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Indiana CropMAP

Forage Grasses and Legumes

Prepared by Dr. Keith Johnson, Professor of Agronomy and Forage Crops, Purdue University, © 1998. This is a list of forages that are either currently grown, are recommended alternate crops, are experimental crops, or are not recommended for Indiana.

Purdue University's Forage Information Web Site
This site was designed to compile the most up-to-date forage information produced by Purdue University. Purdue Forage Information includes: Cooperative Extension publications, current variety trial data, presentations by Specialists, and Forage Identification pages.

Traditional Forage Grasses
Traditional Forage Legumes
Recommended Forage Grasses
Recommended Forage Legumes
Recommended Forbs
Experimental Forage Grasses
Experimental Forage Legumes
Not Recommended Forage Grasses
Not Recommended Forage Legumes

Traditional Forage Grasses
Kentucky bluegrass Common in the entire state. Not recommended for new seedings as it is drought intolerant and low yielding.
Orchardgrass Adapted statewide. Select varieties with leaf disease resistance.
Redtop Adapted statewide, but not recommended for livestock purposes because of poor palatability.
Reed canarygrass Adapted statewide. Only low-alkaloid varieties should be used. Excellent choice on poorly drained areas.
Perennial ryegrass Restrict use to soils not prone to being droughty.
Smooth bromegrass Most successful in northern IN. Palatable grass but adapted to fewer than 3cuttings in a year.
Sorghum x sudangrass Summer annual that is adapted statewide. Best used for grazing or haying.
Sudangrass Summer annual that is adapted statewide. Best used for grazing purposes.
Tall fescue Adapted statewide. Only low-endophyte varieties should be utilized.
Timothy Adapted statewide. Later to mature than other traditional cool-season grasses. Low production after spring growth.
Traditional Forage Legumes
Alfalfa Best adapted to soils that are well drained and have a pH greater than 6.7.
Alsike clover Should only be used on soils that are poorly drained. Horses should not be fed alsike clover as it can cause poisoning.
Annual lespedeza Adapted statewide with most assurance of developing a seed crop for longevity beyond one year in very southern IN.
Birdsfoot trefoil Best adapted to northern IN, although it has been used successfully in southern IN. Subject to foliar diseases in a high humidity environment.
Crownvetch Adapted statewide. Best used for soil conservation purposes and not as feed for livestock.
Ladino clover Adapted statewide with greater success on soils less prone to drought. Should be used for pasture only in combination with forage grasses.
Red clover Adapted statewide. Excellent pasture renovation legume and short term hay rotation crop.
Sericea lespedeza Better adapted to soils with acid subsoils in southern IN. Its inferior forage quality as compared to more commonly used legumes (eg alfalfa and red clover) limits its utility.
Sweetclover Adapted to soils greater than pH 6.7. Best used as a soil improvement crop.
White Dutch clover Adapted statewide with greater success on soils less prone to drought. Not recommended for use because of poor yield potential.
Recommended Forage Grasses
Big bluestem Adapted statewide on soils that are at least moderately well drained. Complements cool-season grass-legume pastures in a rotational stocking system.
Caucasian bluestem Not native to the USA as are big and little bluestems. Inferior forage quality as compared to other viable options when used by livestock. Possible consideration as a warm-season grass for erosion control purposes.
Indiangrass Adapted statewide on soils that are at least moderately well drained. Complements cool-season grass-legume pastures in a rotational stocking system. In general, later to mature than big bluestem.
Little bluestem Adapted statewide on soils that are at least moderately well drained. Lower yield potential as compared to tall-growing perennial warm-season grasses suggests that it best be used for wildlife purposes.
Pearl millet Adapted statewide. A summer annual that has no prussic acid potential. Best used as pasture.
Side-oats grama Adapted statewide on soils that are at least moderately well drained. Lower yield potential as compared to tall growing perennial warm-season grasses suggests that it best be used for wildlife purposes.
Switchgrass Adapted statewide. Able to grow on wetter sites than big bluestem or switchgrass. In general, earlier to mature than big bluestem and indiangrass.
Triticale A man-made cross between wheat and rye. Adapted to soils capable of producing wheat or rye. Similar uses as other small grains used for forage purposes.
Recommended Forage Legumes
Hairy vetch A winter-annual legume that has uses as a cover crop and an organic source of nitrogen. Best utility is in southern IN because of longer growing season.
Field peas Used in combination with spring oats or spring triticale as a companion crop with perennial forage crop seeding. High cost warrants careful evaluation of cost:benefit ratio.
Recommended Forbs
Forage turnips Adapted statewide. Excellent doublecrop to consider that has very high-energy value.
Experimental Forage Grasses
Annual ryegrass Adapted to soils that are at least moderately well drained. Not as winterhardy as winter wheat, but has worked well as a potential cover crop and early spring pasture.
Eastern gamagrass Adapted statewide. Originally found in areas subject to flooding and wetter environments. A very high quality perennial grass that is best used for pasture.
Meadow bromegrass Has performed well in a producer's forage evaluation plots in Ripley County, IN. Appears to have potential in a rotational stocking program.
Experimental Forage Legumes
Kura clover Has good persistence once established as it is rhizomatous, but its vigor during establishment is a weakness.
Not Recommended Forage Grasses
Johnsongrass Once considered a warm-season perennial grass forage, its aggressive growth habit caused it to be classified as a prohibited noxious weed.
Quackgrass Once considered a cool-season perennial grass forage, its aggressive growth habit caused it to be classified as a prohibited noxious weed.
Not Recommended Forage Legumes
Kudzu Its aggressive nature in the southeastern USA suggests that it should not be utilized as a forage.
The Forage listing was compiled and written by Dr. Keith Johnson, Professor of Agronomy and Forage Crops, Purdue University, © 1998. Questions related to these crops should be addressed to Keith Johnson at johnsonk@purdue.edu