Italian ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is primarily used for quick cover in erosion control plantings. Italian ryegrass is distributed throughout the entire United States. This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed.
Italian ryegrass is quite similar to perennial ryegrass except it is an annual or biennial, depending on climate and/or length of growing season. It may grow a little taller than perennial ryegrass, from 2 to 3 feet tall. Plants have a bunchy form, with numerous long, narrow, stiff leaves near the base of the plant. The under surfaces of leaves are bright, glossy, and smooth. Inflorescence stems are nearly naked. The seeds of this sub-species have awns (bristles).
Italian Ryegrass has a wide range of adaptability to soils, but thrive on dark rich soils in regions having mild climates. They do not withstand hot, dry weather or severe winters. They will stand fairly wet soils with reasonably good surface drainage.
A fine, firm seedbed gives the best results. Mulched seedings on graded soil germinate readily. Spring seedings of ryegrass may occur in March, April, or May. Seeding rates will vary with local conditions and purpose of plantings. Generally, a seeding rate of 20 to 25 pounds per acre is used if ryegrass is seeded alone. Lesser amounts per acre are used in mixtures, depending upon uses and companion species. Do not exceed 4 pounds per acre in mixes with alfalfa.