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Indian clover, sweet clover




  • History and economic importance. Indian clover and sweet clover (Melilotus parviflora), locally known assenji, belong to the family Leguminosae. Two types are known, local or desi senji and exotic or valaiti senji. Desi senji is an annual legume forage crop. Its origin is believed to be in the Indo-Pakistan region, and it has been under cultivation since ancient times. Originally it grew as a weed, but when farmers found it useful for farm animals they started cultivating it as a fodder crop. The second type, sweet clover, is considered to have originated in Bukhara. It is a plant of the temperate zone of Europe and Asia, from where it reached Argentina and southern Australia. Later its cultivation spread to the USA and many parts of Canada and other countries. In the USA it gives the highest green fodder return of all the clovers. In Pakistan, however, it is not widely cultivated because of the presence of a bitter substance, coumarin, which is not liked by animals.

    Climate and soil. Sweet clover grows well under a wide range of climatic and soil conditions. Though its cultivation is restricted to irrigated areas in the Punjab, it can also be successfully raised in the cooler rainfed areas.

    Because of its wide adaptability, it can be sown in the moist areas of the Peshawar region in NWFP, as well as in the dry areas of Sindh and Balochistan. Well-drained, loamy soils give the best forage yield, but it can also be grown in hilly areas, plains, sandy, and average soils.                             Seedbed preparation and manuring. Not much soil preparation is required; one or two ploughings followed by planking are enough to prepare the seedbed. One bag of DAP per acre at sowing is enough to meet itfertilizer requirement.

    Seed rate and method of sowing. Clover is generally sown by broadcasting, with a seed rate of 20-25 kg/ha.

    Sowing time. The sowing time extends from the beginning of September to the end of November. During the second to third week of September clover can be planted in standing cotton and maize as a relay crop. After thharvest of maize and sugarcane, it can be planted in November as a catccrop Irrigation. Senji requires relatively less irrigation than berseem analfalfa. In all, three to four irrigations are enough. The first irrigation is given 10 days after sowing, and subsequent ones at intervals of 2025 days.

    Interculture and weeding. There are no serious weed problems in the crop and hence no interculture is required.

    Pests and diseases. This crop is generally attacked by lucerne weeviand aphids. For a seed crop, spraying of Sevin as for berseem at a rate of Yz kg per acre in 300 I of water is recommended.

    Time of cutting. Local types are cut 2Yz-3 months after sowingwhen the crop is at the flowering stage. 

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