Living Crop Museum


Wilmington College 2005 

 Leguminous Forage Crops

Common Name:

Sweet Clover

Latin Name:

Melilotus officinalis


Yellow Blossom

Crop Origin:



Perennial legume

Date Planted:

9 April, 2004

Growth Stages in Ohio

Sweetclover Jan 1 06.JPG (3182691 bytes) Sweetclover feb 6 06.JPG (1429581 bytes) Sweetclover March 4 06.JPG (3552309 bytes) Sweetclover Apr 4 06.JPG (3150916 bytes) Sweetclover May 5 06.JPG (2800103 bytes) Sweet clover 3 June 05.JPG (3135527 bytes)
January February March April May June
Sweetclover 1 July 05.JPG (3653735 bytes) Sweetclover 7aug05.JPG (2648580 bytes) Sweetclover 3 sep 05.JPG (2648774 bytes) Sweetclover 1 oct 05.JPG (2477178 bytes) Sweetclover 4 Nov 05.JPG (2900900 bytes) Sweetclover 2 dec 05.JPG (3611676 bytes)
July August


October November December

Cultivation in Ohio

Primary Uses:

Forage and nectar source for beekeeping


Yellow varieties tend to reseed better than others.  Seeds should be scarified before planting.  Best planting time is March or April at 1/4 to 1/2 inches depth.

 Seeding Rate:

10-15 lbs/acre


Each ton of forage removes 10-15 lbs phosphate and 40-60 lbs potash.  The same amounts should be returned to the soil every year.  Soil pH should be at least 6.5.  It can produce a crop on clay pan soils or on sands where alfalfa or red clover fail.  


Aphids are the most common insect.  They also act as a vector of virus diseases.


Bean Yellow Mosaic virus is the most common disease.


Second year production is good for spring grazing from May to late July.  Hay tends to be "stemmy" and usually is limited to one cutting per year.  Flowering for bee nectar production may be extended by mowing a part in late bud stage. 


Considered an invasive weed in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Ohio.  It is a moderately toxic plant due to Coumarin in the plant which is converted to dicoumarin during improper curing or when the plant is stressed from frosts or drought.



Sweetclover leaf2.JPG (2135705 bytes) Sweetclover plant.jpg (1406061 bytes)


Sweetclover flower2.JPG (2192145 bytes) Sweetclover flower.JPG (1666566 bytes)


Sweetclover_seed.JPG (1312273 bytes) Sweetclover_seedhead_1.JPG (1519073 bytes)


sweetclover distribution map.jpg (30794 bytes)

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