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vetch weed seed

Adapted to a range of soil types from sandy loams to clays of moderate fertility. Prefers neutral to alkaline soils.

For early feed/grazing obviously an early (mid April- May) sowing time is needed, especially in lower rainfall areas. Dry matter production is significantly reduced if sowing is delayed to mid June (for southern Australia). Sown at the same spacing as cereals; 17-19cm between rows, and 3-5cm deep.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

In crop mixtures with cereals or rye grass, varieties of these crops have to be chosen to mature at the same time as the vetch crop. Cereal machines are recommended for cutting and bailing.

This species can be used as a pasture plant, hay/silage, bird seed and green manuring crop. Plant establishment is much slower than common vetches (in 10-12 weeks reaching 10-15cm high). This variety in Australian conditions grows rapidly during the second part of vegetation and generally is similar in dry matter production to Blanchefleur and Languedoc, higher than Rasina, and lower than Morava.

For hay/silage use the best time to cut vetches is the flowering stage before pod set, this gives the best balance between yield and quality. Hay should not be made if there is pod set as the seed is toxic to ruminants.

Narrow leaf vetch (Vicia sativa) is a winter annual weed in the legume family.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson University

Vetch has purple flowers and produces green bean-like seed pods.
Jackie Jordan, ©2019, Clemson University


The weed has a tap root that breaks easily, making it difficult to remove when weeding by hand. Mulch is not very effective in preventing vetch from becoming established in landscape beds, and pre-emergent herbicides do not offer very effective control. If this weed has invaded your landscape, use a digging tool to remove as much of the root system as possible. Remove as much of the weed as possible before seed production begins.

Narrowleaf vetch (Vicia sativa) is a common winter annual weed in the legume family, and it fixes its own nitrogen from the atmosphere. This plant has been grown since Roman times for livestock fodder and as a cover crop.

There are post-emergent herbicides labeled for control in the lawn and landscape beds. For more information on herbicide recommendations, see: HGIC 2301, Broadleaf Weeds.