Soil First® Cover Crop Legumes

Our family of Soil First® cover crop legumes offers high quality, nitrogen fixing cover crop options including clovers, winter hairy vetch, sunn hemp, winter peas and more. These products also can benefit from LINK, our proprietary, easy to use cover crop inoculant.

Balansa Clover

Balansa clover is a small seeded annual legume that is quick to germinate, offers excellent forage production, and is well-adapted to a wide range of soil types. Established stands tolerate water-logging and extreme pH soils.

Berseem Clover

Berseem clover is a summer/winter annual legume known for its ability to tolerate waterlogged soils and soil salinity, while providing higher protein levels than many other legumes.

Crimson Clover

Crimson clover is a semi-upright winter annual legume that germinates quickly and prefers well drained soil. Crimson tends to remain actively growing in cooler temperatures when warmer season clovers go dormant. Crimson can be successfully established in both fall and spring.

Sunn Hemp

Sunn hemp is a warm season legume, upright and quick in its growth habit. Sunn hemp needs 60°F soil temps before it can planted and will kill at the first signs of frost. Higher seeding rates of sunn hemp will help with weed suppression.

Winter Hairy Vetch

Winter hairy vetch is a vigorous annual legume crop used for fixing nitrogen, biomass production and enhancing organic matter. It’s an excellent choice for green manure as its low carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N) allows for quick plant decay and even quicker capture of organic material and nutrients in the soil profile. Hairy vetch tends to be very tolerant of variable soil conditions, including low fertility environments.

Winter Peas

Winter Peas are a rapid, low growing annual legume used across the country as a legume fixing cover crop and/or a quickly decomposing green manure crop. The forage value of winter peas, along with their overall management are benefited when planted alongside a cereal grain.

Balansa Clover

Non-Forage Benefits (5=Excellent):
Compaction Alleviation: 3
Weed Suppression: 4
Biomass Production: 4
Erosion Control: 4
Disease/Pest Control: 3
Pollinator/Beneficials: 5
P & K Cycling: 3
Ease of Establishment: 4
Nitrogen Fixer/Scavenger: Fixer

Nutritional Value:
Crude Protein: 16
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: TBD
ADF%²: 31
NDF%³: 45
TDN: 65
DM Tons/Acre: 1-4
Days to First Harvest: 40-50
Days to Next Harvest: –

Ranking (Good, Better, Best):
Graze: Better
Baleage: Good
Chop: Best

Berseem Clover

Non-Forage Benefits (5=Excellent):
Compaction Alleviation: 2
Weed Suppression: 4
Biomass Production: 3
Erosion Control: 4
Disease/Pest Control: 1
Pollinator/Beneficials: 3
P & K Cycling: 4
Ease of Establishment: 4
Nitrogen Fixer/Scavenger: Fixer

Nutritional Value:
Crude Protein: 18
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: .73
ADF%²: 23
NDF%³: 36
TDN: 69
DM Tons/Acre: 1-2.5
Days to First Harvest: 60
Days to Next Harvest: –

Ranking (Good, Better, Best):
Graze: Good
Baleage: Best
Chop: Better

Crimson Clover

Non-Forage Benefits (5=Excellent):
Compaction Alleviation: 2
Weed Suppression: 4
Biomass Production: 3
Erosion Control: 3
Disease/Pest Control: 3
Pollinator/Beneficials: 3
P & K Cycling: 3
Ease of Establishment: 4
Nitrogen Fixer/Scavenger: Fixer

Nutritional Value:
Crude Protein: 17
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: .56
ADF%²: 31
NDF%³: 42
TDN: 59
DM Tons/Acre: .5-2
Days to First Harvest: 60
Days to Next Harvest: –

Ranking (Good, Better, Best):
Graze: Better
Baleage: Best
Chop: Good

Sunn Hemp

Non-Forage Benefits (5=Excellent):
Compaction Alleviation: 2
Weed Suppression: 4
Biomass Production: 5
Erosion Control: 3
Disease/Pest Control: 3
Pollinator/Beneficials: 4
P & K Cycling: 3
Ease of Establishment: 3
Nitrogen Fixer/Scavenger: Fixer

Nutritional Value:
Crude Protein: 25
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: Varies Greatly
ADF%²: Varies Greatly
NDF%³: Varies Greatly
TDN: Varies Greatly
DM Tons/Acre: 1-5
Days to First Harvest: 40-45
Days to Next Harvest: –

Ranking (Good, Better, Best):
Graze: Better
Baleage: Good
Chop: Best

Winter Hairy Vetch

Non-Forage Benefits (5=Excellent):
Compaction Alleviation: 3
Weed Suppression: 4
Biomass Production: 4
Erosion Control: 3
Disease/Pest Control: 3
Pollinator/Beneficials: 5
P & K Cycling: 4
Ease of Establishment: 3
Nitrogen Fixer/Scavenger: Fixer

Nutritional Value:
Crude Protein: 26
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: .58
ADF%²: 33
NDF%³: 48
TDN: 64
DM Tons/Acre: 1-3
Days to First Harvest: Spring
Days to Next Harvest: –

Ranking (Good, Better, Best):
Graze: Better
Baleage: NR
Chop: Good

Winter Peas

Non-Forage Benefits (5=Excellent):
Compaction Alleviation: 2
Weed Suppression: 4
Biomass Production: 3
Erosion Control: 3
Disease/Pest Control: 3
Pollinator/Beneficials: 4
P & K Cycling: 2
Ease of Establishment: 4
Nitrogen Fixer/Scavenger: Fixer

Nutritional Value:
Crude Protein: 28
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: .60
ADF%²: 38
NDF%³: 54
TDN: 70
DM Tons/Acre: .5-2
Days to First Harvest: Spring
Days to Next Harvest: –

Ranking (Good, Better, Best):
Graze: Better
Baleage: Good
Chop: Best

Balansa Clover

Planting Time:
Feb.-Mar.;Aug.-Sept.

Seeding Rate:
Mono (lbs./acre): 3-6
Mix (lbs./acre): 1-4
Forage (lbs./acre): 3-6

Seeding Info:
Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio (C:N): 15:1-20:1
Seeding Depth (in./with drill): 1/4
Seeds/lb.: 500,000
Bulk Density (lbs./ft.³): 56
Aerial Application Rate: 3-6
Germination Soil Temp.: 40 F
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5
Days to Emergence: 14

Berseem Clover

Planting Time:
Mar.-Apr.;Aug.-Sept.

Seeding Rate:
Mono (lbs./acre): 8-20
Mix (lbs./acre): 5-10
Forage (lbs./acre): 15-20

Seeding Info:
Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio (C:N): 15:1-20:1
Seeding Depth (in./with drill): 1/4
Seeds/lb.: 150,000
Bulk Density (lbs./ft.): 52
Aerial Application Rate: 6-15
Germination Soil Temp.: 40 F
USDA Hardiness Zone: 8
Days to Emergence: 5-8

Crimson Clover

Planting Time:
Feb.-Mar.;Aug.-Sept.

Seeding Rate:
Mono (lbs./acre): 10-15
Mix (lbs./acre): 4-8
Forage (lbs./acre): 6-15

Seeding Info:
Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio (C:N): 15:1-20:1
Seeding Depth (in./with drill): 1/4
Seeds/lb.: 150,000
Bulk Density (lbs./ft.³): 52
Aerial Application Rate: 6-15
Germination Soil Temp.: 42 F
USDA Hardiness Zone: 7
Days to Emergence: 7-10

Sunn Hemp

Planting Time:
July-Sept.

Seeding Rate:
Mono (lbs./acre): 15
Mix (lbs./acre): 5-8
Forage (lbs./acre): 5-15

Seeding Info:
Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio (C:N): 18:1-29:1
Seeding Depth (in./with drill): 1/2-1
Seeds/lb.: 15,000
Bulk Density (lbs./ft.³): –
Aerial Application Rate: NR
Germination Soil Temp.: 65 F
USDA Hardiness Zone: Frost
Days to Emergence: 3-7

Winter Hairy Vetch

Planting Time:
Aug.-Sept.

Seeding Rate:
Mono (lbs./acre): 15-30
Mix (lbs./acre): 10-20
Forage (lbs./acre): 30-40

Seeding Info:
Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio (C:N): 10:1-15:1
Seeding Depth (in./with drill): 1
Seeds/lb.: 16,000
Bulk Density (lbs./ft.³): 52
Aerial Application Rate: NR
Germination Soil Temp.: 60 F
USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-4
Days to Emergence: 14

Winter Peas

Planting Time:
Aug.-Sept.

Seeding Rate:
Mono (lbs./acre): 30-80
Mix (lbs./acre): 10-30
Forage (lbs./acre): 40-60

Seeding Info:
Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio (C:N): 15:1-20:1
Seeding Depth (in./with drill): 1
Seeds/lb.: 2,000
Bulk Density (lbs./ft.): 52
Aerial Application Rate: NR
Germination Soil Temp.: 41 F
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6+
Days to Emergence: 9

Balansa Clover

Considerations

  • Quick to germinate, however it is slower to establish than other clovers (crimson and red clover)
  • Balansa is a prolific re-seeder; termination or grazing prior to flowering will remove the risk

Berseem Clover

Berseem clover has a moderate tolerance to salinity and can withstand short periods of waterlogged soils. Berseem clover is sensitive to weed competition and as a result should only be sown on clean, well-prepared seed beds.

At 18-28% protein, young berseem clover is comparable to or better than crimson clover or alfalfa as feed. No cases of bloat from grazing berseem clover have been reported. Forage quality remains acceptable until
the onset of seed production.

Crimson Clover

  • Heavy stands may attract voles and other pests
  • Crimson clover can cause bloat (see Soil First® Management Guide page 15 for more information)
  • Ideal pH of 5.5–7.0

Sunn Hemp

  • Prefers soil pH levels above 6 (6–7)
  • Kills at first frost, or control by mowing or herbicide at first flower for maximum benefit
  • Residue (green manure) should be incorporated while still green
  • In far southern areas (below 28° latitude), sunn hemp will produce seed which can be toxic to livestock

Winter Hairy Vetch

  • Slow to establish
  • Prefers soil pH 5.5–7.5
  • Little forage value (seeds and vegetation can be harmful if not managed)
  • Glyphosate alone doesn’t work well for control (close mowing or light disc will offer spring control)
  • Without proper management, it has potential to become weed (high hard seed%)
  • Keep off poorly drained sites to aid in spring termination and water conservation
  • Research shows potential correlation between hairy vetch and increased soybean cyst nematode/root knot nematode populations

Winter Peas

  • Ideal soil pH 6–7
  • Not the best option for nutrient sequester and/or breaking up compaction
  • Large seed size makes broadcast applications more difficult
  • Mowing or forage harvest in spring will terminate crops

Legumes Products