Minority types offer alternative
While perennial ryegrass makes up 95pc of all grass seed used in Ireland, the remaining 5pc consists of other ryegrass varieties and clover.
Italian ryegrass varieties are best suited to short-term leys of just two or three years. They have early spring growth, but can be difficult to manage in mid-season because of stemmy regrowth.
Italian varieties are suitable for intensive silage production and can also provide useful grazing in the spring and late autumn period. They tend to have low sward densities and are susceptible to poaching under adverse conditions.
The Italian ryegrasses on this year's Department of Agriculture Recommended List are Davinci (diploid), Fabio (tetraploid) and Nabucco (tetraploid).
These varieties are a cross between Italian and perennial ryegrass types. While they often look more like one parent type than the other, their other characteristics are midway between the parents. The hybrid ryegrass varieties tend to yield higher than the intermediate and late groups of perennial ryegrass, but lower than the Italian ryegrasses. Hybrids tend to be more stemmy in summer than the intermediates and lates, but less stemmy than the Italians.
Four hybrid ryegrasses made it onto the Recommended List -- AberEve (tetraploid), Alliance (tetraploid), Ligunda (diploid) and Pirol (diploid).