Red Clover

Trifolium pratense

Technical Data Sheet
Technical Data Sheet

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense

Technical Data Sheet

Description

Purpose & Fit

 Red clover is a high-production forage utilized for grazing, cut-and-carry systems, hay, and silage. Good seedling vigor, its complementary nature with other mix components and rotations, pollinator attractant qualities, ease of establishment, and high yields make it an especially attractive addition to forage systems.

Mixed stands with grasses are preferred to prevent erosion and provide forage should the clover disappear. If no-tilling, red clover is the easiest legume to be planted with quality comparable to alfalfa under similar harvest schedules. Red clover establishes rapidly and has a higher success rate when interseeding than vetches, peas, or crimson clover. More tolerant of lower soil pH, less fertility, shade, and poor drainage than alfalfa, yields are higher than other forage legumes except for alfalfa.

Intake is higher for alfalfa than red clover. However, quality does not decline as quickly, giving red clover a more prolonged harvest period for high-quality forage. 17% red clover is equivalent to 24% alfalfa in terms of protein intake.

Growth Pattern

A short-lived perennial (2 – 4 years), red clover will form between a 24 – 36 inch taproot with secondary roots that reach up to 12 inches deep. Dense lateral roots occur in the upper 5 inches of the soil profile. Above ground, the plants can grow between 2 – 3 feet tall. Stems and large leaves are hairy, fleshy, and feature a V-shaped watermark with pink flowers.

Interseeding

Red clover can be under-sown or direct-sown into small grains or other short-statured crops or utilized in grass sward renovation. Frost seeding at a rate of 12 – 14 lbs./A works well.

Did You Know?

Seeds/Lb: 270,000 – 275,000

Description

Purpose & Fit

Red clover is a high-production forage utilized for grazing, cut-and-carry systems, hay, and silage. Good seedling vigor, its complementary nature with other mix components and rotations, pollinator attractant qualities, ease of establishment, and high yields make it an especially attractive addition to forage systems.

Mixed stands with grasses are preferred to prevent erosion and provide forage should the clover disappear. If no-tilling, red clover is the easiest legume to be planted with quality comparable to alfalfa under similar harvest schedules. Red clover establishes rapidly and has a higher success rate when interseeding than vetches, peas, or crimson clover. More tolerant of lower soil pH, less fertility, shade, and poor drainage than alfalfa, yields are higher than other forage legumes except for alfalfa.

Intake is higher for alfalfa than red clover. However, quality does not decline as quickly, giving red clover a more prolonged harvest period for high-quality forage. 17% red clover is equivalent to 24% alfalfa in terms of protein intake.

Growth Pattern

A short-lived perennial (2 – 4 years), red clover will form between a 24 – 36 inch taproot with secondary roots that reach up to 12 inches deep. Dense lateral roots occur in the upper 5 inches of the soil profile. Above ground, the plants can grow between 2 – 3 feet tall. Stems and large leaves are hairy, fleshy, and feature a V-shaped watermark with pink flowers.

Interseeding

Red clover can be under-sown or direct-sown into small grains or other short-statured crops or utilized in grass sward renovation. Frost seeding at a rate of 12 – 14 lbs./A works well.

Did You Know?

Seeds/Lb: 270,000 – 275,000

Description

Purpose & Fit

Red clover is a high-production forage utilized for grazing, cut-and-carry systems, hay, and silage. Good seedling vigor, its complementary nature with other mix components and rotations, pollinator attractant qualities, ease of establishment, and high yields make it an especially attractive addition to forage systems.

Mixed stands with grasses are preferred to prevent erosion and provide forage should the clover disappear. If no-tilling, red clover is the easiest legume to be planted with quality comparable to alfalfa under similar harvest schedules. Red clover establishes rapidly and has a higher success rate when interseeding than vetches, peas, or crimson clover. More tolerant of lower soil pH, less fertility, shade, and poor drainage than alfalfa, yields are higher than other forage legumes except for alfalfa.

Intake is higher for alfalfa than red clover. However, quality does not decline as quickly, giving red clover a more prolonged harvest period for high-quality forage. 17% red clover is equivalent to 24% alfalfa in terms of protein intake.

Growth Pattern

A short-lived perennial (2 – 4 years), red clover will form between a 24 – 36 inch taproot with secondary roots that reach up to 12 inches deep. Dense lateral roots occur in the upper 5 inches of the soil profile. Above ground, the plants can grow between 2 – 3 feet tall. Stems and large leaves are hairy, fleshy, and feature a V-shaped watermark with pink flowers.

Interseeding

Red clover can be under-sown or direct-sown into small grains or other short-statured crops or utilized in grass sward renovation. Frost seeding at a rate of 12 – 14 lbs./A works well.

Did You Know?

Seeds/Lb: 270,000 – 275,000

Adaptation

Climate & Soil

Red clover will grow in most locations and most soil types but will require precipitation or irrigation of between 25 – 40 inches per year. Cold hardiness, low light requirements, and compatibility with multiple species enable red clover to fit into many production environments. Red clover can replace alfalfa in too wet or acidic areas and will tolerate some soil salinity. Grown best on medium to well-drained soils, temporary drought, and waterlogging conditions are possible with red clover. Red clover will tolerate poor drainage more than alfalfa, but less than white clover.

Soil pH: 5.6 – 6.7

Optimum Growth Range: 40°F – 70°F

Adaptation

Climate & Soil

Red clover will grow in most locations and most soil types but will require precipitation or irrigation of between 25 – 40 inches per year. Cold hardiness, low light requirements, and compatibility with multiple species enable red clover to fit into many production environments. Red clover can replace alfalfa in too wet or acidic areas and will tolerate some soil salinity. Grown best on medium to well-drained soils, temporary drought, and waterlogging conditions are possible with red clover. Red clover will tolerate poor drainage more than alfalfa, but less than white clover.

Soil pH: 5.6 – 6.7

Optimum Growth Range: 40°F – 70°F

Adaptation

Climate & Soil

Red clover will grow in most locations and most soil types but will require precipitation or irrigation of between 25 – 40 inches per year. Cold hardiness, low light requirements, and compatibility with multiple species enable red clover to fit into many production environments. Red clover can replace alfalfa in too wet or acidic areas and will tolerate some soil salinity. Grown best on medium to well-drained soils, temporary drought, and waterlogging conditions are possible with red clover. Red clover will tolerate poor drainage more than alfalfa, but less than white clover.

Soil pH: 5.6 – 6.7

Optimum Growth Range: 40°F – 70°F

Establishment

Planting

Seed into small grains or other new seedings with a grain drill (small seeder attached), band seeder, corrugated roller seeder, pasture renovator, or cyclone-type seeder. Best sowing occurs utilizing a cultipacker seeder. If planting a mixed stand, plant grasses in late summer/early fall and add red clover the following late winter or early spring. Seeding clover with grass in the spring will favor the legume over the grass. Late summer seeding can be successful, but there is a risk of drought and crown-rot injury. Until established, keep grasses clipped or grazed. Frost seeding is possible.

Seeding Depth: ¼”

Germination

Min Time To Emergence: 7 days

Ideal Temp: 70°F

Seeding Rate

Monoculture: 10 – 15 Lb/A

Establishment

Planting

Seed into small grains or other new seedings with a grain drill (small seeder attached), band seeder, corrugated roller seeder, pasture renovator, or cyclone-type seeder. Best sowing occurs utilizing a cultipacker seeder. If planting a mixed stand, plant grasses in late summer/early fall and add red clover the following late winter or early spring. Seeding clover with grass in the spring will favor the legume over the grass. Late summer seeding can be successful, but there is a risk of drought and crown-rot injury. Until established, keep grasses clipped or grazed. Frost seeding is possible.

Seeding Depth: ¼”

Germination

Min Time To Emergence: 7 days

Ideal Temp: 70°F

Seeding Rate

Monoculture: 10 – 15 Lb/A

Establishment

Planting

Seed into small grains or other new seedings with a grain drill (small seeder attached), band seeder, corrugated roller seeder, pasture renovator, or cyclone-type seeder. Best sowing occurs utilizing a cultipacker seeder. If planting a mixed stand, plant grasses in late summer/early fall and add red clover the following late winter or early spring. Seeding clover with grass in the spring will favor the legume over the grass. Late summer seeding can be successful, but there is a risk of drought and crown-rot injury. Until established, keep grasses clipped or grazed. Frost seeding is possible.

Seeding Depth: ¼”

Germination

Min Time To Emergence: 7 days

Ideal Temp: 70°F

Seeding Rate

Monoculture: 10 – 15 Lb/A

Management

Grazing

Utilize rotational instead of continuous grazing to lengthen the stand’s life and keep animals from preferentially grazing the clover. Graze late winter or early spring renovations until animals begin to bite off red clover seedlings. Maintaining the clover in the vegetative stage will encourage tillering.

Earliest Time To Graze: 8″ – 10″

Fertilizer Requirements

Based on a soil test, correct any deficiencies in P or K before planting. Harvesting red clover will remove 12lbs/A – 15lbs/A Phosphorus and 50lbs/A – 60lbs/A of Potash per ton of dry matter harvested.

At Planting: 20 Lb/A N

During Grazing Season: Not Applicable

Hay or Silage?

When utilized for hay, condition mechanically as red clover can be susceptible to leaf shattering. Haymaking should only occur under dry conditions with less than 50% of the stand flowering to achieve optimal protein content. Wilt red clover for 24 – 48 hours to correct low digestible matter and water-soluble carbohydrates. Additives such as molasses, inoculants, or enzymes will help to obtain good silage. Needing about 45 days to store carbohydrates before a hard freeze occurs, remove excess growth in freezing temperatures. If left in the field, stand loss could happen. Do not cut during hot, dry weather as it will weaken plants and result in thinner stands in the following years. After the first year, cut swards 3 – 4 times between May and September with adequate moisture and growth. Expect the first harvest 60 – 70 days after seeding and cut to a 2” stubble height. Disadvantages of utilizing red clover as hay include dustiness, difficulty in curing heavy first cuttings, and additional cuttings may have a fungus that will cause animals to slobber.

Timing: Early Flower Stage

Cuttings During Season: 3 – 4

Recovery

Minimum Graze Height: 3″ – 6″

Rest Period: 10 – 20 days

Mixes

If seeding red clover with a small grain, remove the straw before it smothers the clover. The advantages of sowing with grasses include reduced bloat potential and rapid drying for hay. The disadvantages are that feed will be higher in fiber and lower in crude protein. A typical seeding mix consists of 8 lb./A – 10 lb./A red clover with 3lb./A – 5 lbs./A timothy. Make sure to utilize separate seedboxes during planting to ensure uniformity.

  • Timothy
  • Tall Fescue
  • Annual Ryegrass
  • Chicory
  • Oats
  • Triticale
  • Barley

Yields

Tons of Dry Matter/A: 3 – 5

Management

Grazing

Utilize rotational instead of continuous grazing to lengthen the stand’s life and keep animals from preferentially grazing the clover. Graze late winter or early spring renovations until animals begin to bite off red clover seedlings. Maintaining the clover in the vegetative stage will encourage tillering.

Earliest Time To Graze: 8″ – 10″

Fertilizer Requirements

Based on a soil test, correct any deficiencies in P or K before planting. Harvesting red clover will remove 12lbs/A – 15lbs/A Phosphorus and 50lbs/A – 60lbs/A of Potash per ton of dry matter harvested.

At Planting: 20 Lb/A N

During Grazing Season: Not Applicable

Hay or Silage?

When utilized for hay, condition mechanically as red clover can be susceptible to leaf shattering. Haymaking should only occur under dry conditions with less than 50% of the stand flowering to achieve optimal protein content. Wilt red clover for 24 – 48 hours to correct low digestible matter and water-soluble carbohydrates. Additives such as molasses, inoculants, or enzymes will help to obtain good silage. Needing about 45 days to store carbohydrates before a hard freeze occurs, remove excess growth in freezing temperatures. If left in the field, stand loss could happen. Do not cut during hot, dry weather as it will weaken plants and result in thinner stands in the following years. After the first year, cut swards 3 – 4 times between May and September with adequate moisture and growth. Expect the first harvest 60 – 70 days after seeding and cut to a 2” stubble height. Disadvantages of utilizing red clover as hay include dustiness, difficulty in curing heavy first cuttings, and additional cuttings may have a fungus that will cause animals to slobber.

Timing: Early Flower Stage

Cuttings During Season: 3 – 4

Recovery

Minimum Graze Height: 3″ – 6″

Rest Period: 10 – 20 days

Mixes

If seeding red clover with a small grain, remove the straw before it smothers the clover. The advantages of sowing with grasses include reduced bloat potential and rapid drying for hay. The disadvantages are that feed will be higher in fiber and lower in crude protein. A typical seeding mix consists of 8 lb./A – 10 lb./A red clover with 3lb./A – 5 lbs./A timothy. Make sure to utilize separate seedboxes during planting to ensure uniformity.

  • Timothy
  • Tall Fescue
  • Annual Ryegrass
  • Chicory
  • Oats
  • Triticale
  • Barley

Yields

Tons of Dry Matter/A: 3 – 5

Management

Grazing

Utilize rotational instead of continuous grazing to lengthen the stand’s life and keep animals from preferentially grazing the clover. Graze late winter or early spring renovations until animals begin to bite off red clover seedlings. Maintaining the clover in the vegetative stage will encourage tillering.

Earliest Time To Graze: 8″ – 10″

Fertilizer Requirements

Based on a soil test, correct any deficiencies in P or K before planting. Harvesting red clover will remove 12lbs/A – 15lbs/A Phosphorus and 50lbs/A – 60lbs/A of Potash per ton of dry matter harvested.

At Planting: 20 Lb/A N

During Grazing Season: Not Applicable

Hay or Silage

When utilized for hay, condition mechanically as red clover can be susceptible to leaf shattering. Haymaking should only occur under dry conditions with less than 50% of the stand flowering to achieve optimal protein content. Wilt red clover for 24 – 48 hours to correct low digestible matter and water-soluble carbohydrates. Additives such as molasses, inoculants, or enzymes will help to obtain good silage. Needing about 45 days to store carbohydrates before a hard freeze occurs, remove excess growth in freezing temperatures. If left in the field, stand loss could happen. Do not cut during hot, dry weather as it will weaken plants and result in thinner stands in the following years. After the first year, cut swards 3 – 4 times between May and September with adequate moisture and growth. Expect the first harvest 60 – 70 days after seeding and cut to a 2” stubble height. Disadvantages of utilizing red clover as hay include dustiness, difficulty in curing heavy first cuttings, and additional cuttings may have a fungus that will cause animals to slobber.

Timing: Early Flower Stage

Cuttings During Season: 3 – 4

Recovery

Minimum Graze Height: 3″ – 6″

Rest Period: 10 – 20 days

Mixes

If seeding red clover with a small grain, remove the straw before it smothers the clover. The advantages of sowing with grasses include reduced bloat potential and rapid drying for hay. The disadvantages are that feed will be higher in fiber and lower in crude protein. A typical seeding mix consists of 8 lb./A – 10 lb./A red clover with 3lb./A – 5 lbs./A timothy. Make sure to utilize separate seedboxes during planting to ensure uniformity.

  • Timothy
  • Tall Fescue
  • Annual Ryegrass
  • Chicory
  • Oats
  • Triticale
  • Barley

Yields

Tons of Dry Matter/A: 3 – 5

Considerations

Permanent Pasture

During the 2nd or 3rd season, red clover will produce enough seed to re-establish itself. Once mature, mow fields with a rotary mower and remove grazing animals around July to allow for seed formation. Red clover does have a shorter stand life than alfalfa or white clover, but stands will last 2 – 3 years.

Competitiveness

Red clover is very competitive with grass seedlings if planted together.

Risks

Under some growing conditions, red clover can be high in estrogen causing reproductive issues in animals. Black Patch infections (found in most red clover stands) may make second or later cuttings unpalatable to livestock. While there are techniques to minimize Black Patch, most plantings experience infection at some point. Stands may be challenging to establish and lose productivity after 2 – 3 successive clover rotations. When this occurs, use a white clover instead of red clover to reduce populations of red clover specific diseases and pests.

Diseases

  • Anthracnose
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Fusarium Root
  • Crown Rot
  • Yellow Mosaic
  • Alfalfa Mosaic
  • Red Clover Vein Mosaic Virus
  • Pea Streak Mosaic
  • Sclerotinia Trifoliorum
  • Black patch
  • Target Spot
  • Gray Leaf Spot
  • Spring Black Stem
  • Summer Black Stem
  • Pythium
  • Rhizoctonia
  • Fusarium

Pests

  • Clover Root Curculio
  • Clover Root Borer
  • Clover Leaf Weevils
  • Potato Leafhopper
  • Plant Bugs
  • Clover Seed Chalcid
  • Meadow Spittlebug
  • Grasshopper
  • Alfalfa Weevils
  • Green Cloverworm
  • Armyworms
  • Cutworms
  • Clover Stem Borers
  • Aphids
  • Lygus Bugs
  • Clover Head Caterpillar
  • Clover Seed Midge

Considerations

Permanent Pasture

During the 2nd or 3rd season, red clover will produce enough seed to re-establish itself. Once mature, mow fields with a rotary mower and remove grazing animals around July to allow for seed formation. Red clover does have a shorter stand life than alfalfa or white clover, but stands will last 2 – 3 years.

Competitiveness

Red clover is very competitive with grass seedlings if planted together.

Risks

Under some growing conditions, red clover can be high in estrogen causing reproductive issues in animals. Black Patch infections (found in most red clover stands) may make second or later cuttings unpalatable to livestock. While there are techniques to minimize Black Patch, most plantings experience infection at some point. Stands may be challenging to establish and lose productivity after 2 – 3 successive clover rotations. When this occurs, use a white clover instead of red clover to reduce populations of red clover specific diseases and pests.

Diseases

  • Anthracnose
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Fusarium Root
  • Crown Rot
  • Yellow Mosaic
  • Alfalfa Mosaic
  • Red Clover Vein Mosaic Virus
  • Pea Streak Mosaic
  • Sclerotinia Trifoliorum
  • Black patch
  • Target Spot
  • Gray Leaf Spot
  • Spring Black Stem
  • Summer Black Stem
  • Pythium
  • Rhizoctonia
  • Fusarium

Pests

  • Clover Root Curculio
  • Clover Root Borer
  • Clover Leaf Weevils
  • Potato Leafhopper
  • Plant Bugs
  • Clover Seed Chalcid
  • Meadow Spittlebug
  • Grasshopper
  • Alfalfa Weevils
  • Green Cloverworm
  • Armyworms
  • Cutworms
  • Clover Stem Borers
  • Aphids
  • Lygus Bugs
  • Clover Head Caterpillar
  • Clover Seed Midge

Considerations

Permanent Pasture

During the 2nd or 3rd season, red clover will produce enough seed to re-establish itself. Once mature, mow fields with a rotary mower and remove grazing animals around July to allow for seed formation. Red clover does have a shorter stand life than alfalfa or white clover, but stands will last 2 – 3 years.

Competitiveness

Red clover is very competitive with grass seedlings if planted together.

Risks

Under some growing conditions, red clover can be high in estrogen causing reproductive issues in animals. Black Patch infections (found in most red clover stands) may make second or later cuttings unpalatable to livestock. While there are techniques to minimize Black Patch, most plantings experience infection at some point. Stands may be challenging to establish and lose productivity after 2 – 3 successive clover rotations. When this occurs, use a white clover instead of red clover to reduce populations of red clover specific diseases and pests.

Diseases

  • Anthracnose
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Fusarium Root
  • Crown Rot
  • Yellow Mosaic
  • Alfalfa Mosaic
  • Red Clover Vein Mosaic Virus
  • Pea Streak Mosaic
  • Sclerotinia Trifoliorum
  • Black patch
  • Target Spot
  • Gray Leaf Spot
  • Spring Black Stem
  • Summer Black Stem
  • Pythium
  • Rhizoctonia
  • Fusarium

Pests

  • Clover Root Curculio
  • Clover Root Borer
  • Clover Leaf Weevils
  • Potato Leafhopper
  • Plant Bugs
  • Clover Seed Chalcid
  • Meadow Spittlebug
  • Grasshopper
  • Alfalfa Weevils
  • Green Cloverworm
  • Armyworms
  • Cutworms
  • Clover Stem Borers
  • Aphids
  • Lygus Bugs
  • Clover Head Caterpillar
  • Clover Seed Midge

Please Note:

All information provided is the result of research, our own experience, or the experiences shared by our customers.

We strongly encourage consulting additional resources before planting to ensure the best fit for your location and needs.

Questions or Advice
Share Your Experience

Please Note:

All information provided is the result of research, our own experience, or the experiences shared by our customers.

We strongly encourage consulting additional resources before planting to ensure the best fit for your location and needs.

Questions or Advice
Share Your Experience

Please Note:

All information provided is the result of research, our own experience, or the experiences shared by our customers.

We strongly encourage consulting additional resources before planting to ensure the best fit for your location and needs.

Questions or Advice
Share Your Experience