xt7vq814pn3c https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7vq814pn3c/data/mets.xml   Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station.  journals kaes_circulars_004_589 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. 589 text Circular (Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station) n. 589  2014 true xt7vq814pn3c section xt7vq814pn3c   CLOVER
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Circular 589
(Filing O¤de:1—1)
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Red Clover in Kentucky
Red clover is a valuable forage crop in Kentucky. lt is nutritious
and palatable to livestock and fits well into all ordinary cropping sys-
tems. Special soil treatments are not required on soils producing good
yields of other crops in the rotation, and red clover can be seeded
easily and at moderate cost. The crop may be used for hay, pasture,
seed, or soil improvement as the farmer’s need may indicate.
Red clover, however, could be much more valuable if greater care
were given to its production and utilization. This publication gives
detailed information on the care and production of red clover includ-
ing soil preparation, varieties, harvesting seed, controlling diseases
and insects, and curing for hay.
Bed clover is a perennial legume, and in some parts of the world
it lives 4 to 6 years. In Kentucky, however, crop stands are seldom
good beyond 2 years; however, properly managed fields of a well-
adapted variety may have good stands into the third year.
Pied clover, alone or in mixture with grass, was grown annually
on about -170,000 acres of crop land in Kentucky in the period 1957-
61. This acreage is about 13.5 percent of the harvested-crop acreage
of the state. The crop is grown mostly in short rotations," usually
following a small grain crop and preceding corn or tobacco. Red
clover is also grown on a considerable acreage of pasture land.
lied clover grows best on well-drained loam soil. However, it is
adapted also to soils that are not so well drained. Most soils of the
state producing good-to-high yields of corn, tobacco, and small grains
also will produce good crops of red clover. Nevertheless, some of
these soils may need lime, or fertilizer, or both, especially after a
high—yielding nurse crop has been harvested. lligb-yielding grain crops
l'l`be author had the assistanee of the following meinbers of the Agronomy
Staff in the preparation of this publication: ]. l·`. l·`reeman, Lawrenee llenson, ll. I'.
Miller. \\'. ll. Stroube, N. L. Taylor. T. ll. Taylor. and \\`arren Tbonipson.

 are likely to remove so much of the available mineral nutrient supply
from the soil that not enough is left to produce a good crop of clover. ·
ln that case topdressing the clover field with fertilizer the following "
spring would be profitable. Likewise, if a field is to be allowed to
go through the third year, topdressing it in the spring with fertilizer
would likely pay.
A soil test is helpful in determining whether topdressing a red
clover field is needed. If the soil is low or very low in both phos-
phorus and potassium, annual applications of 300 pounds of 0-20-20
fertilizer or its equilvalent would likely be profitable. If only one of
the elements seems to be needed, the proper single-element fertilizer ·
should be applied.
Red clover grows best at a range in soil pH from about 6.0 to
above 7.0. Slightly acid soil needs 2 tons or less of ground limestone _
per acre, and moderately acid soil from 2 to 3 tons. Soils having a
pH of 5.5 or below should be limed 6 months to a year before seed-
ing red clover.
Red clover crops grown on’soil low in available phosphorus are
likely to produce low yields. Many soils in Kentucky are deficient
in this element; therefore, phosphate fertilization is needed rather
generally in this state.
Many soils in Kentucky need fertilization with potassium to pro-
duce good yields. This element is especially valuable in prolonging
the life of clover stands, especially those grown with grass.
Magnesium C
lled clover has an average magnesium content higher than any
other commonly grown forage legume. Consequently, perhaps some
crops of red clover in Kentucky need more of this nutrient than they
get. l.iming the soil in part with dolomitic limestone would supply
the magnesium requirements.
lt is not know whether red clover crops in Kentucky suffer from
boron deficiency, but undoubtedly some do. Boron fertilization has
been reported to be beneficial in Tennessee. lled Clover grown on n
borou—deficient soil has fewer branches and flowers than clover grown
on soil having ample boron. Safe rates of boron fertilization range
from 20 to 30 pounds of borax per acre.

‘ The two major kinds of red clover are medium and mammoth.
Very little mammoth red clover is grown in Kentucky, since, as a rule.
only one cutting per year is obtained. This clover grows taller and
has coarser stems than the medium red type and blooms about 2
weeks later.
There are many varieties of medium red clover. One of these is
Kenland, developed by the University ot Kentucky Agricultural Ex-
periment Station in cooperation with the United States Department ot
. Agriculture. Parent varieties were Ky 101 and Ky 215; Virginia varie-
ties Sanford and De]arnette; Tennessee Antliracnose Resistant; North
Carolina variety Hahn; and Missouri variety Plassmeyer. Certified
seed of Kenland can be purchased from most seed dealers in Kentucky.
Kentucky-grown certified Kenland seed has been superior in Kentucky
experiments to most lots of western—grown certified seed.
The suneriorit ¤ of Kenland red clover in central Kentuckv over
1 .
other varieties and ordinary kinds of red clover is shown in Table 1
and Fig. 1. Tests also indicate that Kenland is about as superior in
western Kentucky as it is in the central part of the state.
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Fig. `I.—A plot of second-crop Kenland variety red clover is shown on the right
and a plot ofthe northern variety Wegner on the left. Growing an adapted variety
of red clover is necessary for good yields.

 Table l.—· Yield of Red Clover Varieties at Two Locations in Kentucky ·
(Tons of Hay)* ‘
Woodford county Mason county
Seeded March 13, 1957 Seeded March 18, 1959
Yields in Yields in
Variety 1958 1959 Total 1960 1961 Total
Kenlandi ............................ 4.46 0.42 4.88 3.12 2.45 5.57
Chesapeake ........................ 3.78 0.23 4.01 2.89 0.52 3.41
Pennscott ............................ 3.10 0.00 3.10 2.70 0.38 3.08
Lakeland ............................ 2.91 0.00 2.91 2.19 0.40 2.59
Dollard .............................. 2.87 0.00 2.87 1.42 0.14 1.56
Common ......... . .................. 2.67 0.00 2.67i 3.08 0.68 3.76§ .
° Hay containing 12 percent of moisture. Yields of the varieties were not determined in
1957 in the Woodford county test or in the Mason county test in 1959 because all varieties
appeared to have produced equally well in the year when sown.
T'I`he Kenland seed used in these experiments was grown in Kentucky.
I Average of two lots Kentucky-grown common, and one lot Oregon-grown common.
§ Average of four lots Kentucky-grown common.
lled clover should be inoculated before sowing. Seed inoculated
with commerical cultures will assure better nitrogen fixation than
occurs naturally by bacteria in the soil. Using a “sticker” to hold
the inoculant on the seeds is likely to improve inoculation; a weak
sugar solution is satisfactory.
As a rule, the best time to sow red clover in Kentucky is from
the latter part of February in the southwestern part of the state to
the middle of March in the most northern part of the state.
Most spring seeding is made in small grain because it is easily
and cheaply done at that time, and the small grain holds weed growth i
in check while the clover is getting started. The seed should be
covered shallow. Freezing and thawing of the soil will sometimes
provide satisfactory covering. Also, sheep grazing the nurse crop will
tramp the seed into the soil. Usually, however, it is best to disk or
harrow the soil lightly at the time of seeding. Uncovered seed is —
not likely to produce a good stand of clover.
Late summer seedings are usually successful in Kentucky if made
on a seedbed that has been fallowed to prevent weed infestation
and given final preparation for seeding with a cultipacker. Dry _
weather is, of course, a frequent hazard. The seed should be covered
lightly. Seeding should be done from mid-August in northern Ken-
tucky to about the last of August in southwestern Kentucky. Summer
seedings are sometimes severely damaged by crown rot during the
following winter and spring.

 Recommended rates of seeding red clover alone are 8 to 12
. pounds per acre of seed of high germination.
In Kentucky, a grass should usually be seeded with red clover.
The mixture is superior to clover alone in protecting soil from €1'O-
sion, and leaching, and controlling weeds. Mixed clover hay cures
more rapidly than pure clover hay, and the mixture may produce
more hay per acre. The useful life of mixed seedings is also longer than
t pure clover stands. This is especially important if the seeding is for
pasture or for hay and pasture. Furthermore, animals are less likely
to bloat while on the clover-grass pasture than when on pure clover
Each of the grasses used generally in Kentucky—Kentucky blue-
grass, Ky 31 fescue, orchardgrass, redtop and timothy—grows well
with red clover and produces a good mixture for hay or pasture, or
both. It is believed that Clair timothy is especially useful in hay
mixtures because of its high yield and long life. It is also ready to-
be cut for hay when red clover should be harvested. Mixed seedings
of Kenland red clover and Clair timothy will usually produce con-
siderable aftermath for grazing if the first crop is harvested at the
1 proper time, that is, 10 to 15 days after clover begins to bloom.
Grasses should normally be sown in late summer or early fall in the
small grain in which red clover will be sown in the spring. Rates of
seeding of both grass and clover may be reduced one—fourth to one-
third when sown for a mixture.
Most red clover is sown in small grain. These grain crops compete
with the young clover for mineral nutrients, moisture, and light.
Sometimes the competition is so severe that stands of the young elo-
ver plants become very poor by the time the grain crop is harvested.
Nurse-crop competition can be reduced greatly by grazing or clip-
ping the small grain in late winter or early spring before the stems
begin to grow.
Young clover stands will usually be damaged severely if the straw
of the grain crop is left on the field following combining. Consequent-
~ ly, the straw should be removed within a few days after combining.
Later, the clover should be mowed and the stubble, weeds, and clover
removed unless the total amount of material is quite light. Pastur-
ing red clover fields in their first year is beneficial to the clover.
Regardless of which is practiced, mowing or pasturing should be done

 before September 1 in northern Kentucky and September 15 in south-
western Kentucky. If done later, winterkilling is likely to be severe.
The first crop of red clover is almost always harvested for hay,
or occasionally for silage. (For information on grass silage, see your
county agricultural extension agent.) If properly made, red clover
hay is nearly equal to alfalfa in feeding value. Practically all red
clover in Kentucky is cut much too late to make high-quality hay
(Fig. 2). Experiments show that it should be cut when in early bloom.
VVhen the first crop of red clover is cut too late to produce high-
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Fig. 2.- Three plots of third-year red clover which were cut for hay at different
times in their second year are shown above. The plot on the left was cut for hay
I0 days after the first blossoms appeared; the plot on the right 'I0 days later; the
plot in the center 40 days later. As a rule, stands of red clover are proportionately
poorer at the end of the second year because they are usually cut for hay later than
about 20 days after the stand begins to bloom. Most red clover in Kentucky is cut
for hay much too late.
quality hay, the immature second growth is cut at the same time.
This weakens the plants, and the stand is likely to become quite poor
before the end of summer.
lt is sometimes impossible in Kentucky to determine when red
clover is in its early bloom stage of growth because most heads of
the first crop are often destroyed by the lesser clover-leaf weevil. It ~
is best, therefore, to cut all fields about 15 days after the very first
bloom appears. Usually the first crop should be cut between May 20

 and 25 in southern Kentucky and May 25 to ]une 1 in northern Ken-
tucky. If a grass is grown with red clover for hay, the mixture should
be harvested when the clover should be cut rather than when the grass
· should be cut.
The second crop of red clover is generally pastured, harvested for
seed, or used only for soil improvement. Hay made from this crop
is occasionally unpalatable to cattle and, perhaps, to sheep. The
cause is not known.
If the first crop of adapted red clover is cut for hay at the proper
time and weather conditions remain favorable, at least two additional
hay crops may be harvested.
Most of the red clover hay made in Kentucky is cured and baled
in the field. To be high grade, the hay must be leafy, somewhat
green, practically free of weeds and other foreign material. and
have a pleasant odor. It is difficult to make hay of this quality in
Kentucky because weather conditions frequently are unfavorable for
curing in the field. Local weather forecasts can be helpful in avoiding
any weather that may be unfavorable for curing hay. The best prac-
tice appears to be to allow the crop to wilt in the swath and then to
’ rake it into small, loose windrows. The clover cures about as rapidly
in these windrows as in the swath, and fewer leaves are lost in baling.
Using a hay conditioner following the mower will greatly speed curing
in the field and result in hay of higher quality than is otherwise
Red clover pasture is relished by all classes of livestock including
swine. It may be used as a temporary pasture without giving mrrch
attention to grazing management; however if it is to be grazed
rather intensively for long periods, the field shorrld bc divided and
the divisions grazed in rotation. However, if a field is grazed down
slowly so that it produces many crown leaves as it is grazed, red
clover withstands moderate continuous grazing quite well.
Cattle on red clover pasture occasionally bloat. Second and third
growths of red clover sometimes appear to be unsatisfactory pasture
for breeding ewes.
Red clover is one of the better legumes for use in pasture renova-
tion. Seedings of this clover produce good stands as a rule with little

 or no tillage of the grass sod, provided the grass is grazed or clipped
In pasture renovation experiments at Lexington, the Eden Shale
Farm in Owen county, and in Christian county, red clover sown on
well—fertilized soil and closely clipped or moderately disked sod in- " ·
creased pasture yields from 23 to 100 percent.
It is recommended that 8 to 12 pounds of red clover seed be sown
in renovating pastures. Spring seedings are likely to be more suc-
cessful than late summer and early fall seedings. (For information
on renovating pastures see your county agricultural extension agent.)
An advantage of red clover as a farm crop in Kentucky is that both ‘
hay and seed may be harvested from it in its second year. An average
of 17,600 acres of red clover was harvested for seed annually in Ken-
tucky in the 5—year period 1957-61 (Fig.   The average yield was
76 pounds of seed per acre for which the farmer received $20.78 on
the average. Experiments have showed that Kentucky’s average yield
could be doubled if the soil were properly limed and fertilized for
growing red clover, the Kenland variety grown generally, and the
Hrst hay crop cut at the proper stage to produce the best quality of _
hay. (See section “Using Pied Clover in Its Second Year.”) When
bumblebees are scarce, setting hives of honey bees in the field may
increase clover seed yields considerably.
Red clover is ready to harvest for seed when practically all heads
are brown or black. Ordinarily the mature crop is not sufficiently dry
to be combined standing. Usually it should be cut and allowed to dry
thoroughly before it is threshed. If the necessary mower attachments
are available, the material may be hunched or windrowed as cut, thus
reducing the loss of heads as well as labor. Ordinarily, the crop -is
left in the swath or windrow until thoroughly dry, and then com-
bined. If this is not possible, the crop should be put in the mow `
or stacked when dry for latter threshing. It should be handled care-
fully to prevent loss of heads.
Practically all red clover seed harvested in Kentucky must be
threshed with a combine harvester. Usually the machine will do a
good job of threshing if the material is dry, and the screens and air
blast are as recommended by the manufacturer. Slight modifi-
cations may be helpful, but failure to obtain good results from a
combine adjusted according to the manufacturer`s specifications occurs
usually because the machine is overloaded or the crop is not thor-
oughly dry. If the crop is combined from the swath or windrow, the

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Fig. 3.-- A seed crop of Kenland red clover in Bourbon county is shown here. Good
crops of seed can be grown in all parts of Kentucky. Approximately 1,200,000
pounds of red clover seed was harvested from 16,000 acres in the state in 1962.
A much higher production can be obtained by following recommendations in this
fround s eed must be sucl1 that the machine wicks ui the material
l l
slowl and at a uniform rate. If seed is bein T lost when combinin r
. in
direetl from the swath or windrow it would be advisable to use the
combine as a stationary thresher. In this way the straw can be re-
threshed until all of the seed is obtained. Sometimes one half or more
of the seed may be lost when combined directly from the swath or
Combined red clover seed may heat in the bin or bag; conse-
quently, it should be examined frequently until all danger of heating
is passed. If it begins to heat, it should be spread in a thin layer on
a dry floor and shoveled or stirred frequently until thoroughly dry.
Putting it through a fanning mill to remove foreign matter may aid in
drying the seed.

 Red clover seed usually is not clean enough when it comes from the
combine to be satisfactory for sowing or marketing; it should, there-
fore, be recleaned. Many kinds of foreign material can be removed on
the ordinary fanning mill equipped with proper screens; however, - _
a few weed seeds—dodder and buckhorn in particular—can be com-
pletely removed only by special machines. Special effort should be
made, therefore, to destory these weeds or to remove them from the
field before the crop is harvested.
Buckhorn plants are present in almost all red clover fields in
Kentucky. \Vhere the clover acreage is small and the buckhorn plants
are few, the most feasible way to destroy them may be by digging
them in early spring just before the clover begins to grow. VVhere
this job would be too large, these and several other weeds may be r
controlled by spraying the field with the herbicide 4 (2,4DB) in the
amine form. Spray in the spring as soon as the buckhorn begins
active growth or in the summer after the hay crop is harvested, using
1% to 2 pounds of 4 (2,4DB) acid equivalent per acre in 15 to 30
gallons of water applied with a boom sprayer. This herbicide may ‘
also be used as an early postemergence spray when the clover seed-
lings are 2 to 3 inches tall. Postemergence treatment in the spring
will control several broad-leaf weeds, but may not control buckhorn.
For postemergence treatment, use 1 to 1% pounds of the acid equiva- r
lent per acre in 15 to 30 gallons of water for boom spraying. Using the f
herbicide on clover at either time will reduce the vigor of the plants
somewhat. D0 not use the jfefd for pasture or hay for the next
30 days.
Dodder grows as a parasite on red clover. It usually occurs in n
spots in red clover fields in Kentucky. The clover in these spots may
be cut with a sickle and removed from the field. These areas may
also be destroyed with a burner, preferably one using propane or
butaue fuel. I~Ierbicides also have been found useful. The most
effective ones appear to be (1) aromatic weed oils, and (2) a mix-
ture of l)Nl’>l’ (4, G—dinitro ortho secondary butyl phenol) and
diesel or other fuel oils. The latter spray is made by putting the
two materials together at the rate of 1 pint of DNBP and 50 gal-
lons of oil. Enough spray must be used to obtain a complete cov- A
erage of both plants. This spray may injure or even kill the clover
lied clover fields that are largely or completly infested with dod-
der should not be harvested for seed. These fields should be har-
vested for hay before any dodder seeds mature or grazed closely
from the time the dodder appears in the field.

Several diseases attack the leaves, stems, and roots of red clover.
I Perhaps viruses, crown rot, and southern anthracnose are the most
destructive to stands. The best means for holding all clover diseases
in check is to manage the clover properly—that is, lime and feitilize
the soil as needed for clover and cut for hay at the proper time.
Growing an adapted variety is also important. The Kenland variety
is highly resistant to southern anthracnose, but only slightly re-
sistant to some other diseases of red clover.
i Insects that sometimes cause considerable damage to red clover
in Kentucky include aphids, leafhoppers, spittlebugs, and grasshop-
pers. Ordinarily the damage is not severe enough to call for the
use of insecticides, but if such control seems desirable ask your county
agricultural extension agent for directions.

 (`¤mpvr;itivc Extension \V0rk in Agriculture and Home Economics: College 0f Agriculture