There was a lot of white clover almost everywhere this year (at least before the dry spell). Many pasture fields and lawns had extensive white clover where little or none was seeded. The excess clover in pastures has raised concerns about bloat and some farmers experienced cattle death losses due to bloat.
So what factors have contributed to the abundance of clover?
There are several reasons for the high percentage of white clover this year. Ironically the drought years of 2007 and 2008 set the stage. During those years many pastures were overgrazed due to restricted plant growth and they simply could not sustain the number of cattle on most farms.
Even the pastures that were not overgrazed had thin stands as many pasture plants died due to drought. Simply put, there just was not enough forage to support the normal number of cattle raised on LaRue County farms.
When normal precipitation returned during the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 white clover that had been dormant in the soil for years had bare soil and perfect conditions to germinate and grow. Throughout 2009 clover continued to germinate and grow leading to a higher than average abundance. Additionally, the abnormally cool moist conditions during 2009 were perfect for white clover to spread due to aboveground runners or stolons.
Ample precipitation continued during the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010 allowing additional seed to germinate and more spreading to occur and clover seemed to take over many pastures.
In short, the clover abundance of 2010 goes back four years with bare ground caused by drought in 2007 and 2008, and above average precipitation and cool growing conditions during 2009 and 2010. While grazing was not a factor in home lawns, other weather conditions were similar for white clover growth.