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Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum) has been widely used and well known in the South as a very dependable, high-yielding, early maturing, annual clover. But more recently, northern farmers are finding crimson clover to be a beneficial cover crop for corn, soybeans and wheat.
Crimson is the fastest growing of the annual clovers, and easy to establish.
Crimson clover also handles shade well. Quick establishment and shade tolerance can be very valuable to northern cover crop plantings as it is sometimes quite challenging to overcome seeding into existing corn stands (see article below).
Crimson can provide nitrogen credit for succeeding crops of 30-60 lbs N/A. It is also a good weed surpressor, organic matter increaser, and erosion controller.
One other advantage of Crimson - it makes good animal feed!
Coated crimson clover is also an option to consider, especially for aerial seeding. The coating improves ballistics, better seed-to-soil contact, and increases moisture wicking of the seed. Coated seed can help ensure a more even germination over the whole field. Read the Advantages of Coated Grasses and Legume Seed for Cover Crops to learn why coating and proper inoculation can help ensure successful cover cropping.
Complete Crop Summary of Crimson Clover - From the UC SAREP Cover Crop Database
Crimson Clover As A Cover Crop - From Michigan State University's Cover Crop Research
Slide Show of Crimson as a Cover Crop - From Penn State's Crop Management Extension Group
Using Green Manure Crops for Nitrogen Management - A PDF Powerpoint presentation at the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants 2009 Meeting. Good info/comparison data on crimson, berseem, arrowleaf, subclover, hairy vetch, and Austrian winter pea.