAnswers, University of Illinois Extension. Turfgrass Maintenance, Overseeding Bermudagrass with Perennial Ryegrass, UT Extension W161-J. Alternative Field Crops Manual, University of Wisconsin Extension, University of Minnesota Extension.