Place In The Rotation

All the varieties of clover discussed in this

volume may be grown in certain rotations. Their adaptation for this use,

however, differs much. This increases as the natural period of the life

of the plant lessens and vice versa. Consequently, the medium red

variety, the mammoth, the crimson, the Japan and the burr varieties

stand high in such adaptation. The alsike, living longer, is lower in

its adaptation, and alfalfa, because of its long life, stands lowest in

this respect. The small, white variety is almost invariably grown or

found growing spontaneously along with grasses, hence no definite place

has been or can be assigned to it in the rotation. Sweet clover being

regarded by many as a weed has not had any place assigned to it in a

regular rotation, although in certain localities it may yet be grown for

purposes of soil renovation. (See page 306.)

All these crops are leguminous without any exception. This fact is of

great significance where crops can be rotated. They have power to gather

nitrogen from the air and store it in the soil in tubercles which form

on their roots, in all soils in which they produce a vigorous growth.

This fact indicates where they should come in the rotation. They should

be grown with a view to gather food for other crops made to follow them,

which have not the same power. They should, therefore, be made to

precede such crops as the small cereals, corn, the sorghums, the millets

and cotton. But since these clover plants have the power to bring

nitrogen from the air, it must not be supposed that they will grow with

sufficient vigor in soils destitute of this element. They must be able

to appropriate enough from the seed soil to give them a good start

before they can draw nitrogen from the air, hence, though they may be

made to follow almost any kind of crop, it may sometimes be necessary to

apply some nitrogenous fertilizer before they will make a vigorous


The clovers, unless in the case of some of the smaller varieties, are

more commonly sown to provide hay than pasture in the first crops

obtained from them. The value of the hay is increased or lessened in

proportion as weeds are present. To insure cleanliness in the hay crop,

therefore, the system which aims to sow clover seed on land to which

clean cultivation has been given while growing on them a cultivated

crop, as corn or field roots, meets with much favor. The mechanical

condition of the soil immediately after growing these crops also favors

the vigorous growth of the young clover plants, more especially when

they are sown upon the surface of the land after some form of surface

cultivation, rather than upon a surface made by plowing the land after

cultivation has been given to it, but to this there may be some


Clover in some of its varieties is frequently grown from year to year in

orchards and for the two-fold purpose of gathering food for the trees

and providing for them a cover crop in winter. The medium red and

crimson varieties are preferred for such a use. The latter is the more

suitable of the two, since it does not draw on soil moisture needed by

the trees, owing to the season at which it is grown. Enough of the seed

of these crops may be allowed to mature to re-seed the land from year to

year, and thus keep it producing. The clover plants not only gather

nitrogen for the fruit trees, but in their decay they increase the power

of the soil to retain moisture for the benefit of the trees.

Some varieties of clover may be grown as catch crops, that is, as crops

which are grown in addition to some other crop produced the same season.

When thus grown, it is usually for purposes of soil improvement rather

than to furnish food. The varieties best adapted for this purpose in the

Northern States and Canada are the medium red and the crimson, the

latter being much more circumscribed in the area where it will grow

successfully than the former. When medium red clover is thus grown, it

is commonly sown along with one of the small cereal grains, and is

buried in the autumn or in the following spring. (See page 75.) The

extent of the advantage is dependent chiefly on the amount of the growth

made, and this in turn is influenced by the character of the soil, the

season, and the nurse crop. In certain areas favorable to the growth of

clover some good farmers sow clover along with all the small cereal

grains which they grow. Crimson clover is usually sown in the late

summer after some crop has been reaped and it is plowed under the

following spring. (See page 250.)

In the Southern States Japan clover and burr clover will serve the

purpose of catch crops better than the other varieties. The former will

follow a winter crop (see page 284), and the latter a summer crop. (See

page 294.)

Although alfalfa is not usually looked upon as a rotation crop in the

Rocky Mountain valleys, it may be made such a crop. In these it grows

so vigorously as to fill the soil with its roots in one or two seasons,

hence it may be made to rotate profitably with other crops. (See page

135.) In such instances, however, medium red clover would probably

answer the purpose quite as well, and possibly better, since the labor

of burying it with the plow would be less difficult.

While some varieties of clover may be grown in various rotations and

with profit, one of the best of these, where the conditions are

favorable, is a three years' rotation. The first year some small cereal

grain is grown and clover is sown along with it or, at least, on the

same land. The next year the clover is grown for hay or pasture. The

third year a crop of corn, potatoes or vegetables is grown, and the

following year small cereal grain and clover. The clover may thus be

made to furnish nitrogen indefinitely for the other crops, but in some

instances it may be necessary to add phosphoric acid and potash.

=Preparing the Soil.=--Clovers are usually sown with a nurse crop. The

exceptions are crimson clover, and in many instances alfalfa. When thus

grown, the preparation of soil for the nurse crop will usually suffice

for the clovers also. But there may be instances in which it would be

proper to give more attention to cleaning and pulverizing the soil to

properly fit it for receiving the clover seed. The leading essentials in

a seed-bed for clover are fineness, cleanness, moistness and firmness.

Ordinarily black loam soils, sandy loam soils, sandy soils, humus soils

and the volcanic ash soils of the West are made sufficiently fine

without great labor. Clay soils may call for the free use of the harrow

and roller used in some sort of alternation before they are sufficiently

pulverized. Excessive fineness in pulverization of these soils is also

to be guarded against in rainy climates, lest they run together, but

this condition is present far less frequently than the opposite.

Cleanness can usually be secured when clovers follow cultivated crops by

the labor given to these when the land is not plowed in preparing it for

the clovers. In other instances the longer the land is plowed before

putting in the seed and the more frequently the surface is stirred

during the growing part of the season, the cleaner will the seed-bed be.

In the spring the land is usually sufficiently moist for receiving the

seed. In the autumn moisture is frequently deficient. Stirring the

surface of the soil occasionally with the harrow will materially

increase the moisture content in the soil near the surface, even in the

absence of rain. As crimson clover is usually sown in the late summer

and alfalfa is frequently sown in the autumn, it may sometimes be

necessary to give much attention to securing sufficient moisture to

insure germination in the seed.

When clovers are sown in the spring on land which is also growing a

winter crop, no preparation is necessary in preparing the land for

receiving the seed. On some soils the ground becomes sufficiently

honeycombed through the agency of water and frost to put it in a fine

condition for receiving the seed. When this condition is not present,

the seed will usually grow if sown amid the grain and covered with the


When clovers are sown on sod land for the purpose of renewing pastures,

disking them will prepare them for receiving the seed. The extent of the

disking will depend on such conditions as the toughness of the sod and

the nature of the soil. Usually disking once when the frost is out a

little way from the surface, and then disking across at an angle will

suffice, and in some instances disking one way only will be sufficient.

On newly cleared lands the clovers will usually grow without any

stirring of the land before sowing, or any harrowing after sowing.

Clovers that are grown chiefly for pasture, as the small white, the

Japan and the burr, will usually obtain a hold upon the soil if

scattered upon the surface which is not soon to be cultivated.

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