This is the most winter-hardy of the cultivated vetches. It may be grown in most crop producing areas in the U.S. It is adapted to light sandy soils as well as heavier soils, but likes well-drained areas for best production. Does well on hill lands. The plants may be very hairy or nearly hairless; they have purple flowers. Seed shatters badly. Used for cover crop, also suited for silage, winter pasture and hay.
Seeding rate 40 to 45 lbs/acre.
Hairy vetch is a hardy, viny, annual or biennial legume, attaining a height of 24 inches when planted alone and higher when planted with a tall companion crop that provides structural support for climbing.
Thin, branched stems can reach more than 8 feet long. Compound leaves are made up of 8 to 24 paired, narrow leaflets. Leaves terminate with a tendril used for climbing. Despite its name, stems and leaves can be hairy or smooth. Hairy vetch has a taproot that extends 1 to 3 feet deep.
Fall-planted hairy vetch flowers in April and ripens seed in May-June.
Groups of 10 to 40 small, long, blue flowers hang from one side of a long flower stem. Spherical seeds (approximately 28,000/lb) are smaller than common vetch seeds. They develop in small pods and usually are grayish or black. Hairy vetch is hardseeded.