Sweet clover is the most efficient legume for soil building purposes. Sweet clover fits into a short rotation and adds more nitrogen and organic matter in a short time than any other legume. It is winter hardy and drought resistant and it will grow on a wide variety of soils, provided they are well drained. The crop will grow on soils too alkaline for alfalfa. Sweet clover is widely used as pasture, hay, silage and soil building crop. Stands are easy to establish when planted shallow on well-prepared seedbeds.
Yellow blossom is a biennial sweetclover, long known for its efficiency as a soil builder. It improves soil drainage because its vigorous taproot penetrates heavy soils and hard pan allowing water to drain away. The main disadvantage of sweet clover is its coarse stems and somewhat bitter taste, making it unpalatable to some livestock. Care must be taken to make sure moldy sweet clover hay is not fed to livestock, since it may cause internal bleeding and death.
White blossom is a biennial that has lost its popularity because of its growth, coarse stems and later maturity, making soil building its lone purpose. It is, however, quite popular in the honeybee industry.
Red clover is the most extensively grown in the Northeastern states and as far south as Tennessee and Virginia. It is also an important crop in the irrigated areas of the Western states, especially Idaho, Washington and Oregon. As a crop, red clover is usually considered a biennial, well suited to short rotations. It is generally used for pasture or hay. It is also a soil improvement crop. Red clover does best on fairly heavy; well-drained fertile soils, but it will tolerate acid soils better than alfalfa. It requires more moisture than alfalfa and is not as winter hardy. It will generally not yield as much as alfalfa where alfalfa is adapted.
Medium red clover is the most widely grown. It ranks next to alfalfa in hay value. It is an excellent soil fertility builder. Two hay cuttings can usually be taken per season.
Resistant to northern anthracnose and powdery mildew with good winter survival. Developed by Wisconsin and USDA.
Highly resistant to powdery mildew. Resistant to northern anthracnose. A Wisconsin and USDA release
Resistant to northern anthracnose, moderately resistant to powdery mildew. Better winter hardiness and yield than Arlington in maturity.
Mammoth red clover, an annual, grows taller and is ten days to two weeks later than medium red clover. It produces only one cutting per season. The hay is coarse. Lodging is often a problem, and leaf losses may be serious if you allow it to go to a full bloom before cutting. Mammoth will grow on poorer soils and requires less moisture than medium red clover.
Adapted to the same general area as red clover. It prefers a heavy, moist soil and will do better than other clovers on poorly drained acid soils. Alsike matures early, has a tendency to lodge and is essentially a "one cut" clover. Because it does well on low, wet land, alsike is well adapted to mixtures with other clovers and grasses, especially timothy. Alsike produces high quality pasture and hay.
Ladino white clover is a giant white clover. The plants grow up to 14 inches high. Ladino recovers quickly from grazing or clipping, as new leaf and flower buds are continually developing on the running stems. Ladino has done best on medium to heavy soils with abundant moisture. However, it will tolerate poor conditions better than some other clovers. It is usually sown in a mixture with grasses. In the South, white clover is a winter annual. It ranks high in feed value and is a highly palatable soil improvement crop.
White Dutch clover is used mainly in lawns for ornamental purposes, and can be used in pasture mixes. It is shallow rooted and spreads by creeping stems. White Dutch grows best under cool, fertile, moist conditions, but is adaptable to acidic, poorly drained soils where alfalfa cannot survive.
Berseem clover is an annual forage crop used in the Midwest mainly to spruce up poor or drowned our stands of alfalfa. Berseem is a good nitrogen producer, and if planted by May 1 can give up to 3 cuttings, and reaches 20-30 inches in height. Berseem is low bloat and 18-28% protein. It has yellowish white flowers.
Kura Clover is a perennial legume that has potential to be both productive and persistent in pastures. While Kura clover is slow to establish and initially is low in production, long-term forage production and quality are excellent. The plant sacrifices forage productions early in its development in order to invest in a strong root-rhizome-crown system that supports forage yields. It has survived six years of grazing in Minnesota and persisted when all other legumes have failed.
Primarily a pasture legume, this is a long lived, deep rooted, yellow flowered perennial somewhat similar to alfalfa or red clover. It is very winter hardy and drought resistant. Trefoil is highly palatable and has feed value equal to alfalfa. There is much less danger of bloat when pastured than with alfalfa or other clovers. Although slow to establish, it is very persistent, after becoming well established with native sod-forming grasses. Seed must always be inoculated and planted early in the spring in firm, well-prepared seedbed.
This long-lived perennial legume is used extensively for erosion control. It tolerates low fertility, poor soil and is drought resistant. It has minor use as a forage crop. It is palatable to livestock, non-bloating and produces yields between trefoil and alfalfa where adapted.
Used extensively in the United States, hairy vetch is winter hardy and normally an annual. In the northern corn belt hairy vetch should be planted in late September or early October. Stems are weak and viny. Hairy vetch is widely used as green manure crop in the cotton-belt. When planted with oats and cut green it make excellent livestock feed.