Living Crop Museum


Wilmington College 2005 

 Leguminous Forage Crops

Common Name:

Red Clover

Latin Name:

Trifolium pratense



Crop Origin:

Mediterranean area


perennial legume

Date Planted:

24 June, 2004

Growth Stages in Ohio

Red Clover Jan 1 06.JPG (3363413 bytes) Red clover feb 6 06.JPG (1607392 bytes) Red Clover March 4 06.JPG (3544957 bytes) Red Clover Apr 4 06.JPG (3500094 bytes) Red Clover May 5 06.JPG (2678964 bytes) Red Clover 3 June 05.JPG (3425484 bytes)
January February March April May June
Red clover 1 July 05.JPG (3768340 bytes) Red clover 7aug05.JPG (2625981 bytes) Red clover 3 sep 05.JPG (2540775 bytes) Red Clover 1 oct 05.JPG (2553489 bytes) Red Clover 4 Nov 05.JPG (2733783 bytes) Red clover 2 dec 05.JPG (3773153 bytes)
July August


October November December

Cultivation in Ohio

Primary Uses:



Frost-seeding into an established winter annual (wheat, barley, rye or spelt) is the most common method. Clover seedlings are resistant to frost, so the seed can be broadcast as early as soil conditions permit. Seed can be applied to snow cover if the snow is not deep and the soil is firm and level.

 Seeding Rate:

Broadcast 10-12 pounds of seed (Michigan mammoth or June) per acre before the ground thaws. 


Red clover is better adapted than alfalfa to soils that are somewhat poorly drained and slight acidic; however, greatest production occurs on well-drained soils with high water-holding capacity and pH above 6.0.


In April 2000 varieties established well, but dry spells limited growth at times, resulting in only two harvests this seedling year. Potato leafhoppers were very high on the four lowest yielding varieties. Those varieties were not nearly as pubescent as the other varieties in the test, which may explain the potato leafhopper preference for them.


Most of the improved varieties are medium types and have good levels of disease resistance to northern and southern anthracnose and powdery mildew. These and other diseases can reduce stands quickly.


When well managed and properly fertilized, newer varieties of red clover can potentially yield 4 to 5 tons of good quality forage.  It is important to harvest red clover before full-bloom stage during the establishment year. Red clover allowed to reach full-bloom stage often has reduced stands and yields the following year. Apparently, crown tillers that develop into floral stems during the first summer deplete energy reserves and reduce the ability of the plants to survive the winter.


Although classified as a perennial legume, it acts like a biennial and typically succumbs to disease pressure in its second growing year.  Occasionally, a fungus that produces a toxin called the "slobber factor" grows on late cut red clover. This toxin when consumed by cattle causes a profuse flow of saliva followed by a refusal to eat the affected forage (either hay or silage). There is no practical method of removing the toxin. The best protection is obtained by early harvesting.



Red clover leaf2.JPG (2017291 bytes) Red Clover plant.JPG (1401690 bytes)


Red Clover flower2.JPG (1598917 bytes)


Red_Clover_seed.JPG (1273047 bytes) Red_Clover_seedhead.JPG (1823300 bytes)


Red Clover distribution map.jpg (30923 bytes)

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