We carry or have access to most pasture species. Below is information on our most common species and the varieties that we are carrying for 2019.
Legumes are highly palatable and nutritious forage crops. They are able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and reduce the need for purchased nitrogen fertilizer. Legumes can extend the growing season for cool-season pasture, provide high-quality forage into the summer and increase hay quality and yield.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is the highest-yielding perennial forage crop suited to Illinois. Alfalfa is a deep-rooted crop that does best on deep, well-drained soils. Alfalfa also needs a well-limed soil producing best at pH levels of 6.5 and higher. With proper management, it is well suited to hay or pasture. For hay production alfalfa should be cut in late bud to early bloom stage. Successive cuttings should be made every 30-35 days. In the fall, allow a minimum of 30 days for regrowth, prior to a killing frost. In a pasture, alfalfa should be rotationally grazed with stocking rates heavy enough to allow removal in three days. Grazing should begin at six to eight inches in the spring and not graze lower than three inches. Allow 28 to 35 day rest period between grazing. Bloating can be a concern in ruminant animals. Including grass mixtures, controlled grazing, or feeding bloat-inhibiting compounds will reduce the hazard.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) has hairy stems and leaves. It is a biennial that must reseed itself to maintain a stand. Red clover is useful on land where drainage or pH are not adapted to alfalfa. Typically it is more difficult to dry for hay than alfalfa. Normally a two-year crop, it can be high yielding and produce high-quality forage. Under good growing conditions, red clover can be harvested the year of establishment with the first cutting before full bloom. Established fields, first cuttings should be made at one-fourth bloom with successive cuttings at one-half bloom. Red clover has more shade tolerance than alfalfa and can be used for pasture renovation mixtures where shading by existing grasses occurs. Rotational grazing is recommended, with a 30 day rest period prior to frost, so root reserves can be built up. Red clover is a good source of nitrogen for accompanying grasses. Red clover can cause bloat.
Medium Red Clover
Mammoth Red Clover
Freedom! MR Clover - this mildew resistant clover has less hair and finer stems for faster drying and improved palatability.
White Clover (Trifolium repens) is a creeping plant with long basal runners that usually root at the nodes. Ladino is an important legume in pastures, but is a short lived species. All of the leaflets rise from the horizontal stem on long stalks. Ladino lacks drought tolerance because it is more shallow rooted than alfalfa or red clover. Bloat may occur from white clover if it accounts for a large portion of the animal diet. Ladino should no t contribute more than 40% of the grass / legume mixture. Ladino is not usually recommended for hay because of curing problems. Do not graze below three inches.
Ladino White Clover
Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum), known as crimson clover or Italian clover, is a species of clover in the family Fabaceae, native to most of Europe. The species name incarnatum means "blood red".
Yellow Blossom Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalis (L.) Sweetclover is an `undemanding' legume. That is, like lespedeza, it grows where alfalfa, red clover and ladino fail, such as on clay pan soils or on sands; it tolerates low fertility and wet conditions; and it survives drought about as well as alfalfa. Caution: Sweet clover used for hay must be cured correctly. Moldy sweet clover hay can cause internal bleeding in animals.
Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) can be a long-lived legume with a high yield potential on slightly acidic soils with drainage less than best for alfalfa. Seedling vigor and growth is less than alfalfa or red clover. It is harder to establish. Root-rots have made bird's-foot short lived in southern Illinois. Trefoil is a non-bloating legume that is shallow rooted and may not produce well in drought conditions. Bird's-foot trefoil must be rotationally grazed to maintain a stand. This is because it relies on reseeding for persistence. Begin grazing in the spring when it is six to eight inches tall and remove stock when it reaches three inches. Cut for hay at one-fourth bloom with a three inch cutting height. Late fall harvest should be avoided to maintain the stand.
Korean Lespedeza (Kummerowia stipulacea or striata) is a popular legume in the southern third of Illinois. It flourishes in midsummer when other forage plants are at low production levels. It is ready for pasture by late spring, and is very poor quality in the fall. Grazing should occur when plants are six to eight inches tall. A minimum grazing height of three inches. A thirty day rest period is needed in the fall to produce seed. Hay should be cut at half bloom or earlier. Also a non-bloating legume, lespedeza is drought resistant and acid tolerant.