Berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum ) is the prominent legume fodder crop of rabi in the entire North West, Zone, Hill Zone and part of Central and Eastern Zone of the country. Berseem makes the most digestible and palatable green fodder to the cattle and especially milch animals are very much benefited with berseem. It provides fodder with high tonnage over a long period from November to May in 5 – 6 cuts. It has 20-24% crude protein and 70% dry matter digestibility.
It is a very good soil builder and adds about 0.38-0.46% organic carbon, 15 -26 kg available phosphorus and 45 kg available nitrogen to the soil.
Berseem prefers a dry and cool climate for its proper growth. The best productive crop can be obtained between 15-25° C temperatures. Its regenerative growth is retarded during severe cold or frosty period or at a temperature above 40°C. It can be grown successfully in areas that receive an annual rainfall of 150-250 cm or even lower but the irrigation must be assured.
Berseem can be grown on all types of soils except very light sandy soils. Well-drained clay loam soils rich in calcium and phosphorus are ideally suited for its cultivation. The crop can be grown successfully on alkaline soils having good water retention capacity. The crop can tolerate mild acidity also.
The seeds being very small, berseem requires a fine seedbed. One deep plowing with soil turning plow and 2 harrowings are essential. The field may be laid out into smaller beds of convenient size according to topography and source of irrigation water.
After the arrest of rains, sowing of berseem can be done from the last week of September to the first week of December in North West to Eastern and Central India. The time of sowing berseem is ideal when meaning day temperature is 25° C, which is recorded mostly in the first to the third week of October in north India.
The optimum seed rate is 25 kg/ha, which may be increased up to 35 kg in early or late sown conditions. For yield compensation in first cutting, 1.5 kg mustard should be sown along with berseem. For the elimination of chicory weed (kasani), the seed should be poured in 1% common salt. Floating chicory seed should be taken out and the remaining seed of berseem should be sown.
Seed treatment with Rhizobium culture is essential when the berseem crop is to be grown first time in the field. Before treating the seed, it should be first soaked into freshwater for about 8-12 hours. For better sticking of culture with seed, the culture is prepared with jaggery.
About 1.5 liters of water is mixed with 150 g of jaggery and boiled. After cooling, 2.5 packets of berseem culture are mixed with it and then the seed is well mixed and dried in a cool shady place.
There are two methods for the sowing of berseem i.e. dry and wet bed. For satisfactory germination and good plant stand, the wet method is better. Seed should be sown in beds of convenient size by the broadcast method after flooding the beds with 5-6 cm deep water. Before sowing seeds, the water in the beds should be stirred thoroughly with the help of puddler or rake so as to break the clods and capillary to avoid leaching during successive irrigations. The crop should be re-irrigated after 5-6 days of sowing when germination is complete.
Manures and fertilizers
Berseem, being a legume crop, requires less nutrient replenishment in the soil. For obtaining a good yield, 20 kg N and 80 kg P2O5/ha should be applied as a basal dose. In saline or light-textured soil, the addition of 20 tonnes of well decomposed FYM is beneficial. FYM may be excluded if the previous crop of the rotation was liberally manured and fertilized.
The depth and frequency of irrigation are decided by soil type, a number of cuttings and nature of the berseem crop, i.e. sole or mixed. First, two very light irrigations (4-6 cm depth) should be given at 5-6 days interval. Subsequent irrigations may be given at an interval of 10 days in October, 12-15 days in November to January, 10-12 days in February-March and 8-10 days in April-May. Thus, about 12-15 irrigations will be needed during the entire crop season. Normally the crop should be irrigated after each cutting.
Chicory, the associated weed of berseem should be eliminated for higher herbage and good quality fodder. Application of Fluchloralin @ 1.2 kg a.i./ha at the pre-planting stage controls the chicory and other weeds effectively. However, the floating of berseem in 10% common salt is effective against chicory only.
The first cutting should be taken at 50-55 days after the sowing of the crop. The subsequent cuttings should be taken at 25-30 days interval. The number of cuts depends upon the rate of growth and temperature during the life cycle of
A good berseem crop can give 100-120 tonnes/ ha green fodder and 15-20 tonnes/ha dry fodder.
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Hello, I am Siddartha Reddy . A fulltime farmer and blogger who love to share all his farming experiences. Also, a strong supporter of sustainable farming practices. Thanks for visiting our site, let’s make this world a better place to live. Say No to Chemicals and plastics.