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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Growth and Seed Yield Characteristics of Birdsfoot Trefoil1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 75 No. 3, p. 443-446
    Received: Oct 12, 1982

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  1. Robert L. McGraw and
  2. P. R. Beuselinck2



Difficulty in harvesting sufficient quantities of seed is a major factor limiting use and production of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.). A growth analysis of ‘Norcen’, ‘Viking’, and ‘Empire’ birdsfoot trefoil was conducted in the field at Roseau, Minn. in 1980 and 1981 to investigate physiological and morphological characteristics which limit seed yield potential. The soil was a Glyndon silt loam (coarse-silty, calcareous Aerie Calciaquoll). Two major factors were largely responsible for low seed production: (1) low partitioning of assimilates to seed yield and (2) indeterminate flowering habit accompanied by dehiscent pods. Plants partitioned an average of about 40% of available assimilates to reproductive growth. Of the assimilates partitioned to reproductive growth, only about 30% became seed; the rest was distributed in peduncle, pedicel, and pod walls. Thus, only 12% of available assimilates was partitioned to seed. The stem component was the major sink for accumulation of dry matter until 2 weeks before final sampling when the umbels became the major sink. Plants flowered and new umbels were produced over a long period; consequently, umbel maturity varied widely on a single plant. Many umbels were still immature when the first dehisced pods were observed. At maximum pod maturity, about one-third of the umbels contained either dehisced or immature pods. Genetic improvement or improved cultural or chemical methods that would increase partitioning to seed, produce a more determinate growth habit, or increase dehiscence resistance should help increase seed yields in birdsfoot trefoil.

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