Common Vetch

Summary

Common Name

This species is called common vetch, spring vetch, or Oregon vetch (Goar, 1934; Madson, 1951; see: Hermann, 1960; Duke, 1981).

Scientific Name

Vicia sativa L. (Hermann, 1960; Duke, 1971). Some researchers consider this species to also comprise as a subspecies Vicia angustifolia Reichard, also known as Vicia sativa L. ssp. nigra (L.) Ehrh., narrowleaf or blackpod vetch.

Cultivar

Cultivars include 'Willamette,' 'Pearl,' 'Doark,' 'Warrior,' 'Blanchegraine,' 'Vedoc,' 'Obrazet,' 'Nora II,' 'Vanguard,' 'Cahaba White,' and 'Vantage' are hybrids of Vicia sativa X Vicia cordata (Duke, 1981).

Seed Description

Seeds are globose or somewhat compressed, 3 to 5 mm in diameter, smooth, dull or velvety, greenish gray to maroon or black, rarely yellowish white; hilum narrow, encircling 1/6 to 1/5 of the seed (Hermann, 1960). According to Goar (1934), there are several subspecies of common vetch all varying considerably as to size and color of seed; the most important of these subspecies and the one most commonly used in California has relatively large gray seeds mottled with a darker color.

Seedling Description

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Mature Plant Description

Duke (1981) termed the plant an annual herb. Hermann (1960) described this species as a glabrescent annual; stems are slender, angled, simple or branched below, up to a meter long, erect-ascending or climbing; leaves with 8 to 16 leaflets terminating in a branched tendril; leaflets oblong to elliptic or obovate, 1.5 to 3.5 cm long, 5 to 15 mm wide, truncate to emarginate and mucronate at the apex; stipules semisagittate, usually sharply serrate, the lower surface bearing a purplish nectary; flowers mostly paired in the upper axils, subsessile, 1.8 to 3 cm long, violet-purple or rarely white; calyx 10 to 15 mm long, the tube campanulate, 5 to 7 mm long, the teeth subequal, linear-subulate, 3 to 9 mm long, the three lower ones bearing a conspicuous yellowish-brown nectary on the outer face; pod nearly cylindrical to somewhat compressed, torulose, 2.5 to 7 cm long, 5 to 8 mm wide, brown, 4- to 12- seeded.

According to Madson (1951), the herbage is usually smooth or with little pubescence. The flowers are quite large, blue or bluish purple or bicolored and are borne without a stem in the axis of the leaf. Only a few flowers are present in each raceme. Leaves are compound, made up of several pairs of leaflets, but without a terminal leaflet.

Goar (1934) mentioned that the leaflets have a pinched-off appearance, with the midrib extended. Usually there are seven pairs of leaflets with a terminal tendril. The violet-purple flowers are borne in pairs on very short stalks. The stems and leaves are relatively smooth (not hairy).

Temperature

Common vetch is suitable in areas with mild winters and often winter kills in the northern part of the cotton belt; it does well in western Oregon and Washington (Duke, 1981). Madson (1951) listed the species as moderately resistant to cold and adapted to about the same conditions as purple vetch; it is slightly more cold resistant, but it does not grow as rapidly during the winter. Duke (1981) listed the species as tolerating mean annual temperatures of from 5.6-22.5 degrees C, (mean of 74 cases=12.2), and cv 'Willamette' and ssp. amphicarpa are mentioned as having special cold tolerance.

Goar (1934) stated that common vetch will withstand temperatures as low as 10 F above zero with little or no injury. Since it quickly succumbs in hot weather, it should be planted in the fall and harvested in the spring. Its rate of growth during the winter months is intermediate. In cold weather, it makes more growth than hairy vetch, but less than purple (Goar, 1934).

Geographic Range

The primary center of diversity is the Near East from Boreal Moist to West through Subtropical Thorn to Moist Forest Life Zones. This species is widespread as an escape from cultivation in the temperate parts of the world. Common in roadsides of the U.S. Vicia angustifolia may be the ancestral species (Duke, 1981). Munz (1973) mentioned that common vetch is naturalized in waste places west of the Sierra Nevada. Common vetch is suitable in areas with mild winters and often winter kills in the northern part of the cotton belt; it does well in western Oregon and Washington (Duke, 1981).

Water

Tolerates from 3.1 to 16.3 dm of precipitation, with the mean of 74 cases being 8.0 (Duke 1981). Based on the account by Goar (1934), in areas where rains are late, common vetch may require pre-irrigation about October 1. On soils of good moisture-holding capacity in the Central Valley, common vetch often requires no additional irrigation. After rains cease, an irrigation in April is sometimes necessary. On lighter soils in the Central Valley, three to five irrigations may be necessary to produce a good yield. In the coastal and foothill areas, rainfall alone usually suffices.

Nutrients

Liming may be useful, but in excess is injurious (Duke, 1981).

Soil pH

Common vetch tolerates pH of from 4.5-8.2, with the mean for 71 cases being 6.5; excess lime is injurious. It is said to be tolerant of low pH (Duke, 1981).

Soil Type

Goar (1934) stated that common vetch is adapted to a wide range of soil conditions, doing best on the fine-textured clay and clay-loam soils, but also performing well on sandy loam and even on somewhat gravelly soils. According to Duke (1981), common vetch does best on loams, sandy loams or gravelly soil. Madson (1951) specified loam soils as optimal. Good drainage is essential (Goar, 1934).

Shade Tolerance

No specific information is available on its shade tolerance, but common vetch has done well as an understory cover crop in Californian prune, walnut, and pear orchards, and in vineyards (Bugg, pers. comm.).

Salinity Tolerance

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Herbicide Sensitivity

No specific information is available on herbicide tolerance of common vetch, but blackpod or narrowleaf vetch (Vicia angustifolia Reichard or Vicia sativa L. ssp. nigra L. Ehrh.), which is regarded by some as a form of common vetch, is tolerant of the pre-emergence herbicide simazine (Meagher and Meyer, 1990).

Life Cycle

In coastal Oregon , common vetch may be spring sown (Duke, 1981), but in most areas it is fall sown (Bugg, pers. comm.). Duke (1981) listed its flowering period as July through September and its seed as being ripened from August through October. Munz (1973) listed common vetch as flowering from April through July in California.

Seeding Rate

Goar (1934) recommended 74 lbs/acre to obtain 12 vetch seeds per square foot, or 522,720 seeds per acre. Madson (1951) and Miller et al. (1989) suggested 60 to 75 lbs/acre.

Seeding Depth

Depth of seeding can range from 1.5 to 2.5 inches according to moisture conditions (Goar, 1934).

Seeding Method

On pre-irrigated land, seed should by drilled deep enough to contact moist soil. It can be planted 2 in or more in depth. Late plantings should be shallower (Madson, 1951).

Drilling is the best method because it distributes the seeds more evenly and places them at a more uniform depth in the soil; the result is better germination and stand. If no grain drill is available, the seed may be broadcast (Goar, 1934).

The seedbed for vetches should be firm but well prepared. In dry-land sections, summer-fallowed land should be worked lightly after the first rains in the fall to destroy the first flush of weed seedlings and prepare the seedbed. In areas where rains are late, common vetch may require pre-irrigation about October 1, followed by disking or spring-tooth harrowing and rolling, floating, or otherwise smoothing the surface in time to plant the vetch by October 15 (Goar, 1934).

Seeding Dates

Goar (1934) stated that seeding should be done in the fall; in the interior valleys the proper time is October or November. If the crop is to be used for both pasture and hay, the date should be not later than October 20. In the coastal region and in the foothill sections, planting may be safely delayed. In Marin and Alameda counties, plantings made in December and January 1 have succeeded. In unirrigated areas seeding may be delayed until rains occur. If weeds are not abundant, the seeding may be done in the "dust", as was done at Ahwahnee.

Madson (1951) wrote that seeding may be from October through November. Except in coastal areas, common vetch should be seeded on pre-irrigated land not later than November 1st.

Inoculation

Common vetch requires "Special Culture 2 for Vetch." (Duke, 1981), whereas Vicia sativa ssp. nigra (also known as narrowleaf vetch or blackpod vetch, Vicia angustifolia) requires inoculant type "C" (Duke, 1981). Apparently, type "C" can also work for common vetch (Hanna, R., pers. comm.).

Seed Cost

Seed of common vetch usually costs less than that of 'Lana' woolypod vetch.

Seed Availability

Common vetch seed is widely available; The Southern Seedsmen's Association (1992) listed 19 suppliers, including 9 from Oregon.

Days to Flowering

Duke (1981) listed the flowering period of common vetch as July through September and its seed as being ripened from August through October. Munz (1973) listed Vicia sativa as flowering from April through July in California, and Vicia angustifolia as flowering from April through June.

Days to Maturity

Duke (1981) common vetch ripened seed from August through October. In California, ripening probably occurs from May through July (Bugg, pers. comm.)

Seed Production

Duke (1981) stated that world production of seed averaged 0.997 Mg/ha; highest yields were obtained in Yugoslavia: 3.020 Mg/ha. Abd El Monem et al. (1990) reported that in Syria, rainfed common vetch yielded as follows: selection 2541, 2.31 and 2.37 Mg/ha; selection 2037, 0.98 and 1.28; and selection 2020, 1.18 and 0.93 Mg/ha.

Seed Storage

There is no specific information on this subject.

Growth Habit

Duke (1981) described the species as a straggling or ascending robust annual herb. There is moderate density of growth; growth habit is similar to that of purple vetch (Madson, 1951).

Maximum Height

Plants of this variety grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet or more, according to Goar (1934), but Bugg (pers. comm.) remarked that the species will only attain such a height if supported by rye or some other tall companion crop. In monocultural plots in Hopland, Mendocino County, California, height was 54.61+/-3.02 cm (Mean +/- S.E.M.) (21.5 +/- 1.19 inches) (Bugg et al., unpublished data).

Root System

Common vetch taproots can extend 3-5 ft deep (Brinton, 1989).

Kutschera (1960) reported that common vetch generally roots to a depth of over 80 cm.

Establishment

There is no specific information on this subject.

Maintenance

Common vetch is said to tolerate frost, fungus, grazing, high and low pH , insects, nematodes, virus, and weeds (Duke, 1981). Being insect pollinated, its seed production benefits from nearby bee hives (Duke, 1981).

Mowing

Inasmuch as common vetch tolerates grazing (Duke, 1981), it presumably can tolerate mowing as well. It has fared well in prune and pear orchards where high mowing is practiced (Bugg, pers. comm.).

Incorporation

As a green manure, common vetch is easily incorporated using disk harrow; presumably, full flower is the proper phenological stage for plow-down (Bugg, pers. comm.).

Harvesting

Common vetch is best for hay when cut in full bloom. Vetch leaves dry much faster than the stems, so it must be handled rapidly in the field or leaves will be lost to shattering (Goar, 1934).

Equipment

Flail and rotary mowers are more reliable than sicklebar mowers especially if vetch is matted or wet (Bugg, pers. comm.).

Uses

According to Goar (1934), when properly cured, this variety makes good quality hay. In a mixture with oat, rye, or barley, it affords pasturage in the late winter and early spring. If sufficient moisture is available and the stock is removed in March, hay can be harvested in May. Vetch should not be grazed too closely if subsequent hay is desired. Calves and sheep apparently do the least damage in grazing vetch.

Common vetch makes excellent pasture or silage. (Duke, 1981).

Mixtures

Goar (1934) remarked that when used for forage or cover cropping, vetches and peas are usually interseeded with cereals, which will support the legume. Oat is most commonly used, although rye, wheat, or barley are occasionally preferred by growers. Vetch or Austrian winter peas are good in mixtures with oat in California because they mature at the same time.

In California, common vetch is often grown in mixtures with oat, hairy vetch, and field pea for cover cropping in both annual and perennial farming systems. The oat supplies windblown pollen during April and May, and bird cherry - oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi during March and April; these are used as food by some beneficial arthropods. Common vetch harbors pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum and cowpea aphid (Aphis craccivora) and has extrafloral nectaries (on the stipules) that attract various beneficial predatory and parasitic insects, as well as certain pests, like Lygus hesperus (Bugg, pers. comm.).

Various legumes in the tribe Vicieae (peas, lentils, and vetches) contain Beta-(3-isoxazolinonyl) alanine which is released into soil as a root exudate, and apparently is an allelopathic compound. This chemical can cause reduced growth in seedlings of various grasses and of lettuce. Pea was only slightly affected. (Schenk and Werner, 1991).

In Cyprus, monocultures of oat (Avena sativa, cv 'Mulga') or triticale yielded more dry matter and digestible organic matter than did bicultures involving these cereals in combination with common vetch (Vicia sativa) or pea (Pisum sativum). Yields of mixtures did exceed those of monocultures of the relevant legumes. Digestibility and crude protein content were highest in mixtures of peas and triticale. There appears little incentive for farmers to grow mixtures of annual legumes and small-grained cereals for forage production (Droushiotis, 1989).

Biomass

Duke (1981) summarized above-ground dry matter yields of various researchers, including figures of 5.6 ('26866'), 7.9 ('16642'), 6.8 ('Blanchegraine'), and 6.4 ('Vedoc') (cultivars given in parentheses). Mean dry weight of a three-year field trial in Georgia was 4.30 Mg/ha (Hargrove, 1986). Dry matter yields (Mg/ha) obtained in individual studies were given by Smith et al. (1987) as: 5.0, 3.7, 4.3. In Hopland, Mendocino County, California, common vetch produced 8.9+/-0.95 Mg/ha, Mean +/- S.E.M.; including weeds, biomass was 9.2+/-0.7 (Mg/ha, Mean +/- S.E.M.) (Bugg et al., unpublished data).

Abd El Monem et al. (1990) reported that in Syria rainfed common vetch (selection 2541) at 102, 118 132, and 145 days after planting (D.A.P.) yielded 1.38, 3.47, 3.93, and 4.74 Mg/ha of dry matter during 1986-87. During 1987-88 at 115, 130, 144, and 163 D.A.P. the corresponding figures were 2.46, 4.31, 5.67, and 6.54. The corresponding yields for selection 2037 were 1.22, 2.78, 3.79, 4.33, 2.15, 3.80, 5.86, and 7.69. For selection 2020, the corresponding yields were 0.90, 2.18, 3.41, 3.61, 1.81, 3.00, 4.86, and 5.30. To summarize, maximum biomass yields were obtained around 145-163 D.A.P, and those yields were 4.74 and 6.54 Mg/ha for selection 2541; 4.33 and 7.69 Mg/ha for selection 2037; and 3.61 and 5.30 for selection 2020 Mg/ha. Rainfed woollypod vetch attained maximum biomass yield at 20-50% podding. By contrast, common vetch attained maximum biomass at maturity.

N Contribution

Aboveground nitrogen content was 134 kg/ha in the sole study reviewed by Smith et al. (1987); estimated N fertilizer equvalence of common vetch under no-tillage regimes was, when followed by sorghum, 30-83 kg/ha.

Alzueta et al. (1995) reported from Spain that field drying of common vetch hay led to dry matter losses of 40g/kg and 31g/kg in successive years. Concentrations of non-structural carbon and non-protein nitrogen increased, indicating some decomposition occurred. In the discussion, the authors indicated that proteolysis is highly variable in hay drying, and may impact from 0-40% of protein-N. Breakdown of protein leads to formation of free amino acids, and, under adverse conditions, to amides.

Non-N Nutrient Contribution

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Effects on Water

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Effects on Microclimate

No specific information is available on effects on microclimate by common vetch. In vineyards, common vetch is less likely to ascend trellises than is 'Lana' woolypod vetch (Rick Miller, R.L. Bugg, pers. comm.); the former may be preferable if this lowers the level of the boundary layer and lessens the threat of frost damage (Rick Miller, pers. comm.).

Effects on Soil

Common vetch is widely used as a soil-improving cover crop or green manure (Duke, 1981).

Effects on Livestock

Common vetch makes excellent pasture or silage; seeds contain several toxic principles (Duke, 1981).

Effects on Workers

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Pest Effects, Insects

In California, common vetch is often grown in mixtures with oat, hairy vetch, and field pea for cover cropping in both annual and perennial farming systems. The oat supplies windblown pollen during April and May, and bird cherry - oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi during March and April; these are used as food by some beneficial arthropods. Common vetch harbors pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum and cowpea aphid (Aphis craccivora) and has extrafloral nectaries (on the stipules) that attract various beneficial predatory and parasitic insects, as well as certain pests such as Lygus hesperus (Bugg, pers. comm.).

In southern Georgia, blackpod or narrowleaf vetch (Vicia angustifolia or Vicia sativa ssp. nigra) volunteers in the understories of pecan orchards and can harbor substantial densities of pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and cowpea aphid (Aphis craccivora) and associated lady beetles. It may prove useful in efforts to enhance biological control in pecans (Bugg et al., 1989 and 1991b).

Bugg et al. (1991b) grew cool-season cover crops relay intercropped with spring-planted cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus Seringe). Of eight cover-crop regimes tested, a subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L. cv 'Mt. Barker') and a hybrid vetch (Vicia sativa L. X V. cordata Wulf cv 'Vantage') harbored especially-high densities of the generalist predator Geocoris punctipes (Say) (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae) amid cover crops, their residues, or weeds; on or near cantaloupe plants; and on or near sentinel egg masses of fall armyworm, Spodoptera furgiperda (J. E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) pinned to cantaloupe leaves. Absolute responses were highest for the plots of subterranean clover. Among those regimes attaining good stands of cover crops, numbers of G. punctipes per sentinel egg mass were significantly greater for the subterranean clover regime than for rye, crimson clover, polyculture, but not than 'Vantage' vetch. Rye was particularly poor habitat for G. punctipes.

Bugg et al. (1990a) found that Lygus spp., which are important pests of field, row, and orchard crops, were exceptionally abundant on the hybrid vetches 'Cahaba White' and 'Vantage', both of which derive from the cross Vicia sativa L. X V. cordata Wulf and thus include common vetch in their parentage. Both hybrid vetches feature stipular extrafloral nectaries at which Lygus frequently fed. Various Vespidae (Hymenoptera) were also often observed feeding at the stipular extrafloral nectaries of 'Cahaba White' and 'Vantage', as were the following Ichneumonidae: Eutanyacra melanotaris Heinrich, Vulgichneumon brevicinctor (Say), and Woldstedtius flavolineatus (Gravenhorst).

Bugg et al. (1990b) found especially-high densities of tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris [Palisot de Beauvois]) during April and early May. They attained relatively-high densities on hybrid vetches (cv 'Cahaba White' or 'Vantage'), lower levels on crimson clover and lentil, and particularly-low densities on 'Mt. Barker' subterranean clover. Low densities were also obtained on 10 other varieties of subterranean clover. Late-instar and adult tarnished plant bug lived longer when caged on crimson clover than on hybrid vetch, which in turn supported better survival than did subterranean clover. When adult tarnished plant bug were caged on hybrid vetch or subterranean clover with or without floral and fruiting structures, there was no evidence that the presence of these structures prolonged tarnished plant bug survival on either crop. In choice tests with flowering and fruiting sprigs of three cover crops, tarnished plant bug preferred crimson clover over hybrid vetch, which in turn was more attractive than subterranean clover. When sprigs were presented after reproductive structures had been excised, there was no statistically-significant preference by tarnished plant bug.

Results of the survival and choice experiments do not explain why tarnished plant bug was typically more abundant on hybrid vetches than on crimson clover. Early-instar tarnished plant bug nymphs may find the extrafloral nectar of the vetches more accessible than the floral nectar of crimson clover. Such an effect on early-instar nymphs could have led to the observed differences in densities. Subterranean clovers appear to provide both a less-attractive and less-favorable habitat for Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois) than either crimson clover or the hybrid vetches. Preferred use of subterranean clovers in rotation or as interplants might reduce tarnished plant bug in agroecosystems.

Meagher and Meyer (1990) reported that in North Carolina, narrowleaf vetch, Vicia angustifolia (sometimes regarded as a subspecies of common vetch, V. sativa ssp. angustifolia), dominates the undertstories of peach orchards in which Simizine is applied. Where vetch is dominant, infestations of spider mites tend to be exacerbated. The authors indicate that the lack of other later-maturing hosts may predispose for migration of the spider mites into trees.

In southern Oregonian pear orchards, Flexner et al. (1990) found that certain understory weeds can harbor high densities of twospotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae). This mite is mainly a secondary pest and a creature of pesticide-disrupted or stressed agroecosystems. Among the plant species suitable for use as cover crops, vetch appeared particularly prone to outbreaks of the mite. Use of herbicides led to increased movement by mites into trees.

Pest Effects, Nematodes

Gallaher et al. (1988), working in Florida, evaluated nematode accumulation on and damage to hairy vetch and four vetch cultivars derived form hybridization with common vetch ('Vantage', 'Cahaba White', 'Vanguard', and 'Nova II') using tillage and no-till regimes preceding corn or sorghum. The soil type was sandy loam. Densities of Meloidogyne incognita were much higher on hairy vetch than on any of the vetches derived from common vetch. Criconemella ornata attained relatively-high densities on 'Vantage', 'Cahaba White', and 'Vanguard.' Pratylenchus brachyurus and Paratrichodorus minor reached statistically-similar densities on all five vetches. Root gall index was highest for hairy vetch. Numbers of Pratylenchus brachyurus per 10 g of roots were particularly high for 'Cahaba White', and 'Vanguard.' Tillage regime had little effect on nematode densities, but ring nematode did occur at significantly-higher densities under no-till management.

Ball and Gray (1980) reported that cvv 'Cahaba White.' 'Nova II,' 'Vanguard,' and 'Vantage,' all hybrid vetches that include common vetch in ther parentages, were resistant to Meloidogyne javanica, M. incognita, and Hederodera glycine, but susceptible to Meloidogyne arenaria and M. hapla.

Guertal et al. (1998) reported on replicated greenhouse pot and field studies in Alabama on the effects of winter-annual cover crops on southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne arenaria) and reniform nematode (Rotylenchulus reniformis), two plant-parasitic species. In the greenhouse pot trial using fine sandy loam soil, hairy vetch showed an increase of reniform nematode density (population index = 1.43 [final nematode density divided by initial nematode density]), common vetch (cv 'Cahaba White') maintained the existing reniform nematode densities (population index = 0.99), and reniform nematode densities were decreased both for cereal rye (population index = 0.37) and no cover crop (control) (population index = 0.08). Final reniform nematode densities for hairy vetch were not significantly different from those for common vetch; both of these, however, differed significantly for final densities for cereal rye and control. The latter two treatments did not differ from one another.

In a field study on fine sandy loam soil in southeastern Alabama, Guertal et al. (1998) reported that densities of southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne arenaria) on okra were significantly increased by preceding winter cover crops of common vetch, hairy vetch, or crimson clover, by comparison with plots lacking cover crops.

Guertal et al. (1998) concluded that the vetches tested are maintenance hosts for reniform nematode (Rotylenchulus reniformis) and should not be grown prior to susceptible cash crops, such as cotton. Cereal rye or bare fallow would be a better choices based on this criterion.

Pest Effects, Diseases

The incidence of cotton root rot has been increased when following common vetch with no-till cotton (Hargrove, 1982).

Pest Effects, Weeds

Schenk and Werner (1991) stated that various legumes in the tribe Vicieae (peas, lentils, and vetches) contain Beta-(3-isoxazolinonyl) alanine, which is released into soil as a root exudate and apparently is an allelopathic compound. This chemical can cause reduced growth in seedlings of various grasses and of lettuce. Pea was only slightly affected.

Bugg et al. (unpublished data) report that in Hopland, Mendocino County, plots sown to common vetch, produced a weed above-ground dry biomass of 0.3+/-0.3 Mg/ha, Mean +/- S.E.M., which was only 6.2% of the weed biomass in unseeded control plots. Dominant weeds were darnel, scarlet pimpernel, common chickweed, and shepherspurse. By early May, vegetational cover by common vetch was 100.00+/-0.00 % Vegetational Cover (Mean +/- S.E.M.).

Pest Effects, Vertebrates

No information is available in this database on this topic.