Setting legumes up for spring

// Pasture and Crops

Attention to the management of forage legumes now will pay dividends in spring when high-quality feed is required to realise the potential of next season’s lamb crop.

sub clover

Professor Derrick Moot from Lincoln University says autumn rains will have germinated subterranean (sub) clover seedlings in many dryland pastures along the east coast, but management of these seedlings will depend on how well-established they are.

Farmers in areas which received rain three weeks ago may have sub seedlings with three or four true leaves. These seedlings should be anchored in the ground, but Derrick recommends testing them by grabbing a seedling between the thumb and forefinger and giving it a pull.

If they pull out of the ground, they need to be left a little longer before the area can be grazed. If they break off with the roots still anchored in the ground they can be grazed. This is done preferably by cattle to remove the taller grasses and allow some leaves of the sub clover plants to be left behind so it can grow a canopy of leaves through winter.

Lucerne stands should be given an opportunity to replenish underground reserves over autumn so ideally leave them now until a hard graze in late May before their winter spray in June.

For more information about establishing and managing sub clover go to:

For information about managing lucerne stands in winter go to: