Alsike clover tillers profusely from the crown, with stems at least as long or longer than those of red clover but more slender and prostrate. Stems and leaves are smooth, hands are somewhat smaller than red clover and the flowers are pink or white. Inclusion of timothy with alsike is highly desirable since the clover is likely to lodge badly and make curing difficult.
Alsike usually produces only one crop of hay. Establishment is often possible on poorly drained and overflow land. It lacks persistence, living only two years. It is susceptible to many diseases and insect damage. Ladino clover is a giant version of white clover that is smooth with prostrate growth habit. The plant develops a primary, which dies before or during the second year of growth. Perenniality eventually depends upon the secondary root system from the nodes of stolons and upon the proportion and rate of auxiliary buds developing into stolons rather than flowers.
Ladino contains a high percentage of crude protein and amino acids. Bloat is particularly associated with grazing of lush green legumes, such as white clover, but proper management and methods of control can minimize the danger. It is almost impossible to dry for hay.
Red Clover is the Vermont State Flower. All red clovers may be grouped into three divisions: earl flowering, late flowering, and wild red. It is a herbaceous plant made up of numerous leafy stems rising from a crown. Fertile well drained soils of high moisture-holding capacity are best for growing red clover. An early spring seeding is favored. It is used extensively in pasture mixes and for renovating old pastures. The inclusion of grass in clover pastures is desirable to control soil erosion and cattle are less likely to bloat on mixtures.
Red clover is subject to a number of diseases and limited to a 3-year productive life. Arlington red clover has high resistance to northern anthracnose and powdery mildew. It is an early flowering variety. Medium red clover is an early flowering type which produces two-three hay crops per year and has biennial or short-lived perennial growth habit.
Sweet Clover thrives under a wide range of soil and climate conditions with one restriction—it does not tolerate acid soils. It is one of the first plants to invade and make a successful growth on highway cuts where nonacid subsoil is exposed. Flowers are either white or yellow.
The yellow flowered species (Melilotus officianalis) a.k.a. Yellow Blossom Clover tends to be finer stemmed and of better quality but is earlier maturing and somewhat less productive than the white.
Requirements for establishing are similar to those for alfalfa except the hard seed should be properly scarified before seeding. White clover in general is a decumbent, perennial legume best adapted to moist, fine-textured soils and cool humid climates. It spreads by means of shallow rooting stolons.