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Lots of clover, hardly any grass.

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  • Lots of clover, hardly any grass.

    I rode down inour meadow today and discovered this. The drought has allowed lots of weeds to flourish, and the rest of the ground is covered with clover. The horses look great and have all spring...it is a 35 acre meadow along a big creek so the capillary action in the lowest part has kept better grass. But a good 15 acres is as I have described. We limed 2 ton to the acre last fall and I am wondering what else to do. Also, the high parts of the farm are covered with the white clover too. I wondered if I could seed over it with bluegrass or pasture grass after chain harrowing? In the fall, or do I have to wait til spring.?
    "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

  • #2
    Drought. If your area has been abnormally dry (probably,
    most of the country is), then the only thing you could do
    would be to water the meadow. Legumes like clover,
    alfalfa, trefoil, all have deeper roots than most grasses and
    can grow better in dry conditions than can the grasses.

    If it rains in autumn, your grass will recover (likely) and
    come back again. You can kill off the clover with something
    like Pasture Pro which should also do in the broadleaf weeds
    but you might not have any ground cover left then.
    Legumes do have the virtue of having good root structure
    to hold the soil. And horses do like the taste of red clover.
    Around here, before alfalfa was commonly planted, clover
    was the hay of choice of the farmers.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin


    • #3
      Here in western NY we are in a slight to moderate drought. We've been told to not water as the dormant grass will come back once we get sufficient rain. It's too late to do anything about the brown/yellow/tan grass.

      The only thing growing around here is weeds and white clover excluding my leach field which does have some lovely grass.

      If you check there's another thread about taking the horses off the dormant pastures and feeding hay. Seems a shame to do so in the middle of the summer but if you want to save your pastures, that's what you need to do. Also, you said some grass down by the creek is still good. Your horses will chose that over the dormant until it's depleted.

      I'd suggest mowing the weeds ASAP so they don't to seed and take over the pasture next yr.

      Good luck, just be thankful you aren't in one of the severe drought areas.

      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


      • #4
        Same here in NW IN.
        Semi-drought conditions but we've been luckier than other parts of the state where corn has been cut for silage and soybean crop is iffy.

        My "hayfield" = the acreage surrounding my pastures that is cut & baled by a neighbor (he keeps the 100 or so small square bales from it, I get civilized-looking acreage in return) is probably 90% red clover after the first cutting.

        He told me they like it that way & we agreed, that aside from the clover taking longer than grass to cure in a bale, it is still worth a 2nd cutting.

        My small (~2ac & ~1ac) pastures are relatively free of clover. Probably because horse & pony are out on them all day.
        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


        • Original Poster

          I appreciate the replies, and plan to mow the broadleafs tomorrow...or atleast START....they seem to do really well on the white clover.
          "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt


          • #6
            We are also planning on liming and overseeding this fall. I am considering a mix of annual rye and a tall fescue (endo-free) rather than bluegrass for more durablility. Mowing the heck out of the broadleaf weed patches on a weekly basis. We did get a good amount of rain this past week and more to come tonight (maybe) but still need more.

            I am concerned about a new weed I found this spring- Hedge Mustard- looks like a tumble weed when dry and is tough as wire. Anyone know how to get rid of this?
            Last edited by Pa Rural; Jul. 22, 2012, 12:10 PM.


            • Original Poster

              I don't know what a tumble weed looks like...but we have a vine that has ei ght points per leaf....and smothers out everthing else. It is
              really green so when you look down in the meadow below there are these lovely green patches....NOT....I have taken it to the local farm store and TSC...noone knows what it is. I have mown it to the dirt and won in a few places....now I am trying to spray it with Pasture Pro, which the guy at TSC assured me would take care of it. The more I ride in the meadow the more new patches I find!
              "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt


              • #8
                it's because clover has more storage carbohydrates to live on before it dies, and has a deeper root system. It's also why so many horses gets laminitis on clover dominated pastures.

                Crop Science Vol. 41 No. 1, p. 156-166
                Effect of Drought on Growth, Carbohydrates, and Soil Water Use by Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, and White Clover
                H.D. Karsten *a and J.W. MacAdam

                In irrigated pastures of the semiarid, high-elevation western USA, perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) persistence is poor, and over time white clover (Trifolium repens L.) often dominates mixtures. Irrigation is often not available during autumn, when these perennial plants store carbohydrate reserves for spring regrowth. Our objective was to compare the effect of water stress on growth, carbohydrates, and soil water use of perennial ryegrass, white clover, and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) in a greenhouse study. These three species were grown separately in a Kidman fine sandy loam, in 15-cm-diam, 1-m-deep pots and irrigated for 81 d (4 plants/pot). Paired pots were then either irrigated or subjected to water deficit (drought) for 30 d, followed by 10 d of recovery with irrigation. At 10-d intervals, four paired pots of each species were destructively sampled to determine leaf and storage organ dry matter and carbohydrate and simple sugar concentrations in storage organs. Root length density and soil water content were also sampled at 20-, 60-, and 90-cm soil depths. Leaf dry matter was lower in water-stressed plants than in irrigated plants by the end of the drought, but did not differ among species. After 10 d of recovery, storage carbohydrate concentration in droughted perennial ryegrass was lower than in white clover, and the ratio of simple sugars (droughted:irrigated) in perennial ryegrass was higher than in white clover. Tall fescue performed similarly to both species. Before the drought, grasses had similar, extensive root systems that withdrew more soil water from the 90-cm soil depth than did white clover. By the end of the 30-d drought, white clover had reduced soil water at all depths as much as the grasses. White clover survived drought and conserved carbohydrate reserves after 10 d of recovery better than did perennial ryegrass and similarly to tall fescue.
                Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org