Winter rye continues growing throughout winter and early spring, providing good weed suppression. In the summer, it will either go dormant or die back completely, depending on the climate where you live. In most cases, it will die if the temperature rises to above 90F. Let’s look at the life cycle of winter ryegrass and answer the question, ‘does winter ryegrass die in the summer?’
Winter rye is an excellent cover crop because it is so cold hardy, producing new green vegetation in the fall when other species can’t grow anymore due to frost damage. This variety of grass is a cool-season grass that prefers temperatures between 68- and 77-degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter Ryegrass Dies in Summer in Hot Climates Only
Winter ryegrass is a cool-season grass that can be planted in late August through October. It will germinate quickly and thrive in the winter and spring months. Winter ryegrass may not go completely dormant in the summer as other plants do. If your winter ryegrass is growing well in the spring and early summer, it will continue to grow throughout the summer season.
However, if you live in an area with scorching summers, winter rye may eventually start to die back. It all depends on how hot it gets where you live during the summer months. If you plant winter rye for a cover crop, know that this variety of grass will either be green throughout the entire growing season or brown/dormant when temperatures are too hot for it to survive. In general, ryegrass either dies or becomes dormant when the temperature rises above 90F.
Winter rye can survive under moderate drought conditions before dying, so don’t overwater your grass trying to keep it alive. If you live in an area that has hot summers and your winter rye goes dormant, cut the dead foliage off to improve future growth in the fall.
Many homeowners overseed their lawns with winter rye if they have warm-season grass that has become dormant. This allows them to have a green lawn year-round.
Ryegrass is an excellent choice for winter overseeding in the southern states. It’s very quick to germinate, adapts well to shade, and can cope with some sun. It’s also a great choice for anyone worried about erosion. Ryegrass has a robust root system that grows deep into the ground and helps hold the earth together, thus reducing erosion.
Winter ryegrass will not go completely dormant in the summer if your climate is mild or warm. However, it will start to die back from the heat when temperatures are above 90F. Slightly lower temperatures will cause the grass to turn brown because it’s a cool-season grass that thrives in cold weather. It will likely regrow again when the temperatures get cooler.
If you live in an area where winter rye dies back during the summer months, then you may want to consider overseeding your lawn with warm-season grass that won’t die. This will allow you to have a green lawn year-round.