Grasses, Clovers, Summer Forage

White Clover (Trifolium repens)

White Clover is a spreading perennial legume that is somewhat more persistent than red clover. It shows tremendous nitrogen-fixing capacity that benefits the companion crop. A good mixture of grass and white clover can yield as much as pure grass that receives 175 pounds of artificial nitrogen per acre.
Its best use is in beef or dairy pastures to increase productivity, palatability, intake, protein, and energy. It is widely adapted, easy to establish, and prefers medium and heavy soils. White clover may not be a good choice for horse pastures.

Agronomic Basics: White Clover


  • White Clover (Trifolium repens) is a short, spreading perennial legume primarily used in grass pastures to increase productivity, palatability, intake, protein, and energy. It is also an excellent pollen source for honeybees.
  • It is classified in three general groups - small, intermediate and large. Most white clovers sold in the US are of the intermediate type.
  • Approximately 784,000 seeds per pound, 60 pounds per bushel

Management considerations:

  • White clover is lower-growing than alfalfa and red clover.
  • It is more tolerant to wet soils than alfalfa and more persistent than red clover.
  • Widely adapted but does best on medium to heavy soils with a pH of 6.0 – 7.0.
  • Easy to establish, has good traffic tolerance, and is one of the most shade-tolerant legumes.
  • Has tremendous nitrogen-fixing capacity. In grazing trials, grass-ladino pastures have had as much carrying capacity as grasses fertilized with 80 pounds of nitrogen (U of MO).
  • It is not drought tolerant, and, as with other legumes, the risk of bloat must be managed
  • Can be used as a "living mulch" between rows of planted vegetables or trees
  • Many horse owners feel white clover is not a good choice for horse pastures.
  • White clover is generally not planted as a pure stand due to is low-growing nature and associated low yield.

Optimum Planting Dates:

  • In Wisconsin, white clover can be seeded from early spring to August 10.
  • White clover can be frost seeded into existing grass pastures in early spring. The freeze-thaw cycle will incorporate the seed into the soil.
  • It can also be no-till seeded into existing grass pastures.

Seeding Recommendations:

  • To ensure adequate root nodulation for nitrogen fixation, white clover seed should be inoculated with Rhizobium trifolii bacteria.
  • In general plant 2 - 4 lbs per acre in a mix although the seeding rate may be different depending on the variety planted. To reduce the risk of bloat potential, maintain a uniform grass-clover stand, with the clover not contributing more than 40 percent of the stand.
  • Do not plant deeper than 1/4 inch when seeding. Press wheels or cultipacking will improve the seed-soil contact and the chances of obtaining a good stand. To obtain a proper seeding depth, the seedbed should be firm.
  • Minimize the amount of tillage before seeding to avoid soil moisture loss.


(Consider a soil test and please contact your fertilizer professional for your specific needs):

  • As a legume, white clover fixes atmospheric nitrogen with Rhizobium bacteria in its root nodules so additional nitrogen fertilizer is generally not required. Be sure the seed is treated with the proper inoculant before planting. If your soil is very acidic (pH 5.5 or lower), nodulation may be reduced and extra nitrogen may be necessary.
  • Starter fertilizer application of up to 20-60-20 lb per acre will often assist in white clover establishment.
  • When white clover makes up less than 30 percent of a white clover–grass mixture, apply 30 to 50 lb of N per acre to enhance grass production.

Weed and Disease Control:

(This is not intended as a recommendation or endorsement of any specific product but as a list of possible controls. Please contact your chemical professional for your specific needs and always read and follow label directions):

  • Select fields that have relatively good weed control, as clover seedlings do not compete well with established weeds.
  • Maintaining a dense, competitive forage is important in preventing weed problems.
  • Regular mowing can kill or suppress annual and biennial weeds. It can also suppress perennials and help restrict their spread.
  • There are few herbicide treatments available for mixed grass-legume combinations. Spot spraying may be the best option for scattered weed infestations.

Harvest Management:

  • White clover can be grazed continuously or rotationally. It can be grazed to a height of about 1 inch without seriously damaging the stand.


Alice (Grazing White Clover)  

Premium Grazing Clover

  • Improved variety with large leaves
  • Grows to over-shoe height
  • Very winter-hardy and quick to establish
  • Seed 1-2 lbs/acre in a mix


Ladino (White Clover VNS) Out of stock.

Highly Nutritious Clover for Pasture 

  • Large leaves
  • Medium height
  • Works well in pastures or wildlife food plots
  • Seed 1-2 lbs in a mix
  • Seed 6-8 lbs/acre straight or 1-3 lbs/acre in a mix


New Zealand (White Clover VNS)  

Better Drought Tolerance 

  • Similar growth habits as Ladino
  • Handles drought conditions better
  • Tolerates a wide range of soils
  • Can be sown between row plantings or as a green manure
  • Seed 6-8 lbs/acre straight or 1-3 lbs/acre in a mix


White Dutch (White Clover VNS)  

Low Growing Clover 

  • Used mostly in lawns and wildlife food plots
  • Can be used as an inter-row crop in orchards or vegetable gardens
  • Does not grow well in dry soils
  • Seed 10 lbs/acre straight or 1-3 lbs in a mix

Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition - Sustainable Agric. Research and Education

White Clover - Penn State

Improving Pasture by Frost Seeding


Grasses and other Forage

Hay and Pasture

Annual Forages

Red Clover
White Clover
Other Clovers and Legumes
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