Wheat School – Why Red Clover is a No-Brainer

As far as cover crops go, red clover is a no-brainer. That according to OMAFRA wheat specialist Peter Johnson. It’s a statement that seems to be backed up by a lot of facts. The first being its ability to provide ample amounts of nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. A good stand of red clover can also do wonders for preparing the soil via that organic matter. The root systems of the plants are immense and run through the top 6 inches of the soil so when they decay, they leave the soil in great condition to plant. On top of all those agronomic benefits, it’s relatively cheap to plant and provides a great return on investment.

We spoke to Peter at the about the benefits of red clover and how the crop is gaining a permanent place in rotation with producers to maximize wheat yields.  Peter say that the old tale of great red clover crop means low wheat yields is definitely not true.  In fact Peter says that using red clover as a cover crop raises wheat yields up to 30%.  That’s a return that will get your attention.

SEE MORE WHEAT SCHOOL EPISODES.

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Shaun Haney

Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. He creates content regularly and hosts RealAg Radio on Rural Radio 147 every weekday at 4PM est. @shaunhaney

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3 Comments

Andy

Thanks for this, Shaun! As winter cereals increase in the west, its time to start this part of winter wheat production too. And, if tillage radish is something interesting to try, it can be seeded at 2lbs with the winter wheat in the fall. Keeps the costs down for seed, and there is no additional establishment costs in both time and money since it is seeded at the same time of the wheat.

This past year I grew clearfield canola (nexera 205CL) that was underseeded with yellow sweetclover at 2lbs/ac. Fertility of 50 15 0 8 applied at seeding (sideband) and had 40 bushel yields. Now the clover will be allowed to grow in the spring, and depending on moisture conditions I will either let it continue as a green manure for termination at 50% bloom in the end of June, or kill it off early and seed a shorter season crop into it this year. Make sure you have a disc drill, though, last year the YSC grew 5 feet tall!

This past year was my 1st year seeding a crop into the clover residue, and we got our 2nd highest durum yield, and highest protein by 1.5% on one of our historically 2nd worst field. And all of the narrowleaved hawksbeard problems of past years are gone from the competitive nature of the clover.

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Paul G Bauman

That sounds great. My experience with single cut red clover is that the Perennial sowthistle and the spreading atraplex are not held back enough by the redclover. I have tried working the soil after wheat harvest and sowing oats and barley with a conventional drill with satisfactory results but it is a lot of cost. Double cut red clover gets up into the crop too much for me.

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Ben

I farm in central Ontario and i was thinking about planting a cereal rye / hairy vetch mixture in the fall after soybean harvest on some of our land that will be going into no-till beans again the following year. Or after corn in the fall and before beans the next year. Any thought or inputs on this ?

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