Thursday, July 7, 2016

1891 - Dan'l Batchelor, Seedsman, Makes a Point

The last sentence in Mr. Batchelor's critique of the usefulness of the Italian ryegrass for pastures in the North leaves no doubt to his position.  Enjoy.

The following image and letter written by Mr. Batchelor are from the

1891- The Country Gentleman, Volume 54

Mr. Editor—I have to thank you for sending to me for inspection the hundred culms of so-called perennial rye grass, sent to you by Mr. John Henderson, and noticed on page 538 of your valuable paper. I have to say in relation to the bunch or sheaf you sent, that it does not contain a single culm of Lolium perenne, or English rye grass; on the contrary, every one is Italian rye grass. The marked distinction between the two varieties is that the spikelets of the perennial rye are awnless or without hairs, while the Italian is decidedly hairy; even its seeds are awned. And here let me say that I have never yet seen a culm of English rye grass growing anywhere during my peregrinations into the grass fields of the Northern States and Canada.
Twenty years ago, I began to note the disappearance of this grass by freezing out, and I then began seeding plots (in Oneida county) to test the hardiness of the variety; but found, after three successive seedings and summers, that it would die out, root and blade, every winter.
 Seven or eight years ago, I caused the seed of the L. perenne to be sown in a plot on the farm of the Experiment Station at Geneva, N. Y., where it grew vigorously during the summer, but entirely disappeared during the winter there, so that not any of it appeared again in the plot. 

There is a Scotch variety of Lolium, known as Pacey’s, which is very dwarf and very hardy, and is an excellent kind to grow with the smaller fescues and crested dog's-tail in a sheep pasture. It is also an excellent lawn grass. This variety is often sent to me as the L. perenne or English rye grass, but it is easily distinguished by its tenuity. 

Thousands of bushels of the seeds of English rye grass are imported into this country, and sent out in meadow mixtures to regions and States where the thermometer often goes 15° below zero. Under such climatic severity, the seed might just as well be sown in Lake Erie. 

Utica, N. Y.      DAN‘L  BATCHELOR.

I had to look these up, of course :-)
English Ryegrass:
Lolium perenne
Lolium perenne, common name perennial rye-grass or English ryegrass or winter ryegrass, is a grass from the family Poaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa, but is widely cultivated and naturalised around the world. Wikipedia
Scientific nameLolium perenne
Italian Ryegrass:

Lolium multiflorum
Lolium multiflorum is a ryegrass native to temperate Europe, though its precise native range is unknown. It is a herbaceous annual, biennial, or perennial grass that is grown for silage, and as a cover crop. It is also grown as an ornamental grass. Wikipedia
Scientific nameLolium multiflorum

Weed Gallery: Italian ryegrass--UC IPM
Italian ryegrass, also called annual ryegrass, is an upright annual grass that behaves like a biennial or short-lived perennial. It grows vigorously in winter and ...
Crested Dog's-tail
Cynosurus cristatus
Cynosurus cristatus, Crested dog's-tail, is a short-lived perennial grass in the family Poaceae, characterised by a seed head that is flat on one side. It typically grows in species rich grassland. Wikipedia
Scientific nameCynosurus cristatus