Clover worth the effort

Tyson CattleCountryman

Clover harvesting has been part of the Melchiorre family business, Melchiorre Seeds, for generations.

Third-generation farmer Jason Melchiorre has continued the family tradition, but with more advanced technology.

Jason said his grandfather, Cecil, first started harvesting clover for Aubrey Fowler in the 1950s.

Cecil eventually saved up enough money to start his own program, which lead to the creation of Melchiorre Seeds. At this time, clover seeds were harvested using sheepskin wooden rollers, which were towed by a horse.

Jason said he had a more modern approach to harvest, running four clover harvesters. He said it was still a time-consuming job, but it was well worth the effort.

“Each harvester has a four foot vacuum working area, and you are only sitting on about 3.5km an hour, ” he said. “But we do it because it gives us good weed control; you’re manipulating the cape weed and grasses in the winter to set up next year’s crop.”

Jason said it was time-consuming because the top of the soil had to be scratched up with cultivator points, crossing over it twice. He then goes over the soil with harrows at a high speed of around 30km to bring the burr to the surface.

“We then go along with the clover harvesters and vacuum them up, ” Jason said.

Clover seeds also help farmers to improve their pastures by supplying nitrogen to the soil for future crops.

Jason said it was good for farmers running stock. “It’s high in protein and the sheep can feed off it all year, ” he said.

“During the summer when the pasture has turned, the older sheep will dig up the burr for food.”

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