Crimson clover is a cool season annual legume used as both forage and as a green manure crop. In no-till, strip-till and organic applications, it is used for soil cover and nitrogen fixing; having the ability to provide from 70-130 lbs/ac of nitrogen for the following crop. Establish crimson clover six weeks before frost and expect slow fall growth with rapid spring growth.
Balansa clover is a cool-season annual legume that can grow over a wide range of soils. As with most legumes fall growth is slow but once dormancy breaks in the spring Balansa clover can grow up to 10 feet in length. Flowering of Balansa clover will occur about 2 weeks later than crimson clover, making balansa an excellent addition to a pollinator mix. Balansa clover is typically hard seeded meaning 1/3 – 1/2 of the seeds may germinate over several years, this could be an advantage to anyone wanting to retain the annual species in a pasture or food plot.
Vital hairy vetch is a more winter-hardy variety that can produce upwards of 200 lbs/ac of nitrogen depending on termination timing. With a C:N ratio in the teens, it makes a large contribution to soil organic matter and breaks down quickly. Cover crop mixes consisting of five pounds of Vital hairy vetch and twelve pounds Bounty annual ryegrass is a great cover crop before corn. Inoculate Vital hairy vetch before planting to ensure maximum nitrogen production.
Austrian Winter Pea
A quick-growing legume that can produce 90-150 lbs/ac of nitrogen, Austrian winter peas can be seeded with barley, oats, triticale and cereal rye for improved forage quality. In cover cropping, it can be used with Enricher radish in alternating rows drilled in a mix containing annual ryegrass, cereal grains, and rapeseed after a soybean harvest. Austrian winter peas grow best in lower temperature, moist areas. It will likely winterkill when sustained temps are below 18°F if there is no snow cover.