Forage Brassicas


While not always thought of as a cover crop, turnips often double as a forage and cover crop, usually being mixed with small grains like oats and triticale. Some varieties, like Winfred, are very flexible, working well both as a summer annual during the hot, droughty summer months and as a fall planted cover crop that can withstand frosty winter conditions. Spring planted Winfred shows very good regrowth after being cut or grazed. In extreme drought, Winfred will usually go dormant like a forage sorghum, waiting for moisture.

Planted in the early fall, turnips provide a massive amount of dry matter that helps suppress weeds, control erosion, and can be stockpiled for winter forage.


  • Upright growth, not a bulb type
  • Plant in spring or early fall
  • Slower growth, 8-12 weeks
  • Winter hardy to -5° F
  • Stays green after frost, maintaining leaf integrity
  • Most drought tolerant
  • Works as a biofumigant

Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Hunter Rape

  • Vigorous regrowth
  • Very leafy with no bulb
  • Quick growth: 6-8 weeks to first grazing; good choice for multiple grazings
  • Cold tolerant to 18° F

Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Brassicas have a deep root system that allows them to stay green longer than most summer cover crops. These taproots pull up and recycle nutrients that are too deep for crop roots, loosening the soil and providing channels for air, water, and crop roots.

This family of forage can be grazed, but not easily mechanically harvested.


Plant 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. Rate is 4-6 lbs/A straight or 2-4 lbs/A in mixes.

Barsica Forage Rape

  • Improved fall growth
  • Very leafy

Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Barnapoli Forage Rape

  • Good regrowth
  • Excellent for sheep

Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Barkant Turnips

  • High bulb yield with vigorous top growth
  • 8-10 weeks to first grazing
  • Up to 4-6 tons DM yield
  • Cold tolerant to 20° F

Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6