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Winter Rye Grass Germination

    Time Frame

    • Winter rye grass is prized for its quick germination time -- between four and five days if sown properly under good conditions. It is usually sown in late fall, when temperatures are moderate enough to allow the grass to germinate quickly. Fall germination also allows winter rye grass to act as a cover crop through the winter, then be turned under in spring.


    • Winter rye grass can germinate in temperatures as low as 33 degrees Fahrenheit, but will perform much better in warmer temperatures. Soggy soils encourage fungal problems and may inhibit germination. Lightly moist soils are ideal, but winter rye grass will also germinate in dry soils, thanks to its drought resistance. Ample fertility is also not necessary for winter rye germination, though fertile soils help speed growth after germination.


    • Germinating winter rye grass seeds in the fall protects bare soil from erosion over the winter. Quick germination means the plant has a foothold and begins anchoring the soil fast. Winter rye grass also adds fertility to the soil when it is incorporated into the field for spring planting, and in this way it works as a cover crop. Not long after germinating, winter rye grass begins secreting alleopathic chemicals, which are chemicals that stop or slow the growth of nearby plants. This means they begin suppressing nearby unwanted plants or weeds very soon in their development.


    • Winter rye grass can also be germinated in areas where the current crop or patch of lawn is failing. However, winter rye grass germinated in spring will have limited usefulness, since summer temperatures cause it to decline and eventually die. Seeds planted in areas where rye grass was previously incorporated into the soil may not germinate due to winter rye grass's alleopathic effect, so any future crops for the area should be checked for resistance to winter rye grass secretions.

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