As we approach the end of a tough winter in many areas, a significant number of growers may soon look to enhance their pastures and hay fields. One effective strategy to improve damaged, grass-dominated pastures is to introduce legumes through frost seeding.
The Value of Adding Legumes
While frost seeding can be accomplished with many adapted forage legumes, the excellent seedling vigor of red clover makes it a popular choice. Adding a 25-30 percent legume component (such as medium red clover) to the pasture offers several benefits, some of which include:
- Improved quality for grazing animals for improved health
- Increased forage production (up to 50 to 100 percent)
- Reduced amount of applied nitrogen fertilizer required
Forage First® Factor: Three-Year Red Clover
Red clover resilience (or lack thereof) is typically triggered by diseases that affect crown health. Most common red clovers (medium red clover included) typically endure for a couple of years before they fall victim. In many cases, a two-year stand of clover fits the cropping cycle, delivering forage in a brief time frame and providing a valuable nurse or relay crop for the ensuing cash crop.
However, when the rotation allows, it makes sense to incorporate a three-year clover. Three-year clovers have a stronger resistance to crown diseases, which enables persistence into a third year (or two years removed from the seeding year). The additional year provides at least one spring cutting, if not multiple harvests to help growers further supplement hay stocks (which more than pays for the slightly higher seed cost).
This chart represents expected differences in yield and overall value between traditional medium red clover and improved 3-year red clover production.
Forage First® FF 9615 3-Year Red Clover
Showcased above is our FF 9615 3-Year Red Clover. FF 9615 was bred in and adapted for the Midwest and Northeast, bringing optimum forage production and increased resistance to the greater disease pressure often in those climates.
FF 9615 Trial Results
In 2015 we sent our proprietary FF 9615 3-Year Red Clover seed to Penn State University’s forage variety trials to compare production against other new and leading red and white clovers in the industry. Click here to view the results from the clover trials being maintained at Penn State University.
We believed it would do well. This variety has demonstrated excellent forage quality while persisting into a third year, thanks to excellent disease protection. FF 9615 has proven to work over a wide range of soil types and conditions and can be used in hay, silage or grazing systems.