Cover Crop Species Profile

Rows of Cover Crops
Grasses
  • Annual Ryegrass – Easily established, fast growing and widely adapted cool season annual bunch grass; Not as cold tolerant as small grains; High yields of excellent quality forage. Uses: prevent erosion, improve soil structure and drainage, increase organic matter, suppress weeds, scavenge nutrients, forage.
  • Barley – Upright growing winter annual; Easily grown; Prefers cool, dry growing areas; Produces large amount of biomass in a relatively short period of time; Excellent nutrient scavenger. Uses: prevent erosion, increase organic matter, suppress weeds and scavenge nutrients.
  • Oats – An upright growing cool season annual grass with excellent nutrient scavenging capability; Quickly establishes to provide soil cover and smother weeds; Produces good amounts of high quality forage for hay, grazing or green manure; Subject to winter kill in some areas. Uses: suppress weeds, control erosion, scavenge nutrients, nurse crop, green manure, forage.
  • Cereal Rye – A cool season plant considered to be the hardiest of all cereal grains; Cold tolerant and more adapted to poor soils than other cover crops; An early maturing and easily terminated plant; Excellent nitrogen scavenger. Uses: scavenge excess N, prevent erosion, add organic matter, suppress weeds, forage.
  • Wheat – Versatile and widely adapted cool season cereal grain; Upright growing; Good cold tolerance; Easier to terminate than rye or barley; Slower to mature than other cereal grains; Excellent soil builder; Improves soil tilth. Uses: prevent erosion, build organic matter, suppress weeds, scavenge nutrients, forage.
  • Triticale – A cool season cereal grain cross of wheat and rye; Cold tolerant and adapted to poor soil sites; Early maturing; Good biomass production; Uses: prevent erosion, build organic matter, suppress weeds, scavenge nitrogen, build soil, forage.

Legumes

  • Arrowleaf Clover – A vigorous, high yielding late season winter annual legume; Primarily adapted to areas of the southern U.S.; Fixes 75-125 lbs/Anitrogen; Improves soil porosity and tilth; Performs best on well drained, fertile soils with a pH of 5.8-6.5. Uses: Nitrogen source, weed suppression, soil builder, forage.
  • Crimson Clover – A widely adapted and versatile annual legume; Rapid emergence and good early growth; Produces 1.5 to 2.5 tons of dry matter; fixes 75-125 lbs/A nitrogen; Excellent for use in mixes with cereal grains, ryegrass and other legumes; Good reseeding capability. Uses: Nitrogen source, build soil, prevent erosion, improve soil tilth, forage.
  • Hairy Vetch – A widely adapted, winter hardy legume with sprawling vine growth; Fixes large amounts of readily available nitrogen; Residue deteriorates rapidly; Excellent in mixes with small grains and other legumes. Uses: Nitrogen source, build soil, prevent erosion, suppress weeds, improve soil tilth, forage.
  • Red Clover – A widely adapted, dependable and high yielding legume; Excellent for improving soil porosity and tilth; Produces 2-4 tons dry matter/A and fixes 75-150 lbs. Nitrogen/A; works well in mixes with small grains; Attracts beneficial insects. Uses: Nitrogen source, build and condition soil, suppress weeds, attract beneficial insects, forage.
  • White Clover – A widely adapted, versatile legume suitable for a wide range of soil types; Drought and heat tolerant; Tolerant of pH levels down to 5.5; intermediate types well suited for “living mulch” production system; Plants rapidly decompose to release large amounts of available nitrogen; Profuse flowering habit attracts pollinators and beneficial insects. Uses: Green manure, nitrogen production, erosion prevention, living mulch, beneficial insect attraction, forage.
  • Winter Pea – A climbing/spreading cool season annual legume; Well suited in mixes with cool season grasses; Prefers well drained, fertile soils. Uses: Nitrogen source, soil conditioner, forage.
Brassicas
  • Rape – Combines rapid fall growth and high biomass production with excellent nutrient scavenging capability; Has shown to have biological activity against both parasitic nematodes and certain weeds; Scavenges 75-125 lbs/A nitrogen. Uses: erosion prevention, nutrient scavenging, suppression of weeds and soil-borne insects, soil organic matter and tilth improvement.
  • Mustard – Combines rapid fall growth and high biomass production with excellent nutrient scavenging capability; Has shown to have biological activity against certain soil-borne insects and pathogens as well as some weeds; Readily subject to winter kills. Uses: erosion prevention, nutrient scavenging, suppression of weeds and soil-borne insects and pathogens, soil organic matter and tilth improvement.
  • Radish – Combines rapid fall growth and high biomass production with excellent nutrient scavenging capability; Oilseed and forage types; Attainable biomass amounts of up to 4 tons per acre above ground and 2 tons per acre below ground; Large roots penetrate deep into the soil profile to reduce compaction, capture nutrients and improve water infiltration. Uses: prevent erosion, scavenge nutrients, suppress weeds, reduce soil compaction, add organic matter, improve soil tilth and water penetration.
  • Turnips – Combines rapid fall growth and good biomass production with excellent nutrient scavenging capability; Not as productive as other brassica species; Large roots penetrate deep into the soil to reduce compaction, capture nutrients and improve water infiltration. Uses: prevent erosion weeds, reduce soil compaction, add organic matter, improve soil tilth and water penetration, forage.

Cover Crops