Red clover

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					Red Clover

Trifolium pratense L.

Agronomic legume

eFlora link:

Red clover is an introduced, commonly grown, tap- rooted, short- lived perennial legume. It can
thrive in cooler temperatures and more acidic soils than alfalfa. It has deep tap roots that
develop from a shallow, narrow crown, though not as deep as alfalfa, therefore reducing its
drought tolerance.

Each crown produces many branched, hairy stems, which grow to 75 cm (30 in.) in length.
Leaves are made up of 3 hairy leaflets attached at one point and often have white water
markings on the green leaflets. Red clover produces globe-shaped, purple, cross-pollinated
flowers. Seed pods are about 3 mm (3/4 in.) long with 1 to 2 yellow to purple , hard seeds per

                                                                                                  Comment [rcp1]: Sentence needs some
Origin:                                                                                           modification. A suggestion if it makes sense:
                                                                                                  “Although originally from Europe and Turkey, the
Europe and Turkey the commonly grown Altaswede variety was selected from Sweden.                  commonly grown...Sweden.”
Red clover needs adequate growing season moisture, and moderate summer temperatures.
These conditions limit red clover to irrigated areas, or moist microsites at low elevations in
southern British ColumbiaC.

Bulkley -– Nechako
Cariboo -– Fraser Fort. George
Northeast -– Peace Liard
Thompson -– Okanagan                                                                                  Formatted: Font: (Default) Arial

Typical BEC range:
Interior Douglas-fir
Interior Cedar-–- Hemlock
Montane Spruce
Englelmann Spruce–--Subalpine Fir
Sub-Boreal Spruce
Sub-Boreal Pine--– Spruce
Boreal White and Black Spruce
Boreal White and Black Spruce
Spruce -– Willow -– Birch

Annual precipitation minimum (mm): 400
Annual precipitation maximum (mm): 600

Red clover is used for grazing, stockpiled forage, hay, silage, and green manure. It is palatable
but can cause bloat. However, the risk of bloat is lower than for alfalfa. It is used for soil
improvement in site rehabilitation in a variety of contexts.

Optimal time of grazing use:
Grazing should be delayed until a full canopy of leaves has developed. Experience with some
custom graziers found that leaving red clover (and alfalfa) until full bloom before grazing
prevented bloat and increased the stand persistence.

Recovery after use (rating): Moderate
Recovery after use may be mixed depending on the site and management. Some sources
indicate red clover recovers well after mid-season cutting, and can be left for fall grazing. Other
sources say ustilizing red clover twice a season can reduce longevity. Still others advise against
its use for grazing because of its inability to resist traffic from grazing animals. Recovery may
depend on where the growing tip is in relation to cutting or defoliation from grazing. It is also
dependent on available moisture and management history. It is recommended to leave at least
10 cm (4 in.) to allow for regrowth.

Forage yield:
Can yield 4300 kg/ha (3800 lb/acre) in grey or black soils (, e.g., areas of northern British
Columbia)C. In drier regions, yield will be lower, (e.g., 2420 kg/ha [(2200 lb/acre])).

Palatability/nutritional value:
Red clover is highly palatable and may be grazed preferentially. When red clover is cut or
utilized at 25% bloom: crude protein can be 19% and dry matter 65 to 70%.

Longevity (rating): Low
Red clover is relatively short lived, (i.e., 1 to 3 years).

Persistence (rating): Low
Persistence tends to be low, limited to 2 to 3 years. Because crowns and roots are close to the
surface and break down naturally, crowns are more easily damaged. However, it can be more
persistent if rotationally grazed.

Invasiveness (rating): Low
Not invasive.
Competitiveness (rating): High
Red clover tends to be vigorous and a good competitor with companion crops like timothy.

Erosion control (rating): Moderate
Red clover has value for soil improvement plowed in as green manure.

Drought tolerance (rating): Moderate
Red clover is more drought tolerant than alsike clover but less than alfalfa.

Winter hardiness (rating): Moderate
Winter hardiness depends on varieties, with single- cut red clovers having higher winter
hardiness than double- cut types. Red clover tolerates more cold temperatures than alfalfa.

Soil texture preference (rating): All
Prefers wet, fertile soils of any texture.

Flooding tolerance (rating): Moderate
Withstands 1 to 2 weeks of excess moisture, early in growing season; but intolerant of flooding
during its actively growing period.

Salinity tolerance (rating): Low

Acidity tolerance (rating): High
Tolerates pH levels as low as 5.0 but yield is reduced significantly. Prefers pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Shade tolerance:
Good shade tolerance, and seedlings can compete with companion crops.

Fire tolerance:

Pests and/or disease threats:
Red clover case bearer insect, clover mite, red clover thrip, and lesser clover leaf weevil.

Seed size: Small

Seeds per kg: 606, 000
Ease of establishment (rating): High
Very easy to establish.

Application requirements:
Can be applied with a variety of methods, including drill seeding, direct or sod seeding, and
broadcast seeding. It can also , and can be seeded by feeding directly to grazing animals in a
salt mixture. (See page x for discussion).

Suggested mixtures:
Normally grown with less competitive grasses such as timothy.

Management considerations:
Seed should be inoculated with Rhizobium trifolii for better nodulation and nitrogen fixing.
Stands may respond to fertilization. Red clover is short lived.

Typical seeding objectives:
Forage enhancement
Soil improvement


Aasen, A. and M. Bjorge. 2009. Alberta forage manual. 2nd edition. AB Agric Agdex 120/20-1.
       Edmonton, Alta.

Carroll, K., K. Strasky, and J. Robinson. 2002. Promoting permanent pasture for the Peace.

Huebner, G. 2011. Red clover seed production. Manitoba Forage Seed Association.
      clover-seed-production&catid=40:business&Itemid=121 [Accessed Oct. 18, 2011].

MacKinnon, A., J. Pojar, and R. Coupe. 1992. Plants of northern British Columbia. Lone Pine      Formatted: English (United States)
      Publishing, Vancouver, B.C.                                                                Formatted: English (United States)

Northeast Invasive Plant Committee. 2010. Peace - Liard re-vegetation manual. Dawson Creek,

Otani, J. and C. Yoder. 2011. Clover insect pests - European flare for damage?
        [Accessed Oct. 6, 2011].

Sask Forage Council. 2007. Forage factsheets - species profiles from: Dryland forage species
      Adaptation CD. [Accessed Sept.
      23, 2011].

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