White clover seed production from mixed swards: effect of sheep grazing on stolon density and on seed yield components of two contrasting white clover varieties

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
JournalGrass and Forage Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 1990
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A trial was carried out over two harvest years to assess the effect of sheep grazing and closing date on stolon density and seed yield components of two contrasting white clover varieties and to determine the potential for producing clover seed from mixed swards in an integrated livestock/seed production system.

Overall, the small-leaved cv. S184 had a higher stolon density at closing and harvest than the large-leaved cv. Olwen, but only significantly so in 1987. Stolon density at closing was generally increased by delaying closing. Varieties also differed in their response to closing date. Stolon density of cv. S184 in both harvest years, generally increased with later closing whilst cv. Olwen was less influenced by closing date and at all dates in 1987, and all but one date in 1986 was not significantly different from the ungrazed treatment.

Delay of closing significantly increased stolon density at harvest on all closing dates in 1987 but had no effect in 1986. Varieties responded similarly to a delay in closing but the magnitude of increase of cv. Olwen was less than that of cv. S184.

The seed yield components of both cv. S184 and cv. Olwen were influenced by closing date, but the effect differed between years. Although there was some initial increase in inflorescence production, delaying closing after inflorescence buds appeared on the stolon reduced inflorescence number of cv. Olwen in both years but reduced inflorescence number in cv. S184 in 1986 only. However, inflorescence size, seed yield per inflorescence and the proportion of ripe inflorescences at harvest was reduced in both years. Cultivar S184 produced more inflorescences than cv. Olwen in both years and in both years tolerated later closing than cv. Olwen.

The effect of sheep grazing and closing date is discussed in relation to stolon removal and the suitability of particular leaf types for this system of seed production.