Clover (trifolium), a genus of plants belonging to the natural order leguminosm, comprising 59 species, and generically distinguished as tufted or diffuse herbs, with flowers in heads or spikes, leaves mostly palmately trifoliate, a persistent 5-cleft calyx, the standard of the corolla longer than the wings, small 1-6-seeded pods, and stipules joined with the petioles. From the* three leaflets which constitute its leaf it takes the name in Greek, trifolium in Latin, and trefoil in English. - There are several of the many varieties of clover of great value to agriculturists. Red clover ( T. pratense) is a biennial plant, having perennial qualities under special modes of cultivation, and is particularly adapted to argillaceous soils. Small clover, or the rowen crop, is excellent for young stock; but animals should not be permitted to feed on clover lands in early spring or late in the autumn; in the latter case the crop is likely to be winter-killed for want of a mulch-like protection, and in the former is not able to regain full vigor during the after part of the season, and this is especially true if sheep are the pasturing stock. Land may be seeded down to clover with any of the cereal crops, such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, and in special cases with buckwheat. It is very desirable that the seed should be sown sufficiently early to receive the full benefit of the spring rains. The dung of cattle fed on clover hay is often sufficient to seed land, if distributed evenly through the soil, the seed generally passing through the animal organism without having its germinating qualities impaired.
The proportion of seed to be sown with timothy or other grass seeds must necessarily vary with the results desired. In order to secure even distribution, it should be sown in calm weather. Standing on one ridge while sowing on another, as is sometimes done, on a windy day, is unfavorable to good work. In dry weather, and on clayey soil, it is well to bush-harrow in order to insure full covering, and occasional rolling is very desirable. Every farmer should have plenty of clover for soiling in early spring for his working animals. After each cutting during the season, top-dress heavily with manures. Land becomes "clover sick" only in the absence of a proper succession of crops, and the elements of fertility necessary for the support of the plant. Many farmers have great faith in the power of clover, when ploughed in, to restore fertility to exhausted soils. It does so only by taking carbon from the atmosphere, and causing elements in the soil to assume organic forms, thus rendering them more available as food for other crops, and is therefore very necessary in a rational system of husbandry; but if a soil be almost robbed of its fertility by excessive cropping, its equilibrium must be restored by adding deficient elements.
Land is often too poor for the seed" to take." In this case it should be summer-fallowed, manured, sowed to winter grain, and to clover in the spring. Prof. Way found in 100 parts of the ash of clover, grown on a silicions sand, phosphoric acid 5.82, lime 35.02, potash 18.44, soda 2.79, sulphuric acid 3.91. As indicated by analytic research, plaster of Paris, which is sulphate of lime, the phosphates, wood ashes, and muck treated with the salt and lime mixture, are excellent top-dressings for clover. The use of plaster, sometimes called gypsum, is often of great value for top-dressing, even in the immediate vicinity of plaster beds. The practice of ploughing in a clover crop preparatory to the growing of wheat is of much importance. There is a great similarity between the composition of the ashes of wheat and clover, especially if the latter be grown on soil replete with the necessary constituents. Analytical research has shown that the composition of clover or any other plant varies with the chemical condition of a soil. Clover crops should therefore be raised on soils containing sufficient pabulum, and in an available condition for their support.
The growing of clover is equal to deep ploughing, because its long roots travel deeply in search of food for the stems and leaves, which if ploughed into the land will undergo decomposition, and leave near the surface elements taken from the subsoil. Its leaves take carbonic acid largely from the atmosphere, and the ploughing in of the crop augments the carbon of a soil very materially, which changes its color, and gives it greater capacity to absorb solar heat and to retain manures and ammonia, whether resulting from their decomposition or absorbed from the atmosphere. It is very doubtful whether in all cases clover is the most economical mode of furnishing carbon. If time be worth much, it is not, because an immediate application in most cases may be made of muck treated with the salt and lime mixture, black mould from the woods, peat, river deposits, etc. - Clover fields are sometimes infested by vegetable parasites of well developed structure, producing seed. The small broom (orobanclie minor) is one of these. Its flowers are of a pale brownish color. Microscopic examinations show that when it infests clover there is an organic connection between the plants. This parasite is interesting to the agriculturist, not for its utility but for its mischief.
The dodder (cuscuta) is another of these depredators, belonging to the family of the convotoulacece, having small flowers resembling those of the convolvulus. It bears perfect seed, which is shed upon the soil, and there germinates, pervading the ground by a wire-like process, doomed to a lingering death unless it finds a clover plant. In the commencement of its growth it gets its nourishment from the soil, but afterward from the juices of the plant which it infests. The dodder will find the object of its destruction if within reach, and its papillae or peg-like processes, although delicate in structure, will sink into the stalk and feed upon the juices of the clover plant. - The crimson clover (T. incar-natum) is now raised for soiling and hay, and is a beautiful Italian plant, sometimes cultivated as a border flower. Much attention is given to its cultivation at present in Scotland.
Red Clover (Trifoliuin pratensc). a. Pod. b. Seed.
Fulton's experiments in growing crimson clover attracted special attention from the members of the Highland agricultural society. A large crop was raised from seed sown by Mr. Fulton on land from which a crop of early potatoes had just been taken. Three months after it was sown, on Oct. 17, the yield was 2 1/2 tons per imperial acre. He arrived at the following conclusions: It is highly valuable as a secondary crop after early potatoes; it is an excellent intermediate crop to precede turnips; it will withstand severe weather if well established before frost; it produces an excellent crop of forage, much relished by live stock. If the land is not very clean, it will not answer so well as vetches, but it is of easy cultivation. Maturing 10 or 12 weeks after sowing, it may be produced very early in the season if wanted for stock. - White clover (T. repens) is an excellent plant on all pasture lands, of great value in sheep husbandry, adapted to almost every kind of soil, and its network of roots is all through the soil. - The following analyses of red and white clovers are by Prof. Way of the royal agricultural society of England:
White Clover (Trifolium repens).
Albuminous or flesh.forming principles.
Heat.producing principles - starch, gum.
Mineral matter or ash...
One hundred parts of each of the varieties named, dried at 212° F., gave the following results:
Albuminous or flesh.forming principles.
Heat.producing principles - starch, sugar, gum, etc...
Mineral matter or ash...
These researches of Prof. Way are most valuable contributions to the science and art of agriculture. Boussingault found the nutritive equivalent of red clover hay, taking English hay as the standard, to be as 79 is to 100; the difference of result obtained by Fresenius in a like experiment need only be looked at. Thaer, a most careful experimenter, found its practical value in feeding to bear the same relation to English hay as 90 to 100. He found the nutritive equivalent of red clover in the green state to be as 311 to 100, and its practical value in feeding to be 450 to 100. - If clover for hay is left till very ripe without cutting, the starch and sugar of the plant will change to woody fibre, thus causing brittleness if much exposed, and rendering the hay almost valueless. The nectaries of clover heads, when fully developed, are rich in a honey.like liquid, hunted for by bees, and if the crop is mown before the seed ripens this saccharine property will be preserved. In growing seed, it is common to pasture the first year's growth, or cut a crop of hay, and leave the second growth for seed; but if the cutting is not done early, the frost may check its growth, thus preventing its maturity. After threshing, it is run through a hulling machine, and then a fanning mill.
Clover is much more succulent than any of the grasses usually raised for hay, requiring more time to part with its moisture, and should be cut only when free from dew. If dried by a hot sun, it heats in the sward, wilts, becomes dark.colored, and loses flavor and aroma. It should be saved in the cock, and only so much mown at one time as can easily be brought under cover if rain threatens. Make no hand or rake rolls; use forks; any unnecessary compression breaks the structure of the plant, and makes the sap exude. The usual application of salt at the time of putting it in the mow is beneficial. In special cases the mixing of clover hay with straw or other fodder of the previous season is desirable, especially if it be not thoroughly dried. Green clover hay imparts flavor, aroma, and freshness to old fodder, thus causing animals to relish the mixture.