The name “rye” in both cover crops is confusing. Annual ryegrass is a grass; Cereal rye is a grain, more like wheat.
Both are used for cover crops and forage.
Here are some basic differences, with the most distinctive in bold:
1. Annual Ryegrass 2. Cereal Rye
Seed size/weight - very small (26 lb/bu) larger (56 lb/bu)
Plant date - varies, but late Aug/early Sept. best can be planted later Sept.
Seeding rate - drill: 12 – 17 lb/ac; aerial: 25 lb/ac drill: 45 lb/ac.
Winterkill - med. risk, less with 40 days fall growth and snow cover no
Deep rooting - yes, to 60 inches over a few years not as deep, 24 – 36 inches
Top growth - 10 ” to 12″ in spring, before burndown 20″ at burndown, can get to 72″
Nitrogen - sequesters N; releases N after burndown sequesters N; too much in stalks
Management - care in burndown; no volunteers! easy kill; careful w/ over growth
Allelopathic - no yes, with certain crop seeds
Cost - less $/ac. because of low cost/# and fewer #/ac. higher cost/# and more #/ac