Securing Seed

As a rule, seed is not produced from the first cutting for the season of medium red clover. It is claimed that this is due to lack of pollenization in the blossoms, and because they are in advance of the active period of

working in bumble bees, the medium through which fertilization is chiefly effected. This would seem to be a sufficient explanation as to why medium red clover plants will frequently bear seed the first year, if allowed to, though the first cutting from older plants will have little or no seed. But it is claimed that the ordinary honey bee may be and is the medium for fertilizing alsike and small white clover, but not that through which the mammoth variety is fertilized. Experience has shown, further, that, as a rule, better crops of clover seed may be obtained from clover that has been pastured off than from that which has been mown for hay, although to this rule there are some exceptions. This arises, in part, from the fact that the energies of the plant have been less drawn upon in producing growth, and, therefore, can produce superior seed heads and seed, and in part from the further fact that there is usually more moisture in the soil at the season when the plants which have been pastured off are growing. There would seem to be some relation between the growing of good crops of clover seed and pasturing the same with sheep. It has been claimed that so great is the increase of seed in some instances from pasturing with sheep till about June 1st, say, in the latitude of Ohio, that the farmer who has no sheep could afford to give the grazing to one who has, because of the extra return in seed resulting. The best crops of seed are obtained when the growth is what may be termed medium or normal. Summers, therefore, that are unusually wet or dry are not favorable to the production of clover seed. If weeds are growing amid the clover plants that are likely to mature seed, they should, where practicable, be removed. The Canada thistle, ragweed, plantain and burdock are among the weeds that may thus ripen seeds in medium clover. When not too numerous they can be cut with the spud. When too numerous to be thus cut, where practicable, they should be kept from seeding with the aid of the scythe. To prevent them from maturing is important, as the seeds of certain weeds cannot be separated from those of clover with the fanning mill, they are so alike in size. The crop is ready for being cut when the heads have all turned brown, except a few of the smaller and later ones. It may be cut by the mower as ordinarily used, by the mower, with a board or zinc platform attachment to the cutter bar, by the self-rake reaper, or by the grain binder. The objection to the first method is that the seed has to be raked and that the raking results in the loss of much seed; to the second, that it calls for an additional man to rake off the clover; and to the third, that the binder is heavier than the self-rake reaper. The latter lays the clover off in loose sheaves. These may be made large or small, as desired, and if care is taken to lay them off in rows, the lifting of the crop is rendered much easier. When the clover is cut with the mower, it should be raked into winrows while it is a little damp, as, for instance, in the evening. If raked in the heat of the day many of the heads will break off and will thus be lost. From the winrows it is lifted with large forks. When the crop is laid off in sheaves it may be necessary to turn them once, even in the absence of rain, but frequently this is not necessary. In the turning process gentle handling is important, lest much of the seed should be lost. The seed heads of a mature crop break off very easily in the hours of bright sunshine. Rather than turn the sheaves over, it may be better, in many instances, just to lift them with a fork with many tines, and set them down easily again on ground which is not damp under them, like unto that from which they have been removed. Clover seed may be stored in the barn or stack, or it may be threshed directly in the field or from the same. The labor involved in handling the crop is less when it is threshed at once than by any other method, but frequently at such a busy season it is not easily possible to secure the labor required for this work. It is usually ready for being threshed in two or three days after the crop has been cut, but when the weather is fair it may remain in the field for as many weeks after being harvested without any serious damage to the seed. If, however, the straw, or haulm, as it is more commonly called, is to be fed to live stock, the more quickly that the threshing is done after harvesting, the more valuable will the haulm be for such a use. When stored in the barn or stack, it is common to defer threshing until the advent of frosty weather, for the reason, first, that the seed is then more easily separated from the chaff which encases it; and second, that farm work is not then so pressing. When threshed in or directly from the field, bright weather ought to be chosen for doing the work, otherwise more or less of the seed will remain in the chaff. In lifting the crop for threshing or for storage, much care should be exercised, as the heads break off easily. The fork used in lifting it, whether with iron or with wooden prongs, should have these long and so numerous that in lifting the tines would go under rather than down through the bunch to be lifted. The wagon rack should also be covered with canvas, if all the seed is to be saved. If stored in stacks much care should be used in making these, as the seed crop in the stack is even more easily injured by rain than the hay crop. The covering of old hay of some kind that will shed rain easily should be most carefully put on. Years ago the idea prevailed that clover seed could not be successfully threshed until the straw had, in a sense, rotted in the field by lying exposed in the same for several weeks. The introduction of improved machinery has dispelled this idea. The seed is more commonly threshed by a machine made purposely for threshing clover called a clover huller. The cylinder teeth used in it are much closer than in the ordinary grain separator. The sieves are also different, and the work is less rapidly done than if done by the former. During recent years, however, the seed is successfully threshed with an ordinary grain threshing machine, and the work of threshing is thus more expeditiously done. Certain attachments are necessary, but it is claimed that not more than an hour is necessary to put these in place, or to prepare the machine again for threshing grain. Since the seed is not deemed sufficiently clean for market as it comes from the machine, it should be carefully winnowed by running it through a fanning mill with the requisite equipment of sieves. It is important that this work should be carefully done if the seed is to grade as No. 1 in the market. If it does not, the price will be discounted in proportion as it falls below the standard. A certain proportion of the seed thus separated will be small and light. This, if sold at all, must be sold at a discount. If mixed with weed seeds it should be ground and fed to some kind of stock. The haulm, when the seed crop has been well saved, has some feeding value, especially for cattle. If not well saved it is only fit for litter, but even when thus used its fertilizing value is about two-thirds that of clover hay. More or less seed remains in the chaff, and because of this the latter is sometimes drawn and strewn over pastures, or in certain by places where clover plants are wanted. Seed sown in the chaff has much power to grow, owing, it is thought, to the ability of the hull enclosing the seed to hold moisture. The yields in the seed crops of medium red clover vary all the way from 1 to 8 bushels per acre. The average yields under certain conditions are from 3 to 4 bushels per acre. Under conditions less favorable, from 2 to 3 bushels. Within the past two decades the seed crop has been seriously injured by an insect commonly spoken of as the clover midge (Cecidomyia leguminicola) which preys upon the heads so that they fail to produce. A field thus affected will not come properly into bloom. The remedy consists in so grazing or cutting the clover that the bloom will come at that season of the summer when the insects do not work upon the heads. This season can only be determined by actual test. In Northern areas it can usually be accomplished by pushing the period of bloom usual for the second crop two to four weeks forward.

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