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Home > SEEDS - Pasture Grass > Legumes > Aeschynomene

(Aeschynomene virginica)
AKA: American Joint vetch or Deer vetch


Aeschynomene is a legume (warm season type) that is a native of the southeastern U. S. and grows well with, and improves grasses.  It is not actually a vetch. Does extremely well in fertile, moist woodland soils and the variety Americana is very palatable to livestock, ducks, quail, dove and deer.   Aeschynomene is commonly know as American joint vetch or deer vetch and is a coarse, reseeding annual legume that is well adapted to wetland, woody soils and grows best in moist fertile soils.  In cooler Northern areas will require annual re-seeding.  Provides high protein grazing for June to Sept period. Suitable for use in moist low-land type soils. 

Planted For: Deer, Ducks, Quail, Dove, Cattle
Planting Rates: Plant 15-20 lbs/acre Hulled
                              Plant 20-25 lbs/ acre Unhulled
                              Plant 1/4 inch deep.
Soil Adaptation: Sandy loam to silt loam with drainage. Use an innoculant for best results.

Click on map to view planting zones.

Planting Dates Mar-Aug May-July May-June N/A Late May-July
 Birds Deer
 Dove Ducks
 Quail Turkeys



Deer hunters: This is a great deer attractant and because of the high sugar content in the middle of the day it can draw them out of the nocturnal feeding into the daylight hours. Good to plant with Bahia for the seeds to attract wildlife. Deer Hunters, wildlife photo shooting and observation sites are greatly enhanced by the planting of joint vetch because of the daylight and middle of the day feeding of the forage.
Turkey hunters:
This plant doesn’t attract the turkey for the plant itself but for the caterpillars that are on it .

Aeschynomene can be flooded and regain growth upon receding flood conditions. This vetch can reach over three feet in height and can provide high quality forage with 20% protein and has 70% digestibility and is nematode resistant which is important for southern forage supplements.  Used as a Forage for Cattle in Southern Florida area.  Grown throughout the SE for deer.  Deer begin browsing in June and end around November making it perfect for bow season areas. Plants are 3-5 feet high when mature and has an extremely high nutritive value.  Highly palatable to cattle.  Aeschynomene grows best on moist, fertile soils and is much more tolerant extreme wet conditions than it is of drought.  It can be planted on prepared soils or on by chopping or no-tilling into closely grazed sods.  Soils should be limed to 5.5 to 6.5.  Fertilization is required for best growth.

Code Name Image Price    


Planting Dates and Type: Plant March-July (lower south) May-June Mid south area - South West  plant May-July. Plant at 1/4 inch depth (Note - Plant less than  ˝ deep.)
Hulled seed plant about 15-20 lbs. to the acre. Broadcasting uses the higher poundage and precision planting takes the lower amount.  Reseeding Annual but usually requires reseeding in Northern areas (north of Atlanta) due to seeds not being reproduced in shorter growing season.

Varieties: Common (deer vetch) is known as Americana and Evenia.

Fertilization: Legume and doesn’t generally need nitrogen in the beginning and might need other nutrients (K&P) according to the soil; nitrogen can be added after the seedlings have established themselves but if using a starter fertilizer use 20-5-10 to get a good start and use about 250 to the acre.  Lime to a pH of 6.5

Usage: Depending upon the variety it can be grown for wildlife, and domestic animals as forage crop.  Deer graze heavy in late summer / early fall (June-Nov). Will reseed provided Deer pressure is not too high, otherwise you will have to re-plant each year.  Used in deep south for cattle forage.

Watering: Does well in rainy, humid areas in the tropical zone.

Maintenance: Close cropping or mowing due to the fact that animals love the tips which the sugar content is high in .. Addition of fertilizer at 8-24-24 at around 250 lb/YR.

Adaptation: Moist, flat wooded areas, fertile soils warm season areas with a pH of 5+ on well draining soils.  Should NOT be too excessive wet or too dry.

Preparation: Clean seed bed and drill planting is preferred while moisture content is high for the best germination and if broadcasting press into the ground by packing afterward. If planting in existing grass such as Bahia, reduce grass by grazing or mowing and scarify by lightly disking

Weeding: Can be managed by mowing or grazing.  Some chemical controls available / consult your Cooperative Extension agent.

Establishment: Plant as an adjacent crop on its’ own or over-seed onto an existing grass pasture in June or if spring rainfalls have been plentiful April and May when temperatures reach the eighties.

Aeschynomene is planted for pasturage in a prepared field and can be broadcast into an existing crop that is cut closely and lightly disked in preparation for sowing of the seed. This vetch does the best in soil with the pH of 5.5 – 6.5. Plant at the rate of 10-20 lb. per acre up to an inch deep. Deer vetch can attract deer out of the nighttime feeding and draw deer out in the middle of the day sightings.. The sugar content of the vetch is particularly high in the mid day sun with a strong scent that attracts deer. Food plot plantings with grain sorghums and corns are good to attract ducks, quail, dove and deer and matures in about 7 weeks.

See which plants are adapted for your area at For information about wildlife and the various crops they forage on, visit our comprehensive web sites covering both food plots and tips for hunters. Practice natural conservation using supplemental food plots for increased wildlife health.

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