There are numerous benefits of incorporating legumes (clover) into winter food plots. Adding clovers to these forage systems has helped many cattle producers in Southwest Mississippi offset the rising costs of nitrogen and improve forage quality.

While many of the annual clovers will work well in the diverse soil and climatic conditions found in the Magnolia State, none is better suited to our cool-season forage systems than ball clover. Ball clover provides the most consistent forage production when total yield, grazing tolerance and reseeding ability is taken into account.

Based on research conducted at the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station located at White Sands, ball clover excelled in all areas. With yields exceeding 3,000 pounds per acre and the ability to withstand excessive grazing pressure, it is easy to see why ball clover came out on top.
 
However, ball clover's most favorable attribute is its unique ability to produce lots of seed even under close grazing. This characteristic, combined with a high percentage of hard seed, ensures that ball clover will be around for a number of years without the need to replant.

Ball clover also tolerates poorly drained soils better than most other varieties of clover, and can grow on soils with high clay content. Although its productivity is related to soil fertility and rainfall, it can also tolerate moderately acidic soils.

Ball clover seeds are extremely small, resulting in seeding rates of as little as 2 to 3 pounds per acre.
When combined with ryegrass, oats and/or wheat, ball clover can help bridge the gap between cool-season and warm-season forage growth. And while ball clover seed is somewhat expensive, the benefits of nitrogen fixation and improved forage quality far outweigh the initial costs of establishing a stand.

Because of its excellent reseeding capabilities, a single planting can result in many years of quality forage production for Mississippi whitetails.

Editor's Note: This story appears as part of a feature in Mississippi Sportsman's August issue now on newsstands. To ensure you don't miss any information-packed issues of the magazine, click here to have each issue delivered right to your mail box.