Clover Seed Inoculation
Clovers are only able to use nitrogen from the air if specific strains of Rhizobium bacteria are present in nodules on their roots. To ensure that the best strain of Rhizobium bacteria is present for each clover species, inoculant is applied to the clover seed before planting (inoculation process). Inoculant is finely ground peat moss which acts as a carrier for the Rhizobium bacteria. Inoculants which also include an adhesive to hold the inoculant to the seed and aid in keeping the bacteria alive in dry soil are superior to inoculants without an adhesive. Good clover seed inoculation is especially important the first time a clover species is planted in a new area. Preinoculated seed of most clover species can be purchased.
Clovers should be planted in a prepared (disked) seedbed from late September to late October. Land preparation is necessary for early clover plantings to remove competition from summer weeds and grasses. This also allows for more precise clover seed placement which results in better stands. When overseeding into an undisturbed summer grass sod, planting should be delayed until mid-October to early November. The later planting date is necessary to reduce summer grass competition to the emerging clover seedlings. On sandy soils, a light disking (1-2 in.) of a bermudagrass or bahiagrass sod will improve clover establishment and allow early planting dates used on a prepared seedbed.