Whether you are farming conventionally, organically, or aiming for a no-till system, soils should have a living crop growing on each field for as many months of the year as possible. Many of our forage crops also act as cover crops. In addition to selling forages that can double as cover crops, King’s AgriSeeds has developed a variety of mixtures that will help improve your soil’s health. Species blends are far more beneficial in improving the life of your soil than a monoculture. Cover crops have huge potential to improve your farm’s long term productivity and profitability. Consult with our agronomists to choose the appropriate cover crop for your farm.
For best root nodulation and nitrogen fixation, inoculate untreated legume seed and seed mixtures containing legumes with the appropriate inoculant, as indicated. Although some legumes tolerate more acidic soils after they get established, most legumes need a pH close to neutral for nodulation.
Cover Crop Reference Materials:
Cover Crop Mixes
A red, ladino, and sweet clover mix that can be frost seeded, spring seeded, fall seeded, aerial seeded, broadcast after last cultivation of corn, or seeded just before soybean leaf drop. With its diversity, the white and red clover will grow in long, cool springs and in the fall, and the yellow blossom sweet clover grows well in the summer months and drier spells. Can work as a perennial pollinator mix; recommended for two years at the most. Can also be used for wildlife food plots. Recommended seeding rate: 10-15 lbs/A.
3-Way Clover is pre-inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria for best nitrogen fixation.
For broadcasting in late summer with moisture. Will improve soils in many ways, including nitrogen fixation, soil tilth and drainage. Can be broadcasted with hand seeders, ATV seeders, highboy seeders and by airplane or helicopter. Great for seeding into a living corn crop and open fields in late summer. Includes MO1 and/or Marshall Annual Ryegrass, crimson clover, Common Medium Red Clover, Daikon radish, and yellow blossom sweet clover. Recommended seeding rate: 25-30 lbs/A.
Broadcaster is pre-inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria for best legume nitrogen fixation.
A mixture of crimson clover, annual ryegrass, and oats. It is a superb cover crop for southern Pennsylvania (south of I-78) and further south. The benefit of crimson clover is that it flowers early, and thus will fix nitrogen earlier in the spring than other legumes. Annual ryegrass has very extensive root growth and improves soil structure even better than cereal grains. Feed quality is excellent as well. Recommended seeding rate: 60 lbs/A (110-130 lb/A if it will also be used for forage).
CARGO is pre-inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria for best legume nitrogen fixation.
Clean and Green
A mixture of 80% tall fescue and 20% annual ryegrass. For conservation purposes. Adjust seeding rate to erosion risk. Recommended seeding rate: 35-75 lbs/A.
A perennial cover crop mix of 60% dwarf perennial ryegrass, 20% creeping red fescue, 20% chewings fescue. A low maintenance grass cover crop that was formulated specifically for use in orchards and vineyards. Shade tolerant, wear tolerant, slow-growing, and quickly established. Competes well with perennial weeds and stands up to traffic, requiring less mowing. Recommended seeding rate: 50 lbs/A.
A fall-planted mix of TriCal 815 Triticale, crimson clover, hairy vetch, MO1 & KB Supreme Annual Ryegrass, and Daikon radish. Makes an excellent spring forage and/or overwintering cover crop. This mix is ideal for a spring grazing or cutting when the triticale reaches flag leaf or boot stage. Recommended seeding rate: 60-90 lb/A for cover crop; 120-140 lbs/A for forage.
A 7-way grass/legume/brassica mix for cover crop and/or forage. This is a versatile warm-season mix made up of a diverse variety of stress-tolerant summer annuals—cowpea, sorghum-sudans, pearl millet, radish, forage brassica and sunflower—that can be used a short-term cover crop, a soil-building transition crop to renovate depleted soils, a beef cattle grazing mix, or some combination of these. It also contains several blooming species that, if left to grow and flower, will attract beneficial species. The mix is beneficial for both no-till and conventional-till soils.
Ray’s Crazy Mix is excellent for farmland reclamation, renovation, or when transitioning forest or brush-land land back into production. For vegetable growers it is also a good short season summer cover crop to build soil organic matter and contribute fertility in selected beds or fields. In a high tunnel or green house setting, Ray’s Crazy Mix can remediate soils during the summer months and to build soil organic matter, without extensive tillage. Recommended seeding rate: 40-60 lbs/A.
Inoculate with peanut inoculant for best legume nitrogen fixation.
This is a versatile cool season cover crop mix made up of grasses, legumes, and brassicas that can be used a short-term cover crop, a soil-building transition crop to renovate depleted soils, a grazing mix, or some combination of these. It also contains several blooming that, if left to grow and flower, will attract beneficial species.
Winter peas, hairy vetch and crimson clover grow through the winter and fix nitrogen. N production will be maximized if the hairy vetch and clover are left to grow to bloom in the spring. Grasses provide some shelter to legumes and brassicas during the winter months. Recommended seeding rate: 40-50 lbs/A for cover crop or forage.
A mixture of spring peas, oats and hairy vetch that makes an excellent soil improver and early cover. Best seeded in late winter to early spring. Once soil warms up, this mix germinates and grows rapidly to grow quick spring nitrogen for summer crops. The spring oats act as a nurse crop and then provides support for the peas and hairy vetch. This mix, once established, will crowd out weeds and fix nitrogen. Note: Can also be seeded in late summer. Recommended seeding rate: 125 lbs/A.
Inoculate with pea/vetch inoculant for best legume nitrogen fixation.
This summer annual mix of Wonderleaf Millet and T-Raptor forage brassica is often used as a highly palatable grazing mix, with the brassica adding a surprising level of protein. As a cover crop, this simple mix can go far to build soil with the combination of millet’s fibrous root structure and the brassica’s deep taproot. The combination of brassica’s broad leaves and millet’s quick tillering growth makes Summer Feast an outstanding competitor against weeds. If grazed, at least 2 two grazings are possible. Recommended seeding rate: 15 to 20 lbs/A.
A diverse legume-forb cover crop mix of aggressively growing summer annuals, with possible alternative use for wildlife food plots. The mix includes four very different components—buckwheat, cowpeas, sunflower, and sunn hemp. Both conventional and organic growers will find this a useful break crop in between spring and fall crops that builds soil nitrogen levels and attracts pollinators and other beneficial insects. It can also be used in farmscaping strips to draw beneficials throughout the season. Recommended seeding rate: 35-60 lb/A.
Cover Crop Individual Species
An inexpensive, quick growing annual utilized as a high quality forage crop or a cover crop. It can be overseeded into corn or soybeans or other vegetable crops. Ryegrass has an extensive root system that holds the soil in place, preventing erosion. It’s an excellent nitrogen scavenger and grows organic matter deep into the soil with root biomass. The dense root system improves water infiltration and builds soil tilth. If mixed with legumes it establishes quickly and acts as a nurse crop, which improves early season weed control and helps the legumes over-winter. Recommended seeding rate: 15-20 lbs/A.
Lowboy is a turf-type annual ryegrass for cover crop use only. It is a cold-tolerant, weed suppressing crop that has an extensive root system and is easy to terminate. Lowboy is ideal for building soil in grain, tobacco, or vegetable rotations.
AS 5201 Non-BMR Sudangrass
Replaces Quickcover. Summer soil builder, weed and nematode suppressor, and subsoil loosener. AS 5201 will produce more biomass than any other sorghum-sudan. Goes well in a mix with brassicas. AS 5201 is a non-BMR and not as high quality for forage use as BMR sorghums and sorghum-sudans (lignin content will be higher). Recommended seeding rate: 35-50 lb/A (60-70 lb/A for forage use).
Balady 1 Berseem Clover
Berseem clover grows as a summer annual or winter annual depending on your plant hardiness zone. In the south, typically from central Virginia and further south, the Berseem can be planted in the fall and will over-winter as a winter annual crop. Since it is not a cold tolerant crop, the Berseem clover may winter kill and not consistently survive northern winters (Mid-Atlantic and Northern States). Therefore, it is best used as a spring seeded summer annual in these regions. It is an excellent choice for a cover crop due to its vigorous warm-season growth and good nitrogen-fixing potential.
Berseem clover has oblong leaflets and hollow stems. It grows upright and produces yellowish-white flowers with small round heads. The plant may grow as tall as 18 to 30 inches. It has a small tap root that is 4 to 6 inches long. Berseem clover is excellent in a forage context because it is one of the rare legumes that does not cause bloat, and can be used to boost production on thinning alfalfa stands or as high protein stand-alone forage. Recommended seeding rate: 8-20 lbs/A.
A brassica and quick cover that can be used in vineyards, annual crop rotations, or in vegetable rotations. It grows rapidly to suppress weeds. As a nematode suppressing crop, Braco white mustard both interferes with completion of the feeding nematode larvae life cycle and acts as a natural bio-fumigant when turned into the soil just before or at flowering. Recommended seeding rate: 8-10 lbs/A.
Brown Top Millet
Brown top millet is a very short and leafy species with high tolerance to soil acidity. A lower cost millet with more stem biomass and lower forage quality, Brown top works well as a cover crop or bird sanctuary. Does not regrow well after cutting. Recommended seeding rate: 10-25 lb/A.
True “smother crop” since it grows a thick canopy quickly and outcompetes summer weeds. Buckwheat is the perfect crop to fill in the rotational window between spring and summer or early fall crops. It can reseed itself if not managed closely, but easy to kill (seedlings also readily frost-kill). Good addition of broadleaves, especially for a mostly grass-based rotation. Fibrous root system, loosens up and conditions soil, makes organic phosphorous available. If left through bloom, it will attract pollinators. Recommended seeding rate: 50-70 lbs/A.
A small seeded buckwheat. Does not work well for pollinators; poor nectar production. Not for grain. Larger leaves and later bloom than VNS. Recommended seeding rate: 25-35 lbs/A.
Also available in Certified Organic.
Cereal rye or winter rye is one of the most cold tolerant of the commonly used cover crops and has been extensively used in a wide range of cropping systems. It can be planted later in the fall than other small grains. Recommended seeding rate: 168 lbs/A.
A low cost legume cover crop that can be used similarly to the 3-way clover mix. Red clover is fast starting and shade tolerant. Good source of nitrogen, soil builder and weed suppressor; attracts beneficials. Makes a good forage. Recommended seeding rate: 4-20 lbs/A.
Also available in Certified Organic.
Inoculate with clover inoculant for best results.
Productive heat tolerant vining summer-annual legume, excellent drought resistance, low fertility and a range of soils. If left to bloom it attracts many beneficial insects that prey on other pests. Slow to start, so it does well in mixes with other quicker growing species, especially those that are rigid and erect-growing that can serve as a trellis to support its growth (for example, summer grasses like millet and sudangrass). Works well as a forage, especially in a mix. Same as black-eyed peas (dry beans that can be used for human consumption). Recommended seeding rate: 40-60 lbs/A.
Inoculate with peanut inoculant for best results.
A legume cover crop that can be planted in late summer as a winter annual or in the spring. Rapid spring growth provides weed suppression and makes it a valuable spring and summer green manure, providing 60 to 100 lbs of N. It can be easily grown in rotation before grain sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass, and is also good for hay and grazing uses. In Northern areas of PA and farther north, crimson clover doesn’t over winter, but can be grown as a summer annual for fall nitrogen. Has a deep red flower that produces abundant nectar and is a habitat for beneficial insects and bumble bees. Great for mixtures (see our CARGO mix). Seed is larger than most other clovers, so use a higher seeding rate than for other clovers. Recommended seeding rate: 15-25 lbs/A.
Inoculate with with clover inoculant for best results.
Deep tap root growth, penetrates soil, improves tilth, scavenges and bio-accumulates nitrogen, calcium, sulfur and magnesium from lower soil levels and moves them up to upper soil profile, weed suppressor, suppresses nematodes. Plant early spring as a quick weed suppressor or break crop. Recommended seeding rate: 12-14 lbs/A; 2-5 lbs/A in mixes.
Excellent fast growing cover crop for between vegetable rows, providing low-growing, nitrogen-fixing ground cover. It is lower yielding and shorter growing than other varieties in a pasture setting. Recommended seeding rate: 2-4 lbs/A.
Dutch White Clover is pre-inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria for best nitrogen fixation.
A winter-hardy winter annual legume that has the potential to produce 200 lbs of free nitrogen. Burn off or till into the soil after flower for a significant amount of free nitrogen. It can also be rolled down as a weed-suppressing mulch in organic no-till systems. Best used in mixtures. Recommended seeding rate: 25-30 lbs/A.
Inoculate with pea/vetch inoculant for best growth and nitrogen fixation.
Hubam is a summer annual sweetclover that is adapted from Georgia to Maine. It blooms and sets seeds in the planting year. Its value is largely in its soil health benefits (including nitrogen fixation) and its ability to attract pollinators and beneficial insects with its abundant nectar production.
Inoculate with alfalfa/clover inoculant for best growth and nitrogen fixation.
Ladino is a white clover with large leaves and taller growing stems, and will produce more N per acre than other white clovers. Dense shallow roots protect soil from erosion and suppress weeds well compared to other white clovers. Ladino clover can fix 80 to 130 lbs of N per acre if left to grow a year after establishment. As a cover crop, it can be frost seeded into small grains or broadcast over vegetables in late spring. It will grow slowly and develop roots in the shade of another growing crop, then grow rapidly after crop harvest. Great for use as a living mulch and a beneficial crop to attract bees for both nectar and pollen. Recommended seeding rate: 5-9 lbs/A.
VNS Ladino clover is pre-inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria for best nitrogen fixation.
A quick starting small grain that can be planted during many months except for during hot, dry periods. When planted in late summer, spring oats will typically die with a killing frost, creating an excellent early spring no-till opportunity with ample residue to suppress weeds. Any of our forage oats works well in a cover crop setting; some are leafier and later maturing than others, depending on your timing. Recommended seeding rate: 80-100 lbs/A.
Sunflowers are a high-yielding broadleaf cover crop that grow quickly and outcompete weeds, and the seeds they produce are also the most popular seed for bird feed. Peredovic Sunflowers grow 4-5 feet tall, the flowers attract butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects, and the seeds provide a nutritious high-energy food source for birds. All types of sunflower seeds originate from the common sunflower, Helianthus annuus, though there are many specialized and hybrid flower varieties that create different bloom sizes, stalk heights and seed yields. The seeds they produce are similar, however, and sunflower seed is universally popular birdseed. Recommended seeding rate: 40 lbs/A.
Tall-growing summer annual legume, tolerates dryer conditions, high biomass producer, and good smother crop. Use as a green manure/cover crop to provide both organic matter and nitrogen during the period between summer and winter cash crops. Produces significant biomass in 6-7 weeks. High lignin content; after 3 to 4 weeks of growth it gets too woody for forage use. Good in mixes to add varying heights to the cover, but keep seeding rate low. Recommended seeding rate: 20-40 lbs/A.
Inoculate with peanut inoculant for best growth and nitrogen fixation.
A cross between wheat and rye. Using triticale as a cover crop is very similar to using rye—in terms of seeding rate and application—but triticale is a little leafier, lower in lignin content and later heading than rye. It should also be planted slightly earlier than rye in the fall. Triticale provides over-winter erosion control, soil-building, and nitrogen scavenging. Like rye, triticale also makes an excellent spring emergency forage. Good for mixing with winter annual legumes and annual ryegrass. Seeding rate depends on goals for the crop and planting date. Recommended seeding rate: 60-220 lbs/A.
A biennial clover that develops a strong, deep tap root that can break hard pans and handles drought well. As a legume, it also fixes nitrogen. Sweet clover will grow in a wide range of soils but pH, as with most legumes, should be close to neutral (>6.5). Recommended seeding rate: 15-25 lbs/A.
Yellow blossom sweetclover is pre-inoculated with Rhizobium bacteria for best nitrogen fixation.