Effect of timing of forage conservation on forage yield and quality, seed yield and seedling regeneration of four subterranean clover (Trifolium subteraneum) cultivars

Brian Dear, Belinda Hackney, Gabrielle Dyce, Craig Rodham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Swards of four cultivars of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) were cut at three different times to determine the effect on forage yield and quality, seed set and seedling regeneration in two successive seasons in southern New South Wales. The four cultivars of subterranean clover (Seaton Park LF, Junee, Goulburn and Clare) were cut on 23'25 September (early cut), 8'10 October (mid cut) or 22'23 October (late cut), to simulate an early silage, late silage or hay cut. Additional treatments imposed included either grazing or leaving the regrowth after cutting and raising the cutting height from 3 to 6 cm.Forage yields ranged from 3.5 to 9.3 t dry matter (DM)/ha in the first year and from 2.0 to 5.9 t DM/ha in the second year. Herbage yield was influenced by both cultivar and harvest time with the highest yields achieved with the mid cut. Lower forage yields at the later cut were attributed to losses due to respiration and decay under dense leaf canopies.Changes in forage quality were consistent across both years, with in vivo DM digestibility declining from 76'79% to 69'70% as cutting time was delayed. Crude protein fell from 22'24% to 14'17% over the same period, depending on cultivar.Seed yields in both years were influenced by both cutting time and cultivar with a positive relationship (R2 = 0.45'0.61) between herbage present in late spring after a period of regrowth and subsequent seed yield. The early flowering cultivar Seaton Park LF had the highest seed yield in both years and the more erect cultivar Clare had the lowest. Seed yields declined with later cutting time but increased by an average of 39% when the cutting height was raised from 3 to 6 cm. Seedling regeneration reflected seed yield responses with the largest seedling regeneration occurring in treatments cut early.The study found that forage conservation in early October is likely to yield more and be of higher quality than swards cut later in the season. Seed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1142
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Production Science
Volume48
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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