close up of berseem clover

Berseem Clover

Trifolium Alexandrinum

Berseem's value as a legume crop has been known for centuries. It grows fast and produces large amounts of forage and nitrogen.

The past and the present.

Also called Egyptian clover, referencing its origin, Berseem clover has been a very important annual legume crop in the Nile Delta for thousands of years. Interest in Berseem in North America continues to grow for many uses, including: cover cropping, non-bloating forage production, green manure, and honey production.

Likes to stay warm.

Like all good things, berseem has its limits. A main one is cold temperatures. It dies when temperatures fall below 20° F for multiple days. Being a winter-susceptible annual in the North, berseem is used as a summer and fall annual, and as a winter annual in southern climates. Berseem wakes up after soil temperatures hit the mid 40°’s, but really starts to grow at 65° and warmer. It is susceptible to frost kill in spring plantings. Berseem has a shallow taproot making it susceptible to droughty conditions. Berseem does better on non-sandy soils and prefers more alkaline soils to acidic soils. It can tolerate a bit of wet ground.

 

Useful as a cover crop and with other grains.

Berseem is especially useful as a natural-kill cover crop and works very well with companion grain crops like oats, grasses, and alfalfa. It is also great for giving quick browse for wildlife.

 

Good eating.

Berseem's fast growth converts into significant forage biomass and nitrogen. It has the ability to produce up to eight tons of dry matter (under irrigation).

 

Nitrogen producer.

Berseem can fix 200 pounds or more of nitrogen per acre. This is best achieved with Nitro-Coat®. In California, an average of 280 lbs of N/ac was reported under a six-year trial.

Berseem Clover Specifications

Berseem Clover Specifications

Planting
zonesZones 8 and 9
annual/perennial/biennialAnnual
ease of establishmentExcellent
seed/lb200,000
seeding rate straight10-15 lbs/ac
seeding rate mix8-12 lbs/ac
seeding timeSeptember-October
seeding depth1/4 - 3/8 inch
seeding methodBroadcast or drilled (preferred)
method of killing/suppressionMowing; grazing; chemical
optimal germination temperatureNight temperatures >50 F
seedling emergence/vigorGood
reseeding potentialFair
root typeTap
Usage
grazing potentialGood
hay potentialExcellent
use with wildlifeExcellent
use in orchardsGood
use with row cropsGood
use with other grasses/legumesGood
Bees/benefitial insectsGood
compaction controlGood
erosion controlGood
weed suppression potentialGood
green manure/cover crop useExcellent
spreading capabilityFair
N contribition potentialExcellent
DM potentialExcellent
Forage qualityGood
harvest time frame (late/early/year round)Early
number of harvest/yrup to 3 harvests
other commentsPoor winter hardiness therefore not recommended north of zone 8.
Tolerance
bloat riskRare
disease susceptibilityHigh
insect/nematode ristkHigh
cold tolerancePoor
traffic toleranceFair
heat toleranceExcellent
drought toleranceGood
shade toleranceGood
dry soil toleranceGood
wet soil toleranceGood
pH rangeBest on loam soils with pH >6.5
required fertility (P,K, other nutrients)Requires high fertility (more like Alfalfa) including addition of Boron