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Ohio State University Extension


Berseem Clover as a Cover Crop in Ohio

Agriculture and Natural Resources
Sarah Noggle; Educator; Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences; Ohio State University Extension, Paulding County
Rachel Cochran; Extension Associate, Water Quality; Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences; Ohio State University Extension, Paulding County

Information gathered from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) was used to compile this summary on how to use berseem clover as a cover crop in Ohio. For more information, see the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and the Cover Crop Selector Tool found at:, thick stems with small, white blooming flowers.


  • Narrow leaflets
  • Hollow stems
  • Cream-colored flowers
  • Short taproot

Cultural Traits

  • Summer annual
  • Minimum germination temperature: 42 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Reliable establishment window (state average): June 10–Aug. 16
  • Upright growth habit: 16–20 inches
  • Preferred soil pH: 6.2–7.0
Table 1. Rating the traits of cover crop berseem clover.
Heat tolerance Very good
Drought tolerance Good

Winter survival

  • Some varieties are more frost-tolerant than others but will not survive winter.


  • Drilled at ¼–½ inch
    • 8–15 lb./acre (pure live seed)
  • Broadcast with shallow incorporation
    • 9–17 lb./acre (pure live seed)
  • Broadcast without incorporation
    • 10–18 lb./acre (pure live seed)

Additional planting information:

  • 206,880 seeds per lb.
  • Inoculation type: berseem, crimson.
  • When planting on slopes or using for forage/grazing, increase seeding rate.
  • Broadcasting without incorporation is usually less dependable than drilling or broadcasting with incorporation.
  • When interseeding, time the seeding to match appropriate crop growth/maturity.

Disclaimer: Rules for Financial Assistance Program Recipients
Individuals participating in financial assistance programs are required to follow Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Appendix A regarding seeding rates and dates. Failure to do so will jeopardize payments. Appendix A can be found in Ohio’s Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4, Ecological Sciences Tools:


  • Dry matter = 1,200–3,000 lb. per acre, per year.
    • Biomass quantity is highly dependent on planting/termination dates and precipitation.
  • Total nitrogen = 70–150 lb. of N per acre (not fertilizer replacement).
    • Nitrogen release can vary considerably depending on stand density and growth, soil temperature, and moisture after clover has been destroyed.
Table 2. Rating the attributes of cover crop berseem clover.
Nitrogen source Good
Soil builder Very good
Erosion fighter Very good
Weed fighter Very good
Grazing Excellent
Lasting residue Good
Mechanical forage harvest Excellent


  • Tillage
    • If terminating with only tillage, multiple passes are often required.
  • Chemical
  • Winterkill

Additional termination information:

  • Follow NRCS guidelines for cover crop termination dates to comply with crop insurance.
Table 3. Potential advantages of cover crop berseem clover.
Soil Impacts
Subsoiler Good
Frees phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) Good
Compaction fighter Very good
Chokes weeds Good
Attracts beneficials Very good

Potential Disadvantages

Delayed emergence: could be a minor problem

Increased weed potential: occasionally a minor problem

Increased insects/nematodes: could be a minor problem

Increased crop diseases: occasionally a minor problem

Establishment challenges: occasionally a minor problem


This publication was adapted with consent from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) with content from the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and Cover Crop Selector Tool ( It was created under a joint project with MCCC to produce customized introductory guidance about cover crops for all member states/provinces. Ohio cover crop recipes can be found at

The Midwest Cover Crops Council ( aims to facilitate widespread adoption of cover crops throughout the Midwest by providing educational/outreach resources and programs, conducting new research, and communicating about cover crops to the public.

Funding for this project was provided by McKnight Foundation.

Red rectangle with white lettering spelling McKnight Foundation.



Originally posted Apr 11, 2023.