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ALSIKE CLOVER.   III

 

plants keep green and succulent for a comparatively long time. Usually only one crop of hay can be taken in a season. Harvesting can be done as for Red Clover. As a rule, however, the curing is less difficult, especially if the Alsike is grown with grasses.

Pasture: Although not eaten with the same eagerness as is Red Clover, Alsike is highly esteemed for pasture on account of its high feeding value. Grazing can begin as soon as the plants have made a good start and it should never be delayed long enough to let them blossom. Given favourable weather, early grazing will make the pasture last longer than if the plants are allowed to develop more. On account of being perennial, it is preferable to Red Clover for permanent pastures. When grown alone, six to eight pounds of seed should be used to the acre.

Seed growing: Growing Alsike for seed is quite a profitable business where conditions are favourable. The plants produce a large number of heads and the flowers are pretty certain to be fertilized as both bumble bees and ordinary honey bees are at work. The soil should contain a reasonable amount of lime, potash and phosphates and must not be too wet. Very moist soil produces rank growth and plants liable to lodge. As a result the seed crop will be comparatively light and of poor quality. The seed is generally secured from the first crop. Sometimes the fields are clipped or pastured early in the season. This delays ripening but enables the plants to be better stocked and to produce a larger amount of seed. To prevent lodging, which lessens the seed on the prostrate branches, as much as six pounds to the acre is sometimes sown with good results. This heavy seeding is recommended by seed growers for heavy, comparatively moist soil.

Alsike is ready to cut for seed when most of the heads are brown and the flowers can be easily stripped off. As the blossoms fall off separately when the seed is ripe, care in harvesting is necessary to prevent shelling. The danger is greatest when the heads are perfectly dry and it is therefore advisable to cut when the plants are wet with dew. For the same reason the subsequent handling of the crop must be careful. The threshing should be done during dry weather. As a rule, only one crop of seed is taken from a field; sometimes, however, seed can be advantageously harvested for two or even three successive years.

 

Quality of seed: Commercial seed in bulk is greenish or yellowish, or sometimes very dark. Every sample contains different coloured seeds; some of them are yellowish green, others almost black,


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