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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #213468

Title: Persistence of Grazed Red Clover Varieties

item Riday, Heathcliffe
item Casler, Michael
item WOOD, TIM

Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2007
Publication Date: 2/23/2007
Citation: Riday, H., Casler, M.D., Crooks, A., Wood, T. 2007. Persistence of Grazed Red Clover Varieties. Grass Clippings. 2(1):3-8

Interpretive Summary: Red clover is limited by early plant death after three or four years. 50 years of red clover breeding has increased the longevity of red clover grown for hay. This study examined red clover longevity of plants grazed by cattle. Over 50 varieties representing the past 50 years of breeding were included. A broad range of grazing tolerance was observed among varieties.This study will help cattle producers choose long lived red clover varieties for cattle grazing.

Technical Abstract: Historically, red clover (Trifolium pratense) has been limited by its lack of stand persistence in hay and grazed systems compared to other small-seeded forage legumes. Breeding over the past 50 years has extended red clover persistence in a hay management system to four years. This study examined grazing tolerance of the red clover varieties released during the past 50 years. Over fifty varieties of red clover were grown in mixture with tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum) with stands being rotationally grazed. A broad range of grazing tolerance was observed among varieties. Although there was a clear increase in the 30-month persistence of the benchmark varieties over time, the same was not observed in the broader sampling of red clover varieties. This indicates that relying on newer red clover varieties for grazing tolerance is not enough. Fifty years of red clover breeding, however, has led to a clear increase in plant establishment density among the benchmark varieties as well as varieties in general.