Yield and stolon characteristics of white clover (Trifolium repens L.) cultivars in perennial pasture in Victoria


Yield and stolon characteristics of white clover (Trifolium repens L.) cultivars in perennial pasture in Victoria


Clark, S.G. (Agriculture Victoria, Pastoral and Veterinary Institute, Hamilton); McFadden, M.J. (Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture, Glenormiston);

Keywords Trifolium repens|Cultivars|Pastures|Clovers|Sheep|Grazing|Persistence|Yields|Seed production|Stolons|Leaves|Variety trials|Phenology|Adaptation|White clover
URL http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/EA96069.htm

The herbage yield, stolon characteristics and soil seed reserves of a diverse range of white clover (Trifolium repens L.) cultivars were studied at Hamilton in south-western Victoria. The cultivars were sown with perennial grass (Phalaris aquatica L.) and the pasture was rotationally grazed by sheep. The aim of the study was to identify white clover types which would persist under sheep grazing. The widely used cultivar, Haifa, fails to persist in this environment.

Cultivars were divided into 3 groups depending on leaf size (range 2.5–13.0 cm2). Large-leaved cultivars were the most productive in the first year of the experiment but by year 3 some of the intermediate leaf-size cultivars were the most productive. Haifa (large leaved) was particularly unproductive in the third year compared with other large and intermediate leaf-size cultivars.

Stolon characteristics were measured in early spring 1987, mid summer 1988 and early autumn 1988. Total stolon yield on each occasion was 0.46–0.99, 0.65–1.68 and 0.05–0.25 t DM/ha respectively. Intermediate leafsize cultivars tended to have the highest stolon yields on each occasion. Stolon yield declined at the same rate (mean 87%; range 81–92%) in all cultivars between the second and third sampling date indicating that there is no variation in the cultivars’ ability to survive the summer drought period.

Although seed reserves for most cultivars were high at the end of the experiment (range 11–130 kg/ha) no seedling recruitment was observed and seed is thought to play no role in sward survival in this environment.

Plant breeders developing white clover cultivars for this environment should concentrate on maximising stolon yield at the beginning and end of the summer drought period (January–mid March). Intermediate leafsize genotypes are likely to provide the best combination of stolon and herbage yield. Grazing management should also aim to maximise stolon yield at these critical times. The use of large-leaved, non-stoloniferous cultivars should be discouraged by advisers as they are not suited to this marginal environment under sheep grazing.

Publish Date 8th January 1997
Resource Code AG199701829
ISSN 0816-1089
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International Wool Secretariat