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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INCREASING SUSTAINABILITY AND MITIGATING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS OF FOOD AND BIOFUEL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS OF THE UPPER MIDWEST U.S.

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Vegetative propagation of kura clover: a field-scale test

Author
item Baker, John

Submitted to: Canadian Journal of Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 28, 2012
Publication Date: November 1, 2012
Citation: Baker, J.M. 2012. Vegetative propagation of kura clover: a field-scale test. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 92(7):1245-1251.

Interpretive Summary: Kura clover is a potentially valuable forage legume, but it has been underutilized. A major reason is the difficulty of establishing it from seed. Since kura clover spreads by rhizomes, there have been attempts to propagate it vegetatively, but no reports of success at the field scale. We tried two harvesting methods to transplant material from a mature 17 ha field to a newly tilled 17 ha field: a bermudagrass sprigger that harvests bare rhizome sprigs, and a potato digger that harvests crowns and rhizomes, along with soil. The harvested material was spread over the new field in July 2010 with a manure spreader, then disked and packed. Survival and growth were observed for the remainder of 2010 and through 2011, and recovery of the source field was also monitored. The material harvested with the sprigger did not compete well with weeds and had virtually disappeared by midsummer 2011, but the material harvested with the potato digger thrived, steadily increasing to nearly 80% of the biomass in the new field by 3rd cutting in summer 2011. Meanwhile the original (source) field recovered fully in 2011. We conclude that vegetative propagation is a viable means for establishing kura clover that should prove useful for forage producers.

Technical Abstract: Kura clover is a potentially valuable forage legume, but it has been underutilized. A major reason is the difficulty of establishing it from seed. Since kura is rhizomatous, there have been attempts to propagate it vegetatively, but no reports of success at the field scale. Two harvesting methods were tested to transplant material from a mature 17 ha field to a newly tilled 17 ha field: a bermudagrass sprigger that harvests bare rhizome sprigs, and a potato digger that harvests crowns and rhizomes, along with soil. The harvested propagules were distributed over the new field in July 2010 with a manure spreader, then disked and packed. Survival and growth were observed for the remainder of 2010 and through 2011, and recovery of the source field was also monitored. The material harvested with the sprigger did not compete well with weeds and had virtually disappeared by midsummer 2011, but the material harvested with the potato digger thrived, steadily increasing to nearly 80% of the biomass in the new field by 3rd cutting in summer 2011. Meanwhile the original (source) field recovered fully in 2011. Properly done, vegetative propagation is a viable option for kura clover establishment.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014