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Yellow Clover







Yellow clover (Medicago lupulina) is to be carefully distinguished from Hop clover (Medicago procumbens), which it resembles so closely in the form of the leaves and the color of the bloom as to have given rise in some instances to the interchangeable use of the names. The latter is so named from the resemblance of the withered head when ripe to a bunch of hops. Its growth has been almost entirely superseded by Medicago lupulina, since the other variety was low in production and also in nutrition. Medicago lupulina is also called Black Medick, Nonesuch, Black Nonesuch and Hop Trefoil. In both England and Germany it is now more commonly grown than white clover. It is more or less recumbent in its habit of growth, but the stems do not root as do the runners in the small white variety. The stems, though tender in the early spring, become woody as the season advances. The flowers, as the name would indicate, are yellow, and the plants produce seed numerously. The roots, like those of the small white variety, are more fibrous than in some of the larger varieties. Yellow clover is perennial. Owing to the power which the plants have to multiply through rooting and re-seeding, they can stay indefinitely in congenial soils. The growth is vigorous in the early part of the season, but less so later, and with the advance of the season the herbage produced becomes more woody in character. This plant furnishes considerable pasture during the spring months, but in the summer and autumn it makes but little growth. Though palatable early in the season, it is less so later. Nevertheless, it may be made to add materially to the produce of pastures in which it grows. It also aids in fertilizing the soil, though probably not quite to the same extent as white clover. Yellow clover is indigenous to Europe. It is grown to a considerable extent in pastures in certain areas in Great Britain, France, Germany and other countries. It has highest adaptation for climates that are moist and temperate. Although this plant is not extensively grown in the United States, it would seem probable that it will grow at least reasonably well in a majority of the States. The exceptions will be those lacking in moisture in the absence of irrigation. It will grow best in those that more properly lie within the clover belt; that is, in those that lie northward. It grows with much vigor in Oregon and Washington west of the Cascade Mountains. In Canada, yellow clover will grow with much vigor in all areas susceptible of cultivation, unless on certain of the western prairies. Yellow clover has highest adaptation for calcareous soils. In certain parts of England it has grown so vigorously on soils rich in lime as almost to assume the character of a troublesome weed. It will grow well on all clay loam soils, and reasonably well on stiff clays, the climatic conditions being suitable. It has greater power to grow on dry soils than the small white variety. Since yellow clover is usually grown as an adjunct to permanent pastures, it can scarcely be called a rotation plant. But, like other clovers, it enriches the soil, and, therefore, should be followed by crops that are specially benefited by such enrichment, as, for instance, the small cereal grains. Yellow clover when sown is usually sown with other grass mixtures, and along with grain as a nurse crop; hence, that preparation of the soil suitable for the nurse crop will also be found suitable for the clover. It is, moreover, a hardy plant, insomuch that in some instances, if the seed is scattered over unplowed surfaces, as those of pastures, in the early spring, a sufficient number of plants will be obtained to eventually establish the clover through self-seeding. The seed is usually sown in the early spring, but in mild latitudes it may also be sown in the early autumn. It may be sown by the same methods as other clovers. (See page 267.) It is usually sown to provide pasture, the seed being mixed with that of other pasture plants before being sown. As the plants, like those of the small white variety, have much power to increase rather than decrease in pastures, it is not necessary to sow large quantities of seed, not more usually than 1 pound to the acre. But should the crops be wanted for seed, then not fewer than 3 to 5 pounds per acre should be sown and without admixture with other grasses or clovers. When the plants once obtain a footing on congenial soils, there is usually enough of seed in the soil to make a sufficient stand of the plants in pastures without sowing any seed, but since the seed is usually relatively cheap, where an insufficient supply in the soil is suspected, more or less seed should be sown. Since the stems of yellow clover plants become tough as the season of growth becomes considerably advanced, where it forms a considerable proportion of the pasture the aim should be to graze most heavily during the early part of the season. The plants do not make much growth during the autumn. It would probably be correct to say that it can grow under conditions more dry than are suitable for white clover, and, consequently, it is more uniformly prominent in evidence in permanent pastures when it has become established. Yellow clover is not a really good hay plant, owing to its lack of bulkiness. But in some soils its presence may add considerably to the weight of a crop of hay, of which it is a factor. This plant produces seed freely. The seeds are dark in color and weigh 60 pounds to the bushel. The seed matures early, usually in June or July, according to locality. The methods of harvesting, threshing and preparing the seed for market are substantially the same as those adapted in handling small white clover. (See page 272.) While yellow clover is not the equal of the small white clover in adaptation to our conditions, it would seem that there are no reasons why it should not be sown to a greater extent than it is sown under American conditions. A plant that is so hardy, that provides a considerable quantity of reasonably good pasture, that stores nitrogen in the soil, and that, moreover, does not stay in the soil to the extent of injuring crops that follow the breaking up of the pastures, should certainly be encouraged to grow.





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