close-up of alsike clover

Alsike Clover

Trifolium Hybridum L.

Alsike clover grows well in poorly drained soil and offers high forage quality, similar to alfalfa.

Grows where other clovers won't.

As concrete screws are to regular screws, so is alsike to most clovers. Alsike isn’t used or preferred under normal conditions, but when needed, it’s irreplaceable. Those conditions include poorly drained and acidic soils. Preferring wetter soils over droughty soils, Alsike will tolerate lengthy spring flooding and completely waterlogged soil. In these conditions, alsike can still provide red-clover quality forage for multiple years (in southern locations, alsike acts as an annual). Alsike is well adapted to northern climates and cooler summers. It also has good winter hardiness. Alsike does not tolerate shade. 

Distinguishing marks.

Alsike leaves are smooth and sit on semi-erect, long, thin stems.The flowers are white or pale pink. The flowers bend down and turn brown after pollination. Like red clover, Alsike has a branch tap root that grows as deep as 4 feet.

 

Lives long and grows tall.

As a biennial, alsike usually lives two to three years and produces one to two good harvests per year. It can reach a mature height of two to four feet. Alsike works well with lower growing or managed grasses.

 

Better together.

Alsike is susceptible to lodging. It is normally planted as a grass/legume mix. It is also used in combinations with red clover for planting on fields with portions that are either water-logged or have a lower pH. While not commonly used as a cover crop, it may be worth considering for acidic or waterlogged soils.

 

Good eating.

Alsike makes very good quality hay in a grass/hay mixture and is also quite tolerant of grazing*. Forage quality is very high, similar to alfalfa.

*There are some cautions when grazing Alsike, specifically as it relates to horses and other livestock, where toxicity, bloat, and skin irritation issues exist. While Alsike is very tolerant of grazing, learn more about these issues before recommending or using Alsike in situations where grazing may occur.

 

Nitrogen producer.

Alsike can fix 60-120 lbs N/ac/yr and two to five tons DM forage yield. In order to achieve optimal nitrogen fixation ability, alsike clover needs to be inoculated with Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar trifolii. This is best achieved with Nitro-Coat®.

Alsike Clover Specifications

Alsike Clover Specifications

Planting
zonesZones 3-5; annual in wet soils in zone 6-7
annual/perennial/biennialBiennial
ease of establishmentGood
seed/lb680,000
seeding rate straight4-6 lbs/ac
seeding rate mix2-4 lbs/ac
seeding timeAugust-September
seeding depth1/8-1/4 inch
seeding methodBroadcast or drilled (preferred)
method of killing/suppressionMowing; grazing; chemical
optimal germination temperatureNight temperatures >40 F
seedling emergence/vigorFair
reseeding potentialFair
root typetap
Usage
grazing potentialGood
hay potentialGood
use with wildlifeGood
use in orchardsFair
use with row cropsFair
use with other grasses/legumesGood
Bees/benefitial insectsGood
compaction controlGood
erosion controlGood
weed suppression potentialGood
green manure/cover crop useFair
spreading capabilityFair
N contribition potentialGood
DM potentialGood
Forage qualityGood
harvest time frame (late/early/year round)Late
number of harvest/yrUp to 2 per growing season
other commentsLodging a problem in pure stands, therefore planting with grasses are recommended to reduce lodging.
Tolerance
bloat riskHigh
disease susceptibilityHigh
insect/nematode ristkHigh
cold toleranceExcellent
traffic toleranceGood
heat tolerancePoor
drought tolerancePoor
shade toleranceGood
dry soil tolerancePoor
wet soil toleranceExcellent
pH range5.0-6.5
required fertility (P,K, other nutrients)Tolerant of lower pH soils than most clovers; responds to P and K fertilization