Arrowleaf, crimson, rose, and subterranean clover growth with and without defoliation in the southeastern united states

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Understanding the growth pattern of cool-season annual clovers is necessary to develop management practices that maximize forage production and identify compatible grass associations and farming systems. Plant density, light interception, shoot yield, and root yield of arrowleaf (Trifolium vesiculosum Savi.), crimson (T. incarnatum L.), rose (T. hirtum All.), and subterranean (T. subterraneum L.) clovers were compared for 3 yr on a sandy loam at Overton, TX. Clovers were sampled every 2 wk when uncut, and after being cut once or twice. Initial plant densities ranged from 200 to 250 m–2 and then declined to 100 to 150 m–2 during the growing season. The uncut treatment resulted in 3-yr average maximum shoot yields of 2480 g m–2 for arrowleaf, 1290 g m–2 for crimson, 1410 g m–2 for rose and 1000 g m–2 for subterranean clovers. Autumn growth and regrowth after cutting was greater for crimson and subterranean clovers than for arrowleaf and rose clovers. Crimson and subterranean clovers reached near 100% light interception 4 wk after cutting. Cutting usually decreased yield for all species except subterranean clover that increased with cutting because of a prostrate growth habit. When cut, rose clover always had one of the smallest shoot and root yields. Root yield increased for all clovers during the growing season when not cut and with no or small root yield decreases after cutting. Crimson and subterranean clovers are better suited for grazing and crop rotations because of their earlier maturity and response to defoliation.

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