Agricultural Research Center
Research Report RC-1983-7 November, 1983
COOL SEASON LEGUME PRODUCTION IN SOUTH CENTRAL FLORIDA, 1982-83
P. Mislevy and F. G. Martin -
The legumes, red, white, and crimson clover, and alfalfa, can provide a
source of high-quality forage when permanent pastures are semi-dormant and
producing very little. Production can begin in late January and continue
through May, June or even July, depending on plant species and envirnomental
conditions. These legumes may be rotationally grazed, harvested as green
chop, or made into hay. Red and crimson clover and alfalfa are upright,
bunch-type plants that can attain a height of 18 to 24 inches. These species
are well adapted for hay which can be made during the d months of March,
April and May. White clover is strongly stoloniferous, ge 14-a
height of 6 to 12 inches. Its prostrate habit of growth make~ULhisgp4&5 most
adapted to grazing. SF A
I .d to Univ. of Florida
Regardless of intended use, the production of high yielding, ig
legume forage depends on the selection of varieties seeded, soil drainage,
fertilization and water control practices. Recent research appears to
indicate that cool season legume production is seriously hampered by nematodes
and diseases when these species are grown more than two consecutive years on
the same land.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate cool season legumes for forage
production and persistence in south-central Florida. Where trade names are
used, no endorsement is intended.
1/ Professor, Agricultural Research Center, Ona; and Associate statistician,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Two legume studies (alfalfa and clover) were initiated during the 1982-83
growing season at the Agricultural Research Center Ona, However, excessive
rainfall and saturated soil destroyed the alfalfa experiment and killed the
The red and white clover experiment was seeded November 24, 1982. The
field-plot layout was a randomized complete block with four replications.
Seeding rate of red and white diover was 8 and 4 Ib/A, respectively. All
legume seed was inociuated with proper strain of Rhizobium bacteria.
All varieties except the white clover were drilled with a Planet Jr. (R)
seeder in rows 7 inches apart to a depth of 0.5 inches and double cultipacked.
The white cidVer was broadcast seeded and cultipaiked twice.
The experiment was irrigated immediately after seeding and when needed
throughout the growkig season .'ith an overhead system applying a total of 7.3
Calcium and magnesium contents were adequate in both experiments.
Fertilization practices were 525 1b/A of 0-10-20 (N-P205-K20) at seeding.
The red and white clover experiment was harvested when the forage
attained a height of 9 to 12 inches. Both legumes were harvested to a 2-inch
Results and Discussion
The red and white clover varieties grown during the 1982-83 winter-spring
season were harvested up to f6ur times. Dry matter yields averaged 0.7 t/A
for both red and ihite clover for harvest one (Table 1). This harvest, taken
on April 14, 1983, developed about 45 days late when compared with previous
years. This delay in maturity of the first harvest may have been
partially due to the extremely wet and cool spring averaging 3.5 times more
rainfall and 50 F lower temperatures for February and 2.6 times more rainfall
and 60 F lower temperatures in March. Harvest two along with a more favorable
environment produced the highest dry matter yield averaging 1.1 and 1.2 t/A
for red clover and white clover varieties, respectively. Forage at this
harvest was allowed 34 days of regrowth, with white clover averaging a height
of 7 inches and red clover 15 inches (Table 2). Harvest three, removed on
June 20, produced dry matter yields of 0.9 t/A for red clover and 0.7 t/A for
Winter annual legumes like red clover grown during the months of April,
May and June can be harvested for hay because of favorable weather conditions.
This plant grows in an upright position and will attain a height of about 15
inches every 30 days. However, care should be taken not to seed red clover on
the same land area for more than two consecutive years because of a buildup of
root knot nematode. This nematode attacks young red clover seedlings
completely destroying the crop.
Total seasonal dry matter'yield for red clover ranged from a high of 3.2
t/A for "Nolins" to a low of 2.5 t/A for Northrup King "NK-78122". White
clover dry matter yields ranged from 2.8 to 2.2 t/A for "NK Arcadia" and "La
S-1", respectively. Statistical analysis revealed no significant differences
between clover varieties for harvest 1, 2, 3 or total yield.
Crimson clover and alfalfa varieties were also seeded in the fall of
1982. Plants developed normally and attained heights of about 12 inches by
mid February. However, following the wettest February in 40 years (8.4
inches rainfall) both alfalfa and crimson clover plants died due to excessive
During the 1982-83 growing season no significant differences in dry
matter yield were obtained between red and white clover varieties. "Redland
II" red clover and Arcadia white clover produced highest dry matter yields
averaging 3.2 and 2.8 t/A, respectively. These two species were able to
withstand excessive moisture in February and March without plant decimation.
However, alfalfa and crimson clover growing in the same experimental area were
destroyed by the excessive soil moisture.
Table 1. Dry matter yields of white and red clover varieties grown at the
ARC-Ona during 1982-83.
1 2 3 4
Brand Variety 4-14-83 5-18-83 6-20-83 8-3-83 Total
NAPBT Redland II 0.8 1.3 0.8 0.3 3.2
Nolins 0.9 1.0 1.0 --- 2.9
NK NK-78122* 0.4 1.0 0.8 0.3 2.5
Avg. 0.7 1.1 0.9 0.2
NK Arcadia 0.9 1.2 0.7 --- 2.8
La S-1 0.5 1.1 0.6 --- 2.2
Avg. 0.7 1.2 0.7
* No significant (P<0.05) difference was obtained between varieties of red or
white clover in 1983-84.
t NAPB = North American Plant Breeders, NK = Northrup King.
SExperimental entry, seed not commercially available.
Soil type: Ona fine sand
Herbicide: Eptam applied preplant, incorporated at 4 pints/A commercial
Date seeded: 11-24-82
Fertilization rate: 525 lb/A 0-10-20 N-P205-K20
Irrigation: Applied 7.35 inches of water through overhead sprinklers.
Table 2. Agronomic characteristics of red and white clover grown at the ARC-
1 2 3
Brand Variety Height Stage Height Height
NAPB Redland II 9 V 15 19
Nolins 15 F 17 24
NK NK-78122 6 V 14 22
NK 'Arcadia 9 V 7 13
La S-1. 9 F 7 10
Harvest 1 = 4-14-83; Harvest 2 = 5-18-83; Harvest 3 = 6-20-83
V = vegetative stage of growth; F = flower stage
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