Minor Cool Season Annuals

Hop Clover

Hop clover is a small, fine-stemmed winter annual that grows best on upland soils. It reseeds readily and furnishes some grazing in late winter and early spring. Seed are not commercially available, but it volunteers in many pastures. Yields are usually quite low and it contributes relatively little biologically-fixed N to the soil.


Several annual medics, including black medic, are commonly found in forage systems in Georgia. Like hop clover, they are rarely planted intentionally. Medics are excellent reseeders, thus they usually are volunteers that fill into thin areas of the pasture. The yields of most medics are less than one-third that of other winter annual legumes. Southern or spotted burclover (a type of medic) grows in late winter and spring, but animals generally do not readily graze burclover once it begins to mature. Burclover produces seed in abundance and reseeds readily. The burclovers have not been used extensively in Georgia because of poor yields.

Persian Clover

Persian clover is quite productive during a short growing season. Despite being a relatively low-yielding cool season annual legume, persian clover performs well under close grazing. It tolerates poor drainage and soil acidity down to pH 5.5, but it has a high bloat potential. Its pink seed head produces a fair amount of hard seed and it has the potential for good reseeding.

Dr. Dennis Hancock
Forage Extension Specialist
Crop & Soil Sciences Dept.

Lupine (or Lupin)

Lupines are best adapted to sandy loam and loamy sand soils. Since they generally are not cold hardy, they should not be planted north of the lower Piedmont region. Lupines were used relatively extensively prior to World War II as a supply of nitrogen for cotton in the Coastal Plain region. Lupine grows slowly in fall and winter, but grows vigorously in the spring. Plants will flower from late March – early April. The relatively short productive season limits lupine's use in forage programs. Lupines also commonly contain bitter alkaloids that make them less palatable to livestock than most legumes, but low-alkaloid “sweet” varieties are available that are suitable for forage use.