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Sericea Lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)

Plant Characteristics: Perennial plant with fine stems, long narrow leaflets with narrow and sharp tip. Single white to pink flowers in the leaf axis.

Establishment: Grows well in clay to loamy soils. Seeding rates are from 20 to 30 lbs/ac with a pre-plant herbicide applications between March 15 to May 1. Amber, 2,4-D, Grazon P+D, and Weedmaster have been ineffective on established stands of sericea.

Small grains (oats, wheat, and rye), crimson clover or vetch can be incorporated in October to provide winter forage. Lespedeza will also grow in combination with permanent warm season grasses (bahia, bermuda, dallisgrass). Fall armyworms and grasshoppers can cause damage in the leaves and reduce stand longevity.

Fertilization: Well adapted to low fertility with good response to K fertilization. Sericea is tolerant to acid soils with high Al, but is best adapted to a pH of 6.0 to 6.5

Grazing/Hay Management: Biomass production occurs between April 1 to September 15. It could be used pasture, hay, or erosion control. Most grazing (rotational) should be begin between 8 and 15 inches height and leave 4 inches stubble. Reduce grazing or haying between late August and early September to allow replenishing root sugar levels. Biomass for hay production should be cut when plants are between 15 and 24 inches high and at least 3 cuts per year can be obtained.

Forage Quality: Reduced digestibility due to high tannin levels when grazing but levels decrease in hay. Protein content ranges from 10 to 16%. No bloating is observed.

Varieties/Cultivars: Interstate, Interstate767, AU-Lotan, AU-Donnelly, Serala.

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Portrait of Dr. Rocky Lemus
Extension/Research Professor
Forage Establishment, Grazing Systems and Management, Hay Production, Forage Fertility, Forage Quali