Soils





Fortunately, this most useful plant will grow in a

considerable variety of soils, though, of course, not equally well.

Highest in general suitability, probably, are clay loams underlaid with

a moderately porous clay subsoil. They should at the same time be moist

and reasonably well stored with humus. On such a soil, in a climate with

sufficient rainfall and properly distributed, a stand of clover should

be looked upon as reasonably certain any season when properly sown. It

would also be correct to say that on the volcanic soils of the mountain

States in the West, clover will grow equally well when supplied with

moisture, and in these it is also very tenacious of life.



Next in adaptation are what may be termed loam soils, also underlaid

with clay. The proportion of the clay in them will exercise an important

influence on the growth of the clover. Loamy sands will grow clover

better than sandy loams, although both are very suitable, the other

conditions being right.



It would seem to be correct to assign third place to stiff clays,

whether of the white or red cast. The better that these are supplied

with vegetable matter, and the more moist the season, the better is the

stand of the clover likely to be. In seasons that are generally

favorable, excellent crops of clover may be obtained from such soils,

but in dry seasons it is easy to secure a good stand of the plants. They

are also considerably liable to heave in these soils in the spring of

the year from the action of the frost. The more perfectly they are

drained, the less will be the injury from this source, but it is

scarcely possible to drain such lands so perfectly that there will be no

loss of clover plants in these from the source named in the winters,

characterized by frequent rains, accompanied by frequent alternations of

freezing and thawing. The loss from this source in such lands varies

from nothing at all to 100 per cent.



Nearly, if not equal to the former, are dark loam soils with a gravel or

sand drainage underneath, providing, first, that the sand and gravel do

not come too near the surface, and second, that the normal rainfall is

sufficient. On such soils it seldom fails to grow, is not liable to

heave in the winter or spring, and usually produces excellent crops when

these soils are properly tilled. It has special adaptation for being

grown on calcareous or limy soils. It also, usually, grows well on soils

underlaid with yellow clay of more or less tenacity.



The black humus soils of the prairie vary much in their suitability for

growing medium red clover. Much depends on the clay content in such

soils. The more of this element in them and the nearer an underlying

clay subsoil is to the surface, the better will this clover grow on

them. In large areas of the prairie, red clover will grow more

successfully on the subsoil when laid bare than when on the surface

soil. It has been the experience in many instances that when the humus

soils of the prairie, porous and spongy in character, were first tilled,

clover grew on them so shyly that it was difficult to get a good stand

of the same until it had been sown for several seasons successively or

at intervals. Eventually, good crops were grown on these lands, and are

now being grown on them. This was the experience that faced a majority

of the first settlers on the prairie where excellent crops are now being

grown, and it is the experience which faces many to-day, who are

located on sections of the prairie but newly broken.



Two reasons may be given by way of explanation, but these may not

furnish all the reasons for the experience just referred to. First, much

of the land was so porous in its nature that in dry seasons the young

plants perished for want of moisture. As such lands become worn through

cropping, they lie more firmly and compactly; hence, there is less loss

of moisture through the free penetration of the soil within a short

distance of the surface of the dry atmosphere. And second, the requisite

bacteria is not in these soils until it is brought to them by sowing

seed repeatedly, more or less of which grows, and in growing increases

the bacteria in the soil until that point is reached when good crops of

clover can be grown with the usual regularity.



The suitability of sandy and gravelly lands for growing clover depends

much on the amount of plant food which they contain, on the character of

the climate, and on the subsoil. Such soils when possessed of some loam

when underlaid with clay, and in a climate with 20 inches and more per

annum of rainfall, usually grow good crops of clover; but when

conditions the opposite prevail, the growth of this plant is precarious.

However, when sandy or gravelly soils low in fertility are underlaid

with the same and the rainfall is sufficient, good crops of clover may

be grown if these soils are first sufficiently supplied with vegetable

matter and then sufficiently fertilized.



Muck soils do not seem to have the proper elements for growing clover in

the best form. But when these have in them some clay, and especially

when they are underlaid with clay not distant from the surface, they

will grow good crops of clover, especially of the alsike variety. Thus

it is that lands which have grown black ash and tamarack generally make

good clover lands also. But clover will not succeed well on unreduced

peaty soils, since it is not able in these to gather food supplies. But

when sufficiently reduced, some kinds of clover will succeed better on

these than on some other soils.



Deposit soils, such as are found in the bottom lands of rivers and

streams, vary much in the suitability for growing clover, owing to the

great differences in the compositions; but since they are usually

possessed of sufficient friability, fertility and moisture, good crops

of clover may generally be grown upon them where the climatic conditions

are suitable. The injury from overflow on such soils will depend on the

depth of the same and its duration, also the season of the year when it

occurs. Overflow in the spring season before growth has begun, or when

it is about starting, will be helpful rather than harmful, especially if

some deposit is left on the land by the subsiding waters. But if the

overflow should be deep and of any considerable duration, and, moreover,

if it should occur when the clover was somewhat advanced in growth, and

in hot weather, the submergence of the clover would probably be fatal to

it.



It may be proper to state here that the lands which grow hardwood timber

will usually grow clover. By hardwood timber is meant such trees as

maple, beech, birch, oak, elm, basswood, butternut and walnut. Where

forests are found comprising one or more varieties of these trees

anywhere on this continent, and especially comprising several of them,

the conclusion is safe that medium red clover will grow, or, at least,

can be grown, on such soils. If a considerable sprinkling of pine trees

is found in the same, the indications are not changed in consequence.

Where the forest is largely composed of maple and birch, excellent crops

of clover may be looked for when the land has been cleared. But because

of what has been said, the conclusion must not be reached that clover

will not grow well under some conditions where soft woods abound, but

rather that where the former abound the indications of suitability for

clover production are more certain than where soft timbers abound.





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