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Austrian Winter Peas - Farm Uses

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Pisum sativum subsp. arvense
Austrian Winter PeasAUSTRIAN WINTER PEA SEED produces a cool season, annual legume that is often used on farms, especially organic farms, as a rotational cover crop to re-build the soil, naturally. As fuel prices and consumer awareness rise, farmers are more inclined to let nature do it's job by planning and planting crops that work together to replenish depleted soils or to avoid depleting perfectly good soil. Austrian winter peas can provide from 90 to 150 lbs of natural nitrogen per acre of land. Austrian winter peas are a staple crop in sustainable agriculture and livestock operations. Read more about sustainable agriculture & live stock operations in our resource section below.

These winter peas accomplish their nitrogen fixing as other legumes, by pulling the nitrogen from the air around them converting this nitrogen into a plant form of nitrogen, and depositing this plant formed nitrogen into the soil with the help of rhizobium bacteria that occur naturally in healthy soils.

Austrian winter peas can produce a moderate amount of dry matter that is used for grazing, hay, or as a green manure crop for other agricultural crops. Cattle, sheep, and white-tail deer love austrian winter peas and they are full of essential nutrients. Forage from winter pea is also used to make silage.

Planting Austrian Winter Pea Seed

Austrian Winter Pea seed should be inoculated with the Rhizobium bacteria (inoculant) prior to planting. This helps produce nodules for nitrogen fixation. Austrian winter pea is generally a fall seeded cover crop that can be used for grazing, hay or as a green manure. The peas are seeded in September to October. However, if exposed to long periods of sub-zero weather without snow cover, there may be winterkill of the stand. It can also be grown as a spring seeded summer annual sown as early as possible in the spring. Austrian winter pea has good nitrogen fixing capabilities and fits into a rotation from wheat to sorghum.

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Austrian Winter Pea Quick Facts

  • Austrian Winter Peas are used as a cover crop, green manure crop, hay crop, silage, grazing, etc.
  • Need well-drained soil
  • Does not tolerate acid soils
  • Can be mixed with other annuals -- cereals or ryegrass
  • Large seed and easy to establish in tilled soil
  • Primarily as a cover crop, provides high quality forage for livestock & deer.
  • Adds Nitrogen to soil and provides winter erosion control.
  •  High quality nutrition similar to White Clover.
  • Not suited to heavy grazing because of livestock damage from trampling. Excellent for wild game food plots and as a plow down green manure crop.
  • Austrian Winter Peas are not tolerant of soils with low pH.
  • Long periods of sub-zero weather without snow cover will cause winterkill of Austrian Winter Peas.
  • Areas of Adaptation: Originally established in the southeastern USA as far north & west as Oklahoma and into the coastal regions of Washington and Oregon. Austrian Winter peas are also grown in the Palouse (parts of southeastern Washington, north central Idaho extending south into northeast Oregon) areas of Idaho, Washington and Oregon
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Planting Austrian Winter Peas

  • Seeding Rate: 30 to 40 lb./acre
  • Planting Dates: September - October
  • Planting Method: Well prepared, firm seed bed, alone or with a small grain or ryegrass.
  • Planting Depth: 1/2 inch deep.

Other Winter Forages: Brown Top Millet, Hybrid Pearl Millet, Sorghum, Sudangrass.

Resources About Austrian Winter Peas

Please find below excellent publications we located to provide you with more information about Austrian Winter Peas. These publications are in PDF format so you will need adobe acrobat to read them and they will open in a new window.

Sustainable Agriculture with Austrian Winter Peas

Sustainable Pasture, Rangeland & Grazing Management

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