Cover Crops

Cover crops are an agronomic tool to alleviate soil compaction and soil-born pests, capture, recycle and redistribute nitrogen and other nutrients, and enhance the seedbed for following crop. They have the ability to reduce leaching, runoff and erosion, build soil organic matter and microbial action, and attract beneficial insects. Landmark Turf & Native Seed provides a range of species that do exceptionally well as cover crops for a variety of regions, soil compositions, and planting needs. 

Spring Triticale

Spring triticale, Triticum aestivum x Secale cereale, is a hybrid cross between wheat and cereal rye. Triticale is typically superior to rye or wheat when used in silage, hay, or pasture. It is drought tolerant and primarily used for forage production, as a cover crop, nurse crop, or as emergency forage. The harvested grain can be used in various livestock feed or for human consumption in cereals and baked goods. Early spring planting improves quality and yield and triticale can produce high levels of dry matter even under challenging conditions. It is later maturing than oats or barley and will maintain its forage quality for an extended harvest window. It does well in a wide range of soil conditions including lighter soils or areas with low to moderate levels of salinity.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 14,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 80-100

Mustard

Mustard is a name that is applied to many different botanical species including white or yellow mustard (Sinapis alba, sometimes referred to as Brassica hirta), brown or Indian mustard (Brassica juncea, sometimes erroneously referred to as canola), and black mustard (B. nigra L.). The glucosinolate content of most mustards is very high compared to the true Brassicas. Mustards also produce significant biomass and capture high amounts of residual nitrogen. Because mustards are sensitive to freezing, winterkilling occurs at about 25º F and they are used either as a spring/summer crop. Brown and field mustard both can grow to 6 feet tall. In wheat/mustard-potato systems, mustards show promise for reducing or eliminating the soil fumigants.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 100,000-200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-14

Japanese Millet

Japanese millet, Echinochloa frumentaceae L., grows 2 to 4 feet tall. It is taller and coarser than other foxtail millets and it matures quickly and thus its forage yield is much less than that of pearl millet. Japanese millet is also planted for wildlife feed and for temporary soil stabilization on construction sites.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 120,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15

Mature Height: 24-48"; Growth Habit: Bunch

German Millet

German or foxtail millet, Setaria italica ssp. stramineofructa, is a popular hay type millet that is leafy and fine-stemmed with compact heads. It exhibits good lodging resistance. The hay is sweet and palatable when harvested at late bloom. German millet blooms later than Siberian millet with yellow seed.

Seeds/Pounds (approximate): 80-100,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 25+

Mature Height: 13-24"; Growth Habit: Annual

Cow Peas

Cowpeas 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

Hairy Vetch

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

Common Vetch

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

Quickguard Triticale

Quickguard triticale, Triticum aestivum x Secale cereale, is a cool-season, hardy hybrid of wheat and cereal rye producing a high yield of forage. Quickguard combines the grain quality, productivity, and disease resistance of wheat with the vigor and hardiness of rye. Both winter and spring types were developed with an emphasis on spring types. Quickguard has a variety of uses as an introduced cover grass. It is well-adapted to a wide range of soil varieties and is used for reclamation and stabilization of disturbed areas. Quickguard is adapted all across the United States with an intended use in semi-arid regions of the western United States.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 14,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 8-15

Mature Height: 18-24"; Growth Habit: Bunch

Winter Triticale

Winter triticale, Triticum aestivum x Secale cereale, has better forage quality similar to wheat coupled with the tonnage potential of cereal rye. Winter triticale when planted in the fall, is as winter hardy as winter wheat but less than winter rye. Planting triticale in the fall means the root systems develops faster to better take advantage of spring and fall moisture, it matures earlier, the yield potential is higher, and there is less risk of nitrates compared to spring-planted crops. Winter triticale is typically superior to wheat for pasture, silage, hay, arosion control, and for grain used for feed. It has great yield potential, stress tolerance, and drought tolerance, and disease resistance compared to barley, wheat, and oats. Winter triticale should be planted in fields with good drainage, and sandy loam to heavy clay soil textures.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 16,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 100-120

Winter Wheat

Winter wheat, Triticum aestivum, is typically grown as a cash grain but it can also provide many of the cover crop benefits of other cereal crops as well as a grazing option prior to spring tiller elongation. Winter wheat is less likely than barley or rye to become a weed and is easier to kill. Wheat also is slower to mature than some cereals making it easier to manage in spring. As a cover crop or for grain, winter wheat adds rotation options for underseeding legumes or other small grains for forage or nitrogen. Winter wheat can also serve as an overwintering cover crop for erosion control in most of the continental United States. If rainfall is sufficient, it is an excellent nurse crop for frostseeding red clover or sweetclover. It also works well in no-till or reduced-tillage systems and for weed control in potatoes grown with irrigation in semiarid regions. Wheat has a fine root system that improves topsoil tilth. It prefers well-drained soils of medium texture and moderate fertility while tolerating poorly drained, heavier soils better than barley or oats. 

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 15,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 60-120

Ladino Clover

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

Medium Red Clover

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 with alfalfa quality under similar harvest schedule.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 260,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-12

Balansa Clover

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. It 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

Crimson clover, Trifolium incarnatum, as a winter annual is usually planted in the late summer to early fall. Crimson clover is used as a winter cover for soil protection or green manure crop for soil improvement. 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

Piper Sudangrass

Piper sudangrass, Sorghum sudanese, is a variety of sudangrass that is highly palatable and high-yielding summer annual forage. It is adapted to many types of soils and environments but use with caution when grazing or haying because of nitrates and prussic acid.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 68,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 20-30

Mature Height: 25+"; Growth Habit: Bunch

Attack White Mustard

Attack white mustard, Brassica alba, is a bio-fumigation tool with resistance to Columbia Root Knot Nematode and Sugar Beet Cyst Nematodes. It can be utilized by organic growers as well as to reduce fumigation pesticide use in IPM programs. Attack is an agronomic tool to help manage soil-borne pests while alleviating soil compaction, capture, recycle and redistribute nutrients, enhance the seedbed for the following crop, reduce leaching, runoff and erosion, build soil organic matter and microbial action, and attract beneficial insects.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 100,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 10-20

Cereal Rye

Cereal rye, Secale cereale, is a hardy annual grass that is widely cultivated for grain production, forage, and soil improvement. Due to the late harvest of many crops, fall-planted cover crops often do not reach adequate growth to provide winter soil protection but cereal rye can germinate and grow under cooler conditions and still provide considerable dry matter, an extensive soil-holding root system, significant reduction of nitrate leaching, and exceptional weed suppression. Cereal rye can also be used for spring forage production, and fed as pasture, green chop, or put up as haylage. It is the best cool-season cereal cover for absorbing unused nitrogen in the soil.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 18,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 80+

Mature Height: 25+"; Growth Habit: Annual

Vitality™ Daikon Radish

Vitality™ radish, Raphanus sativas var. longipinnatus, is a multi-purpose “Daikon type” also referred to as forage or fodder radish and has been selected for use in cover crop systems to improve water quality and increase farmland productivity. Vitality™ radish is an agronomic tool to alleviate soil compaction, suppress weeds, capture, recycle and redistribute nitrogen and other nutrients in the soil profile, enhance seedbed for following crop, and reduce nitrate leaching. It has the ability to reduce runoff and control erosion, build soil organic matter and microbial action, and attract beneficial insects.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 34,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 8-10 (drilled), 12-14 (broadcast), 14-16 (aerial into standing corn or soybeans) 

Nemaflex Radish

Nemaflex radish has resistance to nematodes, breaks the pest cycle, and reduces damage to following crops. It improves soil and water quality and increases farmland productivity. Nemaflex is an agronomic tool to alleviate soil compaction, soil born pests, capture, recycle and redistribute nitrogen and other nutrients, and enhance the seedbed for following crop. It has the ability to reduce leaching, runoff and erosion, build soil organic matter and microbial action, and attract beneficial insects. It flowers much later than any other variety and is short in stature making it easy to incorporate. 

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 34,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 10-20

Anaconda Radish

Anaconda radish is a ‘double resistant’ selection because of its resistance to M. chitwoodi and H. schachtii nematodes that break the pest cycle and reduce damage to following crops. Anaconda improves soil health and water quality, reduces leaching and erosion, and increases productivity. It flowers late with white flowers. Anaconda also has a large regrowth potential due to its high early vigor. When sown as a main crop to suppress nematodes, it can be cut and left to re-grow, increasing the nematode suppression.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 34,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 10-20

Austrian Winter Peas

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)

Lacy Phacelia

Lacy phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia, is used extensively in Europe both as a cover crop and bee forage and is growing in popularity and use in the United States. Phacelia is quick to grow and flower and grows well in dry soil. It does a good job of limiting nitrate leaching when planted in early fall. It winterkills at about 18°F. In cooler regions, it can be used between cash crops as a cover crop in the summer. Phacelia is listed as one of the top 20 honey-producing flowers for honeybees and is also highly attractive to bumblebees and syrphid (hover) flies. Phacelia's habit of flowering abundantly and for a long period can increase beneficial insect numbers and diversity, because it provides high quality nectar and pollen.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 245,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 1-2

Mature Height: 12-36"; Bloom Period: July-September

Yellow Blossom Sweetclover

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

Alfalfa

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 a cover crop, and in pasture, range and revegetation mixes. Some varieties exhibit spreading ability that is suitable for grazing. Common varieties include Ranger and Vernal. 

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-25

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass, Lolium perenne, is a perennial, cool-season, introduced bunch grass growing to a height of 18 to 36 inches. Perennial ryegrass is one of the most widely used grasses and is adaptable to a wide variety of soils and climatic conditions. With a leafy head and fine stem, it is considered very palatable and used for both forage and hay. Perennial ryegrass is a proven performer in pastures in the northern area of the United States.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 227,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 4-8

Mature Height: 18-36"; Growth Habit: Bunch

Annual Ryegrass

Annual ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum, has an extensive, soilholding root system. It is a fast-establishing, short-lived annual or biennial depending on climate and growing season, cool-season grass for forage and erosion control uses. As a cover crop, it establishes quickly even in poor, rocky or wet soils and tolerates some flooding once established. Annual ryegrass is well-suited for field strips, grass waterways, or exposed areas. Its dense yet shallow root system improves water infiltration and enhances soil tilth. As a high nitrogen user, annual ryegrass can capture leftover nitrogen and reduce nitrate leaching throughout the winter. Annual ryegrass is highly palatable and is relatively easy to establish so it can be used for grazing, hay, silage, and conservation purposes. It is widely adapted and found throughout the entire United States. Common forage varieties of annual ryegrass include Madonna, Ration, and Westerwold.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 225,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 8-16

Mature Height: 10-36"; Growth Habit: Annual

Lentils

Lentils, Lens culinaris, are most commonly grown in low rainfall, cooler climates during the spring. Lentils are produced for human consumption around the world as well as for livestock feed with high levels of crude protein and low digestive inhibitors. Lentils can be used to change cereal crop rotations because they can break pest cycles and fix nitrogen in the soil profile all while obtaining a harvestable crop. They provide an early season green manure crop and high quality forage. Lentils thrive in cool, dry conditions like the northern great plains where they can remain relatively free of disease. They are known for their strong seedling vigor and their ability to emerge through thick cereal stubble. With rapid seed germination, seedlings generally outgrow the threat of insects or disease pressure during establishment.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 15,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 20-40

Stockford Beardless Barley

Stockford beardless barley, Hordeum vulgare, is a two-rowed, hooded, spring barley that is adapted to the Intermountain area of the Pacific Northwest region and the Western Prairies of Canada. It is medium tall and matures in mid-season with fair to good drought tolerance. The appearance and performance of the Stockford variety is stable and uniform. Stockford beardless barley can be used in dryland and irrigated areas for hay, grain production, forage, and as a cover crop. It has good resistance to lodging, shattering, straw breaking and neck breaking.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 14,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 100

Mature Height: 32"; Growth Habit: Bunch

Barley

Barley, Hordeum vulgare, is an annual or biennial grass that is widely cultivated for yielding grain for breakfast food, as a cover crop, for animal feed, and in malt beverages. Black barley, awnless, hooded, 2 row, 6 row, varying awn lengths and varying spike lengths characterize the many barley types. Barley grows well in cool, dry areas with supplemental irrigation. It is more winter-hardy than oats but is more prone to winterkill than wheat or rye. Barley can be grown in a wide variety of locations because there are both summer and winter varieties, and it can withstand high elevations and short growing seasons.

Seeds/Pounds (approximate): 14,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 60+

Mature Height: 25+"; Growth Habit: Bunch

Buckwheat

Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, is a speedy, short-season, cover crop. It establishes, blooms and reaches maturity in just 70 to 90 days and its residue breaks down quickly. Buckwheat suppresses weeds and attracts beneficial insects and pollinators with its abundant blossoms. It is easy to kill and buckwheat’s dense, fibrous roots cluster in the top 10 inches of soil providing an extensive root surface area for nutrient uptake. It takes up phosphorus and some minor nutrients that are otherwise unavailable to crops, then releasing these nutrients to later crops as the residue breaks down. buckwheat grows vegetatively and flowers until it is killed by frost. It has primarily been used for humans and livestock, honey crop, smother crop, and green manure.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 20,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 40-50

Sunn Hemp

A tropical legume, sunn hemp, Crotalaria juncea L., can produce more than 5,000 pounds of dry matter/A and 120 pounds N/A in just 9 to 12 weeks. It can fill a narrow niche between harvest of a summer crop and planting of a fall cash or cover crop and is especially fitted to vegetable production. Sunn hemp sown by September 1 following a corn crop in Alabama, for example, can produce an average of 115 pounds N/A by December 1. Sunn hemp is not winter hardy and a hard freeze easily kills it. Sow sunn hemp a minimum of 9 weeks before the average date of the first frost. Sunn hemp seed can only be produced in tropical areas, eliminating the threat of re-seeding /weediness to only the very southern regions of the Gulf States.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 15,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 15-30

Turnips

Forage turnip or purple top turnip, Brassica rapa, is a cool-season, annual or biennial brassica that is somewhat frost tolerant. It prefers deep, fertile, sandy to heavy clay soils. Forage turnip can be used as a high quality forage crop and in late fall and winter. It can also be planted in the spring for summer grazing or in the summer to extend the grazing into late fall. The leafy tops can be lightly grazed before fall and the bulbs are dug for forage in the winter by grazing livestock and wildlife, even under snow. 

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 80,000-200,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 1-5

Forage Kale

Forage kale, Brassica oleracea var sabellica, is often planted in the fall and used a winter crop because of its winter hardiness. Its tap roots open up the soil and its ability to be planted in the winter helps to control erosion making it an excellent cover crop. Forage kale has a similar spring green up to forage rapeseed and crop management is similar to other brassicas. Forage kale can be planted on its own or in a mix with other crops. 

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 225,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 3-8

Collards

Collards, Brassica oleracea, are a versatile, highly nutritious, and digestible forage for livestock and are slow to bolt and flower when spring planted making them a good choice for late spring and early summer grazing. Collards remain vegetative for an extended period of time and can reproduce lost biomass for continued seasonal grazing or haying even under drought conditions. Collards are similar to rape because of their large tap root that grows downward and penetrates deep into the profile, breaking hardpans. Being a brassica, collards are excellent at scavenging excess nutrients that remain from the previous crop with the added benefit of maintaining living roots in the soil profile until termination the following spring.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 175,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 5-1

Canola/Rapeseed

Besides their use as an oil crop, rapeseed, Brassica napus, and other varieties of this species are also used for forage. If pest suppression is an objective, rapeseed should be used rather than canola since the breakdown products of glucosinolates are thought to be a principal mechanism for pest control with these cover crops. Rapeseed has been shown to have biological activity against plant parasitic nematodes as well as weeds. Due to its rapid fall growth, rapeseed captures high amounts of residual nitrogen and accumulates significant amounts of above ground biomass. Common forage varieties include Hobson and Napoleon.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 157,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 3-10

EverLeaf 126 Forage Oats

EverLeaf™ 126 is a true spring oat with dark green foliage, an erect growth habit, and very good standability. EverLeaf™ 126 has leaves that actually extend above the canopy at heading. EverLeaf™ 126 is a delayed heading oat and much of its forage mass and quality come from an extended maturity. Since the plant is naturally vegetative for a longer period, biomass accumulation is extraordinary. EverLeaf™ 126 has a compact panicle that offers an attractive product when baled.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 11,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 80-140

Sorghum

Sorghum, Sorghum bicolor, is widely cultivated as a grain and forage and is a drought tolerant bunch grass type. It is typically used for milo grain production in the south and forage production in the north. Forage sorghum is a hybrid with a very sweet stem, excellent leaf retention, and is highly palatable. Forage sorghum has excellent foliar disease resistance and maintains a healthy canopy until harvest.

Seeds/Pound (approximate): 16,000; Seeding Rate (pounds/acre): 20-40

Mature Height: 25+"; Growth Habit: Bunch