Underseeding Red Clover into Winter Wheat

Mar 02, 2021

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It’s March, the snow is melting and the ground is frozen so we know what that means! Now is a good time to be considering or thinking about frost seeding some red clover into those winter wheat stands! While we can’t control all the factors that influence the success of our red clover stands in winter wheat, there are some things we can do including putting down the right rate and seeding early to improve our chances of getting a well established stand.
 
Why consider red clover?
 
Red clover provides many benefits to your cropping system. Long-term research trials at the University of Guelph both at Elora and Ridgetown campus show on average we get an extra 8 bu/ac in a 200 bu/ac corn crop or a 4% yield increase when wheat is underseeded to red clover.  Not only do we see an increase in yield but also an improvement in overall soil health.
 
Which red clover should be used?
 
There are numerous types of clover available but single and double cut red clover are the main types of clovers underseeded to winter wheat in Ontario. Double cut varieties will flower in the year of seeding and tend to grow and accumulate biomass quickly. In contrast single cut is slower growing, won’t flower in the year of seeding and is a bit more drought tolerant. Price point may also have an influence on which clover growers select. If the clover is left into the fall or even the following spring, the differences in growth and impact are generally minimal.
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