Forage legumes: Clovers, birdsfoot trefoil, cicer milkvetch, crownvetch and alfalfa
Using this publication
This publication is intended to serve as both an educational resource for students and a reference tool for agricultural professionals such as crop consultants, extension educators and farm producers. To make this easier to use, some material is repeated in more than one section.
Tables 1 through 3 are in the introductory section because they are specific to that general discussion. For similar reasons, tables 25 and 26 are within the section on cultural practices.
Other tables, whether specific to a single forage species or incorporating data for many, are grouped in a common appendix which begins on page 36.
This second edition revision features a new extended section on kura clover, a forage legume relatively new to U.S. agricultural producers, which has growth, persistence and nutritional qualities which the authors believe make it extremely attractive for growers in the north central region of the United States. Also, sainfoin has been eliminated from this revision because it is rarely planted in the region.
Like many plants, legumes often have both common and scientific names. Common names that evolve over centuries are sometimes recognized only in limited geographic areas. For example, alfalfa is called lucerne in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It has also been called purple medic or Chilean clover. And, Wendelin Grimm, the German immigrant who developed the parent stock of 'Grimm' alfalfa in Carver County, Minn., referred to it as the everlasting clover, the "ewiger Klee."
A scientific naming system developed by Swedish botanist Linnaeus, in the 1700s, allows for worldwide identification and communication about plants. In that system, common names are replaced with names based on Latin, which are usually written in italic. These scientific names are composed of two italicized Latin words: the first word names a plant's genus (a larger biological class of plants with common characteristics) and the second identifies its species (a subdivision of plants potentially capable of interbreeding).
Complete scientific names also include the names of individuals (often abbreviated) who first identified a given species. For example, the scientific name of alfalfa is Medicago sativa L. The abbreviation "L" indicates that Linnaeus, who developed this notation system, first described the species. In this publication, we provide the scientific names of specific legumes in addition to common names.
- Table 1. Quantities of nitrogen fixed by various legumes
- Table 2. Characteristics of forage legumes
- Table 3. Relative importance of insect and disease pests of forage legumes
- Table 4. Kura clover yields over a six year period in Lancaster and Marshfield, Wisconsin
- Table 5. Total plant herbage root and rhizome dry matter yield from an October harvest of spring-seeded kura clover on two soils, on a high fertility silt loam (St. Paul, Minnesota) and the other a sandy loam (Becker, Minnesota)
- Table 6. Effect of cutting schedules on forage yield and final stands of perennial legumes at Rosemount, Minnesota
- Table 7. Herbage dry matter yield; forage crude protein concentration; and forage relative feed value of five legumes; managed with or without checkbook irrigation at Becker, Minnesota
- Table 8. Effect of cutting schedules on season average yield and forage quality of kura clover, for crude protein, in vitro digestible dry matter, and neutral detergent fiber concentration
- Table 9. Performance of Holstein steers on clover/grass pastures near Lancaster, Wisconsin
- Table 10. Average total season leafiness and crude protein, digestibility, and neutral detergent fiber concentration of birdsfoot trefoil and kura clover forage, and sheep performance grazing these forages at St. Paul, Minnesota
- Table 11. Long-term performance of 'Rhizo' kura clover monoculture and mixtures with grasses near Arlington, Wisconsin
- Table 12. Whole corn plant dry matter and grain yield of corn grown with a kura clover living mulch near Arlington, Wisconsin, in 1999 and 2000
- Table 13. Forage yield and final stands of red clover varieties at Grand Rapids, Minnesota
- Table 14. Red clover, ladino clover and alsike clover forage yields and stands at Grand Rapids, Minnesota
- Table 15. Effect of cutting schedules on forage yield and final stands of perennial legumes at Grand Rapids, Minnesota
- Table 16. Effect of cutting schedules on forage yield and final stands of perennial forage legumes at Lamberton, Minnesota
- Table 17. Seeding year yield of red clover and alfalfa sod-seeded at several rates into a smooth bromegrass and quackgrass sod at Rosemount, Minnesota
- Table 18. Mean (and range) stolon density, flowering intensity and vigor of 30 Wisconsin white clover ecotypes and six control varieties after three years of grazing in southern Wisconsin
- Table 19. Effect of cutting schedules on average seasonal forage crude protein, in vitro digestible dry matter, and neutral detergent fiber concentration of perennial legumes at Lamberton, Minnesota
- Table 20. Forage yield of varieties of birdsfoot trefoil, red clover and alfalfa seeded at Beaver Bay, Minnesota
- Table 21. Lamb performance during grazing of four legumes
- Table 22. Carrying capacity and heifer performance during grazing of three legume species during two seasons
- Table 23. Forage and nitrogen yield of three perennial legumes in the fall of the seeding year following an April planting
- Table 24. Total season forage yield and average forage quality of perennial legumes when grown with irrigation or drought on a sandy soil at Becker, Minnesota
- Table 25. Seeding rates and seed characteristics of forage legumes
- Table 26. Hay, silage and pasture mixture seeding rates suggested for Minnesota
- Figure A. Well nodulated roots shown on two representative legumes
- Figure B. Legume leaves: five typical leaf arrangements
- Figure C. Legume flower parts: the standard, wings, stamen and keel
- Figure D. Typical compound inflorescences of legumes
- Figure E. White clover stolons and kura clover rhizomes
- Figure F. Kura clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and alfalfa response to potassium fertilization
- Figure G. Yields of mixtures of kura clover with perennial grasses at Rosemount and Grand Rapids, Minnesota
- Figure H. Red clover plant illustrating upright growth habit
- Figure I. Distinct stages mark the development of a legume seedling such as a clover or alfalfa
- Figure J. Formula used to evaluate and compare legume seed costs
- Figure K. Legume seeding dates across region for spring and late-summer sowing
- Figure L. The relationship between maturity of a selected legume (birdsfoot trefoil) to forage yield and its digestibility
- Figure M. Rotational grazing increases pasture utilization and increases legume persistence
- Figure N. The relationship between available pasture and relative production per animal and per acre