The remarkable journey of a weed: biology and management of annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) in conservation cropping systems of Australia

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Annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum Gaud.), traditionally utilised as a pasture species, has become the most problematic and difficult-to-control weed across grain production regions in Australia. Annual ryegrass has been favoured by the adoption of conservation tillage systems due to its genetic diversity, prolific seed production, widespread dispersal, flexible germination requirements and competitive growth habit. The widespread evolution of herbicide resistance in annual ryegrass has made its management within these systems extremely difficult. The negative impacts of this weed on grain production systems result in annual revenue losses exceeding $93 million (AUD) for Australian grain growers. No single method of management provides effective and enduring control hence the need of integrated weed management programs is widely accepted and practiced in Australian cropping. Although annual ryegrass is an extensively researched weed, a comprehensive review of the biology and management of this weed in conservation cropping systems has not been conducted. This review presents an up-to-date account of knowledge on the biology, ecology and management of annual ryegrass in an Australian context. This comprehensive account provides pragmatic information for further research and suitable management of annual ryegrass.