Korean Lespedeza (Lespedeza stipulacea)
Plant Characteristics: Shallow taproot, thin-stemmed with hairs that extend upwards, pink flowers, and seed heads at tips of branches.
Establishment: Seeds should be planted (by drilling or broadcasting) between March and May at a rate of 25 to 40 lb/ac broadcast or 15 to 20 lb/ac drilled in a well-prepared bed. If drilling, the seed should be placed at a depth of ½ inch. When broadcasting the seed, incorporate lightly by raking and then pack the soil surface. Make sure that the correct species rhizobial bacteria innoculant are used. Lespedeza is susceptible to 2,4-D herbicide and it should not be applied to seedlings less than 4 inches tall or to plants on which buds have formed. Stands can be reduced greatly by diseases such as bacterial wilt, powdery mildew, tar spot, and southern blight.
Fertilization: N is not required. Annual lespedezas grow relatively well on eroded, acidic soils low in P. Lespedeza can tolerate acid soils but performs well in the pH range of 5.5 to 6.0.
Grazing/Hay Management: Lezpedeza usually produces low yields, specially in the southern part of the state. Lespedezas are good companions with bunch-type grasses such as tall fescue. Forage production occurs between July and September and can be used for hay or pasture and also for erosion control in degraded land and in road bank stabilization. Yield can range from 1 to 2 tons/ac in poor soils to 6 ton/ac in good soils. It can be planted alone with grasses. Hay could be cut once (plants are at 30% bloom) on twice a year (mid- to late July when the lower leaves are just beginning to senesce and again at first bloom). Lespedeza should be rotationally grazed when plants are 4 to 6 inches tall and grazed no closer than 3 inches. Plants should be grazed lightly in September, October and November to ensure good reseeding and allowed a good stand the following year.
Forage Quality: Highly nutritive with 12 to 15% crude protein and good TDN (55 to 55%). High tannin levels usually decrease palatability.
Varieties/Cultivars: Korea, Summit, Climax, Harbin, and Rowan. Seed is readily available from commercial seed dealers.