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New Legume Studies

Posted Dec. 1, 1999

Noble Research Institute specialists are frequently asked for advice on legumes. To help answer some of these questions, we have returned to performance testing of clover varieties to study yield, yield distribution, cold tolerance, and general adaptation to our region's environment. Also, we have begun to examine some legumes that, although not entirely new, have not received much attention or effort in the past: kura clover and annual medics.

We are conducting three clover variety tests this year. The annual clover tests contain eleven entries of arrowleaf, ball, berseem, crimson, and rose clovers. The red clover tests include seven red clovers, two strawberry clovers, and a single kura clover. The third performance test is made up of twelve white clover entries.

We are examining kura clover from different locations in Europe and Russia to determine if there is one adapted to our region. The kura clover varieties available in the United States are adapted to the upper Midwest and have not performed well in the southern U.S. Where kura clover is adapted it is a perennial that is both productive and persistent.

Annual medics, although sometimes called clovers (i.e. button clover), are close relatives of alfalfa and originated in Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean. Some of these have become naturalized in much of Oklahoma and Texas. Despite their being related to alfalfa, the annual medics grow more like many of the annual clovers. We are looking at forty strains of annual medics including barrel, black, burr (spotted burr clover), button (button clover), little burr, and rigid.