CIRCULAR 317 MAY, 1967
FOR MORE EFFICIENT
1. Select soils that are naturally moist but not
subject to prolonged flooding.
2. Have soil tested.
3. Apply recommended kinds and amounts of
4. Prepare adequate seedbed for planting.
5. Select varieties best suited to soils and uses
to be made of the crop.
6. Apply adequate amounts of fertilizer at ap-
7. Inoculate seed before planting with the
proper nitrogen fixing bacteria.
8. Plant during recommended planting season
when soil is very moist.
9. Provide adequate irrigation and drainage fa-
10. Manage grazing or harvesting so as to best
University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
FLORIDA AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION
Winter legumes are important in forage pro-
duction in Florida. They are frost tolerant and
can supply highly nutritious feed during the win-
ter and spring months. When properly inoculated,
they supply nitrogen for their own growth and
provide nitrogen for other plants growing with
or following them.
Clovers are being grown in practically all parts
of Florida. Approximately 300,000 acres are
grown in the state at the present time and it is
anticipated that the acreage will increase in com-
SOIL SELECTION AND PREPARATION
Select soils that are naturally moist during
most of the year but are not likely to be flooded
for extended periods. Clovers require an abun-
dant and constant supply of moisture. Consider
possibilities of moisture control (both irrigation
and drainage) in selecting the soils.
If native land is selected as the site for plant-
ing, it should be cleared of unwanted trees,
stumps, dense underbrush and other undesirable
vegetation prior to actual seedbed preparation.
Several diskings may be required to properly pre-
pare a seedbed for planting.
Frequently it is desirable to seed clovers into
an established grass sod. In such cases, it is not
necessary to completely destroy the sod. It should
be grazed or mowed closely to remove excess
forage and cut with a medium to lightweight disk
or chopper about two weeks before seeding. The
purpose of this cultivation is to expose soil so
that the seed can come in direct contact with it
Have soil tested at least two, preferably six,
months before planting. Broadcast the recom-
mended kind and amount of limestone two to six
months before seeding clover and incorporate it
with the soil during seedbed preparation. Most
soils in Florida used for clovers will require lim-
ing. Suitable pH ranges and minimum calcium
and magnesium levels for legumes on mineral
soils are as follows:
pH Pounds Per Acre
Range CaO MgO
Sweetclover and Alfalfa 6.5-7.5 1200 100
Other clovers 6.0-7.0 900 100
Several clovers and other legumes can be used
in Florida. These are described as follows:
White Clover.-This is the most widely adapted
forage legume in the state. It requires a contin-
uous and abundant supply of moisture and will
tolerate flooding for short periods. It can be
grown in combination with most grasses if man-
agement is such that grass is not permitted to
seriously compete with the clover. Louisiana S-1,
Nolin's Improved White and Regal Ladino are the
most productive varieties now in use. Regal La-
dino is not a strong producer of seed in Florida
but the other two varieties produce seed abun-
dantly. All of the other varieties mentioned may
live from year to year if moisture and fertility
conditions are favorable. Seedling white clover
may not be ready for grazing until mid-February
or early March, but "live-over stands" may be
ready a month to six weeks earlier. Seeding rate
for these varieties is 3 to 4 pounds per acre.
Sweetclover. Annual white sweetclover will
grow on slightly drier soils than white clover but
will not tolerate flooding. It is not as palatable
as some other clovers, but cattle learn to eat it
and it provides excellent quality forage. Varieties
recommended are Floranna for early grazing,
Hubam for mid-season and Israel for late grazing.
The first two varieties are ready for grazing
earlier than white clover, but grazing season is
shorter. Produces seed but should be reseeded
each year. Seeding rate is 12 to 15 pounds per
Red Clover.-Red clover has soil requirements
quite similar to those of white clover, but is more
easily damaged by excess water. It can be seri-
ously damaged by mildew. It acts as an annual
and does not seed abundantly under Florida con-
ditions. Has potential as a hay crop. Varieties
suggested for Florida are Orbit, Tensas, Nolin's,
Pennscott, Kenland and Chesapeake. Seeding rate
is 12 to 15 pounds per acre.
Crimson Clover.-Widely grown on the well-
drained heavier soils of northwestern Florida,
does poorly on deep dry sands and will not toler-
ate flooding. It has an earlier and shorter grazing
season than white clover. Well suited for plant-
ing in combination with annual winter grasses.
Suggested varieties, all of which are reseeding
types, are Dixie, Autauga, Auburn and Talladega.
Seeding rate should be 20 to 25 pounds per acre.
Alfalfa.-This crop has been successfully
grown by some dairymen in the state. Under Flor-
ida conditions alfalfa behaves as an annual crop.
It must have very favorable moisture conditions
and a high fertility level for satisfactory produc-
tion. Excellent hay can be made from this plant
but high humidity in Florida makes drying diffi-
cult. Recommended varieties are African and
Hairy Peruvian. Seeding rate is about 20 pounds
Berseem Clover.-This clover, an annual that
does not reseed, grows very rapidly under rela-
tively high fertility levels. This crop can be dam-
aged by cold weather and consequently should
be grown only in the southern part of the state.
It produces early grazing and is well suited for
use as a soiling crop but its high moisture con-
tent makes it unsatisfactory for hay. Seeding
rate is 20 to 25 pounds per acre.
Other legumes.-Several other winter legumes
may be valuable in forage production programs.
These include ball, alsike, arrowleaf and Per-
sian clovers and black medic. All of these have
been grown in Florida, but not as widely as those
INOCULATION OF SEED
Clovers and other legumes have the ability to
take nitrogen from the air if certain bacteria are
in the soil where the plant is growing. When
these organisms are present nodules develop on
the roots and the legumes can accumulate enough
nitrogen for its own growth and provide some for
other plants growing in the immediate area. The
bacteria required by the legumes discussed in
this circular are not ordinarily found in Florida
Not all legumes use the same bacteria for the
nitrogen-fixing process. The nitrogen-fixing bac-
teria are divided into several groups and care
must be taken to secure the proper one for the
legume to be planted.
These bacteria can be introduced into the soil
by treating seed before planting with commer-
cially prepared cultures of these organisms.
Directions given on each container of the inocu-
lant should be followed closely.
Inoculated seed should be planted at once and
not exposed to direct sunlight or allowed to be-
come heated or dry.
Plant legumes on a well prepared seedbed from
October 1 through mid-November (see Soil Selec-
tion and Preparation). The soil should be thor-
oughly moist at the time of seeding. Seed should
be broadcast with seeding attachment on a culti-
packer or other appropriate device, and given very
shallow coverage. Packing is important as it
gives a smooth, firm seedbed, presses seed into the
soil and usually gives all the coverage necessary.
Soil tests will indicate the kinds and amounts
of fertilizer required. Plantings on virgin land or
where fertilizers have not been applied for several
years usually need 600 or more pounds per acre
of an 0-14-14 or similar mixture at planting.
Where clovers or other well-fertilized crops have
been grown for several years the rate may be
reduced slightly. A supplemental application of
100 pounds of muriate of potash or 250 pounds
of 0-8-24 in late spring may be needed on sandy
Minor elements, particularly copper, manga-
nese, zinc, boron and possibly other elements,
may be needed in some soils. Sulfur is a neces-
sary plant nutrient that is usually supplied in
superphosphate and other fertilizer materials. If
sulfur-free materials such as rock phosphate or
triple-superphosphate are used sulfur should be
added in some form.
"Live-over" and reseeding stands should be re-
fertilized, on the basis of soil-test results, in late
fall and in some cases, in late winter or early
Rainfall distribution in Florida is such that
drouth is a limiting factor in clover production
about two out of three years, unless provision is
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made for irrigation. Consideration should be given
to the suitability of an area for irrigation when
selecting a site for planting clover. Installation
and operation of an irrigation system is an expen-
sive item, hence, it should be considered only in
intensive forage production and management pro-
grams in which highly productive plant species
are grown and adequate fertility levels are main-
MANAGEMENT AND UTILIZATION
Legume pastures require intensive manage-
ment if the full potential value is to be realized.
Grazing of most varieties should be delayed until
blossoms are being produced. This is usually 21/
to 3 months after germination. Rotational graz-
ing with several pasture divisions, each grazed
for a short interval, and with enough cattle to
permit some seed production while being grazed
is the most efficient method of using clover pas-
Legumes have an extremely high moisture con-
tent in the early stages of growth and can cause
bloat when dry roughage is not available to
This guide was prepared by D. W. Jones, Associate
Agronomist, and J. R. Henderson, Agronomist
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. 0. Watkins, Director