May 31, 2022
Ladino clover effective for row middles in plasticulture

Researchers at Clemson University showed that the use of ladino clover can be an effective living row middle cover crop for row middles in plasticulture in organic production.

We believe this system could be used in all plasticulture crops with some advance planning.

Ladino clover spreads via stolons and can fill in row middles over time, smothering out weeds and allowing for full cover of row middles. It will not creep up the sides of the plastic but will fill in up to the tucks.

To be successful, follow these guidelines:

  • Plant the whole field to ladino clover in September or March at a rate of 10 lbs per acre using a small seed drill. Inoculate seed with appropriate clover Rhizobium. We prefer the Regal variety.
  • Till beds in the spring where plastic is to be laid. For spring plantings plastic can be laid in the field without additional tillage
  • Limit traffic initially until the clover closes the row middle. If stands are light, wait to plant plastic until the clover has filled in the row middle.

Gordon Johnson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension; Photo at top: Plastic mulch laid into clover planted in 2021. The clover will fill in the middles up to the plastic mulch tucks. Courtesy of Gordon Johnson/University of Delaware


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