Effective termination of red clover

Red clover is an excellent cover crop but the termination of it can be challenging. Here are a couple timely tips.

Red Clover.Red clover is one of the most common cover crops used in Michigan as a green manure. The timing of killing the clover is farm specific. Soil type and reasons why the cover was planted need to be taken in to consideration, see Managing Cover Crops Profitably: SARE handbook 9. Termination should be done 10-14 days prior to planting primary crops. Red clover can be effectively killed by herbicide application, mechanical means or a combination of the two.

Herbicides can be used to kill red clover in conservation and no-till tillage systems. A table of applicable herbicides in wheat has been compiled in Using Red Clover as a Cover Crop in Wheat. For other crops consult your pesticide label to determine efficacy and application rates.

Red clover can also be killed through mechanical means. This method may not be effective on the first pass. Multiple runs across the field may be necessary. Moldboard plowing or shallow chisel plowing in the spring or fall may completely kill the clover. Mowing and chopping may also be used. Herbicides followed by mechanical killing can also be effective. Mowing in the summer followed up by an herbicide application a month later is another option.

For more information on red clover, red clover termination, or on cover crops visit Michigan State University Cover Crops. For assistance on cover crops contact Paul Gross or Christina Curell.

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