Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers
Knowledge Nuggets
  • Legumes vary greatly in their ability to stay productive over time. Longevity is a very important consideration on lands that are intended to be long term forage stands.
  • Some species initiate growth faster in the spring. This aspect is especially important for early season grazing or for capturing maximum sunlight energy throughout the growing season.
  • Growth curve differences exist amongst legumes. Those legumes that have a long growth curve are easier to harvest especially when grazing. Long growth curves allow the plant to grow longer compared to having quickly reached the objective of setting seed.
  • Regrowth rates vary. Fast regrowing species are critical for multi-cut crops like pasture or stands intended for second or third cut hay.
  • Fall management is critical for certain legume species, like alfalfa. Cutting 4-6 weeks before the first killing frost can interfere with carbohydrate storage. This lowers the winter hardiness of that legume, resulting in a poor stand the following spring.
  • Mixed stands of either grasses or legumes are more stable as a sward than single species stands. Where one species may suffer, another species may be better suited. This is particularly important in long term stands that need to produce well for many days in the growing season.
  • Straight stands are best suited when stand expectations are specific and the stand will be in production for a short period of time. The most suitable species is then able to perform under that particular management program for the specific goal.
  • Physiological differences in legumes affect their ability to thrive and survive. The nature of the roots and the leaf surface are two features that affect a species ability to thrive under heat, cold, drought or flooding.
  • Some species utilize moisture better than others. Because of fundamental physiological differences, some species are better able to grow and reproduce under low levels of moisture compared to others.
  • Some legume species withstand flooding better than others. This aspect is critical to consider for low areas, soils with high clay content and in districts where rainfall can be excessive.
  • Legume species differ in their ability to thrive in soils that are acidic. Usually soils with a pH lower than 6 are considered acidic. Soils in the pH range from 5.6 to 6.0 are moderately acidic and below 5.5, they are strongly acidic.
  • Some species reproduce only as seed. Other species reproduce both from seed and from root spreading. Typically root spreading species will fill in empty spaces on the soil surface.
  • Legume species differ in palatability. Because of taste and texture, some species are more palatable longer into their life cycle.
  • Bloat occurs in cattle when they consume excessive amounts of the fine parts of many legume plants. Bloat occurs when the fine parts of legume plants breakdown very quickly and create a frothy bloat in the rumen. This is especially applicable when grazing youthful plants. Some legume species are bloat conducive while other are bloat safe.


A Review of Agronomic Tolerances of Grasses and Legumes - available in PDF format only

Cicer Milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.) - Frequently Asked Questions

Cicer Milkvetch for Western Canada

Cicer Milkvetch - Plant Characteristics

Common Plants of the Western Rangelands - Volume 3 : Forbs

Crop Variety Yield and Performance Data

Cultivar Description: Bruce birdsfoot trefoil - available in PDF format only

Cultivar Description: Tapani Red Clover - available in PDF format only

Establishing Kura Clover Stands

Experiences with Kura Clover in Agricultural Systems in Wisconsin - available in PDF format only

Forage Adaptation Chart - available in PDF format only

Forage Species

Forage Variety Comparisons: Cicer Milkvetch - available as You Tube

Getting Kura Clover Established in Pastures - available in PDF format only

Identification of Common Seeded Plants for Forage and Reclamation in Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Impact of Alfalfa and Fertilizer on Pasture: The Importance of including and maintaining alfalfa - available in PDF format only

Kura Clover Living Mulch System

Kura Clover: A New Pasture Legume for Ontario?

Management of Grass-Alfalfa or Alfalfa - Southeastern Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Pasture Legumes Identified

Perennial Plant Species for Pastures

Role of Kura Clover in Forage-Livestock Systems - power point available in PDF format only

Round Up Ready Alfalfa: An Emerging Technology - available in PDF format only

Sainfoin Fertilizer Response and Productivity with Crested Wheatgrass - available in PDF format only

Sainfoin - Frequently Asked Questions

Saskatchewan - Invasive Plant Species Identification Guide - available in PDF format only

Sweet Clover Production in Western Canada

University of Lethbridge Herbarium

Research Papers

A review of research progress on cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.) - available in PDF format only

Above and below-ground competition between Kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum) and meadow brome grass (Bromus biebersteinii): A greenhouse study - available in PDF format only

Addition of white clover to orchardgrass pasture improves the performance of grazing lambs, but not herbage production - available in PDF format only

Antioxidant and antileukemic properties of selected fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) genotypes grown in Western Canada - available in PDF format only

Barley and triticale underseeded with a kura clover living mulch: Effects on weed pressure, disease incidence, silage yield and forage quality - available in PDF format only

Condensed tannins concentration of selected prairie legume forages as affected by phenological stages during two consecutive growth seasons in western Canada - available in PDF format only

Enhancing pasture productivity with alfalfa: A review - available in PDF format only

Evaluating the performance of alfalfa cultivars in rotationally grazed pastures - available in PDF format only

Kura clover forage yield contribution increases over time when seeded in mixtures with grasses in southwestern Quebec

Kura clover (Trifolium ambiggum) seed production and establishment in Alberta - available in PDF format only

Pasture Renovation with Kura Clover - available in PDF format only

Performance and Photosensitization of Cattle Related to Forage Quality of Four Legumes - available as abstract only

Productivity and sustainability of four grazed grass-alfalfa mixtures - available in PDF format only

Root biomass and shoot to root ratios of perennial forage crops in eastern Canada - available in PDF format only

Sainfoin: Renewed Interest as a Forage Legume for Western Canada

The potential role of annual forage legumes in Canada: A review - available in PDF format only

Vegetative establishment of Kura Clover - available in PDF format only

Veldt cicer milkvetch - available in PDF format only

Yellowhead alfalfa - available in PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Janet Fletcher.
This information published to the web on November 17, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 17, 2017.

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