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Title: Winter Cereal, Seeding Rate, and Intercrop Seeding Rate Effect on Red Clover Yield and Quality

Author
item BLASER, B
item Singer, Jeremy
item GIBSON, L

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2007
Publication Date: 4/4/2007
Citation: Blaser, B.C., Singer, J.W., Gibson, L.R. 2007. Winter Cereal, Seeding Rate, and Intercrop Seeding Rate Effect on Red Clover Yield and Quality. Agronomy Journal. 99(3):723-729.

Interpretive Summary: The addition of a red clover intercrop to winter cereals can provide forage and nitrogen to subsequent crops. However, tradeoffs between intercrop yield and forage quality in winter cereal are unknown. Before North Central U.S. producers incorporate winter cereals into their corn-soybean rotations, recommendations to optimize cropping systems are needed. The objectives of this study were to determine the red clover yield, forage quality, and soil nitrogen response to winter cereal species, cereal seeding rate, and red clover seeding rate. Winter wheat and triticale were planted at different seeding rates in October of 2002 and 2003. In March, red clover was frost-seeded at different seeding rates. Red clover harvests in late summer, early fall and the following spring yielded 6.2 to 8.5 Mg ha -1 of dry matter. Winter cereal species only affected red clover dry matter in the spring of one year. Cereal seeding rates impacted dry matter within specific harvest periods, but had no effect on seasonal totals or spring dry matter. Increasing red clover seeding rates increased final dry matter yield in 4 of 6 harvests. However, increasing red clover seeding rates may increase neutral detergent fiber concentrations. Producers that intercrop red clover in winter wheat or triticale should frost-seed at 900 to 1200 seeds m-2 to balance dry matter yield and forage quality.

Technical Abstract: Tradeoffs between intercrop dry matter (DM) yield and forage quality in winter cereal/legume systems are unknown. Before North Central U.S. producers incorporate winter cereal grains into their corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotations, recommendations to optimize cropping systems are needed. The addition of a red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) intercrop to winter cereals can provide forage and nitrogen (N) to subsequent crops. The objectives of this study were to determine the red clover DM, forage quality, and soil N response to winter cereal species, cereal seeding rate, and red clover seeding rate. Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack) were seeded at 100, 200, 300, and 400 seeds m-2 in October of 2002 and 2003. In March, red clover was frost-seeded at rates of 0, 300, 600, 900, 1200 and 1500 seeds m-2. Red clover harvests in late summer, early fall and the following spring yielded 6.2 to 8.5 Mg DM ha 1. Winter cereal species only affected red clover DM in the spring of one year. Cereal seeding rates impacted DM within specific harvest periods, but had no effect on seasonal totals or spring DM. Increasing red clover seeding rates increased final DM yield in 4 of 6 harvests. However, increasing red clover seeding rates above 900 seeds m-2 may increase neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentrations. Producers that intercrop red clover in winter wheat or triticale should frost-seed at 900 to 1200 seeds m-2 to balance DM yield and forage quality.