Forage First Guide      I      Summer Select Guide

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Villana Winter Hairy Vetch

Great to recharge soils during winter by reducing runoff (more water enters the soil profile through pores created by the vetch residue)

Winter hairy vetch cover crop legume is a vigorous crop used for fixing nitrogen, biomass production and enhancing organic matter. Winter hairy vetch is 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. Winter hairy vetch cover crop legume tends to be very tolerant of variable soil conditions, including low fertility environments. Winter hairy vetch cover crop legume will overwinter in many areas of the country (USDA Zone 3-4) withstanding temperatures down to -25°F to -30°F, especially where snow is likely.




Non-Forage Benefits:
1 = Poor; 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:
Values Vary Greatly Depending on Maturity

Crude Protein: 26
NEL¹ Mcal/lb.: 0.58
ADF%²: 33
NDF%³: 48
TDN: 64
DM Tons/Acre: 1-3
Days to First Harvest: Spring
Days to Next Harvest: –

¹- Net Energy for Lactation = Energy available after subtracting digestive and metabolic losses
²- Acid Detergent Fiber = Low values mean more digestible
³- Neutral Detergent Fiber = Low values mean cows can eat more

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




Planting Time:

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

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





  • 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 winter hairy vetch and increased cyst nematode/root knot nematode populations
  • Strong nitrogen fixing and high biomass potential
  • Great to recharge soils during winter by reducing runoff (more water enters the soil profile through pores created by the vetch residue)
  • Phosphorus scavenger
  • Heavy mulch layer provides excellent weed suppression and erosion prevention
  • Excellent option to plant with cereal grain (helps with spring control too)