Annual Ryegrass


Very Early

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Certified Safeguard is the
only annual ryegrass toxicity resistant variety available

Safeguard Annual Ryegrass

Safeguard provides unique and sustainable biological control of Annual Ryegrass Toxicity (ARGT)

  • Bred for livestock producers in most cropping regions
  • Certified Safeguard pasture rotation grass is the only ARGT resistant variety available
  • Trials have proven that Safeguard can reduce nematode multiplication by up to 90%
  • It has excellent winter yield, and vigorous, leafy growth characteristics
  • Can be used as a self-regenerating pasture grass by following the Safeguard Management Guide
  • Reduce or eliminate export hay rejections due to ARGT
  • Crop disease break for Take-all and Cereal Cyst Nematode
Safeguard ManagEment guide

The effects of annual ryegrass toxicity (ARGT) on sheep and other grazing animals are a common problem for livestock producers in most areas of Western Australia. Outbreaks of ARGT now also occur in the high rainfall zones. A high frequency of the ARGT resistant genes in ryegrass pastures can provide effective biological control of the nematode that causes ARGT (Anguina funesta), thus preventing the toxin producing bacterium (Clavibacter toxicus) reaching hazardous levels in pasture.

This management guide aims to highlight some of the key issues surrounding ARGT and how, with appropriate management techniques, the effects can be reduced at critical times of the year. Consideration of the management program requires medium term (2-3 years) planning to ensure the benefits are obtained.

Paddock preparation the year before sowing Safeguard
  1. Selection of paddocks to be treated as Safeguard ARGT resistant paddocks will depend on your situation and requirements for feed through the risk period. Importantly, these paddocks should be developed as specialist, high producing areas (NOT sacrifice paddocks, or the worst paddocks). Defining the areas required will depend on the numbers of stock you are carrying and the time frame required.
  1. Once paddock selection has been undertaken, a program to reduce the likelihood of grass contamination and weed burden should be implemented. This process requires some good forward planning and should be practised to eliminate existing banks of potentially harmful Wimmera seed.
  1. Reduce seed reserves the year before sowing Safeguard

In a Crop:

  • Use a selective herbicide
  • If the ryegrass is herbicide resistant, cut the crop for hay and then graze heavily and or spray the regrowth with a non-selective herbicide

In Pasture:

  • Spray-top with a non-selective herbicide, slash or cut for hay, then graze heavily to prevent viable seeds being produced.
In the year of sowing Safeguard

1.  Cultivate the paddock after the autumn break to stimulate germination of the local ryegrass seed reserves.

2.   Control the seedlings with a non-selective herbicide.

If the background population of annual ryegrass is high, the paddock may need to be cultivated several times to kill off germinating seedlings and reduce seed reserves. This technique will help to ensure that competition from existing Wimmera ryegrass and from other weeds is low.

Note:  If you are confident of low background ryegrass levels (dormant seed) do not cultivate and plant with a triple disk drill or similar to enable minimum soil disturbance and therefore little opportunity for dormant Wimmera seeds to germinate.

Seeding for success

Only use certified Safeguard seed. When you buy certified Safeguard you can be assured your ryegrass is ARGT resistant. Non-certified seed is likely to be ARGT susceptible and it may be herbicide resistant. The minimum sowing rate for Safeguard is 8kg/hectare (7lbs/acre). Up to 25kgs per hectare should be used in higher rainfall regions. This should produce enough feed to graze the paddock in the first year and also enough seed for establishment of Safeguard as a self seeding annual.

Seed should not be sown deep: drop the seed on the surface and use harrows to cover lightly with soil or preferably sod seed with a triple disk into non-cultivated soil. Ensure there is adequate fertiliser applied at sowing. Get a soil test if you are uncertain.

Leave a test strip

It is important to check local ryegrass levels are low, as it is not possible to identify local ryegrass in a pasture sown to Safeguard. Leave an unsown strip at least two metres wide and five metres long, well inside the paddock. Two areas of unsown strips are preferable and it is important not to travel over the unsown strip with the drill, travel around it. If a large infestation of the local ryegrass appears in this strip, and the paddock has a history of ARGT, treat it as potentially hazardous for livestock.

If the paddock is contaminated by Wimmera you should take action to minimise the threat. As a precaution, stop seed set and commence regular (daily) stock inspections starting 2 weeks before the growing season and continue throughout the summer. Remove stock from the paddock if they show any symptoms of poisoning.

Set plenty of seed in the first year

The aim in the first year should be to achieve a heavy seed set. This should allow Safeguard seed to greatly outnumber local ryegrass seed reserves. Safeguard should produce more feed than Wimmera ryegrass. It is likely to produce more leaf and hold its leaf later in the season than Wimmera. This feature may cause it to flower later in certain seasonal conditions. It is therefore important to keep the paddock tightly grazed until late into the season then take livestock out to allow all plants to go to seed simultaneously.

Plan to remove or reduce stock numbers from early September as Safeguard normally runs to head in early October depending on the area and seasonal conditions. After seed set and when the pasture has fully dried off, stock can be returned to graze on remaining plant residues. Excess ground cover in the following autumn may inhibit Safeguard germination. Following a break in the season, Safeguard should be the dominant pasture grass.

Grazing Management

At seedling emergence ensure that the area sown is checked for insect and or fungal diseases, or take the necessary precautions with a spray at the first sign of plant emergence.

At approximately six weeks or once the plants cannot be easily pulled out of the soil, lightly graze the area. This can be best managed with younger or lighter beef cattle or sheep and will increase plant tillering. Rotational grazing or controlled grazing should be implemented, grazing the pasture when 10-15cm high; closing after grazing until the area is due for the next grazing.


For more information

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