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Agricultural Research and Education Center U )
Research Report RC-1988-9 ('Jind'1988
COOL SEASON LEGUME PRODUCTION: AREC ONA 1987-88
.R. J. Stephenson, O. C. Ruelke, K. H. Quesenberry and C. G. Chambliss-/
Winter legumes are important forage plants in Florida, providing high
quality feed during the winter months. They contain high levels of protein in
the leaves, stems and seeds which make them desirable for grazing, silage and
Legumes form root nodules which fix atmospheric N for protein synthesis
in the plant, as well as supplying nitrogen for non-leguminous plants
(grasses) grown in association. They are an excellent source of P, K, Ca and
other minerals essential for beef and dairy animals. Legumes improve soil
tilth, provide ground cover and reduce soil erosion. In addition, they can be
plowed or disced under to enhance soil fertility'by increased microorganism
activity and allowing for rapid breakdown of organic matter.
Problems associated with legume production in south Florida include
diseases, nematodes, dry conditions at planting and seedling emergence
(November to January) and excess moisture during June to August. Alfalfa and
other cool-season biennial and perennial legumes act as annuals, and must be
reseeded each year because of excess soil moisture during the summer months.
This deters their widespread use.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate cool season legumes for forage
production in south Florida.
After the 1986-87 winter season, land was allowed o revegetate for about
five months, then sprayed with a 1% glyphosate (Roundup ) solution, mowed and
disced. Prior to seeding, 50 and 100 lb/A of P205 and K20 were applied and
disced into the soil.
Cool season legumes seeded at the Ona Agricultural Research and Education
Center (AREC) consisted of twelve alfalfa, two berseem, five red and one white
clovers. Legumes were inoculated with the proper strain of Rhizobium bacteria
and broadcast seeded on a clean tilled Ona fine sand soil November 18, 1987.
Seed was raked into the soil at a depth of to inch and cultipacked.
Seeding rates were: alfalfa, 10 Ib/A; berseem, 20 lb/A; red clover, 8 Ib/A;
and white clover, 5 lb/A. The study was conducted under dry land conditions.
Experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications.
- Assistant Professor, Agricultural Research and Education Center (AREC) Ona;
Professor, Department of Agronomy, Gainesville; Professor, Department
of Agronomy, Gainesville; Professor, Department of Agronomy, Gainesville.
Entries were harvested three times with a rotary plot harvester to a
stubble height of three inches. Initial harvest was made when the clovers
reached an approximate height of 12 inches and monthly for the next two
harvests. Plots were topdressed with 20 and 40 Ib/A of P205 and K20 after the
first harvest. Alfalfa stands were poor initially, became weedy, and were
Results and Discussion
Significant (P<0.05) differences occurred among and within legume types
(Table 1). Forage dry matter yields were uniform across the first two
harvests, with a decrease in production at the third harvest. This decrease
in production was due to unfavorable high temperatures, long daylength and
limited precipitation. Precipitation between the second and third harvests
was more than 2 inches below normal, but 2.5 inches above normal over the
Red and white clover entries averaged 2.25 and 2.23 t/A total dry matter
yield, respectively. Only 'Kenstar' red clover and 'Multicut' berseem clover
had significantly less total forage yield. Both entries consistently produced
less forage over harvest dates, than other tested legumes.
Red and berseem clovers are generally considered hay type forages and
produce forage for one season. 'Osceola' white clover performed well and is
better suited as a pasture-type forage, rather than a hay crop. White clover
performs well with adequate moisture and will persist for several years.
Yields for 'Osceola' and other legumes over a period of several years is given
in Table 2.
None of the alfalfa entries produced enough forage to constitute a
harvest and were overcome by weeds. Alfalfa is more susceptible to
wet-waterlogged soils than other legumes. Above normal precipitation over the
growing season, and especially January to March may have contributed to the
poor stand and growth of alfalfa entries.
Legume forage production ranged from a high of 2.44 (all red clover
entries) to a low of 1.49 ('Multicut' berseem clover) t/A dry matter.. Only
'Kenstar' and 'Multicut' red and berseem clovers produced significantly less
forage than other legumes tested.
When selecting a winter legume, one should consider their needs (pasture
vs. hay) and should look at production over a period of several years.
'Nolins' red clover and 'Bigbee' berseem clover performed well and would
make excellent hay crops. These cool-season legumes can be harvested in
March to May which is normally dry and good haymaking weather. 'Osceola'
white clover, the only white clover tested, performed well and is best suited
for pasture conditions.
Table 1. Dry matter forage production of cool season legumes grown at
Brand Variety 3/12 4/15 5/25 Total
NoliFs 0.81 at 0.98 ab 0.65 ab 2.44 a
Fla AES+ FL 5 0.85 a 0.82 bc 0.70 a 2.37 a
Fla AES FL 6EF5 0.89 a 0.81 bc 0.66 a 2.36 a
Fla AES FL MT C 0.78 a 0.80 bc 0.67 a 2.25 a
Ky AES Kenstar 0.61 b 0.72 cd 0.51 c 1.85 b
Average 0.79 0.83 0.64 2.25
Bigbee 0.78 a 1.05 a 0.53 bc 2.35 a
Multicut 0.50 c 0.58 d 0.41 c 1.49 c
Average 0.64 0.81 0.47 1.92
Osceola 0.85 a 0.87 a-c 0.51 c 2.23 a
Average 0.85 0.87 0.51 2.23
tMeans within a column followed by the same letters) are not significantly
different at the 0.05 level of probability according to Duncan's Multiple
Fla AES Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Ky AES Kentucky
Agricultural Experiment Station.
Experimental entry, seed not commercially available.
Table 2. Average dry matter forage production of selected cool-season legumes
grown at AREC-Ona, 1983-1988.
Brand Variety 1983 1984 1987 1988 Avg.
NAPB Redland II 3.2 t 1.3 2.2
Nolins 2.9 3.1 + 2.4 2.8
Pioneer Fla. 77 t 1.7 1.0 4 1.3
La S-I 2.2 1.8 t t 2.0
Osceola t 2.5 1.3 2.2 2.0
Entry not seeded that year.
Entry died because of waterlogged soils and/or poor stand.
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