Scientific name(s)
Plant description
Pasture type and use
Where it grows
Animal production
Further information
Author and date
Download PDF

Go to the top
Perennial ryegrass

Scientific name(s)

Lolium perenne (Table 1)
Lolium x boucheanum Kunth (Table 2) - Refer Hybrid ryegrass fact sheet for details re description etc.



Plant description

Plant:  Densely tufted, multi-tillered perennial with fibrous root system

Stems: 30-90 cm

Leaves: fine (~7 mm), dark green, hairless, under surface shiny, blade folded about mid-rib in young shoot, leaf-base usually dark red

Seedhead: spike ~20 cm, spikelet usually <10 florets/spikelet; awnless lemma

Seeds:  fawn, flat, awnless, ~6mm long. Approx. ~520,000/kg (diploid cvv) or  ~350,000/kg (tetraploid cvv)

Tetraploid cvv.: these have double the number of chromosomes, larger cells, leaves and seed. Compatability with clover maybe enhanced

Pasture type and use

Grazing and fodder conservation.  Most widely sown pasture grass in temperate regions

Where it grows


> 650 mm;    >500 mm re South coast WA


Medium-heavy texture, moderate-high fertility (eg Olsen P >12, 0-10 cm). Tolerates slight salinity


Cold and frost tolerant, growth constrained by high temperature, mild summer desirable


Companion species

Grasses: phalaris, cocksfoot

Legumes: white clover and sub clover

Sowing/planting rates as single species

7-20 kg/ha

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

3-10 kg/ha

Sowing time

Autumn and spring


Not applicable.


P & possibly N at sowing


Maintenance fertliser

Perennial ryegrass requires fertile soil to persist.  ~10 kg P/ha.  Monitor S, K, Cu especially.  Supply N by clover/fertiliser.  Maintain Colwell P ~30 (WA), Olsen P >12


Tolerates close, continuous grazing - except if drought-stressed.  Graze at 3-leaf stage to optimise yield under rotational grazing.  Well suited to hay/silage

Seed production

Prolific seeder; commercial yields up to 2 t/ha

Ability to spread

Will spread on fertile soil if allowed to seed

Weed potential

Widely naturalised on fertile soils in temperate Australia

Major pests

Red and black-headed cockchafer, black field cricket, white-fringed weevil, African black beetle, corbies, underground grass caterpillar

Major diseases

Crown rust, stem rust, barley yellow dwarf virus, ryegrass mosaic virus

Herbicide susceptibility

A wide range of weeds may be encountered.  In selecting  selective herbicides consider the stage of growth of the ryegrass and what non-target companion species are present.  For detailed information consult local weed agronomists or visit NSW DPI - Weed control in Lucerne and Pastures 2007

Animal production

Feeding value

High nutritive value



Production potential

High yields; highly responsive to fertiliser and irrigation

Livestock disorders/toxicity

Cultivars with wild endophyte can cause perennial ryegrass toxicosis and ill-thrift.  Bacterial infection of seedhead can occasionally occur and result in ergot poisoning.


Table 1 - Perennial ryegrass cultivars

Flowering group2 Cultivar Origin of germplasm Endophyte options Seed Source/Information
Very early Boomer NSW Low3 Valley Seeds
  Skippy NSW Wild VicSeeds
Early Everlast NSW Wild Seed Distributors
  Fitzroy NSW Wild Wrightson Seeds
  Meridian NZ x NSW AR1 Heritage Seeds
  Roper NSW Low Valley Seeds
Early-Mid Bolton Victoria Wild VicSeeds
  Drylander Victoria Wild Seed Distributors
  Victorian Victoria Wild Australian Herbage Plant Cultivars
Mid AusVic Victoria Low VicSeeds
  Bronsyn NZ AR1 Specialty Seeds
  Camel Mediterranean Low Valley Seeds
  Ceres Cannon NZ Wild/Low PGG Seeds
  Ceres Kingston NZ Wild/Low PGG Seeds
  Extreme NZ AR6/AR1/
AusWest Seeds
  Grasslands Commando NZ Wild/AR1/
PGG Seeds
  Grasslands Lincoln NZ x Spanish x Italian Wild/Low Wrightson Seeds
  Grasslands Nui NZ Wild Australian Herbage Plant Cultivars
Specialty Seeds


  Low Valley Seeds


NZ x NSW Low Valley Seeds
  Rich     Specialty Seeds
  Tomson NZ Wild Seed Distributors
Mid - Late Arrow NZ AR1 Heritage Seeds
  Avalon Victoria Wild Australian Herbage Plant Cultivars
  Grasslands Samson NZ Wild/AR1/
PGG Seeds
  Jackaroo Tasmania Wild Wrightson Seeds
  Victoca Victoria Wild TasGlobal Seeds
  Wintas Spanish Wild TasGlobal Seeds
Late Aberdart Europe AR1 Specialty Seeds
  Alto NZ AR1 Pasture species database - University of Melbourne
Heritage Seeds
  one-50 NZ x Spanish Wild/AR1 PGG Seeds
  Optima (4n) Denmark Low Seed Distributors
  Sierra (4n) Spanish Low Pasture species database - University of Melbourne
Very Late Bealey(4n) NZ Advanced Pasture species database - University of Melbourne
Heritage Seeds
  Grazmore (4n) NZ Low -
  Quartet(4n) NZ Wild/AR1 Wrightson Seeds

Table 2. Relatively persisten/"long rotation" hybrid ryegrass cultivars

Flowering group Cultivar Origin of germplasm Endophyte options Seed source/Information
Medium G5. Ohau  (4n)4 NZ AR1/Low3 PGG Wrightson
  Horizon (4n) NZ Wild PGG Seeds
Late G. Supreme NZ Low AusWest Seeds
  G. SupremePLUS NZ AR1/Low PGG Seeds
  G. Impact NZ x Spanish AR1 Heritage Seeds
  G. Sterling (4n) NZ Wild/AR1 PGG Seeds
  Blitz (4n) ? Not given Specialty Seeds
  Banquet (4n) NZ x Spanish Wild Wrightson Seeds
  Banquet II (4n) NZ x Spanish AR5 Wrightson Seeds
  Matrix5 ? Wild/Low Cropmark Seeds NZ
  Revolution5 ? AR1 Cropmark Seeds NZ


  1. "Vic." is classed as an ecotype, not a cultivar; it shows extreme variation between seedlines.
  2. NZ base: days relative to Grasslands Nui:  Early -20 to -7; Mid -6 to +7;  Late +8 to +21.
  3. "Low" endophyte status is given to cultivars by a seed company endeavouring to supply a seedline without endophyte.
  4. Tetraploid.
  5. has some Festuca pratensis parentage

 Denotes that this variety is protected by Plant Breeder's Rights Australia

Further information

Comparing Cattle Growth on Short Rotation and Perennial Ryegrass Pastures in a Cropping Rotation
Australian Herbage Plant Cultivars - Grasses
Greener pastures for SW Vic (2006) Vic DPI (Nie & Saul, eds.)
Perennial Pastures for WA (2007) WA Dept Food & Agric Bull 4690 (Moore, Sanford & Wiley, eds.)


Seed companies; Depts. of Primary Industry

Author and date

KFM Reed
7th August 2008