Clover is a soil builder, often referred to by the vegetable farmers as “green manure”. It imparts nitrogen into the soil and when the bloom is finished, it not only produces more seed for next year but feeds micro-organisms in the earth. Farmers must be soil builders first and foremost. That’s why we spend precious time and money trying to encourage clover’s growth. But it also enriches our cattle - they thrive on the sweet spring clovers.
The first question, once it has been decided that a clover program is a good thing, is finding the right variety of clover. We ignored the obvious for several years by ignoring what had already succeeded naturally in our existing pastures — Medic clover, commonly called burr clover. It is our native clover.
How did we miss such an obvious choice? Because we wanted a better grazing clover. Medic hugs the ground and is often not reached by the cow’s mouth. So we tried several dual-purpose clovers. Crimson, Dutch, White and finally, Ball before we added Medic to our planting routine. Ball and Medic have become our winners.
Clover seed is temperamental. You put it down this year and may not see results until years later, so you don’t know if it is the right choice or not. The Ball clover we see this year was first planted 3 years ago. Medic was planted last year and we saw immediate results this spring. We have hit the home run with Ball and Medic, though Medic is clearly more adapted than Ball. Ball is a fine grazing clover and both varieties are soil builders. We will plant Medic and Ball in a 2 to 1 ration in future years.