Preparing The Soil
Speaking in a general way, it would be correct to
say that it would not be easy to get soil in too friable a condition for
the advantageous reception of medium red clover seed. In other words, it
does not often happen that
soils are in too fine tilth to sow seed upon
them without such fineness resulting in positive benefit to the plants.
The exceptions would be clays of fine texture in climates subject to
rainfalls so heavy as to produce impaction. On the other hand, the
hazard would be even greater to sow clover on these soils when in a
cloddy condition. The rootlets would not then be able to penetrate the
soil with sufficient ease to find enough food and moisture to properly
nourish them. Some soils are naturally friable, and in these a tilth
sufficiently fine can be realized ordinarily with but little labor.
Other soils, as stiff clays, frequently require much labor to bring them
into the condition required. Usually, however, if sufficient time
elapses between the plowing of the land and the sowing of the seed, this
work may be materially lessened by using the harrow and roller
judiciously soon after rainfall.
When preparing prairie soils so open that they will lift with the wind,
the aim should be to firm them rather than to render them more open and
porous; otherwise they will not retain sufficient moisture to properly
sustain the young plants, if prolonged dry weather follows the sowing of
the seed. Plowing such land in the autumn aids in securing such density.
The same result follows summerfallowing the land or growing upon it a
cultivated crop after the bare fallow, or after the cultivated crop has
been harvested prior to the sowing of the clover seed, otherwise the
desired firmness of the land will be lessened, and weed seeds will be
brought to the surface, which will produce plants to the detriment of
the clover. In preparing such lands for the seed, cultivation near the
surface is preferable to plowing.
When the clover is sown late in the season, as is sometimes the case, in
locations where the winters are comparatively mild, the ground may be
made reasonably clean before the seed is sown, by stirring it
occasionally at intervals before sowing the seed. This is done with some
form of harrow or weeder, and, of course, subsequently to the plowing of
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