Hero Image

UC SAREP Cover Crops Database

About this Database

Cover crops can be broadly defined as any non-cash crop grown in addition to the primary cash crop.  They have the potential to increase soil organic matter (SOM), protect the soil from erosion, improve soil structure and water infiltration, increase soil fertility, and break pest and disease cycles.  

However, while cover crops have been shown to provide multiple benefits under some conditions, it is important to consider the potential tradeoffs and management considerations of adding a new cover crop or cover crop mixture to a crop rotation. 

There are many species of cover crops that can be grown in California, and a detailed understanding of the unique characteristics of each is needed in order to maximize the potential benefits to the farm system.

In an effort to make information on specific cover crop species available and easily accessible, UC SAREP created the cover crop database, first released in 1999.  The database contains detailed entries for over 40 commonly used cover crop species. For each crop, a summary of key factors is provided, including:

  • Seed, seedling and mature plant descriptions and pictures
  • Ideal temperature and geographic range
  • Soil, water and nutrient considerations
  • Management details including planting and termination dates maintenance issues, mowing, incorporation, harvesting and recommended equipment
  • Common uses
  • Interactions with pests and weeds
  • Potential nutrient and biomass contributions