White Clover in Golf Courses, Sports Turf, and Lawns – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

White Clover in Golf Courses, Sports Turf, and Lawns

The small white flowers of white clover are very visible right now and it may appear that clover is taking over, especially under-fertilized turf areas. Clover is a legume and is very competitive under low N conditions, so increasing annual N is best method to help exclude this weed. However, its spreading stolons make it difficult to control once it established in a turf because herbicides often have a difficult time translocating through stolons.  Herbicides applied now are not as effective as fall applications, but control is adequate to justify applications made by professionals now. However, insure that the clover and grass are well-watered and not under stress. Avoid making herbicide applications when temperatures are above 80oF because turf burn is likely and control will be less effective. Our studies have found Drive or any product containing clopyralid to be most effective on clover, but 2,4-D alone will not control clover effectively. Be sure to read the label on your specific clopyralid-containing product because these cannot be used on home lawns. Many products can burn creeping bentgrass in the heat of summer, but Lontrel has traditionally been one of the safer products on bentgrass. Also realize applications made now will have to be followed up with fall applications for best control.

The flowers of white clover are clearly visible in lower fertility turf areas. Though herbicide applications made now will help control clover, fall applications are still preferred for maximum efficacy.

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