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Perennial Ryegrass V Annual Meadow Grass

by TurfCareBlog

This year with such a wet winter and annual meadow grass flourishing, in this blog Perennial Ryegrass V Annual Meadow a leading seed company gives us some information why we need to keep trying to out compete the dreaded AMG.

Perennial Ryegrass Lolium perenne v Annual Meadow Grass Poa annua in Sports turf

To describe the spring season of 2020 as ‘unusual’ would certainly be an understatement.  A torrential autumn renovation period in 2019 quickly led into almost drought conditions in spring 2020.

Then just as the weather decided to behave itself, lockdown was upon us.  Challenging times for any sports turf manager indeed.

The sudden lack of sports being played on natural surfaces has created the potential for little or no renovation taking place at many venues, with budgets having been cut and sacrifices needing to be made.

This has led to many sports turf professionals reviewing maintenance practices and considering the outcome of not performing the standard over seeding procedures.

Left image(rye)-Roots 4 inches plus/Right image(AMG) shallow Rooted

What are the consequences of not reintroducing desirable species?

Swards predomiatley dominated with Perennial Rye will become invaded by Poa annua if no remedial action is taken.  It is a continuous battle; fight we are all involved with.

We are all aware of the importance to remove thatch/organic matter that has accumulated throughout the season, this is even more evident on unused or barely used surfaces.  This reduction of thatch will reduce issues for next season and aid with Poa annua removal.

So, let us take a closer look at Perennial Rye and Annual Meadow Grass. The benefits, the pros and cons and why we choose the species we do.

Perennial Rye Lolium perenne is the most prominently used species within sports that demand a hard wearing playing surface. i.e. cricket, tennis, winter sports and equestrian.  This is due to many favorable characteristics it displays whilst being very visually appealing. 

PRG is quick to germinate, quick to establish and quick to recover. Also, very importantly it is a low thatch producer.  Ultimately, its defining feature is its ability to withstand high volumes of wear.

A seemingly endless list of cultivars has been created, with an average timespan of 16 years from the initial cross breeding of parent plants through to harvesting.  During this time each cultivar will endure many trials and testing with only the best going on to be grown and harvested for use in sports turf. 

All Cultivars Must Prove to be

  1. Distinct.  Display at least one characteristic which differs from other varieties.
  2. Uniform.  Individual plants must be genetically identical within its variety.
  3. Stable.  Characteristics must remain after propagation and multiplications.

These DUS standards must be met during testing over a two-year period.

To emphasize the point, Perennial Rye has had significant investment in trials and research which has led to it becoming a very desirable species to use within sports turf.

On the contrary, Annual Meadow Grass Poa annua is a truly ‘wild’ species that has not been bred/cultivated to maximize characteristics or traits.  It is a weed species that invades amenity turf.

Shallow rooting, high thatch production, poor drought and disease tolerance and unsightly seed heads.  It has the ability to continuously replace dying plants with new ones from seed, it is largely seen as the enemy.

(From a purely botanical point of view, a certain amount of respect should be shown to the survival ability of Poa annua)

Perennial Rye is proven to be the most successful species in out-competing Poa annua. It is also the biggest component of sward appearance and performance.

Poa annua will always attempt to invade the best maintained sward yet alone the turf that has laid untouched!

cricket pitch

Your Seed Questions

This is just one of the eight questions to be answered in part two next Tuesday, which is a blog just on the most common questions groundsman ask about grass seed.

Why are mixes for cricket 100% dwarf rye and why is this important, over mixes containing fescue and bents.

Traditional mixtures are becoming less and less common for a variety of reasons,

cultivation of species has resulted in many variations that exhibit various traits.  For example, fineness of leaf will help create density within the sward and allows for a short height of cut.

Drought tolerance, disease resistance are other traits bred into Perennial Rye cultivars reducing the need for other species within traditional mixtures.  It is the difference between intraspecific and interspecific selection.  Not all species and cultivars are suitable.

Independent trials data shows Perennial Rye to be the best wear tolerant and quickest recovering species. These positive traits allow cricket groundskeepers to achieve the desired surface through good rolling practices, perennial rye also benefits from fast germination and establishment.

By selecting a species (Perennial Rye) with favorable traits of other species (e.g. drought resistance or fine leaf), we can create a 100% Perennial Rye mixture with all the added benefits exhibited by traditional species. 

MM cultivars were the first to be used on county cricket facilities and continue to do so since the mid 1980’s

Sam Horner

Limagrain Field Seeds

Amenity Seed Sales Specialist – Southern England

To see more blog on seed and loam and lots more check out our blog archives, these archives only keeps the very best blogs which we hope you will use as a resource-https://turfcareblog.com/learning-resources-blog-archives/

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