Kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum) is a long living forage legume generally used in pastures. It will produce one flush of flowers per season, and has a white V mark on its leaves similar to red clover. Flowers are initially white, but generally turn pink as they mature. Kura clover has similar growth characteristics to white clover, except it spreads underground using rhizomes, not stolons. Thus, once established, the crop will thicken and fill in bare patches. In addition to its longevity, greater than 15 years, kura clover also has really good winter hardiness. In pastures, kura clover can be grown stand alone, or in combination with typical pasture grasses. Also, there are opportunities to use kura clover as a living mulch with cash crops. Benefits include reduced nitrogen costs, decreased erosion, and weed suppression.
Interlake Forage Seed’s goal is to build kura clover seed production on the prairies. One of the challenges is slow establishment. Due to its creeping nature, a significant amount of energy is spent building a large root and rhizome biomass in its seedling year. As a result, there is less above ground biomass production, making the crop susceptible to weed competition. Good weed control is critical. The other challenge is lodging. As the crop matures, lodging can be a major issue as seed heads will be low to the ground.