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Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) Cultivars Adaption Concerning Drought and Heat Tolerance Enabling the Expansion of Geographic Adaptation to include Alabama with Disease Resistance to Fungi and Nematodes as well as Herbicide Injury




Moye, Hayden Hugh Jr.

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Crop Soils and Environmental Sciences


Lotus corniculatus L., birdsfoot trefoil (BFT), is a common flowering plant in the Fabaceae family, native to grasslands in temperate Eurasia and North Africa. BFT is a perennial herbaceous plant, similar in appearance to some clovers. The flowers are mostly visited by bumblebees and develop into small pea-like pods or legumes. BFT is often used as forage and is widely used as food for livestock due to its non-bloating properties. BFT can be used as a winter cover crop and help supply nitrogen to the soil the following season. A NIFA grant (No. 2013-67012-21408) was awarded to Auburn University to breed a BFT cultivar to extend the forage’s geographic adaptation across the United States. BFT is a non-bloating, cool-season forage legume and has potential to improve sustainability of pasture systems in the Eastern Transition Zone of the U.S. This research addresses pre-breeding, germplasm enhancement, and cultivar development. It combines the expertise of a plant breeder with that of forage management researchers and Extension specialists. Our eventual goal is to develop a trans-regional BFT cultivar with disease resistance with a wide geographic adaptation that has a longer stand life than existing cultivars. Selection for persistence began improving the longevity of a stand by selecting individuals that survived drought/heat conditions. Diseases such as Macrophomina phaseolina, Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, and Meloidogyne incognita need to be considered in a BFT production system. Clethodim, sethoxydim, glyphosate, quizalofop p-ethyl, and imazethapyr demonstrated acceptable herbicidal injuries to BFT while 2,4-DB and imazapic indicated unacceptable injuries. Clethodim can be recommended in a BFT-grass mixture and imazethapyr may be recommended in a BFT-broadleaf mixture.