The third option PAm offers is not a mix, but a single species – Lana Vetch- sometimes called Woollypod Vetch. Vetch, like clover, has nitrogen fixation properties and can easily add nitrogen at a rate of 100 pounds per acre. This cover crop is also good at weed suppression and erosion prevention. Of note to orchardists is vetch’s ability to protect almond trees against frost. Keeping a thick stand of vetch before the blossom stage can prolong the dormant period of your trees by up to 10 days. This reduces the risk of early frost damage during a year with cold spring temperatures.
Species 98% Lana Vetch, Vicia villosa
Seed Rate: 25 lbs. per acre broadcast method 15 lbs. per acre drill method
Ground Prep: The best method for planting is direct seeding with drill equipment. If broadcast seeding is the only option then a good, fine seed bed is desirable since most of the seeds are very small like alfalfa. Ideally the soil should be disked, cultipacked with a ring roller, planted and rolled a second time. If using a no-till drill the only preparation may be the application of a grass specific herbicide to control unwanted weeds.
Planting Methods: Use a grain drill, no till drill, broadcaster, or even a hand-held broadcaster on small areas to evenly distribute the seed. No fertilizer needed. If able to irrigate, ensure the root zone has available water until the roots reach 6” depth.
Plant: After Sept. 10th through Nov. 10th, while soil is still warm (above 55⁰). Sow before first rains. Plant no more than 1/8” to 1/4” deep. Between bearing or newly established orchard trees, on orchard margins, waterways and fallow ground.
Emergence/Visible: 10 days
Bloom: Mid- to- late March and into May.
Management: It should be allowed to grow into May and June so that it both set seeds and provide the longest bloom possible. Thereafter, it can be mowed, disked and killed. To encourage reseeding, do not chip or disk but roll to push seeds into ground.