Suitability of new subterranean clovers in the Canterbury region


  • K. Widdup
  • C. Pennell



The annual legume, subterranean clover, is adapted to permanent pastures in the summer drought-prone areas of eastern New Zealand. Dry summers over the last decade in Canterbury have renewed the interest from farmers in the use of sub clover. As the previously used cultivars Mt Barker and Tallarook are no longer available, a trial was established at AgResearch Templeton to evaluate a new series of cultivars and breeding lines from Australia together with recent New Zealand selections. The lines were sown in rows in May 1993 and assessed for seed set, autumn seedling regeneration and spring growth under sheep grazing for 4 years. The new Australian cultivars had improved seed set and consistently better seedling regeneration and herbage yield compared with older cultivars. The late-flowering, small-leaved and densely branched types were best adapted to the Canterbury environment. The late-maturity cultivars Denmark and Leura, selected from Sardinian germplasm, re-established 50% more seedlings and produced 25% greater late winter/ spring growth than Mt Barker and Tallarook in the third year. The New Zealand selection Ak 948 had similar performance to Denmark and Leura but the remaining selections were mediocre by the fourth year. The Sardinian ecotype breeding material appeared well-adapted to Canterbury conditions and future cultivars based on this material may be most suitable. Further trials are required in harsher sites to confirm these cultivar recommendations. Keywords: Australian cultivars, dry regions, herbage yield, seedling regeneration, subterranean clover, Trifolium subterraneum