Fall planted ryegrass

Asked May 3, 2019, 5:04 PM EDT

Do I cut fall planted rye grass (Lolium multiflorum) even if I won't be planting this spring? My plan has been to leave these rye planted raised beds and barrels unseeded this growing season. I have tall rye grass now; nothing that looks like seed heads yet. I'm guessing these will come. Before it goes to seed, I can cut the grass and then compost what I can't work into the soil. My assumption is that I do disturb the roots and work them in too. I'm trying to feed the soil so plants are happier when I do plant again--probably next spring. I live in Florence, so I also wonder if I should plant a cover crop again this winter so the rains (hopefully) don't wash the nutrients from the soil. Your suggestions and comments will be appreciated.

Lane County Oregon field crops

2 Responses

Great question. You can mow the ryegrass now and work the material into the soil, but if you're not planting this spring you could also leave the ryegrass and allow it to make seed heads. The volunteer annual ryegrass that comes up in the fall should be plenty to serve as cover for another winter. In addition to saving you some time and money, leaving the beds undisturbed this spring will allow for more biological activity to build soil health.

One thing to consider, though, is that you may try terminating the grass cover crop now and planting a legume or brassica cover crop in the fall. Rotating your cover crops among grasses and broadleaves can feed different soil organisms and help to return different nutrients to the soil. However, this would require buying/sowing the seeds and are generally more difficult to establish than grasses. In either case, it would be best to maintain a cover on your beds this winter.

Hope this helps,

Will,

Your answer is very helpful! I appreciate the options you presented. As of today, my plan is to leave the ryegrass for the summer and (attempt to) harvest it when the seed heads mature. Either I'll replant that or something else this fall. I'll leave the ryegrass to give myself a bit of a break this summer, but still build the soil. If I plant legumes early, there will be the watering.

Thank you for taking the time to give me this fine answer. Have a great spring/summer!