Clover is one type of plant that fulfils a number of roles in yards and crops. This small plant enhances the nutrient levels in the soil and helps protect against soil erosion. Clover comes in a variety of types, colours and sizes. Planting clover seed at the correct time will help ensure the healthy growth of this green legume.
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Clover is a type of legume that originated in southwestern Asia Minor and southeastern Europe. The most common types of clover in the United States are white clover, sweet clover, Ladino clover and red clover. Dutch clover is another name for white clover. White clover cultivars range in size and prefer soils with pH levels above 5.5, while other varieties thrive in more acidic soils. Clover comes in annual, biennial and perennial varieties. Many clovers that grow as perennials in warm, southern states tend to grow as annuals in cooler climates.
Clover is an important pasture legume in crop production. Farmers commonly add clover seed to orchardgrass, ryegrass and tall fescue seed for growth as a forage crop. Clover adds nitrogen to the soil, helps stabilise moist soils, provides food for wildlife and guards against water erosion. When planted with lawn grasses, clover helps create a quick ground cover, helping to insulate the soil and reduce evaporation as the grass seeds grow and mature. When planted with aggressive varieties of lawn grass, clover plants may disappear as the grass spreads and takes over the lawn.
The best time to plant clover seed is in the springtime. Most clover seeds require soil temperatures above 15.6 degrees Celsius for proper germination. Depending on your specific climate, March through May are generally the best months to plant clover seed as part of an agricultural cover crop or as a landscaping ground cover. Planting too early subjects the seeds to freezing temperature, while planting too late may cause plant loss due to excess heat.
While spring is the best time to plant clover seed, it is also the rainiest time in many areas of the United States. Light rainfalls can encourage healthy clover germination, but planting the seeds in wet soil can increase soil clumping, a condition that discourages the healthy growth of roots and even absorption of water. Waiting to plant until soggy soil dries helps guard against soil clumping.
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