Michigan State University
Michigan Cover Crop Species
Clovers and Medic - Oilseed Radish -Buckwheat
Cowpea - Austrian Winter Pea - Hairy Vetch - Sorghum Sudangrass

Below is a selection of cover crops that are used in various systems in Michigan. There are also links to research out of state that would be valuable resources in aiding cover crop decisions.

crimson clover in wheatClovers and Medic:

  • Red Clover Overview of use, establishment and management of red clovers in Michigan.
  • Crimson Clover Overview of benefits, establishment and how crimson clover can be integrated into crop rotations.
  • Annual medics (Medicago spp.) are legumes closely related to alfalfa. They are true annuals flowering, setting seed and dying within one growing season (60 to 100 days). There are more than 35 known species of annual medics, all of which have their origins in the Mediterranean region.

Oilseed Radish:

oilseed radish
  • Oilseed Radish Overview of benefits, establishment and management of oilseed radish.
  • Oilseed Radish: A New Cover Crop for Michigan (PDF) A bulletin to help farmers manage oilseed radish cover crops in order to optimize those benefits and the efficiency of their farming systems. This publication summarizes results of studies conducted at the Michigan State University W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and the MSU Muck Research Farm, and in on-farm demonstrations. MSU Extension Bulletin E 2907.
  • Manure Slurry-enriched Seeding of Biosuppressive Cover Crops(PDF)This article provides an update of on-going work by MSU researchers Tim Harrigan, Dale Mutch and Sieglinde Snapp in developing a manure application method that effectively incorporates cover crop seeding, manure application and low-disturbance aeration tillage.
  • Oilseed Radish Variety Trial (PDF)  Evaluation of four oilseed radish varieties for seeding rate, leaf and root biomass, and population. An on-farm research demonstration.
  • Effects of Nitrogen on Oilseed Radish (PDF) Evaluation of the influence of nitrogen on the growth of two oilseed radish varieties. An on-farm research demonstration.


  • A comprehensive discussion of buckwheat, including its history, uses, growth habits and more.
  • General information on buckwheat from Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  • A complete guide to buckwheat as a cover crop, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario, Canada.


  • Cowpea Production:Sample Costs and Benefits as a Summer Cover Crop. Presentations of production costs and benefit analyses for cowpeas, based on the results of trials conducted by University of California researchers in the Coachella Valley in 1998.

Austrian Winter Peas:

  • Austrian Winter Peas A general overview of Austrian winter pea as a cover crop, from the Kansas Rural Center Sustainable Agriculture Management Guides.
  • Austrian Winter Pea A brief description of Austrian winter pea, from the Montana State University Forage Extension Program.

hairy vetchHairy Vetch:

  • Hairy Vetch as a Cover Crop An overview of hairy vetch as a cover crop, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
  • Cover Crops: Hairy Vetch A complete guide to hairy vetch as a cover crop, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario, Canada.


  • Sudangrass and Sorghum-Sudangrass Hybrids Comprehensive review of sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids as cover crops, from Washington State University Cooperative Extension.
  • Forage Sorghum-Sudan Grass A complete guide to sorghum and sudangrass as cover crops, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario, Canada.


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