Austrian Winter Pea is a cool-season cover crop that fixes significant amounts of nitrogen from the atmosphere. Reports have shown that these winter peas can sequester anywhere from 150 – 300 lbs of nitrogen per acre. Once incorporated into the soil, that nitrogen will become available to the following vegetable planting. Winter peas are also great for erosion control and weed suppression. The dense foliage of the winter pea crop will reduce the amount of water runoff during heavy periods of precipitation. This will also reduce leaching and help to keep soil nutrients in place. The cover crop vegetation will provide dense ground cover which competes with any new weeds that might try to establish. Finally, Austrian Winter Pea helps to break pest and disease cycles to improve the health of future crops.
Austrian Winter Pea should be planted 4-6 weeks before the first frost in fall, giving the crop enough time to develop a solid ground cover before cool temperatures arrive. Winter peas are cold hardy down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and can even withstand some moderate levels of snow cover. They may be planted with a broadcast spreader and covered with a harrow/rake, or they can be planted with a precision planter such as our Hoss Garden Seeder.
As with all cover crops, they should be cut or mowed before going to seed. This will prevent any issues with reseeding in the future. Winter peas will produce colorful flowers that may be white, pink or red. Those flowers will be followed by green seed pods. In addition to mowing, winter peas are also great for livestock grazing. We suggest using chickens, goats or other livestock to remove the cover crop while adding valuable manure during the process.
Austrian Winter Pea Planting Information:
Planting Depth: 1″
Seeding Rate: 2.5 lb per 1,000 sq. ft.
Cover Crop Recommendation Chart