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Goat’s rue

Goat’s rue is a fodder crop related to perennial legumes. Practical application has the form of oriental goat’s rue, or eastern galega.

Goat’s rue (Galega orientalis)
Goat’s rue (Galega orientalis)
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Economic importance

Goat’s rue is a promising crop that can be used for meadow and field grassing, for example, in hatching fields or grassing slopes. It has a fodder value and is used in the form of green fodder, for making hay, haylage, silage. Can be used for decorative purposes. The content of amino acids does not differ from alfalfa.

Honey plant, not inferior to sainfoin.

Goat’s rue leaves a large amount of root and plant residues, more than alfalfa or clover.

In a green conveyor system, this crop produces the earliest and latest forage. In terms of the rate of formation of green mass in early spring, it surpasses other legumes, mowing can be started in the spring 15-20 days earlier than clover or alfalfa.

The nutritional value of green mass remains at a high level throughout the growing season. Optimal for it is taken double mowing, since constant triple mowing leads to a decrease in winter hardiness and thinning of crops. Regrowth after mowing is good.

100 kg of goat’s rue hay contains 56.3 feed units and 16.8 kg of digestible protein (VNII fodder). The content of dry matter in the green mass is 20-25%. 100 kg of green mass contains an average of 24 feed units, grass meal – 75 feed units. For 1 feed unit, there are 135 g of digestible protein in green grass, 190 g in hay, 198 g in grass flour. Green mass contains a large amount of ascorbic acid, carotene, flavonols, and minerals. It also contains active substances that stimulate the secretion of milk in animals.

Thanks to a well-developed root system, it is promising for tinning eroded soils.

The term of use is 7-15 years.

History of crop

In Russia, it was introduced into culture at the end of the 19th century.

It has a southern origin – endemic to the North Caucasus.


The yield of hay can reach 7-10 t/ha, green mass 30-80 t/ha, seeds – 200-800 kg/ha.

Botanical description

There are 8 known species of goat’s rue growing in Europe and Asia. In Russia, oriental goat’s rue, or eastern galega, or rutovka – Galega orientalis Lam has practical application . Belongs to the legume family.

Oriental goat’s rue is a perennial plant, reaching a height of 50-80 cm in natural phytocenoses, and 130-200 cm in culture.

The root is taproot, powerful, with numerous lateral branches and a developed network of filamentous roots, penetrates the soil up to 50-80 cm. offspring come to the surface of the soil and form a stem.

Due to the ability to vegetative propagation, the goat’s rue herbage does not thin out over time, but thickens.

On the underground part of the stems, 3-4 wintering buds are formed every year, due to which, along with root offspring, plants resume growth.

The stem is erect, hollow, branched, leafy, up to 80-150 cm high. One bush consists of 10-18 stems.

The leaves are large, compound, unpaired, have 5-6 pairs of leaflets. In hay, the share of leaves is up to 75-80%. When dried, the leaves do not crumble.

Inflorescence – many-flowered, erect, elongated raceme. The flowers are large, blue-violet, white-blue or white, 25-75 in a raceme, typical for the legume family, but open with a shallow arrangement of nectaries. The structure of the flower contributes to a better setting of seeds.

The fruit is a linear or slightly curved bean, brown, light or dark brown in color, does not crack when ripe. Seeds are large, elongated kidney-shaped, yellowish-greenish or olive when harvested, becoming light brown during storage. Weight of 1000 seeds – 5.5-9.0 g.

Biological features

Oriental goat’s rue is characterized by good cold resistance, frost resistance and drought resistance.

In winters with little snow, it can tolerate frosts down to -25 °C, with good snow cover – up to -40 °C. In the spring it can freeze slightly, but quickly restores the stem. Autumn and spring frosts down to -5 … -7 °C do not cause damage.

Able to withstand flooding up to 18 days, complete death of plants occurs in 25-30 days. In terms of water requirements, it occupies an intermediate position between clover and alfalfa.

Light-loving culture, does not tolerate shading.

Chernozem sandy loamy and light loamy, moist, not waterlogged soils are optimally suited. It grows well on drained lowland peatlands and floodplain lands. Soil reaction is close to neutral. Unsuitable poor soils. Refers to plants that react little to soil liming, resistant to high soil acidity.

Plant nutrition

With 1 ton of green mass, 5.5 kg of nitrogen, 8 kg of phosphorus, 32 kg of potassium, 10 kg of calcium are removed from the soil.


In the year of sowing, goat’s rue develops slowly, giving only one cut, the height of plants reaches 60-70 cm. In the year of sowing, it can bloom in autumn with early sowing. For reliable overwintering, plants of the first year of life need at least 100-120 days of active growth.

From the 2-3rd year of use, it begins to grow early and intensively, suppressing weeds well , with the exception of creeping wheatgrass. In the Non-Chernozem zone, flowering occurs at the beginning of June.

The type of development is spring.


The forerunners in crop rotation, tillage and fertilization for goat’s rue are similar to those recommended for other perennial legumes.

Usually placed in open areas. Row crops are considered the best predecessors, but grain crops and annual grasses are also suitable.

Autumn plowing is carried out to the depth of the arable layer of soil. Before plowing, 80-90 t/ha of manure and phosphorus-potassium fertilizers P90-120K90-120 are applied. Nitrogen fertilizers are usually not applied, since goat’s rue has the ability to fix nitrogen. If necessary, N 60 can be applied in the spring for pre-sowing cultivation .

In the spring, harrowing and pre-sowing cultivation are carried out with combined РВК-3 units.

The optimal sowing time is in the spring uncovered or under cover with a decrease of 30-50% in the seeding rate of the cover crop, since goat’s rue does not tolerate shading. For the Non-Chernozem zone, the optimal time is the first half of May.

The method of sowing depends on the type of use and the infestation of the fields. When grown for fodder purposes in non-wetted areas, the sowing method is ordinary. In case of severe clogging without the use of herbicides, a wide-row sowing method with row spacing of 45 cm is recommended for the possibility of subsequent treatments like row crops. When growing goat’s rue for seed purposes, the row spacing is 60 cm.

The seeding rate in its pure form is 20 kg/ha, in mixtures with cereal grasses – 14-16 kg/ha. The seeding rate with row sowing is 30-40 kg/ha, with wide-row – 10-20 kg/ha. Sowing depth 1.5-2.0 cm.

Seed hardness is 50-98%, therefore, scarification is carried out before sowing, for example, with the help of clover graters. It is also recommended to treat the seeds with bacterial preparations, for example, rhizotorfin (nitragin), at least 40,000 bacteria should be per seed.

Plant care

According to research by the All-Russian Research Institute of Fodder and Moscow Agricultural Academy, to control weeds in goat’s rue crops of the first year of life, eradican or treflan can be used before sowing, followed by treatment of crops with a mixture of 2,4-DM and bazagran.

Starting from the second year of life of goat’s rue, plant care is reduced to cultivation and the application of phosphorus-potassium fertilizers.


Harvesting for hay, haylage or silage is started in the flowering phase. Unlike other legumes, the leaves do not shed when hay is made. Harvesting for grass flour is carried out in the phase of stalking and budding. Aftermath can be mowed in September-October.

In the conditions of the Nonchernozem zone, the highest productivity is ensured with double mowing.

Growing for seeds

To control pests (fleas, nodule weevil, etc.) on seed crops, drugs recommended for alfalfa are used, for example, karate, lambda, altyn, gladiator, actellik.

Goat’s rue allows you to get stable crops of seeds that do not crumble when the fruit ripens. Harvesting for seeds begins when 75-80% of the beans are browned, that is, in late July – early August.

A feature of growing for seeds is that when harvesting seeds by direct combining on a high cut, the remaining stubble can be used for fodder purposes (hay, haylage, silage), since most of the leaves and stems remain green.


V.V. Kolomeychenko. Horticulture/Textbook. – Moscow: Agrobiznesentr, 2007. – 600 с. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Horticulture/P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko. Vavilov. ed. by P.P. Vavilov, V.S. Kuznetsov et al. – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and Tutorials for Higher Education Institutions).

Fundamentals of Technology of Agricultural Production. Farming and plant growing. Under the editorship of Niklyaev V.S. – Moscow: “Bylina”, 2000. – 555 с.