Thursday, May 30, 2024
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New Forage Available

A few weeks ago we shared the results of a study that provided some insights into the value of legumes as forage. The study looked at how well three vetches and one winter pea responded to grazing. One of those, WinterKing Hairy Vetch is now available for sale. Here’s more information for you.

There’s an new hairy vetch on the market with some exciting characteristics. Smith Seed Services announces limited availability of WinterKing hairy vetch variety. Selection work on WinterKing originated in Eastern Pennsylvania with selection work by cover crop innovator Steve Groff.  WinterKing’s key features are delayed flowering, improved winter hardiness, and the ability to product abundant biomass. This protein/nitrogen-rich biomass is beneficial for grazing, harvested forage, cover cropping, as well as attracting and feeding wildlife and pollinators.

Delayed Flowering

As an annual legume, hairy vetch may need to be terminated either mechanically or chemically when followed by a row crop. Some producers may find the late maturity of WinterKing reduces the potential for undesired seed propagation found in earlier maturing cover crop varieties. For livestock producers, WinterKing’s late maturity means more vegetative high-value feed longer into the spring season.


WinterKing has shown potential to produce 150-200#N/acre, especially when allowed to reach maturity later in the season. This is beneficial for green manure as well as providing an extended high-protein source for grazing livestock throughout the full spring season.

Improved Winter Hardiness

Better winter hardiness equates to more biomass. More biomass provides increased forage for livestock, more biomass for cover croppers, and increased weed suppression for all. Those desiring high nitrogen-fixing legumes for green manure, forage grazing, wildlife and pollinator attractants should find WinterKing an improved option over other legumes that lack cold tolerance.

Supply is Limited

To learn more and find a local dealer, visit or call Smith Seed Services at 888-550-2930. And do let them know that you found them at On Pasture!

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Jonathan Rupert
Jonathan Rupert
Jonathan Rupert has been in the wholesale seed industry for over 25 years, and works for Smith Seed Services helping with sales, marketing and product development. He is a big fan of learning from the past and being willing to try something new.


  1. Are there any concerns/cautions with cattle grazing hairy vetch? Bloat or poor feed quality/conversion or perhaps toxic if grazed as high percentage of forage?

    • Yes, there are bloat potentials with cattle grazing hairy vetch. Maybe others can comment on their experiences.

      • Also, i received this feedback from a contact at Mississippi State University:

        “When you graze it in pure stands you risk some toxicities (granulomatous disease) at later maturities. Bloat is not too much of a problem since it has plenty of fiber. The real issue with grazing pure hairy vetch stands is that the stems are not real digestible and early grazing limits regrowth. It is best grazed in a mixture with small grains like cereal rye.”

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