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An article by Agroscope

White Clover at its Finest: the New Recommendations Calimero and RGT Gabby

White Clover is an important element of intensively used meadows and pastures. Of the 19 varieties tested by Agroscope, two new top varieties came out clear winners for nearly all traits.

White Clover (Trifolium repens) is a valuable forage plant and the most important clover species for intensive use. It takes frequent use in its stride and improves the forage quality of meadows and pastures, and of grass-rich stands in particular. Like all legumes, it supplies the soil with important nitrogen from the air. It is especially prized for its ability to quickly close gaps in the stand caused by machines or grazing cattle by means of its runners. To allow these advantages to be used, high-yielding, robust perennial varieties are required.
For use in grass-clover mixtures, a distinction is drawn between medium-to-small-leafed varieties on the one hand, and large-leafed varieties on the other. The former tend to be suitable for use on pastures, whilst the latter are preferred for mowing. In tests, varieties are judged separately according to leaf size.

Trials are necessary for variety recommendation: The test plots with White Clover are well separate by mixtures.
(Photo: Daniel Suter, Agroscope)

19 varieties tested in the field

Between 2017 and 2019, Agroscope tested ten new and nine already recommended varieties of White Clover at five sites scattered over the Swiss Plateau between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance and at one high-altitude site in the Vaud Jura. The variety assessment was based on the observations of the following eight traits made on small plots: vigour, yield, juvenile development, persistence, resistance to leaf diseases, winter-hardiness, competitive ability and suitability for higher altitudes.

Clover cancer is a major overwintering disease. Clover cancer-resistant varieties are better able to withstand cool, wet winters and long-lasting snow cover.
(Photo: Daniel Suter, Agroscope)

First place for «Calimero» variety

The new medium-leafed cultivars «Calimero» and «RGT Gabby» are the latest recommendations. «Calimero» ranked first for yield, juvenile development, vigour, resistance to leaf diseases and suitability for higher altitudes, second for persistence, and had good scores for competitive ability and winter-hardiness. With its exceptional performance it was better than all other tested varieties in the medium-to-small-leafed range, and hence streets ahead of the already recommended varieties representing the benchmark for recommendation.
«RGT Gabby» easily took third place out of all medium-to-small-leafed varieties tested. It impressed with its top-ranking competitive ability, tied with «Calimero» in terms of suitability for higher altitudes, and took second place for yield and vigour.
By contrast, none of the new large-leafed cultivars met the requirements for recommendation. Due to their poor performance, the already-recommended varieties «Pepsi» (small-to-medium leafed) and «Bombus» (large-leafed) will no longer be recommended in future.

Variety recommendations from Agroscope

Agroscope regularly carries out variety testing with forage plants so as to be able to issue the latest independent variety recommendations for the Swiss agricultural sector. The constantly updated List of Recommended Varieties of Forage Plants is an important guide for the Swiss seed sector, allowing the latter to make breeding advances such as those offered by the new cultivars «Calimero» and «RGT Gabby» available to practitioners without delay.

Conclusions

  • White Clover is the most important clover variety for intensive use.
  • Agroscope tested a total of 19 varieties of White Clover between 2017 and 2019.
  • The two varieties «Calimero» and «RGT Gabby» came out ahead for nearly all traits, and are therefore now recommended.
  • The quality of the recommended range of medium-to-small-leafed White Clover varieties is significantly improved by the two new accessions.
  • The use of these varieties will allow even better seed mixtures to be created for forage production.

Scientific article

White Clover at its Finest: the New Recommendations Calimero and RGT Gabby

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