Legumes can be used extensively as an agronomic tool for forage, hay, as a cover crop, for green manure, for ground cover, in crop rotations, as well as for human consumption and oil production. This plant group has the ability to fix nitrogen and improve the overall health of the soil, thus improving the productivity of the crop. With the integration of legumes into crop rotations, usable nitrogen is kept in the soil, reducing the need for commercial fertilizer applications. We pride ourselves in our selection of legumes and their ability to benefit the soil and future production.
Cowpeas, Vigna unguiculata, are one of the most productive heat-adapted legumes used agronomically in the United States. They thrive in hot, moist zones where corn flourishes but require more heat for optimum growth. Cowpeas protect soil from erosion, smother weeds, and produce 100 to 150 lb. N/A. They are an excellent addition to any warm season mixture and make a great protein source in pasture, hay and silage. Cowpeas rapidly germinate and grow, resulting in quick shade and ground cover which reduces erosion and controls weeds. Cowpeas also have low moisture requirements and are a quick source for green manure and as a cover crop.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 4,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 50-80
Sainfoin, Onobrychis vicilfolia, is a winter-hardy, non-bloat legume whose forage is high in quality, very palatable, and readily consumed. It is deep-rooted and very drought resistant with hollow, succulent stems and pink flowers. Sainfoin is adapted to dryland areas of the western United States. It matures faster than Alfalfa providing highly nutritious early spring forage.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 30,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 35-45 (irrigated), (25-35 (dryland)
Ladino Clover, Trifolium repens ssp. latum, is a long-lived perennial which spreads by creeping stems or stolons that root at the nodes. This is a giant form of White Clover that is very high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is a good producer of high-quality feed and is utilized extensively as a soil building crop. Ladino Clover is an excellent legume to use in combination with other legumes and grasses. Compared to other types of White Clover, Ladino Clover has larger leaves and is a taller variety.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 800,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-10
White Dutch Clover, Trifolium repens, is a short-lived, creeping perennial legume. It is shallow-rooted and very cold hardy so it makes a good choice for lawns and pasture mixes. White Dutch Clover can also be used for hay. Compared to other types of White Clover, White Dutch Clover is a common type with medium-sized leaves.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 700,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-7
White Clover, Melilotus alba, is a short-growing biennial used for grazing or haylage. It is shallow-rooted and spreads by creeping branches which root at the nodes. It grows best under cool, fertile, moist conditions. White Clover is an aggressive creeper and is tolerant of close grazing.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 770,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 2-4
Medium Red Clover, Trifolium pratense L., is a short-lived perennial of 2-3 years and usually produces 2-3 cuttings of hay or silage per year with the most aggressive growth in the spring. Medium Red Clover is an aggressive establisher and can be seeded alone, in mixtures with grasses, frost-seeded with a nurse crop, or interseeded into an existing stand. Forage quality is comparable to Alfalfa under a similar harvest schedule.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 260,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-12
A newer cover crop used in the southeastern United States, Balansa Clover, Trifolium michelianum Savi, is a small-seeded annual legume with superior reseeding potential compared with other legumes, including Crimson Clover. Well-adapted to a wide range of soil types, Balansa performs particularly well on silty clay soil with a pH of about 6.5. Established stands tolerate waterlogging, moderate salinity, and soil pH from 4.5 to 8.0. Balansa Clover does not do well on highly alkaline soils (30). It is considered marginal in Zone 6B.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 500,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-8
Crimson Clover, Trifolium incarnatum, is used as a winter cover for soil protection or green manure crop for soil improvement. As a winter annual, Crimson Clover is usually planted in the late summer to early fall. It can be utilized in pasture, hay, organic farming, pollinator enhancement, or silage mixes.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 120,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 20-25
Alsike Clover, Trifolium hybridium, is a winter-hardy, short-lived perennial clover that acts as a biennial. It is well adapted to cool climates and wet soils. Alsike is ideal for hay production in areas of high precipitation or poorly drained soils and for short rotation pasture mixes.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 700,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 7-10
Strawberry Clover, Trifolium fragiferum, is a short-lived perennial with some creeping ability. It is a low growing, nitrogen-fixing legume with stolons and round pink flower heads resembling strawberries. It is tolerant of wet saline and alkaline soils and is able to withstand flooding, poorly drained sites, and short periods of drought. Strawberry Clover is persistent once established and more tolerant of heavy grazing than other clovers. This legume may be used for erosion control, pasture, hay, green manure, pollinator habitat and groundcover in orchards and vineyards.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 290,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 4-8
A fast-growing summer annual, Berseem Clover, Trifolium alexandrinum, can produce up to 8 tons of forage under irrigation. It is a heavy nitrogen producer and the least winter hardy of all true annual clovers. This makes it an ideal winterkilled cover before corn or other nitrogen-demanding crops in Corn Belt rotations. Berseem Clover draws down soil nitrogen early in its cycle. Once soil reserves are used up, it can fix 100 to 200 pounds N/A or more. It establishes well with an oat nurse crop, making it an excellent cover for small grain > corn > soybean rotations.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 10-15
Purple Prairie Clover, Petalostemon purpurea, is a perennial legume with pinnately compound leaves and rose to dark purple flowers in dense spikes. It has a stout taproot and is palatable to wildlife. The flowers bloom from July to early August. Purple Prairie Clover can be found across Indiana to Saskatchewan and south to Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico in rocky plains and hillsides, open wooded areas, stream valleys, and roadsides. It does best in full sun and dry to mesic well-drained soils.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 293,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 6-8
Bloom Period: Summer/Fall; Mature Height: 12-36"
Yellow Blossom Sweetclover, Melilotus officinalis, is a cold-tolerant biennial that is very easy to establish. It is drought and cold tolerant and used for erosion control on saline and alkaline soils. Yellow Blossom Sweetclover typically matures 10 to 14 days earlier than White Clover.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 260,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 8-15
Horizon Spring Peas, Pisum sativum, are a cool-season, forage legume that can have rapid growth in the spring and produce excellent forage, with high water use efficiency. Spring Peas are a desirable legume in crop rotations because they break up disease and pest cycles, provide nitrogen, improve soil microbe diversity and activity, improve soil aggregation, conserve soil water, and provide economic diversity. Spring Peas can slightly increase forage yield but will boost forage quality. Horizon Spring Peas are adapted to many soil types but grow best on fertile, light-textured, well-drained soils with little acidity. They require cool, moist growing conditions in temperate regions, at high elevations, or during cool seasons in warm regions throughout the world. Once established, Horizon Spring Peas can withstand heavy frosts but can easily be killed by herbicide at all growth stages.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 3,000+; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 50-80 (drilled), 90-100 (broadcast)
High nitrogen fixers, Austrian Winter Peas, Pisum sativum ssp. arvense, produce abundant vining forage and contribute to short-term soil conditioning. Their succulent stems break down easily and are a quick source of available nitrogen. Austrian Winter Peas grow rapidly in the cool, moist weather they encounter as winter annuals in the south, and as early-sown summer annuals in the northeast, north central and northern Plains areas. Austrian Winter Peas can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F with only minor injury, but they do not overwinter consistently in areas colder than moderate Hardiness Zone 6. Under a long, cool, moist season during their vegetative stages, Austrian Winter Peas produce more than 5,000 lb. dry matter/A. Austrian Winter Peas are top nitrogen producers, yielding from 90 to 150 lb. N/A, and at times up to 300 lb. N/A. They are also water thrifty, quick growing, forage boosters, long-term bloomer (an early and extended source of nectar for honeybees), and chill tolerant.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 4,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 50-80 (drilled), 90-100 (broadcast)
Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, is a deep-rooted and moderately long-lived perennial. It is one of the most widely used legumes for hay production as well as in pasture, range and revegetation mixes. Some varieties exhibit spreading ability that is suitable for grazing. Common types of Alfalfa include Ranger and Vernal.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-25
Creeping-Type Alfalfa has a tap root and thick, spreading horizontal roots which allows it to spread underground much like many grasses do. This makes it an excellent fit in new pasture seedings with grass, or as a reliable legume to interseed into existing pasture. The crown is wider and set deeper into the ground than other tap root-type Alfalfas. Creeping-Type Alfalfa generally survives for long periods of time, but management has a significant impact on longevity. Cultivars have varying levels of winter hardiness and disease resistance which contribute to determining the longevity. Creeping-Type Alfalfa can be used for hay, pasture or for stockpiling.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-25
Landmark brand Multifoliate Alfalfa is a high forage yielding, persistent alfalfa with excellent forage quality potential. It expresses quick re-growth after cutting to maximize the growing season. Landmark Multifoliate Alfalfa performs best in high producing well-drained soils. It has a solid disease, insect, and nematode resistance package that helps defend itself in adverse environments. Landmark Multifoliate is an alfalfa variety for the dairy or beef producer that demands high tonnages of dairy quality forage.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-20
Ladak + Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, is a drought tolerant cultivar selected from a 28-year-old alfalfa stand near Spokane, WA. Ladak + Alfalfa exhibits improved persistence, drought tolerance and seed yield, and is highly resistant to Bacterial Wilt, Phytopthora root rot and stem nematode.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-25
Falcata Alfalfa, Medicago sativa ssp. falcata, is a variety of alfalfa with yellow flowers used in mixed grass plantings and for interseeding on semiarid rangelands and irrigated pastures in the western United States. It is extremely drought and winter hardy and can persist on harsh rangeland by going dormant during challenging conditions when water is limited. It has more of a creeping or fibrous root system than purple flowered alfalfas, which allows it to spread by roots. Falcata Alfalfa will also have less risk of bloat in a grazing application and responds well to grazing pressure. The seed size of Falcata Alfalfa is much smaller than purple flowered alfalfas so a smaller amount can be used in a blend or for interseeding.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 450,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 10, 1-3 (Interseeding)
Birdsfoot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus L., is a long-lived, highly palatable legume with a high feed value. It is winter-hardy, widely adapted, easy to maintain, and has certain advantages over Alfalfa, Ladino Clover, and Red Clover. It is more tolerant of infertile and acidic soil, less likely to cause bloat, and survives better than most legumes.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 375,000 Seeding Rate (Pounds/Acre): 4-10
Common Vetch, Vicia sativa, is a summer annual vine with leaves that are divided into many leaflets. Although this is typically considered a weed when found growing in a cultivated grainfield, this hardy plant is often grown as green manure or livestock fodder.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 18,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-40
Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa, is a hardy, winter annual legume that can be planted in either fall or spring. It is used for cover cropping, hay, pasture, or as erosion control and is commonly planted with cereal grains. Few legumes match Hairy Vetch for spring residue production or nitrogen contribution, soil conditioning, early weed suppression, and adaptability. It is widely adapted and winter hardy through Hardiness Zone 4 and into Zone 3 (with snow cover). Hairy Vetch is a top nitrogen provider in temperate and subtropical regions. The cover grows slowly in fall, but root development continues over winter. Growth quickens in spring when Hairy Vetch becomes a sprawling vine.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 20,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 20-25
Sweetvetch, Hedysarum boreale, is a drought tolerant, native perennial adapted to grassy slopes, rocky hillsides, canyons and high shrublands. It is commonly called Utah Sweetvetch and is widely distributed throughout the United States. Sweetvetch is an attractive legume with colorful pink-purple pea-like flowers that bloom from May to August. It prefers well-drained loamy sites, but is tolerant of sandy or clay soils. Sweetvetch is used for habitat restoration, reclamation and roadsides and is also a very palatable for livestock and wildlife.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 33,600; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-25
Cicer Milkvetch, Astragalus cicer L., is an extremely winter-hardy, long-lived, sod-forming perennial legume. Its forage is late-maturing, bloat-free, succulent, and very palatable for all classes of livestock. Cicer Milkvetch has been utilized for quality pasture and forage and requires at least 14 inches of average rainfall.
Seeds/Pound (approximate): 130,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-7