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Arrowleaf Clover (Trifolium vesiculosum)

Plant Characteristics: This annual winter legume is characterized by hollow stems and non-hairy, arrow-shaped leaves with a V white water mark. It has cylindrical shape flower head that is usually white and turn pink or purple as they mature. One peculiar characteristic is that maturity occurs from the basal part of the plant to the top.

Establishment: Arrowleaf clover is recommended for the central and south part of the state. Establishment could be difficult to high seed dormancy (~ 70%) and seed scarification is necessary. Commercial seed usually has been scarified. Seed broadcasting should occur from September 1 to November 10 at a rate of 5 to 10 lb/ac and seed inoculant is required. It is important to use fresh inoculum (check expiration date in the bag). Usually annual ryegrass and/or small grain are planted with arrowleaf clover, and seeding rate of no more than 15-20 pounds of ryegrass and 60-90 pounds of small grain should be used to avoid competition at establishment. If planting arrowleaf clover into a prepared seed bed with small grains, plant the small grains at 3/4 inch depth and then broadcast the clover. If reseeding into summer pastures (bermudagrass or bahiagrass), make sure that pastures have been clipped to 2-inch stubble height. Arrowleaf clover is shade sensitive, avoid planting it in areas with trees.

Fertilization: Arrowleaf clover is not tolerant of soil acidity, it requires a soil pH of 5.8 to 6.5. No N is required in pure stands. Mixed stands of arrowleaf clover and winter annual grasses should receive about 60 lb N/ac at or near seeding if planted in the early in the fall but only 20 to 30 lb/ac if planted late fall. An additional application of about 60 lb N/ac is often made to arrowleaf clover/grass mixtures in late winter. Responds well to P and K fertilization when needed and according to soil test recommendations. Boron should be applied at the rate of 2 lb/ac in areas that are to be managed for reseeding.

Grazing/Hay Management: This is a legume that could provide good late winter forage. Most biomass occurs from February to early June in the southern part of the state and March to early July in the northern part. Biomass production ranges from 1.5 to 2 tons/ac. Do not graze until stands are 5 inches tall. Arrowleaf tends to maintain productive if a 4-inch stubble height is maintained. For hay purposes, it is recommended to graze it until mid-April and then harvest for hay at the bloom stage in mid-May. No forage production will be available after cutting for hay, but summer warm-season grasses should be active to provide summer grazing. Maintaining a 4 inch height is important to decrease the possibility of crown and stem rot.

Forage Quality: Digestible dry matter content is very high (~80 to 85%) at the peak of vegetation and a protein content of16-20%.

Varieties/Cultivars: Amclo (early-maturing), Yuchi (mid-maturing), and Meechee (late-maturing).

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