Berseem Trifolium Alexandrinum L

Berseem Trifolium Alexandrinum L

Berseem also called Egyption clover is most important leguminous fodder crop.  Due to higher production potential, succulency, palatability, nutritive value and continous supply of fodder  over a long period of seven months it is popularly known as king of fodders.  Apart from supplying protein, calcium, phosphorus and other minerals it enriches the fertility of the soil and improves its productivity. It results in the economy of nitrogenous fertilizer in next crop. In repeated cuttings from November to May end it yields about 400 quintal highly nutritious and palatable fodder.

Climatic Requirements: Cool to moderately cold and dry conditions as prevailing in plains of North India during the winter and spring seasons are suitable for its establishment.  Temperature below freezing point kills it.  As we go towards south and east where climate is warmer and moist, the performance of the crop tends to be poor.

Varieties: Mescawi, Wardan, JB-1,BL-10, BL-22 and BL-42 are important varieties. BL- 22 and BL-42 supply green fodder upto Mid June.

Soil Type: It grows well on loam to clay loam soils, rich in lime and having good drainage facilities. It can withstand slight alkalinity, but acidic and waterlogged soils are not suitable for its cultivation.  Its germination is affected due to the presence of excessive amounts of salts in saline soil but the established crop can tolerate fair amounts of salts.

Seed bed preparation: For growing of berseem land should be properly leveled and has good drainage.  To prepare a good seed bed give three to four ploughings, each followed by planking.

Time of Sowing:  In North India the last week of September to first week of October is the best time of sowing. In areas where infestation of it sit (Trianthema portulecastrum) is there sowing should be delayed to second week of October. In Eastern India it may be sown in November.

Inoculation: Berseem does not grow well on soils where it is sown for the first time, because it requires association with special species of bateria (Rhizobium trifoli) which is essential for its proper growth.  These bacteria may not be present in such lands.  Berseem culture is available with the local Agricultural Development Officer or can be had from the Department of Microbiology of ICAR institutes or state agriculture universities. Prepare one litre of 10 per cent gur solution.  Mix one packet of berseem culture in it, sprinkle the mixture on 8-10 kg seed of berseem and rub the mixture thoroughly so as to give a fine covering of the culture to every seed.  Dry the seed in shade and broadcast it in standing water on the same day, preferably in the evening because the direct sunrays kill the bacteria.

Seed Rate and Method of Sowing: Eight to ten kg seed, depending upon the viability should be broadcasted in standing water when the weather is calm.  In case of high wind, the seed should be broadcasted evenly in dry land followed immediately by raking and irrigation.  The seed should be free from seeds of chicory (kasni) and other weeds.  Dip the berseem seed in 10 per cent salt solution and sieve or decant the floating weed seeds.For getting early first cut and higher yield of good-quality fodder, mix 400 g seed of Chinese cabbage variety of mustard with the full seed rate of berseem.  In case of November sowing mix berseem with oats, using half the recommended seed rate of oats.  Oats should be drilled or broadcasted  and mixed in soil, by cultivation and the berseem seed should be broadcasted evenly as usual, in standing water. Berseem+ rye grass can also be grown together. To obtain higher yield of good quality fodder, mix 2-3 kg seed of rye grass per acre with full seed rate of berseem .  Mix some moist soil with rye grass seed and broadcast it evenly.  Then broadcast berseem seed, rake the field and irrigate immediately.

Fertilizer Application:Apply eight tones of farmyard manure alongwith 20 kg phosphrous (125 kg single superphosphate) per acre at the time of sowing .  In the absence of farmyard manure application, apply 10 kg nitrogen (22 kg urea) and 32 kg phosphorus (200 kg single superphospate) per acre.  The application of phosphorus in the form of single susperphosphate supplies sulphur also.  In case of berseem + ryegrass  mixture apply 10 kg N (22 kg urea) per acre after each cut.

Weed Control: Poa annua commonly known as bueen is a serious weed of berseem in certain situations and it offers severe competition to berseem during the early period of growth.  It considerably reduces the fodder yield.  This weed can be effectively controlled by spraying Basalin (fluchloralin) 45 EC at the rate of 400 ml dissolved in 200 litres of water per acre on a well prepared seed bed  just before sowing of berseem.  Under situations where it sit (Trianthema portulacastrum) is a problem weed, sow berseem mixed with chinese cabbage variety of mustard which is fast growing  and has tremendous smothering effect on this weed.  Where the infestation  of this weed is serious, delay the sowing to the second week of October, as during this period, the incidence of the weeds is drastically reduced due to the fall in temperature.

Irrigation: The first irrigation is important and should be applied early to get a good crop stand.  It should be given within 3-5 days in light soils and 6-8 days after sowing in heavy soils.  Later on irrigate at 8-10 days interval during summer and 10-15 days during winter depending upon soil type and weather.

Harvesting: First cutting is ready after about 45 days of sowing and subsequent cuttings may be taken at 30-35 days intervals during winter and at 25-30 days intervals in spring and summer. It gives 5-6 cutting.  Harvesting of berseem should be done with scythe that saves labour by about 50 per cent.

Seed Production: The seed yield of berseem mainly depends upon the time of last cut for green fodder and leaving it for seed production.  The decision varies with the variety, type of soil and climate.  The last cutting should be taken relatively early in low humidity and late in high humidity conditions.  The optimum time of leaving  the crop for seed production is the end of March for Mescawi Warden and JB-1, first fortnight of April for BL-1 and second fortnight of April for BL-10, 22 and 42 varieties of berseem.  Shaftal, kasni and other weeds should be completely removed from the seed crop.  Irrigate the crop frequently during the formation and ripening of the seed. The seed crop of berseem can also be sown as late as the first fortnight of January. The late sown crop should also be left for seed production as recommended above after taking two cuttings.  The average seed yield is about 2 quintal per acre.