Annual Ryegrass Varieties

Annual ryegrass is a fast-growing grass used to provide green cover for winter lawns, for erosion control and as forage for livestock and wildlife. It is easy to grow because the seed can be broadcast, or spread by hand, over prepared soil. Annual ryegrass is sensitive to heat and drought, so it is grown most often during the mild winters in the Southern U.S. Some varieties of annual ryegrass naturally produce chemicals within the plant that are toxic to wildlife and livestock, so not every variety is appropriate for forage.

Passerel Plus

Passerel Plus is an annual ryegrass with a high tolerance for cold weather. It is a high-performing annual ryegrass with good resistance to rust, a common grass disease. It is safe for livestock forage.


The Rustmaster variety of annual ryegrass is highly resistant to rust disease and is suitable to use as wildlife forage during the winter in climates where the ground is not covered with snow during the majority of the winter period. It is considered a good ryegrass to use for hay production. Rustmaster is considered one of the best varieties to use in the southern half of the United States during the winter months.


Surrey is a variety of annual ryegrass that is also an exceptional provider of dry matter, meaning that it can be used for hay production. It is suited for growth in heavier soils containing clay and is resistant to rust disease. This type of annual ryegrass is suitable for livestock forage.

Gulf Annual

Gulf annual ryegrass is often used for over-seeding lawns and is the most widely used annual ryegrass. It is the most inexpensive of all ryegrasses and is grown worldwide. Gulf annual ryegrass has a very fast growth rate and sprouts easily as long as the seed has contact with bare soil. It is suitable for both lawn and livestock forage production.


Italian is a variety of annual ryegrass that is tolerant of cold weather and can be planted in colder climates during the fall or early winter before snowfall for sprouting in early spring. Italian ryegrass can be used for wildlife and livestock forage. Because of its rapid and thick growth, it is a favorite variety to use for erosion control and as a cover crop to cover bare soil.

Keywords: annual ryegrass, ryegrass types, ryegrass varieties

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.