Defoliation frequency and cultivar effects on the storage and utilisation of stolon and root reserves in white clover Academic Article uri icon


  • The effects of defoliation frequency (2 or 6 defoliations over a 91-day period) on the reserve status and growth rate of 2 white clover cultivars, cvv. Irrigation (medium-leafed) and Haifa (large-leafed), were examined over the final 42 days of the defoliation treatments. The clover plants consisted of single stolons growing in a sand/scoria mix in an unheated glasshouse, and were fertilised weekly with a solution containing essential nutrients excluding nitrogen. More frequent defoliation reduced the leaf appearance rate, stolon elongation rate, and plant size, and increased stolon death, with all of these effects being less pronounced in Irrigation than in Haifa (18% v. 30%, 60% v. 80%, and 23% v 34%, respectively, for leaf appearance rates, stolon elongation rates, and the proportion of stolon length that died). With infrequent defoliation, the combined utilisation of starch and water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) reserves in the first 14 days after defoliation was equivalent to 15% of the plant weight at defoliation, and to 95% of the new leaf produced during that period. Frequent defoliation reduced the reserve content and remobilisation less in Irrigation than in Haifa, with the combined mass of remobilised starch and WSC over the first 14 days after defoliation being 2.9% and 2.0% of the plant weight at defoliation, and 29% and 19% of leaf production over that period, for Irrigation and Haifa, respectively. The greater reserve mobilisation in Irrigation than in Haifa plants under frequent defoliation probably contributed to their higher growth rates and reduced stolon death. These cultivar differences with frequent defoliation suggest that Irrigation is more suited to frequent defoliation than Haifa.

publication date

  • 2000