Choose Clovers Wisely - Annual and Biennial
This clover is an annual who’s winter survivability depends greatly on weather conditions. With snow cover or when planted with winter cereals, crimson will often be protected enough to survive to spring. It will not generally survive low winter temperatures with no snow cover. Also, if planted early enough that it heads out before winter, it’s lifecycle will be complete. Regardless of its winter survivability, crimson clover is a very strong nitrogen fixer and will scavenge nutrients for you. Crimson is also shade tolerant and can be used in early or late interseeding blends going into corn (Hint: that’s why we use it in Interseeder Plus).
The long and short: Use crimson clover as a fall planted or summer interseeded crop where you want to fix nitrogen, scavenge nutrients, and suppress weeds with the option of forage use.
Rate: 15-20 lbs per acre alone, 5-10 lbs per acre in a blend
Balansa clover is a the most winter-hardy annual that can be used as a cover crop or forage. Its growth begins as a multi-branched rosette which makes it apt to recover after harvest and grazing. Balansa has leaves all along the stems that form from the rosette which add to its yield and forage quality. This clover is cold tolerant and can withstand early frosts in the fall, but will winterkill is likely Iowa and north. As a cover crop, balansa will provide excellent ground cover to suppress weeds while fixing nitrogen for any following crops (why we also include this clover in Interseeder Plus ).
The long and short: Use balansa clover as a nitrogen fixing cover crop in spring or late summer planted blends where high quality forage is a goal.
Rate: 5-8 lbs per acre alone, 3-5 lbs per acre in a blend
Berseem clover can be planted after any chance of a frost until the beginning of August. This clover is flexible as a forage option as it can be in a grazing blend (we use it in Summer Blend) or you can treat it very similarly to alfalfa. Its taproot makes it productive in the summer and its upright growth makes it possible to be cut, wilted and dry baled.
The long and short: Use berseem where you want a clover in a summer cover crop or grazing blend. Also, if you have a thinning alfalfa stand, berseem can be used to fill in and contribute to your dry hay production.
Rate: 15-18 lbs per acre alone, 5-8 lbs per acre in a blend
Yellow Blossom Sweet Clover
Yellow Blossom Sweet Clover is a true biennial as it will quickly form a low growing rosette in the first year then, after overwintering, it will begin its flowering process. Beneficial pollinators will be attracted to this clover after it overwinters and forms its (you guessed it) yellow blossoms. As a cover crop, this clover will be a high nitrogen fixer in both seasons of growth, but will need terminated in a timely manner before spring seeded crops. Yellow blossom sweet clover does contain coumarin, which can come off as a bitter taste to cattle, so it would not be our first choice as a forage option.
The long and short: Use yellow blossom sweet clover as a late summer or fall planted green manure cover crop where forage use it not a goal.
Rate: 7-8 lbs per acre alone, 3-5 lbs per acre in a blend
These examples are just a taste of the annual and biennial clovers that exist. It is important to note that the rate recommendations are just guidelines and can vary from situation to situation. Clovers can be very useful in meeting goals of your operation!