Varieties of Red Clover

A perennial plant that may be either early or late flowering, farmers grow red clover for hay production and also as a grazing crop for livestock, including lactating dairy cows. Since this plant does well in the shade even past initial germination, it is easy to grow in shaded pastures and among other plants and pasture legumes. Growing conditions, most notably the length of growing seasons, determine which varieties of red clover provide the maximum yield for various locales. For example, while Mammoth red clover does well in Canada or Montana, medium varieties thrive in Missouri and Kentucky.

Freedom! for Kentucky

The Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station developed a red clover variety for the state that it made available in 2001. The marked absence of pubescence from the individual plants earned the variety the name 'Freedom!' (Trifolium pratense L. Reg. No. CV-26, PI 629112). This small variation from other available red clover varieties--most notably its parent variety, 'Kenland'--makes it a faster drying plant that also noticeably decreases the overall dust associated with hay production. This, in turn, makes it highly desirable for the overall hay production and also hay usage within partially enclosed livestock environments. Less dust translates into fewer allergens for man and beast.

Mammoth Red Clover for Montana

Due to the relatively short growing season in the state of Montana, Mammoth red clover (Trifolium pratense var. sativum ) is an excellent single-cut variety to grow for not only hay production but also as a fall pasture staple. Since double-cut varieties--also known as early-flowering types--lack the Mammoth clover’s hardiness, they fail to thrive in the state’s cooler climate. Even if they should manage to germinate and yield one seasonal harvest, they likely fail to survive and provide for a second or third harvest. Mammoth clover does well in moist, cooler soils and germinates in spite of heavy competition from other pasture plants, such as timothy hay.

Kenland and Kenstar for Missouri

Uniquely adapted to the growing conditions in Missouri, 'Kenland' (Trifolium pratense L. PI 300150) from 1947 and the 1973 red clover known as 'Kenstar' are two varieties that thrive in the state. 'Kenland' resists a number of fungal infections, which ensures a fuller harvest yield. Even so, farmers now gradually switch to the newer 'Kenstar' variety that was developed by the University of Kentucky. It shares a number of characteristics with 'Kenland'--including its resistance to fungal infections--but it slightly outperforms the old variety during the first two harvest seasons, while significantly eclipsing 'Kenland' with respect to a third harvest season yield.

Keywords: pasture legumes, Freedom!, Kenland, mammoth red clover, Kenstar

About this Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.