Annual white sweetclover (Melilotus alba Desr.) is a forage legume that has been used for pasture, hay and soil improvement and is very well adapted to the blackland and prairie soils of the Southern Great Plains that extend through central Texas. Sweetclover was widely used in Texas prior to the 1950’s. Inexpensive nitrogen fertilizer reduced the use of all forage legumes and animal health concerns related to dicoumarol toxicity also contributed to the decline of sweetclover as a hay crop.
The goal of this research project is rapid development of multiple cultivars of annual sweetclover to match specific Texas needs. Improvements will include reduction of coumarin to eliminate sweetclover bleeding disorder in livestock, development of fine-stemmed types to improve forage quality, development of disease and resistance, and maintenance of high nitrogen fixation rates to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilization in livestock and farming systems.