General Information on Medic
Medic is an annual legume crop that has the potential to be integrated into North Dakota's wheat-fallow cropping system. Presently, the medic types in which seed is available are well adapted to alkaline soils. They are considered drought tolerant and are adapted to areas where annual rainfall is as low as 12 inches. They have the capability of regenerating each year without having to reseed. Medics are shallow rooted with a prostate growth habit. Medics can provide ground cover that will meet farm program residue compliance regulations, protect the soil from erosion, provide additional seasonal grazing for livestock, or be used as a hay crop.
Medic seed has a similar size seed as alfalfa. Seeding practices and equipment needed for medic establishment are similar for early spring seeding of alfalfa. Medic can be established when seeded directly with a cash crop such as wheat. However, medics are not very competitive and in dry years poor stand establishment can occur when seeded with another crop. The best method for establishing medic is to seed it by itself during the fallow year. Most varieties of medic have a hard seed count of 60-70% (scarifying the seed before planting will result in more uniform germination). Germination and stand establishment will occur throughout the growing season. If managed properly, medic may produce a stand every year thereafter. Once established, medic will provide grazing at any time during the fallow year as long as it has the opportunity to set seed. During the cropping year, medic will slowly germinate and should be established by the time the crop has been removed. After it has set seed (approximately mid August), it can be grazed.
Production and Feed Value:
Forage production of medic is about 1/2 of common forage crops. However, being a legume the forage quality and animal performance compares favorably to other legume forages. Data from Carrington indicates that medic clipped at the early seed set stage has protein (18.5%) and TDN (59%) levels comparable to sweetclover and alfalfa.