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Virginia CropMAP

Forage Grasses and Legumes

List of forage crops that are either currently grown traditionally, recommended, experimental, or not-recommended in Virginia.

Listing was compiled and written by:
Dr. Harbans Bhardwaj, Agriclutural Research Station, Box 9061, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA 23806. Phone: 804-524-6723; Fax: 804-524-5950; Email: hbhardwj@vsu.edu
Chris Teutsch, Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 2375 Darvills Rd, Blackstone, VA 23824. Phone: 434-292-5331; Fax: 434-292-5623; Email: cteutsch@vt.edu

Traditional
Recommended
Experimental
Not Recommended

Traditional
Alfalfa "Queen of the Forages", hay, silage, and grazing, high yields and forage quality, drought tolerant, persists 5+ years under good management
Bermudagrass Warm-season perennial, forms a dense sod tolerant of close and frequent grazing, hay, silage and grazing, well adapted to southside of Virginia
Clover, Alsike Hay, pasture, reclamation, little regrowth after first cutting
Clover, Ladino Important pasture legume, reseeds, spreads by stolons, goes dormant during hot, dry periods
Clover, Red Important pasture legume, short-lived perennial, persists 2-3 years in pastures, well adapted to frost seeding
Clover, White Dutch Important in pastures, low growing, lower yielding that ladino
Johnsongrass Commonly considered a weed, has good forage quality and palatability, can cause prussic acid and nitrate poisoning in livestock
Kentucky bluegrass Well suited for grazing, best adapted to higher elevations, goes dormant during summer
Lespedeza, Annual Warm-season annual, hay, grazing, tolerates low pH, use in combination with a grass
Lespedeza, Sericea Pastures, hay and reclamation, tolerates low fertility and pH
Orchardgrass Short-lived perennial, persists 4-5 years under good management (southside of Virginia)
Pearl millet Summer annual, hay, silage, grazing
Redtop Used in reclamation, can tolerate wet soils
Reed canarygrass Hay, silage, and grazing, tolerates wet soils
Sorghum x sudangrass Summer annual, hay, silage, grazing, can cause prussic acid and nitrate poisoning
Sudangrass Summer annual, hay, silage, grazing, can cause prussic acid and nitrate poisoning
Tall fescue Well adapted to Virginia, most important cool-season grass, infected with endophyte that produces toxins which are harmful to livestock
Vetch, Crown Perennial used in reclamation and roadside stabilization
Recommended
Bluestem, Big Native grass, grazing, hay, wildlife plantings, difficult to establish
Bluestem, Caucasian Warm-season perennial, grazing and hay, does best on fine textured soils, can be difficult to establish
Bluestem, Little Native warm-season grass, grazing, hay, and wildlife plantings, can be difficult to establish
Indiangrass Native warm-season grass, grazing, hay, and wildlife plantings, can be difficult to establish
Ryegrass, Annual Provides late fall and early spring grazing, hay, silage, pasture, high quality
Soybean Newly-developed tall varieties have great potential to provide forage during the summer.
Switchgrass Native warm-season grass, grazing, hay, and wildlife plantings, can be difficult to establish
Triticale Small grain, cross between wheat and rye, grain, hay, pasture and silage
Turnip, Forage Late fall and early winter grazing, rapid growth in the fall, very high quality
Vetch, Hairy Hay, silage, winter cover, can be a pest in small grains
Experimental
Canola/Rapeseed Pre-flowering foliage has considerable potential as a forage.
Chickpea A cool-season food legume. Foliage can be harvested to provide excellent quality forage. Cutting stimulates growth that can be harvest for grain.
Clover, Kura Long-lived perennial clover that spreads via rhizomes, tolerates close and frequent grazing
Crabgrass Summer annual that acts like a perennial through reseeding, highly palatable, high nutritive value, hay, silage, and grazing
Kenaf A relative of cotton and okra. Has great potential to provide forage during the summer. Up o four cuttings could be harvested in a single season. Crude protein content comparable to that of alfalfa. It is advisable to grow only broad-leafed varieties because the leaves of narrow-leaf varieties can be mistaken for marijuana.
Lupin Above-ground biomass of sweet (alkaloid-free) cultivars has the potential to provide forage during April. May regrow to allow grain harvest.
Pigeonpea A summer legume crop. Can be harvested when young as a forage.
Not Recommended
Birdsfoot trefoil Short-lived perennial with ability to reseed, not well adapted to southside of Virginia
Clover, Sweet Biennial, deep taproot, hay, silage, pasture, poorly cured hay can cause hemorrhaging
Kudzu Commonly considered a weed, highly palatable and very nutritious, can be used as pasture, hay and erosion control
Quackgrass Commonly considered a weed, forms a dense sod, used for pasture and reclamation
Ryegrass, Perennial Hay silage, grazing, does not persist well in Virginia
Smooth bromegrass Hay and grazing, not well adapted to Virginia
Timothy Primarily hay, not well adapted to southside of Virginia, does better in northern and western Virginia