Information gathered from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) was used to compile this summary on how to use crimson 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: midwestcovercrops.org/selector-tool/.
- Light-green leaves covered with soft hairs
- Crimson (dark red) flowers
- Fibrous taproot
- Winter annual
- Minimum germination temperature: 42 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reliable establishment window (state average): June 10–Sept. 28
- Upright to semi-upright growth habit: 12–20 inches
- Preferred soil pH: 5.5–7.0
|Shade tolerance||Very good|
|Low fertility tolerance||Good|
- Drilled at ¼–½ inch
- 10–20 lb./acre (pure live seed)
- Broadcast with shallow incorporation
- 11–22 lb./acre (pure live seed)
- Broadcast without incorporation
- 12–24 lb./acre (pure live seed)
Additional planting information:
- 149,700 seeds per lb.
- Inoculation type: crimson, berseem.
- Crimson clover does not frost-seed well.
- When planting on slopes or using for forage/grazing, increase seeding rate.
- When interseeding, time seeding to match appropriate crop growth/maturity.
- Broadcasting without incorporation is usually less dependable than drilling or broadcasting with incorporation.
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: efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/#/state/OH/documents/section=4&folder=-6.
- Dry matter = 3,500–5,500 lb. per acre, per year.
- Biomass quantity is highly dependent on planting/termination dates and precipitation.
- Total nitrogen (N) = 70–150 lb. of N per acre (not fertilizer replacement).
Additional performance information:
- May cause bloat when grazed
- Rates excellent for early interseeding
- Good for underseeding
- Does not host sugar beet cyst nematode and is a poor host for soybean cyst nematode
- Does not tolerate flooding
|Nitrogen source||Very good|
|Soil builder||Very good|
|Erosion fighter||Very good|
|Weed fighter||Very good|
|Mechanical forage harvest||Excellent|
|Grain seed harvest||Good|
|Cash crop interseed||Very good|
- If terminating with only tillage, multiple passes are often required.
Additional termination information:
- Crimson clover may winter-kill, depending on weather conditions.
- Crimson clover can reseed if maturity is reached.
- Follow NRCS guidelines for cover crop termination dates to comply with crop insurance.
|Frees phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)||Good|
|Compaction fighter||Very good|
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: could be 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 (midwestcovercrops.org/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 midwestcovercrops.org/statesprovince/ohio/.
The Midwest Cover Crops Council (midwestcovercrops.org) 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 the McKnight Foundation.