Farmers and ranchers looking to take advantage of cover crop benefits in extreme environmental conditions now have access to a first-of-its-kind, cold-tolerant clover species.
Recently, Grassland Oregon received a U.S. patent for FIXatioN Balansa clover, a deep-rooting, high-nitrogen output clover variety capable of withstanding sub-freezing temperatures at -15°F with zero snow cover.
“Most regions in the country experience sub-freezing temperatures. Existing annual clover varieties were limited in the range in which they could be utilized on a consistent basis. By improving the cold tolerance, we have extended the range to include most of the U.S.,” said Grassland Oregon director of research Jerry Hall. “In areas where cold tolerance is not an issue, growers still experience greater biomass yields than the traditionally utilized Crimson clover.”
According to Hall, a decade of research went into developing the cold-tolerant Balansa clover, which can produce more than 300 lb. of nitrogen and 5 tons of dry matter in a single growing season due to its late maturity.
“FIXatioN is later in maturity. This extends the growing period resulting in larger forage yields and pounds of nitrogen fixed,” Hall said. “The hardy clover has a deep tap root system with roots reaching depths of 36 in. — effectively loosening soil to help with drainage and infiltration better than many other cover crop species.”
The patented clover has shown its ability to fit a variety of operations across North America, capable of producing more than 20 tons of silage per acre following corn rotations and increasing daily live weight gains on beef grazing systems through its high crude protein content. It is also tolerant of water-saturated soils, able to survive brief periods of flooding.
Patent number U.S. 9,686,957 was issued on June 6 for FIXatioN Balansa Clover (GO-BAL-10). The patent includes invention of GO-BAL-10, methods of production and any seeds, plant parts or lines derived from the clover variety GO-BAL-10.