Interest in interseeding clover varieties has increased in recent years as more producers seek ways to efficiently improve gains of cattle on pasture. Yet, far too often new stands of clover fail soon after planting.
"Some of these are due to problems beyond the producer's control such as drought," says Ed Twidwell, extension specialist for the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. "Many failures, however, are due to mistakes made at planting or problems that were overlooked and therefore not corrected before planting."
A few of the more common reasons for stand failures include:
- Seeds are planted into sod that is too tall. Seedlings emerge but are unable to push leaves through the taller grass into the sunshine. Sods that are more than two inches tall should be grazed or clipped before interseeding.
- Seeds are not inoculated. Clover seeds must be inoculated with a specific strain of bacteria prior to planting. Check the label on the inoculant bag to be sure it lists the clover you plant.
- Competition by taller growing grasses causes poor performance of legumes. Grazing management that maintains all plants at a height in which clover can receive full sunlight.
- Poor soil fertility and pH levels also cause poor performance. Take soil samples prior to interseeding to be sure soil conditions are adequate.