xt7qbz617299 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7qbz617299/data/mets.xml   Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station. 1918 journals kaes_circulars_001_1_060 English Lexington : The Service, 1913-1958. Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Circular (Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station) n. 060 text Circular (Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station) n. 060 1918 2014 true xt7qbz617299 section xt7qbz617299 COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE
Extension Division
The Growing and Utilization of
Sweet Clover in Kentucky
AL`GL`S'l`. 1t•1s
Published iu uoiiiieciioii wiili ilie ;i;i·it·uluii·;il oxieiisiou work our-
ried on by co-operation on the College of ;\;:rii·uliui·o. University of
Kentucky, with the U. so 1)ep;ii·iiiiem oi Agi·iculiui·e. uml disrributeti
in furtlierance of the work provided for in the .\c·r of Congress of
May S, 1914.


Sweet elover tjlolilolas alba, or white sweet clover) has
come to be recognized as one of the most valuable of the legum-
inous crops for soil improvement. where conditions are favor-
able for its growth. and perhaps the most valuable crop on
badly worn soils. This is beeanse it makes a very heavy growth
upon almost any kind of land. provided only that the soil eon-
tains limestone. either naturally or applied.
Sweet elover is known by a number of names. such as
melilotns, melilot. bee clover. honey elover. and Bokhara clover.
It is a biennial plant. and must. therefore be reseeded every
two years or allowed to reseed itself. if it is desired to have it
oeeupy land eontinuously. If sown in the winter or spring. it
makes a growth of two to four feet the iirst season, and. in Ken-
tueky. frequently a few ol` the plants will bloom the first season.
altho the larger part of it does not produce seed until the
second season. Growth begins very early the second season and
is very rapid. The plants reach a height of 6 to 12 feet. The
roots are ve1·y large and tleshy. decay readily. and are easily
eut with the plow. \\'hen it is desired to rid a pieee of ground
of sweet. elover. it is neeessary only to prevent the elover from
going to seed. as all plants die at the end of the second season.
A closely related speeies that tinds favor with some farm-
ers is the yellow sweet elover t.l[rIz'Iotas 0_t`fie{21aIz`s). lt does DOI
grow as large and is not as leafy as the white species. but it is
about two weeks earlier. Some farmers prefer it for hay on
aeeount of its smaller stems.

 4 Circular N0. UO
A species to be avoided in Kentucky is illclilolus indica, an
annual plant with yellow bloom, which makes a comparatively
small growth.
Soil Requirements
Sweet clover will grow on any type of soil in Kentucky
provided it contains carbonate of lime. Experiments conducteti
by the Kentucky Experiment Station in Laurel county. on tli··
wet soil of the Devonian area at Berea, and in Muhlenberg.
Logan. McCracken and Graves counties all show that ver;.
rank sweet clover can be grown on these soils by the use of liin··.
but that it will not grow without lime. These soils vary fron.
. slightly acid to strongly acid. Even on the rich very slightlj:
acid soil of the Experiment Station farm. it made only an ii.
ditferent growth without liming, the yields in one cxperiineir
being 2.100 lbs. per acre on unlimed land and 5.300 on liined
An investigation by the writer of a part ot` l'cntllctnv
county, where so much sweet clover is grown. showed. in all
cases investigated, that the crop was a failure, or practically  
where the soil was aeid.
It is almost certain that sweet clover will fail on soils tha
have not been limed, unless they contain fragments of limestone
either in or near the surface soil, as is the case in Pcndletoi;
and other counties in Northern Kentucky where sweet clover
thrives so well. Like all other crops, it will be benetited by
the application of phosphates on soils dencient in phosphorus.
as is the case with most soils outside of the Bluegrass region and
the river alluvium areas.
1. Wvinter Seeding. Seeding on bare ground in the winter
will give good results. The seeding may be done any time from
January to March. It is desirable to seed when the ground is
cracked or "honey-eombed" by freezing so that when the
ground thaws, the seed will be covered. The ground slzoultl
be fairly clean and smooth for this method. Winter sectline

Growing and Utilizatiovz of Sweet Clover 5
lieu. an . , . .
atigch, is especially recommended wl1en unscarified seed is used, in
` order that the hard coat may have time to soften before time
fo1· ge1·mination. Good results have been obtained by plowing
the ground in the i`all, harrowing it down, and seeding as in·
mm_k\. dieated above.
dmmh Sweet clover may be sown like any other clover crop on
ml the grain during the winter or earlylspring. But this is desirable
mbcrgp only from the standpoint of utilizing the land to get a grain
I \_m___ erop which. of course, may be the profitable thing to do.
_fIm1_i, 2, Spring and Summer Seeding. Excellent results may
__ {Wn, be obtained by seeding in April and May, if a good seed bed is
`Hrqml___ prepared. In this case. the soil should be well pulverized and
im il; firmed down as hard as possible with the roller. The seed may
I_im_m_ then be sown with a clover drill, or it may be seeded broadcast
mum and covered lightly with a harrow or drag. Seeding in this
way should be done under good moisture conditions. In ease
MPM of dry weather immediately after seeding, the ground may be
in ul, rolled. preferably with a corrugated roller or culti-packer.
my Sn. Sweet clover may be seeded in August, but this is not as
` desirable as spring seeding, because, thus seeded. it lasts over
IQ mw only one growing season, whereas with spring seeding it lasts
mmm over two growing seasons. Unless summer seeded clover makes
mmm: a good growth. it is apt to freeze out during the winter.
Plmw A nurse crop may be used, but the only advantage to the
Cd by clover is the prevention of washing or keeping down weeds
hmm;. until the clover gets a start. A nurse crop so used may be
in and pastured off. or it may be clipped if the clover shows signs of
being injured by it. As stated. a nurse crop is of no direct
benetit and in many cases causes a partial or entire failure of
the clover in critically dry weather.
MMU It is best to usc scariiied seed. Because of the scratching
r from of the hard seed coat, germination is muel1 more rapid. Seed
md is that will show a germination by the ordinary tests of only 15 or
U the 20 per cent. in the natural condition, lllily show almost perfeet
laould gernrmation when scaritied. h
WMM lhe rate of seeding recommended is about 20 lbs. per
acre of unhnlled seed, or about 15 lbs. of seariiied seed. For

 ti (t'1`rc11lm· N0. UO
late spring and sunnncr seeding. only scaritied seed should be
If it is desired that sweet. ('l0\'C1' shall reseed itself indefi-
nitely. additional seed should be sown the second year so thar
plants will come to seed every year. \Vhen keeping up the
stand in this way. care should he cxcrcised not to pasture or
cut so closely that not enough plants are left for seed.
lvnlcss absolutely certain that the soil is infected witl.
sweet clover nodule bacteria. the seed or the ground should b·=
inoculated. This may be done by treating the seed with lahcf·»r··
it becomes too large, as it becomes woody and develops a bitter
taste. As already stated, the second ycar’s growth begins early
and is very rapid. It should, therefore, be kept well eaten down
to prevent its becoming too coarse and woody.
Bluegrass grows well with sweet clover if the latter is nc:
sown too thick. VVhere it is rcsceding itself in a pasture, the
stand is usually not too thick, and bluegrass grows well with it.
Sweet clover and orehard—grass also make a good combination
for pasture. On wet lands, redtop would no doubt make ei

(h·ou·iY11g and Ufflf2(If2·O7L of Sweet Clover T
ould bc good combination with it. ln pasturing cattle and sheep, the
same precautions should be used to prevent bloating as in the
indcti- case of alfalfa and clover. altho it does not seem to produce
SU thm bloat so readily.
up the It is estimated that an acre of good sweet clover will fu1·-
ture or nish pasturage for about 20 hogs.
There are 1nany places in Kentucky where there is rough.
rocky limestone land that cannot be cultivated, but which can be
used profitably only for pasture. Many of these tracts are now
tl will- worthless for pasture because the_v have no pasture grasses upon
tllltl he g}].·m_ \\'herc there are limestone fragments in or near the sur-
h labo. face soil, it 1nay be assumed with safety that sweet clover will
'<`l` l*¢i·‘· do well. if inoculated. .\s already indicated. otl1e1· grasses will
rom an; grow well with sweet clover. once it is well established.
·om ar There are also ]lltlI1}' rough and steep lands outside the lime-
the evi· stone areas that would make excellent sweet clover and grass