S-/ Agricultural Research and Education Center
Research Report RC-1985-6
Ona OCT 23 1987
University of Florida November 1985
COOL SEASON LEGUME PRODUCTION IN SOUTH CENTRAL FLORIDA, 1984-85
P. Mislevy, A. J. Overman, K. H. Quesenberry and F. G. Martin-
Red, white, crimson and berseem clover, winter vetch and alfalfa can
provide a source of high-quality forage when permanent pastures are
semi-dormant and producing very little. Production can begin in February and
continue through May, June or even July depending on plant species and
environmental conditions. These legumes may be rotationally grazed,
harvested as green chop, or made into hay. Red, berseem 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 dry months of March, April and early May. White clover is strongly
stoloniferous, generally-attaining a height of 6 to 12 inches. Its prostrate
habit of growth makes this plant most adapted to grazing.
Regardless of intended use, the production of high yielding, high
quality legume forage depends on the selection of varieties seeded,
fertilization and water control practices.
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.
Two legume studies (alfalfa and clover) were initiated during the
1984-85 growing season at the Ona Agricultural Research and Education Center
(AREC). Both experiments were seeded on November 15, 1984. The field-plot
layout was a randomized complete block with four replications.
Seeding rates were as follows: berseem clover 12, red clover
clover 4, winter vetch 30, alfalfa 12 and crimson clover 10 lb/A.
seed was inoculated with the proper strain of Rhizobium bacteria.
All alfalfa, crimson clover and selected varieties of red 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 clover, berseem clover, winter
vetch, and four Florida Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) breeding lines
of red clover were broadcast seeded and cultipacked twice. The experiment
received 4.1 inches of water from an overhead irrigation starting in early
1/ Professor, Agricultural Research and Education Center, Ona; Professor,
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Bradenton; Associate Professor,
Department of Agronomy, Gainesville; and Professor (Statistician,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Dolomite was applied at a rate of 1.0 t/A after seedling-emergence.
Fertilization practices were 450 lb/A of 0-10-20 (N-P205-K20) at seeding.
The herbicide Eptam was applied preplant, incorporated at a rate of 2 qts/A
Experiments were harvested one to three times depending on entry during
the spring-summer period, to a 2-inch stubble.
Following the establishment of all cool season legumes in 1983, 1984 and
1985, the entire area was monitored several times during the growing season
Results and Discussion
Legume dry matter yields for 1984-85 were quite low due to a severe
drought in December 1984 and January 1985. Irrigation was not applied until
February due to a mechanical breakdown of the system. This late application
of water may have compensated somewater, increasing late season yields.
Significant (P<0.05) differences in total dry matter yield were obtained
between cool season clover varieties and Cahaba winter vetch. The red clover
entries produced highest total seasonal dry matter yield averaging 2.05 t/A,
followed by crimson clover (1.6), berseem clover (1.4), white clover (1.2)
and Cahaba winter vetch (1.0 t/A) (Table 1). The experimental red clover
variety Florida Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) cycle 5 was the highest
yielder of red clover averaging 2.3 t/A followed by cycle 0, cycle 1 and
cycle 4 all yielding a total of 2.1 t/A dry matter when accumulated over
three harvests. The red clover entries averaged 1.25 t/A in harvest one
which was 61% of the total seasonal yield. This was similar to harvest one
of crimson clover (1.3 t/A). Red clover continued to produce respectable
second harvest yields averaging 0.7 t/A or 34% of the total seasonal yield.
All cool season entries produced about 90 to 95% of their total seasonal
yield in the first two harvests, except Cahaba winter vetch which died after
Red clover, berseem and crimson clover are bunch type legumes which have
an upright growth habit, making them desirable for hay harvest. This may
also coincide with good weather conditions for hay making during March-May.
Both crimson and berseem clover generally produce only one good single
harvest. In years with adequate moisture a second harvest may be produced.
Conversely, if excessive moisture is obtained, resulting in short periods of
standing water, crimson clover will usually die. Berseem and red clover will
generally tolerate, short periods of excessive moisture.
White clover generally produces lower yields than most red clover
entries, however it is best adapted for grazing and will tolerate wet soils
for short periods of time (2-3 days).
Total seasonal dry matter yields of alfalfa grown at Ona were also low
for the 1984-85 season, averaging 2.7 t/A (Table 2). Pioneer Fla 77 and
Dekalb DK 135 produced the highest dry matter yields averaging 3.3 and 3.2 i
t/A, respectively. These two varieties averaged 0.8 t/A dry matter every 30
days over a 4 month period. Yields would have been higher if plants were
watered during December and January, when irrigation mechanical problems were
Following the second harvest taken on May 13, potassium nutrient
deficiencies were experienced. Potassium chloride was applied at 160 lb/A
providing 100 lb/A potassium resulting in dark green plants approximately two
To determine the true performance of a cool season legume under specific
environmental (temperature and rainfall), soil (normal and waterlogged) and
biological conditions, testing must be conducted over a period of at least
two or more years. Dry matter yields of red clover, white clover and alfalfa
averaged 2.5, 1.8 and 3.0 t/A, respectively, over a two to six year period
(Table 3). When these legumes are seeded into soil that was well drained,
without an organic pan, and in soil where the legume had not been grown for
more than two years the alfalfa always produced higher yields. However, if
the soil contains an organic pan and 3 to 5 inches of rainfall was received
over a 2-4 day period, the alfalfa will usually die, but the red and white
clover will survive. When there is a disease like Pythium present in the
soil, white clover tends to persist better than red clover. However, both
white and red clover are quite susceptible to nematodes.
Nematode samples taken from the experimental area over two growing
seasons indicated stubby root (Trichodorus minor) and spiral
S(Helichotylenchus pseudorobustus) were the major nematode species present in
alfalfa and clover. The stubby root populations increased from year to year
indicating that alfalfa may be a host to stubby root nematode. The sprial
nematode population found in alfalfa actually decreased from year to year.
The same nematode species were also found in association with other cool
season legumes (red clover, white clover, etc.) but populations responded
differently to these legumes. The spiral nematode population was moderate
two years ago (initial sampling) and dropped to low, whereas the stubby root
nematode was always low, indicating that neither species prefer these cool
season legumes as host plants.
The Florida AES red clover entries produced the highest clover forage
yield during the 1984-85 cool season. These experimental entries established
rapidly, and maintained a 5-7 inch height advantage over the other red clover
The Osceola white clover out yielded LA S-1 by 40%, during the 1984-85
season. In addition, 20 to 30% of the Osceola plants lived over the summer
period, allowing for more rapid white clover production during the fall and
winter, compared with plants started from seed.
'Pioneer Fla 77' and 'Dekalb DK 135' produced the highest alfalfa dry
* matter yields averaging 3.3 and 3.2 t/A. Average yield per harvest was 0.8
t/A. Plants continued producing forage until late July, when they died
following excessive moisture.
Dry matter yields of white, red, berseem and crimson clover
varieties grown at the AREC, Ona, 1984-85.
Harvest number and date
1 2 3
Brand Variety 3-25 5-13 6-12 Total
Funks Tibbee 1.3 a-c 0.3 b --- 1.6 bc
Funks Bigbee 1.1 b-e 0.3 b --- 1.4 cd
Funks Cahaba 1.0 d-f --- --- 1.0 d
Pioneer Osceola 0.9 ef 0.4 b 0.1 ab 1.4 cd
La S-1 0.8 f 0.2 b --- 1.0 d
Avg. 0.85 0.3 0.05 1.2
Fla AES Cycle 5 1.4 ab 0.7 a 0.2 a 2.3 a
Fla AES Cycle 0 1.4 a 0.6 a 0.1 ab 2.1 a
Fla AES Cycle 4 1.2 a-d 0.8 a 0.1 ab 2.1 a
Fla AES Cycle 1 1.4 ab 0.6 a 0.1 ab 2.1 a
Ky AES Kenstar 1.0 c-f 0.7 a 0.2 a 1.9 ab
Nolins 1.1 b-e 0.6 a 0.1 ab 1.8 a-c
Avg. 1.25 0.7 0.1 2.05
the column followed by the same letters are not significantly
(P<0.05) different according to Duncans Multiple Range Test.
Fla AES = Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Ky AES = Kentucky
Agricultural Experiment Station.
Experimental entry, seed not available for commercial use.
Soil type: Ona fine sand.
Eptam applied preplant, incorporated at 2 qts/A commercial
Date seeded: November 15, 1984.
crimson clover 10 Ib/A; berseem clover 12 Ibs/A; vetch 30 Ib/A;
white clover 4 Ib/A; red clover 8 Ib/A; and alfalfa 12 Ib/A.
Fertilizer rate: 450 Ib/A 0-10-20 preplant + Dolomite at 1 t/A after seedling
4.1 inches of water from an overhead system starting in early
- __ -- ... ... .
Table 2. Dry matter yields of alfalfa
varieties grown at the AREC-Ona,
Harvest number and date
1 2 3 4 Total
Brand Variety 3-25 5-13 6-12 7-18 yield
Pioneer Fla 77 1.1 1.0 0.7 0.5 3.3
Dekalb DK 135 1.1 1.0 0.7 0.4 3.2
Dekalb 187 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.4 2.9
Dekalb 167 R 0.9 0.6 0.6 0.4 2.5
NK t Maxidor 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.3 1.9
Avg. 0.9 0.8 0.6 0.4 2.7
tNK = Northrup King.
Soil type: Ona fine sand
Herbicide: Eptam applied preplant, incorporated at 2 qts/A commercial product
Date seeded: November 15, 1984
Seeding rate: 12 lb/A
Fertilizer rate: 450 Ib/A 0-10-20 preplant + Dolomite at 1 t/A after seedling
Irrigation: 4.1 inches of water from an overhead sprinkler system,
starting in early February
Table 3. Total seasonal dry matter yields of some commercial red clover,
white clover and alfalfa varieties seeded at the AREC, Ona during a
2 to 6 year period.
Brand Variety 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 Avg.
Kentucky AES Kenstar t 3.0 t t t 1.9 2.5
NAPB Redland II 1.9 2.7 3.2 t t 2.6
NK Florie 1.9 2.7 t 2.5 t 2.4
Nolins 2.1 3.0 t 2.9 3.1 1.8 2.6
Avg. 2.0 2.9 3.1 2.8 1.9 2.5
Pioneer Osceola t t 1.1 t 2.5 1.4 1.7
La S-1 1.5 2.5 0.5 2.2 1.8 1.0 1.6
NK Arcadia 1.5 2.5 1.2 2.8 t t 2.0
Avg. 1.5 2.5 0.9 2.5 2.2 1.2 1.8
Pioneer Fla 77 1.8 4.6 + 1.7 3.3 2.9
Hairy Peruvian 1.4 4.9 t t 3.2
NAPB Apallo 1.6 4.3 t t t 3.0
NAPB Vangard 1.7 4.2 t t t t 3.0
WL WL 600 1.5 4.5 t t t 3.0
Avg. 1.6 4.5 1.7 3.3 3.0
Entry not seeded that year.
Entry died due to excessive moiture and waterlogged soil for about 1 week.
Seedlings destroyed due to disease (Pythium, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium).
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