I was visiting with a weed scientist from Purdue yesterday. He is an excellent scientist and gifted at weed ID as well. I asked him to work on a project and as he and I were discussing that he made a comment that I know needs to be ruminated upon. He asked me if I like annual ryegrass as a cover crop.
I do…usually. It is not my number one choice in many instances but it sure does some wonderful things to the soil environment.
His main concern is that annual ryegrass “is only killed properly 3 out of every 5 years.” I’m not sure of that percentage but I do know that in 2010 in NE Indiana there are many acres where there is poor weed control on the annual ryegrass.
Whoops! I just called annual ryegrass a weed! Well, it is a weed now, because it was not controlled and it has become a problem in several fields. Unfortunately the ryegrass is fully headed out, pollinated and producing viable seed. For years to come it may be a problem – especially in wheat, oats, barley, and possibly row crops.
- Is annual ryegrass an excellent cover crop? Yes.
- Does annual ryegrass take better management than most cover crops? Yes.
- Is annual ryegrass a weed? Yes, it could become one; and unfortunately in many areas it became a weed in 2010.