White clover, including white Dutch and Ladino, is the most widely grown clover in the world. It is an excellent pasture legume and is usually grown in association with cool season grasses. White clover grows best in humid areas of the temperate zones during cool, moist seasons. White clover provides high quality grazing, is an excellent nitrogen-fixing perennial legume, and can play an important role in soil conservation, soil improvement, and crop rotations.
WHITE CLOVER SEED
White clover is a perennial that spreads by stolons. Since the flowers are produced on the stolons, the trick to getting a good white clover seed yield is reducing leaf growth so that the plants produce more stolons. This is the opposite of what a pasture producer tries to do. Seed growers plant in rows up to 20 inches wide to allow room for stolons to grow. They deliberately stress the plants by grazing them heavily with sheep after harvest in the fall and again for about a month in the spring. Achieving the right amount of stress on the plants is a matter of trial and error. Each year is different, and each variety is different. For this reason, white clover is notorious for variable seed yields. White clover seed is harvested in August.
White clover seed in the south Willamette Valley is sown primarily for the soil quality benefit the white clover provides to the grass seed crop following it. Some growers rotate a field out of white clover every two years, and some keep a stand for up to four years. To open the stand and make it last longer, some growers are experimenting with applying herbicides using a shrouded sprayer to re-make rows. This equipment has coulters on each side of the sprayed strips to slice the stolons and prevent herbicide uptake by the strip of clover the grower wants to leave. This can work well, but a drift of herbicide during the application can cause significant damage.
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