Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: White clover plant size ranges from small type to large. Most cultivars released are large-type white clover, however most plants found in closely-grazed pastures in the southeastern U.S. that haven't been recently planted are small type. This study looked at relative seed production of different types of white clover in a pasture to see if the reseeding potential was different between plant types. Seven small type populations collected from pastures were compared to seven cultivars for seed production in a bermudagrass pasture. Small type white clover populations had three times as many flowers and seed produced as the cultivars. The large amount of seed produced by small type white clover gives these plants a greater chance to reseed in pastures. This is probably one reason why small type white clover dominates in closely-grazed pastures over time.
Technical Abstract: Small-type white clover, Trifolium repens, plants predominate in most closely-grazed pastures in the southeastern U.S. The role of relative seed production in stand persistence of white clover types has not been quantified in a pasture environment. The objective of this study was to compare the relative seed production of small-type naturalized populations with that of large-type white clover cultivars and germplasms in a pasture. Seven naturalized populations collected from closely-grazed pastures in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi were compared with `Louisiana S-1', `Osceola', `Regal', `Grasslands Huia', `Grasslands Prestige', Brown Loam Syn. No.2, and SRVR white clover. All entries were space-planted into plots in a common bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) pasture at Mississippi State, MS, and grazed with cattle prior to flowering and seed production. All naturalized populations averaged about three times as many flowers and seed-bearing flowers as all cultivars other than Louisiana S-1 each year. Flower production differences were consistent throughout the study, though maximum flower production for the populations was earlier in the season than cultivars. Seed production differences were similar to flower production, as cultivars averaged only 27 to 43% as much seed as naturalized populations. The low growth stature and excessive seed production of naturalized populations enable them to have a greater opportunity to reseed in pastures than common large-type cultivars. This reseeding potential probably contributes to the domination of small-type white clover in closely-grazed pastures of the southeastern U.S.