Rye grass can be used either in lawns or as an agricultural product for making hay or for use in pastures. It is used most commonly as a grazing crop. The various types of rye grass are usually best suited for one particular use, and experimental varieties have shown greater resistance to factors such as weather.
Rye grass has three main types. Italian rye grass is an annual rye grass used primarily in the southwestern United States as a winter grazing grass for cattle; it is not a true annual, with some fields re-growing for up to five years.
Perennial rye grass is used mainly in the northeast and along the Pacific coast. Intermediate rye grass is a genetic combination of Italian and perennial rye grass, used mainly as a substitute for perennial rye grass.
Italian is the most common type of annual rye grass. Italian has a very high yield; it grows quickly in fall and dies out by the following summer. Perennial rye grass is more persistent than Italian rye grass. It is a lower-growing form of grass and is much more likely to experience a slump in growth than annual rye grass.
Unlike other forms, perennial rye grass can be planted in early spring. A newer form of rye grass combines many of the positive traits of both annual and perennial varieties. It is not as strong as annual rye grass during winter, but it provides a higher yield than perennial types.
Rye grass is used most often as a grazing crop for cattle – especially in winter, as most forms will withstand cooler weather. Grazing can be continuous, making rye grass a valuable crop for cattle farmers. Rye grass also makes a good hay crop once it has reached 10 to 12 inches in height, especially for a first harvest.
Rye grass is grown around the world, but it is indigenous to Europe, Asia and North Africa. Varieties of rye grass are used across the globe as one of the most high-yielding agronomic products. Given proper climate and nutrients, rye grass harvests can be enormous. All types of rye grass use a large amount of water and will not fare as well during dry periods or drought.
Most forms of rye grass are susceptible to crown rust, which can severely damage or destroy a crop. Modified versions of rye grass exist that are more resistant to crown rust, decreasing chances of crop loss. While rye grass can be grazed consistently, length of the grass should not fall below 2 inches or the harvest will be diminished.