Vetch Southern Region - GrowNotes™

Published: 1 Feb 2018

Vetch (Vicia spp.) is a winter-growing, multipurpose, annual legume. Vetch is a versatile, high-production, low-input crop used for grazing, forage, green or brown manure, grain for livestock and for seed. Vetch is suited to a wide range of rainfall regions and soil types; and is more tolerant of acid soils than most grain legumes, except for lupin.

Versatile vetch

Unlike other grain crops grown in Australia, vetch is not grown for human consumption. Grain from some species is used for animal feed. The other reasons for growing vetch are to produce seed that can be sown for green manure crops, which fix nitrogen and provide a control option for weeds, or for the production of grazed and conserved forage.

Determining why vetch is being grown is an important starting point in the selection and management of vetch crops.

Key points

  • Vetch is a versatile, high-production, low-input crop
  • It can be used for grazing, forage, green or brown manure, grain for livestock or for seed
  • It is more tolerant of acidic soils than most grain legumes, except lupin
  • It brings many benefits to cropping and mixed-farming rotation, including nitrogen fixation and control options for resistant weeds

Key characteristics

  • Mature plants are erect to 80 cm, with square stems branching from the base resulting in a tangled mass. Stems have longitudinal ridges.
  • Cotyledons do not emerge.
  • Leaf pairing, shape and hairiness vary with variety.
  • Flower from August to November.
  • Flower colour and size varies with variety.
  • Pods are flattened, to 50 mm long and 12 mm wide.
  • Seed colour is light to dark brown, orange to beige when split.
  • Hilum (seed scar) is the same colour as seed coat.

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