Harvest management to maximize dry matter and nutrient yield, and economic return of red clover

M. H. Hall, L. E. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In Pennsylvania and the northeast USA, red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) is widely grown as an alternative to alfalfa. Harvest systems which maximize red clover dry matter (DM) and nutrient yield and economic return over the relatively short life of the stand have not been identified in Pennsylvania or the northeastern USA. The objectives of this research were to determine the effect of seeding-year and year-after-seeding (production year) harvest systems on total DM and nutrient yield, and economic return of red clover. Red clover was spring seeded without a companion crop and subjected to one or two harvests during the seeding year and two, three, or four harvests during the production year. Red clover harvested twice in the seeding year averaged 2230 and 1526 lb/acre greater DM and digestible dry matter (DDM) yields, respectively, over the life of the stand than red clover harvested once. Harvesting twice during the seeding year also resulted in a S79/acre greater return over the life of the stand than a single harvest. Seeding-year harvest treatment had no effect on red clover DM or DDM yield, or economic return in the production year. Average production-year DM yields were 7359, 7639, and 6512 lb/acre for the two, three, and four harvest systems, respectively. Economic returns over the life of the stand as a result of production-year harvest treatments were inconsistent but two or three harvests were always among the highest. Red clover persistence did not differ among treatments. Seeding- and production-year harvest management of red clover may vary with location; however, in Pennsylvania and regions of similar climatic conditions, two harvests in the seeding year and two or three harvests in the production year were consistently superior in DM and nutrient yield, and economic return compared to other harvest systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-410
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Production Agriculture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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