Berseem clover is fast growing and has quick recovery. It can be used for haylage, hay, pasture, green manure, or as a cover crop. Tests have shown that Berseem is very palatable and bloat problems have never been reported. Berseem forage contains from 18 to 28 percent crude protein, very comparable with alfalfa. One farmer reported a lab report of 26.2 percent crude protein and a relative food value of 151 on this third cutting of green chop.
- Fast-growing summer annual, great smother crop
- Heavy nitrogen producer, 150-200 lbs N
- Broadcast and roll or drill ¼” deep, 8-12 lbs/A
- Works well as a small grain companion
- Kills when temperatures are below 20°F
The commercial use of Berseem Clover (also known as Egyptian clover) is relatively new in the United States. It has been an important crop in the Mediterranean, Near East, and India for many years. Until recently Berseem Clover was only used in the southern states as a winter forage crop and also for green manure. With the development of new varieties, Berseem has been touted as the King of Cover Crops for the Midwest.
Berseem Clover is an annual with ivory blossoms that will tolerate a wide range of soils, and temperatures down to 15°F. Plant late summer to get the best winter cover; sow 1/2 inch deep. Berseem looks much like alfalfa with oblong leaves, hollow stems, and an upright growth habit reaching 18-30 inches. Plant at 15–20 pounds per acre. Berseem will do best on a firm, well-prepared seedbed. Try to cover the seed ¼ of an inch or cultipack prepared seedbeds to press the seed into the soil surface and to conserve moisture. Berseem cannot be frost seeded or take as much freezing as alfalfas and red clovers. Do not seed until soil temperature is above 25 degrees. Establishment has been successful by surfacing the seed on closely clipped sods.
Berseem can be a godsend to spruce up a thin stand of alfalfa. In these conditions plant 8 to 12 lbs. to the acre depending on the thickness of the alfalfa. Use 8 to 15 lbs. to the acre when planting with Italian Ryegrass, Mutua Bromegrass or any of the annual ryegrasses for hay or pasture. Given the aggressive growth, sow Berseem on top when the grain crop is 2-4 inches tall. Berseem has been planted with turnips or tyfon for a superb pasture for sheep. When planting with oats, barley, or triticale for haylage, 12 to 15 pounds to the acre is recommended. Adding Berseem will increase the protein content and enhance the quality of the haylage. Then the second and third crops can be used for hay, pasture or haylage. If Berseem is planted with a grain crop for green manure it is recommended that the Berseem be broadcast 30 days later to slow down the development of the Berseem. Then cover the Berseem by using a rotary hoe.
Once the plants bloom, the growth cycle is over, they will not recover so it is important to graze or cut prior to flowering. Berseem responds to liberal applications of phospate and potash.
Grazing or cutting Berseem can begin when the stand reaches 10 inches in height, and when basal shoots begin to grow. Depending on planting date, climate, and temperatures this may take anywhere from 30 to 60 days. Subsequent cuttings can be taken every 25 to 30 days, down to 3″, until the first serious freeze. Graze or clip to encourage new shoot production. For best results, rotate the grazing of Berseem Clover. This will give better total production by increasing yield and by increasing the longevity of the stand during the summer. Dry-down of Berseem Clover is half a day longer than alfalfa.
Berseem will thrive in wet conditions much better than alfalfa. However, it will not tolerate drought or hard soil conditions as well as alfalfa and it will not cannot take as much freezing. In the northern United States, Berseem should make three crops the same year that it is planted. In the South it should be planted in the fall and six or seven crops can be expected. Although Berseem grows in a variety of soils, medium-loam soils that are slightly alkaline will produce the best crop. It is moderately resistant to saline conditions and appears superior to alfalfa and red clover in salt tolerance.
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