Annual 'westerwolds' ryegrass as temporary nurse cover
"Annual" Westerwold ryegrass - Lolium multiflorum
Westerwold ryegrass is sometimes used as a nurse cover, particularly in situations where rapid stabilisation of the soil surface is the main priority. The main advantage of ryegrass is its reliability and speed of establishment, it is also cheap. Against ryegrass is its vigour particularly on fertile sites, and the management implications and costs this brings.
Westerwold ryegrass is often described as an ‘annual ryegrass'. This is not strictly true, it is not generally winter hardy in UK conditions and so does not persist for long. Modern varieties can persist in swards for 1-3 years. Poor soils, diligent cutting to prevent seeding, and hard winters all help reduce its presence once the main sowing has established.
First year management of a meadow or grassland mix sown with Westerwolds ryegrass nurse will follow the same principle as a meadow mixture sown alone.
The developing sward should be cut or grazed regularly throughout the first year, and any heavy arisings removed. Because of the early vigour of the ryegrass, cutting will need to be more frequent, and more arisings may be produced.