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Experimenting with growing different kinds of crops (especially hay) is one of my favorite things about farming and keeps things interesting. I have decided I want to try some birdsfoot trefoil. Not sure it will even thrive this far south as it seems to be mainly used up north. Already ordered some seed so I guess I will find out. I have read as many articles as I could find about it and it is an interesting forage. Thought I would post on here to see if we had any members growing it and could give me any first hand advice or what to watch for.

As frustrating as alfalfa has been this year I'm not sure why in the hell I'm wanting to plant another legume that is similar in dry down and leaf loss from what I have read????.

Hayden
 

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I put in a field of it on wetter ground. A lot of people utilize it like alfalfa up here due to wetter ground. Same seeding rate as alfalfa/grass 80/20 is what I used. Would let it go to seed every year to help keep it established. I don't know if that works I think mine lasted 3 years before the grass took over.

As for experiments they are fun. I got 5 different plots going on right now trying different things. Good luck with yours.
 

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I put in a field of it on wetter ground. A lot of people utilize it like alfalfa up here due to wetter ground. Same seeding rate as alfalfa/grass 80/20 is what I used. Would let it go to seed every year to help keep it established. I don't know if that works I think mine lasted 3 years before the grass took over.

As for experiments they are fun. I got 5 different plots going on right now trying different things. Good luck with yours.
What type of grass do you plant it with and how many pounds per acre? I was planning on planting a pure stand this fall and then next fall drilling in a grass if I wanted to.

How is it compared to alfalfa for dry down?
 

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What type of grass do you plant it with and how many pounds per acre? I was planning on planting a pure stand this fall and then next fall drilling in a grass if I wanted to.

How is it compared to alfalfa for dry down?
Dry down I would say would be the same as alfalfa/ grass would be. I have never done a pure stand or have ever seen one. You can plant orchard or timothy or both with it and my standard rate for reseeding is 20 lbs./a.
 

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Dry down I would say would be the same as alfalfa/ grass would be. I have never done a pure stand or have ever seen one. You can plant orchard or timothy or both with it and my standard rate for reseeding is 20 lbs./a.
To get the 80/20 mix how many pounds of each seed do you use? I would probably plant orchard over Timothy to give more on later cuttings. I was going to plant 12 pounds for a pure stand of trefoil.
 

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What I remember about trefoil in MN was smaller leaves, stems and shorter growth height than alfalfa. Also, not as robust with regrowth after cutting. So, the overall yield was less but the dry-down was quicker.

Of course, we didn't do routine soil tests and re-apply P-K, etc. after cutting. So, regrowth could certainly be better with closer management. And, the varieties are likely improved from the past number of decades!
 

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Tolerates heavier lower pH soils. I get three cuts with Nordic. Drydown is not much better than alfalfa. Works great with Timothy as you need to be close to full bloom for stand longevity.
The main reason I wasn't thinking about using Timothy was because of the limited regrowth for later cuttings. Although if the trefoil came back nicely for the later cuttings that might not be a bad mix. First cut would be trefoil/Timothy and the mostly all trefoil on the 2nd and 3rd cut? What seeding rate do you use?
 

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We have some in our "mix" years ago... that field has been reseeded (without Trefoil this time) and Trefoil still going strong. My goats don't eat that anywhere near as good as hay, but when I take the hay to auctions it looks nice and green and fine-stemmed. Nobody has ever complained. It does seem to grow well on strange years (drought and too wet) where the alfalfa is stunted.
 

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You don't. Prep the seedbed and burn it down. Plant heavy and be ready to repeat in 4-5 years. Sourghum Sudan and tritcale rotate a few years before I plant to a high cost crop like that. I've not found a premium price to go with it but I do have a few volume customers because of it.
 

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I've read it's it is a good Timothy companion crop as was already mentioned. I've considered it, but struggle how you're supposed to use a broad leaf herbicide with your grass and not wipe out the legume.
Butyrac(2,4db) would be an option that I plan on using if need be. Pretty much anything that is same on alfalfa and clover should be fine on trefoil I would think.
 

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I plant 12 Timothy and 8 birdsfoot. They are both small seeded. My Timothy comes back pretty good and there is a large OG seed bank as well. More grass helps with baling. At least in my case.
At that seeding rate what percentage of trefoil to grass do you get? 12 pounds of Timothy is what I use for a pure stand here.
 

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Experimenting with growing different kinds of crops (especially hay) is one of my favorite things about farming and keeps things interesting. I have decided I want to try some birdsfoot trefoil. Not sure it will even thrive this far south as it seems to be mainly used up north. Already ordered some seed so I guess I will find out. I have read as many articles as I could find about it and it is an interesting forage. Thought I would post on here to see if we had any members growing it and could give me any first hand advice or what to watch for.

As frustrating as alfalfa has been this year I'm not sure why in the hell I'm wanting to plant another legume that is similar in dry down and leaf loss from what I have read.

Hayden
Birdsfoot Trefoil will take at least 1 more day to dry and MUST be conditioned, the stems are really waxy and they must be broken.

I seeded 80/20 Bt-Timothy and had a great stand 160 bales @ acre.

According to literature BT under ideal conditions can live for up to 40 yrs as a stand and is wonderfully suited for pasture renovation as it withstands trampling. Mine turned out so good that a sheep farmer bought the whole field.

It's more difficult to cure and requires 1 day or 2 more than alfalfa, but it's wonderful for areas that are a bit wet or that dry-up later in the spring. The colour is darker that alfalfa and the smell is pungent and not as sweet which may put some buyers off.

On the other hand it loses very little nutritional value if harvested past its prime, not like alfalfa.

I would certainly not be afraid of using it, but it don't think it's a crop for beginners.

Oh I was also told that horses don't like trefoil, hogwash mine dove into it and didn't leave a leaf on the ground, but it must be well made.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Birdsfoot Trefoil will take at least 1 more day to dry and MUST be conditioned, the stems are really waxy and they must be broken.
I seeded 80/20 Bt-Timothy and had a great stand 160 bales @ acre.
According to literature BT under ideal conditions can live for up to 40 yrs as a stand and is wonderfully suited for pasture renovation as it withstands trampling. Mine turned out so good that a sheep farmer bought the whole field.
It's more difficult to cure and requires 1 day or 2 more than alfalfa, but it's wonderful for areas that are a bit wet or that dry-up later in the spring. The colour is darker that alfalfa and the smell is pungent and not as sweet which may put some buyers off.
On the other hand it loses very little nutritional value if harvested past its prime, not like alfalfa.
I would certainly not be afraid of using it, but it don't think it's a crop for beginners.
Oh I was also told that horses don't like trefoil, hogwash mine dove into it and didn't leave a leaf on the ground, but it must be well made.
Hmm I don't really like the sound of taking even longer than alfalfa to dry.....might not should plant it if that's the case. Oh well I already have the seed so I guess I'm going to try it anyway.

The fact that it will hold its quality in the field is what really got me interested in it. Seems that would allow me to wait on the weather and still have a high quality hay. My customers will not tolerate over mature stemmy alfalfa and with our weather it is difficult to get much of it cut on time and it seems to really go downhill fast. Also the fact that birdsfoot trefoil is a condensed tannin forage is intriguing.

That yield sounds pretty good.....Is that just a single cutting or maybe that is for the whole season?

How is leaf shatter during baling and raking compared to alfalfa?
 

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Hmm I don't really like the sound of taking even longer than alfalfa to dry.....might not should plant it if that's the case. Oh well I already have the seed so I guess I'm going to try it anyway.
The fact that it will hold its quality in the field is what really got me interested in it. Seems that would allow me to wait on the weather and still have a high quality hay. My customers will not tolerate over mature stemmy alfalfa and with our weather it is difficult to get much of it cut on time and it seems to really go downhill fast. Also the fact that birdsfoot trefoil is a condensed tannin forage is intriguing.
That yield sounds pretty good.....Is that just a single cutting or maybe that is for the whole season?
How is leaf shatter during baling and raking compared to alfalfa?
It definitely will not be stemmy, That was the yeld of the 1st cut (small bales), just make sure that the seed is properly inoculated, this is very important.
 
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