Re-Thinking Ryegrass

The main observation of Day 1 in London in GREEN!  For weather that is in the 40’s and 50’s (F), the fact that all the grass (and flowering plants for that matter) is actively growing.  Obviously I knew a trip to the UK would be filled with ryegrass, but observing it dramatically highlights rye’s ability to grow in cooler conditions than Kentucky bluegrass.  The ryegrass, even in the common areas that is not even regularly maintained, is growing and green.  Nearly every day of our “cool weather” during the month of April was warmer than even 1 day of the weather here in London.  And just this past week did we begin to see sustained growth similar to what I am observing here.

So- the debate re-news in my mind on the pro’s and con’s of using ryegrass in our Washington, DC climate.  Following a gray leaf spot outbreak last August, I swore I would never use it again.  Ever!  But now after the cool, inconsistent spring…  here I am back to re-thinking that.  One of the core times that we need to increase our play is in the cooler weather of Feb, March, Nov, and Dec-  and ryegrass is certainly an avenue to help.

The questions created now revolve around root zone in management of ryegrass-  On a sand based root zone, the “moist” conditions that cause disease on ryegrass on our native soil fields are greatly reduced.  And managing nitrogen and the use of basic chlorothalonil helps combat gray leaf spot.  So-  on a field that gets the most traffic from Feb- June and Sept- Dec…   isn’t overseeding ryegrass into the bluegrass stand a good idea???

Another question I have thought of-  is the disease pressure different on sand v native soil? Is the amount of soil borne pathogens in a native soil higher than a sand, especially a new sand on a new field?  It seems the population would be different-  On the “control” field we have each year where no fungicides are used, the soil biological activity is staggering.. so I ask——  how different are the pressures??

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