Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #181154


item Grabber, John
item Massingill, Lee

Submitted to: Western Society of Crop Science Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/11/2005
Publication Date: 6/22/2005
Citation: Grabber, J.H., Massingill, L.J. 2005. Establishment and production year yields of red clover and alfalfa seeded alone or into winter wheat. Western Society of Crop Science, June 19-22, 2005, Bozeman, Montana. 2005 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Ruminants often use protein and fiber in red clover more efficiently than alfalfa. Increased adoption of red clover in feeding systems will be limited unless cropping systems are developed to take advantage of the aggressive establishment, slower maturation, and high productivity of red clover in short rotations with cereal crops. In 2002 and 2003 at Prairie du Sac Wisconsin, Marathon red clover and leaf-hopper resistant 54H91 alfalfa were seeded alone in April or August or seeded in April into winter wheat fertilized with a high rate of N (85 kg/ha) to maximize the yields of wheat for silage or grain and straw. During establishment, plots were harvested 2 or 3 times. During two production years, red clover and alfalfa were harvested 3 or 4 times under two cutting managements. During the 2002 and 2003 establishment years, red clover dry matter yield was 1.0 to 2.8 Mg/ha greater than alfalfa when spring seeded alone or into wheat. Red clover and alfalfa established in 2002 had similar total yields over two production years (22.9 Mg/ha) but August seedings produced the greatest yields of red clover (24.8 Mg/ha) and the lowest yields of alfalfa (21.4 Mg/ha). Production year cutting management did not affect red clover yields but shifting from 4- to 3-cut management increased alfalfa yields by 18%. After two production years, stand density of red clover was marginal compared to alfalfa (57 vs. 116 plants/square meter); stand densities of both species were 35% greater with August seedings than with April seedings. Stands established in 2003 were abandoned in 2004 due to excessive rodent damage. Starting in 2005, this study will be repeated using newer red clover and alfalfa varieties. Forage quality of the red clover and alfalfa production systems is also being evaluated.