Italian Ryegrass

Lolium multiflorum




Annual or biennial grass of medium size (50-100 cm), tufted, erect, forming large tufts that are deep green and glossy. Leaves have folded vernation and embracing auricles have a broad and flexible limb. The stem base is red. The inflorescences are ears carrying the sessile and bristled spikelets, singly. The grains are coated in lemma for a TKW of 2.2 G. This is a cross-pollinating species.

Italian ryegrass has a large number of ecotypes, varying in development speed and life cycle (annual or bi-annual). The production of new varieties is particularly simple in spite of a strong auto-sterility.
Common diploid (2n = 14), there are some tetraploid forms whose forage production is the same, although a higher yield and a lower production of grains were observed for tetraploid forms 1).

 Originally found in southern and western Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa, it is now cultivated around the world, in moderate and subtropical climates.


Chemical Composition
In % Water Nitrogen Fat Soluble carbohydrates Fibrous carbohydrates Ashes
Forage: green
Forage: hay
Italian ryegrass is widely used in annual and biennial grasslands, since it produces abundant forage, appreciated by animals, with excellent food value, that can be used as green forage, hay, silage or for grazing. Its fast growth provides two regrowths (after cutting at the appearance of panicle) and it has rapid regrowth after harvest or grazing. It is often associated with other plants such as orchard grass, oatgrass or red clover. It can grow in the winter and in the spring, waiting for dry periods.
However, it is vigorous enough to suffocate other species (timothy, meadow fescue, etc). Its soil and climatic requirements (rich, cool, relatively moist soil and a temperate climate) does not allow it to survive in case of frost, overly dry summers or floods.
Italian ryegrass is capable of growing at an altitude of 1.000 to 1.500 meters.
Seedlings Period Spacing Depth Amount sown
In rows  From first autumn rains 40-60 cm 2-3 cm 15-25 kg/ha (even 25-35 broadcasting or in association


In q/ha In green In hay In grain
Yield 200-400 50-100 4-8

Agronomic Characteristics

  • Fast and easy rooting
  • Early start at the end of winter
  • Very fast production
  • Very good growth in the spring
  • Non-alternative types produce leafy growths the first year
  • This species is ideal for the establishment of a silage inventory
  • Important ear booting
  • Low to very low durability (for alternative types)


1) HERTZSCH W. (1962). Beobachtungen und Erfahrungen Bei Züchtungsarbeiten mit tetraploiden Futterleguminosen. Zits. für Pflanzenzüchtung, Berlin-Hamburg, vol. 48, 3, 230-258.

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