Swiss Ley Farming: Italian Ryegrasses ‘Maggyl’ and ‘Oryttus’ Set New Standards

Italian ryegrass is a high-yielding meadow grass that is often used in clover-grass mixtures. Out of a total of 52 varieties tested by Agroscope, two new frontrunners scored top marks for nearly all traits.

Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum var. italicum) is a valuable, fast-growing, high-yielding forage grass. It easily tolerates intensive use and impresses with superb forage quality, especially in the first growth. Italian ryegrass is particularly valued for use in biennial mixtures with red clover, which combination can yield ideal crop stands. The positive qualities of Italian ryegrass can only be exploited, however, if high-yielding, robust and persistent varieties with good digestibility are available.

52 varieties tested in the field

From 2018 to 2020, Agroscope tested 43 new and nine already recommended varieties of Italian ryegrass on five different sites between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance. Breeding makes both diploid (containing two sets of chromosomes) and tetraploid (containing four sets of chromosomes) varieties of this species available. Consequently, the varieties were assessed according to ploidy in the test.

Bacterial wilt can cause serious damage in Italian ryegrass, which is why particular attention is paid to resistance to this disease during variety testing. (Photo: Daniel Suter, Agroscope)

The Forerunners: ‘Maggyl’ and ‘Oryttus’

The new varieties ‘Maggyl’ (best variety in the diploid range) and ‘Oryttus’ (which swept first place in the tetraploid range) have led to new recommendations (Tab. 1). Thanks to their outstanding results, both of these new varieties easily outperformed all of the already-recommended varieties in their ranges which had served as a benchmark, thereby ensuring their entry in the List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants.

Tab. 1: Strengths of the two new top varieties ‘Maggyl’ and ‘Oryttus’ in Agroscope’s field trials

Agroscope Variety Recommendations

Agroscope regularly tests different forage plants in order to provide the Swiss agricultural sector with up-to-date, reliable variety recommendations. The continuously updated List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants forms the basis for the development of the best seed mixtures, and is thus an indispensable guide for the Swiss seed industry.


  • Italian ryegrass is a high-yielding grass with a good fodder value for biennial forage mixtures capable of intensive use.
  • Agroscope tested a total of 52 varieties of Italian ryegrass between 2018 and 2020.
  • The two varieties ‘Maggyl’ and ‘Oryttus’ achieved top scores for nearly all traits, and are thus new recommendations.
  • The quality of the range of recommended varieties of Italian ryegrass has been significantly improved by the addition of the two new recommendations.
  • The use of these varieties makes even better forage mixtures possible, which directly benefits the agricultural sector.
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