Trifolium repens Perennial legume. 8-12" tall, among the largest white clovers. This cultivar dates back to at least 1847. Among all white clovers, Ladino is known to fix the most nitrogen per acre and will outperform others on poorly drained soil. Resents shallow soils prone to drought. Frost-seed at 4–5#/acre, or 2–3# when mixed with grasses ¼#/1000 sq ft. ②
As cover crop: Produces as much biomass as any clover species. Seed it on its own, or follow Will Bonsall’s lead and sow under corn after hilling in midsummer. Bonsall says, “The clover makes a slow start, especially in the shade of the corn, and only starts putting on serious growth after the corn comes out in September. It makes modest growth up until snowfall, but that is greatly enhanced if I let it overwinter and resume growth in early spring.”
As forage/pasture: Excellent for pigs because of its unusually low fiber content. High marks for protein, digestibility and ease of establishment. Tall enough to be harvested for hay, silage, and green chop.
The Trifolium genus is home to more than 300 species, most of which are native to the northern hemisphere (a few pop up in Africa and South America). Clover is versatile, performs well in Maine’s cool humid climate and acidic soils, fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and attracts pollinators—what more could you ask for? The taller red clovers are better hay plants, as they have a more erect habit and greater biomass, and they dry more easily. Red clover blossoms, fresh or dried, make one of our favorite teas. White clovers perform better in pastures and lawns, as they tolerate close mowing (or nibbling) and heavy traffic. No matter what kind of clover you choose, be sure to plant plenty to increase your chances of finding those lucky four-lobed specimens: a survey of approximately 7 million clovers found that 1 in 5,000 clover leaves exhibit this trait!
Clover may be planted from late winter through early fall. Seedlings are slow to establish and will benefit from a nurse crop of oats. If a crop of annual weeds comes up with your clover, all is not lost: keep the plot regularly mowed and by midseason the clover will have outcompeted the weeds. Most clovers are pre-inoculated and clay-coated with an OMRI-approved coating.