With the frigid weather in the Midwest this winter, it may be that the top growth of your annual ryegrass is looking poorly. Without any snow cover, freezing temperatures can suck the moisture and life out of any plant.
But don’t despair just yet. In past winters, what looked like a total winterkill in January turned out to be a false alarm. Whether the crop survives depends on whether the crown of the plant was still viable. If the crop was planted in a timely fashion, and the annual ryegrass got enough time to establish well, the chances are better for its survival.
Assuming that the annual ryegrass is dormant on the surface, it’s amazing to realize that throughout the winter, the roots continue to grow. In some years and in some soils, the roots can grow to more than FIVE FEET DEEP. In doing so, the roots break through compacted soils, creating channels that the corn and soybean roots will later follow.