Forage legume species grown in Texas are as diverse as the soils and climates found across the state. They differ in their growth habit, growing season, cold tolerance, and adaptability to soil texture, pH, and drainage. Good stands, maximum growth, high N2-fixation rates, and persistence are dependent on the forage legume species being well adapted to the soil and climate. The basis for successful legume production is to know your soil types and select legume species that are adapted to those soil types. The local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service can provide assistance in identifying the soils on your farm or ranch. Following is a discussion of most legume species grown in Texas that includes their strengths and weaknesses and where they are best adapted.  Preferred soil characteristics, plant characteristics, and seed rates are condensed in Table 1.   For more information about the species, download the article Descriptive Information on Cool-Season Forage Legumes(PDF).

Table 1.   Soil characteristics for optimum growth of cool-season annual legumes, legume species characteristics, and recommended seeding rates

Clover Species Preferred Soil Characteristics Plant Characteristics Seeding Rate lbs/ac
pH Texture Drainage Maturity Bloat potential Reseeding potential Cold tolerance
Alfalfa alkaline perennnial
Arrowleaf 6.0-7.0 sandy loam good late low high good 8-10
Ball 6.5-8.5 loam, clay fair late medium high good 2-3
Berseem 6.5-8.5 loam, clay poor late low low poor 12-16
Bur clover and annual Medics 6.5-8.0 loam, clay good early high good poor 4-12
Crimson 6.0-7.0 sandy loam, clay good early medium low good 16-20
Persian 6.0-8.0 loam, clay poor medium high medium fair 6-8
Red 6.5-8.0 loam, clay good late/biennial low low good 10-12
Rose (Overton R18) 6.0-8.0 sand, loam, clay good early-late low high good 12-16
subterranean sp. (Karridale, Denmark)
brachycalycinum sp. (Clare, Nuba)
6.0-7.3 7.0-8.0 loam, clay fair early-late medium medium low fair/poor 16-20
White 6.0-7.5 loam, clay poor late medium high good 3-4
Sweeclover 6.0-8.0 loam, clay good late low good good 12-16

Evers and Smith, Res. Ctr. Tech. Report No. 98-3, Texas Agric. Exp. Stn.

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