Lucerne Tree Information

What is Lucerne Tree?

  • known as Tagasaste or Boom Lusern
  • ever-green, fast-growing tree which can reach 6m in 6 years
  • nitrogen-fixing legume plant
  • nutritious all year
  • similar  to normal lucerne (alfalfa)
  • grows for 60 – 80 years and will be a life-long food-producing investment on your farm.
  • extremely drought-resistant
  • very tough and survives heat, winds, frost and cold
  • Sheep Lucerne (known as Weeping Tagasaste) is a hybrid plant with considerably less carrying-capacity.  (Note – we do NOT stock this hybrid.)

Why plant  it?

  • Doubles your land’s carrying capacity
  • Recovers 50 days after grazing or pruning
  • Grazed directly off the tree
  • Highly nutritious food
  • No danger of bloat
  • No mechanisation needed
  • All-year supplementary grazing
  • Excellent wind-break & fire-break
  • Re-conditions the soil with nitrogen-fixing nodules, bringing the soil back to life
  • Abundant white, fragrant flowers which attract bees
  • Prolific seeds-bearing trees
  • Develops deep tap roots which delve 10m deep into the earth to source water, and then will not require watering after the first year.
  • Trees provide shelter, moisture & nitrogen for grasses that grow between rows.

How does Tree Lucerne compare to normal lucerne?

  • The leaves look similar.
  • Just as nutritious and soft and palatable – with NO danger of bloat!
  • Tree grows vertically and out sideways, there is much more food on a tree than on lucerne growing on the ground – literally a vertical green haystack!
  • Normal lucerne (alfalfa) dies back or slows in winter, however the lucerne tree thrives, especially in the winter rainfall areas.
  • No cutting, raking, baling – it is ready for the animals to come browse directly off the tree.

One branch like this yields a whole handful of leaves –  wonderful food for grazing animals!

More information ~

  • Trees are ready for grazing when about 1.5m height with stems of about 2.5cm thick.  We recommend that you do NOT graze your trees for the first 2 years.
  • Sheep, cattle, Boer goats, and horses browse and graze tree lucerne directly off the tree.
  • Keep a watchful eye to check grazing off the trees and send the animals out when most the leaves are eaten.
  • Leave the trees for about 50 – 60 days to recover and grow new leaves.  It bounces back!
  • This tree loves to be pruned and grazed.  Tender, green leaves and shoots sprout all over the branches and main stem.  (Read more about pruning here)
  • Prune long branches to keep the tree at grazing height, about 1 meter high.
  • Prune when young to promote more side shoots
  • Animals will stimulate fresh growth with their grazing.
  • Pruned branches provide excellent fodder when chipped and can be fed green and wet,or as dried fodder.

Copyright © 2012 by Myles & Nadene Esterhuizen

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher permitted by copyright law.

99 thoughts on “Lucerne Tree Information

  1. Are the leaves for the sheep to eat? Or do people eat them too? I’ve never heard of this tree, so I am curious. If they are for human consumption, how are they eaten? Thanks!!!

    Like

      • 🙂 Alfalfa and grasses are eaten by some humans too 🙂 usually dried and powdered as a health supplement or juiced… there may be health banafits for humans in Tagasaste too.

        Like

      • @august, please fill in the form on our Prices and Orders tab on the blog and we will send you an invoice for your seeds. We have excellent lucerne tree seeds in stock. Our seeds are packed in 100’s and 1000’s. (We do not sell in kilograms.) Included in the seed pack are detailed germination instructions and some extra seeds. We post the seeds all over the world,undeclared, with registered mail and then email the client the tracking number. Please email us how many seeds you wish to order and include your full names, postal address and contact number details. We will email you an invoice with our banking or PayPal details. Once we receive your emailed payment confirmation with your invoice number as your payment reference, we will post your seeds and email you the tracking number.

        Like

  2. Like your website !

    We tried your “recipe” for growing seeds and it works well. Should have a few seedlings to show within the next week or so ….

    Like

  3. Hello Myles

    What a great website, thanks fro all the very usefull info. I have 2000 seedlings (7to 10cms) in seedling trays and would appreciatre a bit of advise as to what to do next. We are in Ficskburg in the Free State where temperatures in winter can drop to -10. Can I safely keep the seedlings in the trays where i can keep them indoors, to plant out in spring, or should i plant out now, or maybe transfer to bags. I am worried about them getting root bound. My land is not prepared yet, so if possible I would appreciate the time to be able to plan, prepare propelry before planting out.

    Like

    • Hello Douglas,
      I would definately transplant them into 1l or 2l bags and hold them over to early spring. Get your irrigation in and if possible shade cloth the area with 20% shadecloth to keep out the rabbits, and dont forget to put irrigation pipe around their stems to keep the mice away from them. Any fruit farmer will tell you that the mice love to ringbark their fruittrees. When spring comes dont delay because that amazing tap root is going to want to grow. These trees wont get root bound in one season.
      Regards and God bless you
      myles

      Like

  4. does the tree produce flowers,if so when and how often in a year,do the flowers contain any pollen or nectar??if so would you know the quality (protein) content.For bees.

    Regards Ray

    Like

    • Hi Ray,
      The trees flower from late august to end of october where they make way for seed pods. They have scented flowers. Mine are all white flowers but they also have blue/purple flowers. They have scented flowers producing nectar for ravished bees in the late winter and early spring. I unfortunately cannot assist you with the protein levels for bees but if you type in lucerne tree honey on google you will find some helpful information. The trees can flower and bear seeds in their first year but its in their 2nd and 3rd years and on when they will impress you.
      regards
      myles

      Like

  5. Hi Myles.

    Ek het lusern boompies gekry wat nog in saadlaaie is,ongeveer 5cm-12cm hoog. My gate is reeds voorberei in die veld. Met die winter om die draai,is dit raadsaam om die plantjies nou uit te plant in die veld? Ek kan hulle beskerm met doringtakke en katbos vir diere en teen temperatuur beskerm. Of is dit meer raadsaam om hulle in sakke uit te plant tot na die winter?

    Like

  6. Good Day,
    We like to retire in the South of Botswana. Rainfall is usuall in somer but eratic.
    from April to October most years not a drop. To keep about a 100 goats what do you advice if these Lucern trees can work for us.

    JP

    Like

    • Hello Jeanne
      The lucerne trees will give excellent grazing for your goats. I dont know what alternative grazing you have but should the lucerne tree be your only source of food then you would need about 4 hectares of lucerne trees having about 1300 trees per hectare. The trees will need to be germinated and left to grow till about 60cm in the bag and then planted out. A big sapling can withstand much. Nonetheless one will have to establish the trees with water for their first 6 months and therafter they will be rainfall dependant. Remember the bigger the tree when planting them the better the trees chances are of surviving adapting and flourishing. A tree can grow up to 1.8m tall in its first growing season.
      All of the best
      myles

      Like

  7. Hi there. Would you guys please just email me your banking details. I just want a couple of seeds to plant a hedge around my yard as a wind breaking fence. I think 100 should do. Please can you email it to jp@taa-t.co.za. Thank you very much!
    Regards,
    JP

    Like

    • @JP, Thank you for your interest in our trees. These trees grow very fast and will make a beautuiful wind-break. We’ll send you an invoice with our banking details. Kind regards, Nadene

      Like

  8. hey !!! some great information tanks alot ! i am a 16 year old learner from louis trichardt . i am starting toe farm with goats and have some big plans so i was wonder will it be sustainable toe farm with about 300 goats on a 12 hectar piece of land ??? rain is a bit of a problem . ! it gets really hot on the farm we have and was wondering if that would be a problem ??? can goats and cattle graze on the same tipe of tree and in your point of view how many goats could be put on a 12 hectar piece of ground ? tanks alot really hopeing for some good news !!!=D

    Like

    • @Davey, thanks for writing! Lucerne trees are able to withstand heat and drought once established. Goats and cattle can both graze on the tree. Lucerne trees supplement (add to ) your normal grazing. Hope this helps.

      Like

  9. Live in Nigel just outside springs in gauteng , have about 100 goats. Would like to grow on them and therefore checking for feeding options and

    Like

    • @Elke Day, lucerne trees will double your existing grazing and provide continual year-round supplementary grazing, but will not replace all your conventional bales. (Apologies for not having more specific numbers or data.)

      Like

  10. Great inof and website, Im breeding with miniature horses, my stud usually consist of my herd sires , 30 mares and then weanlings, ive read alot about the tree lusern and did bought some trees,they are most over 40cm, was just wondering after ive planted them must i imediately started to trim them back because most of them are already long thin trees and not growing sideways at all…I know the 130 trees that i bought isnt sufficient for green feed for them during the winter months but im sure it will, lighten the burden and expences of all the lusern i need to buy during winter.
    Also, and promise last question, ive planted my trees beginning of December, will they be ready to be grace on let say about end may, like i said all the trees are 40cm and bigger already…

    Like

    • @Marius, we do recommend immediate pruning, even in the potting bags, to promote side branch sprouting. You can keep the trees at about 1m. This tree loves to be pruned and grazed and will soon burst with new shoots! Lucerne trees are a real bonus in winter as they continue to grow, where the normal lucerne becomes dormant. I would recommend that you let your trees grow for at least 1 year before grazing them. You can prune them in the meantime and feed your horses the pruned branches. Happy farming!

      Like

  11. Hi, I am in the Alldays area were the temperatures is quite high and the rainfall is about 200mm p/year. Would like to know if the trees would adopt to the area and would like to get bigger trees to start with.

    Like

    • Your trees should adapt to your area and with managed irrigation during the dry season, should be established within 2 years and become fairly drought-resistant. It always helps to plant out bigger, stronger trees.

      Like

    • Like all new grazing, you would need to first establish your lucerne trees in a camped-off area for up to 2 years. Thereafter, you would allow the antelope to graze in that lucerne tree camp and monitor them so that the trees are not completely denuded. After 50 to 60 days the trees should recover and be available for further grazing.

      Like

  12. I am doing research on tree lucern (tagasasta) planted on a farm in the Roedtan environment in the Limpopo Province. The trees are now about 6 months in the ground, and about 1m high. There are termites / ants eating the stems from below. We are now trying to find out if there have been similar problems experienced with the plant, and what is recommended in order to combat it.

    So far I could not find much information about it, but hope you can be of help regarding the above problem, or that you refer me to someone who might be of help.

    Thank you.

    Like

  13. Good day Myles,

    Congrats on the great work you’re doing, I definitely see the potential to increase productivity and sustainability. We are engaged in a project with communal farmers to raise boergoats and sheep on a cooperative model in Zimbabwe with rural and communal farmers. We wanted to know how many plants per hectare you would suggest we plant. Also, do you supply seed to Zimbabwe and how do we go about ordering and making transport arrangements.

    Regards,

    Tawanda

    Like

    • @focuszimbabwe, we recommend at least 1250 trees per hectare. Space your trees 1m apart in the row so that they form hedge rows. Your rows can be planted up to 4m apart so that you can drive a tractor in between the rows, if you need to.

      Like

      • Update – calculations for tree spacing – we now recommend trees 2m apart in the rows and rows 4m apart so that you can drive tractors through the rows = 1250 trees per hectare. Please check our calculations on our Planting Trees page.

        Like

  14. Hi,
    I am Sialuk from Kenya, i did soak the tree lucern seeds in warm water overnight but not all did swell…is that normal? as in will they germinate? i sowed the seeds in a seedbed prepared from black soil and just normal like the one prepared for carrots…. will they germinate?

    Like

    • @Sialuk, you can plant all your seeds out, even if they did not all swell. Your seeds should germinate and grow well, so long as you don’t over-water them. These trees hate to stand with ‘wet roots’. Happy farming!

      Like

    • @Sialuk, most of the seeds will not swell, but the hot water has broken their dormancy and they should germinate within 10 to 15 days, if the seeds are not fresh seeds. Try to avoid soil for germination, but rather use coarse river sand. Once the seeds have germinated you can plant them into a better quality soil.

      Like

  15. Have you any experience of chickens eating the seeds and / or leaves of tree lucerne? I’m interested to supplement my hens feed by planting tree lucerne in some of their runs.

    Like

    • @Janee, hens will eat the leaves, directly off the lower branches of the tree, or fresh cuttings. You may need to first make them aware of this wonderful food by putting fresh cuttings of lucerne tree branches in their coop.

      Like

  16. Your new trees look beautiful, and your sheep seem very happy! 🙂

    PS @Janee, my chickens eat Lucerne Tree, but I have read somewhere that the seeds can be toxic.

    Like

  17. Hi,
    Could you please tell me the carrying capacity (for cattle and boerbok) that 100ha would yield, planted to a density of approximately 2000 trees per hectare? Thank you.

    Like

    • Sorry, I forgot to add that I have eragrostis growing inbetween the rows of tree lucern, which should add to the carrying capacity?

      Like

    • @Thinus, whatever your carrying capacity is on your eragrostis, fully grown trees at 3.5 to 4 years will increase your carrying capacity by another 80%. Actually this estimate is more applicable to lands established with lucerne. I believe that you should more than double your carrying capacity with your fields established under eragrostis.

      Like

  18. Your trees look great.

    It would really be nice if you could give some more detail regarding setup cost per hectare. i.e fencing with shade cloth, drip irrigation fertilizer etc. How many sheep/lambs for instance this could support a year and therefore how soon you could make a return on your investment. I think that would be a great post.

    Thanks

    Like

  19. Hi,
    I have a concern. Can Tree lucernes be intercropped with grass e.g Rhodes grass? This is to maximize the use of land. Otherwhise great stuff.

    Like

    • @Sialuk, Inter-planting grasses between your rows of trees is excellent, however we suggest that you first establish your trees and then plant your grasses or grazing. The grasses compete with the trees in the early stages. We have found that after the 2nd year, grasses and grazing flourishes as the trees release nitrogen from their roots and improve the soils!

      Like

  20. Miles,

    I need an urgent answer. I have soaked seeds what we bought from you overnight planted them in riversand and covered them with saw dust. I water them every day. After 2 days they come out. But than they do not grow wel. What do I do wrong? Or what may be the reason? After 2 months they are not even 3cm high. We bought 15000 of them. Is it the season or something else?

    JP Askeur

    Like

    • @Jean-Paul Askeur, I am quite certain that you did not purchase seed from us. Nonetheless advice is for free as long as you do not hold me accountable for someone else’s product.
      It is a good sign that your seeds are germinating. The biggest contributor to slow growth would be the ground temperature which is a bit cold at this time of the year. The cold ground temperature is further impacted by the water which is also cold. Do not over-water your trees if they are in bags. Stand your bags on soil and not cement as this will also retard any growth. The roots will only ‘wake up’ when your ground temperature gets to about 22 degrees and then you will start to see significant growth. An outside chance can be that your seeds may have been harvested from a weak tree, but this is merely speculation.

      Like

  21. I have already planted a small portion of alfalfa lucern but the tree lucern sounds more promising and more reliable as you can continue harvesting for such along period of time. I do farming in Nyahururu ‘Kenya and looking forward to planting the tree lucerne. where can I buy the seeds ?

    Like

    • @Stephen Heinz, mature trees are able to withstand frost and bounce back once pruned. Only prune the frost burnt leaves after the last frost. Young trees need to be sheltered for their first winter or only planted out in spring.

      Like

  22. What is the Minimum Rainfall required for Tree Lucerne to Grow Successfully even if i Put in Drip Irrigation do they need rainfall ?

    Like

    • @Bernd, Trees can be established dry land in winter where there is winter rainfall and where there is no danger of frost. Otherwise, one must establish the trees with drip irrigation to see them through their first year. Thereafter the trees do well with as little as 300 mm rain per year.

      Like

  23. Hi Myles

    I’m based in Amman , Jordan and considering Lucerne farming in a small plot which i used for the past few years for vegetable farming. I’m curious to know if the Lucerne tree can be planted in high salinity soils since my farm is near the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley ! Also would it withstand very high summer temps around 45 to 50 degrees celsius and draught conditions! How often /how much do you need to water the tree at early phase of planting and at mature age 2yrs onwards !?

    Thanks & regards
    Amr

    Like

    • @Amr, Lucerne Trees are well-adapted to withstand high temperatures and drought once established. They will require water for their first year to 18 months. We recommend dripper irrigation which deliver 2 litres per hour. We run our drippers every 2nd day for 1 hour. Obviously, winds and temperatures may resulty in trees requiring more frequent or longer irrigation times. From 2 years on we convert to microsprayers to water the grazing between the tree rows, but we have several hectares under trees that do not have any irrigation and do very well as dry-land grazing.

      Like

      • Hi Nadene

        Noticed your reply today about salty water – my question was if the tree would withstand planting in high salinity soils/and atmosphere. Our irrigation water is from a dam and its not saline.what’s your take on planting in our soil / air laden with saline moisture?
        Tks

        Like

      • @Amr, we have no experience of these conditions, but Myles does not think they will do well in salty water. The best is to try some trees and see how they cope in your soils and with the water you have available.

        Like

    • @kb, some quick answers –
      1. can u harvset tree lucern? Yes, we hand-prune our trees
      2. how many times? every 50 to 60 days if irrigated
      3. can it grow all year around? Yes, it is evergreen
      4. how much does it costs? Please look at our price list on our Prices & Orders

      Like

  24. Is my first time 2 read about it, I am so intersted to get more infomation about the things u must follow when u plant it especial in dry areas.

    Like

  25. Ek het ni n coment ma wel n paar vrae…hoe gaan ek te werke om die plante e koop..bly in noord kaap namakwaland 20 km buite springbok…met brak water werk di water met die plante en wat kos dit..my grond is effe klei michael

    Like

    • @michael jonas, we sell trees. Please email us with how many trees you wish to order, your contact information and delivery address and we will send you a quote. Transport costs will depend on the distance and the number of trees ordered.

      Like

  26. Hi

    May I plant the seeds directly into the 4L bags with sand and soil mixture after soaking? I did this for Moringa trees and it worked fine.
    After transplanting in the field, How often do I have to apply manure or fertilizer?

    I am in Limpopo and planning to try on a 1ha field.

    Regards
    Dumisani

    Like

    • @Dumisani You can plant your seeds directly into your potting bags. Because they develop long tap roots, a large potting bag will give them space to grow. We put bone meal and a cup of potassium in each hole when we plant out our saplings in the land. It will be good to fertilize your trees each season. Wishing you the very best with your project!

      Like

    • @Dumisani We cannot accurately calculate actual numbers because of the variables that differ, but you can definitely double your carrying capacity from a normal field, i.e. If your 1ha could carry 100 sheep for 4 days before most the grasses were eaten, a 1ha field with rows of trees and grasses can carry the same 100 sheep for 8 to 10 days.
      This is because the trees enrich your grasses with their nitrogen-fixing roots. The rows of trees provide a microclimate that keep moisture in the soils for longer due to their shade which slows evaporation, and the trees provides wind protection. This is most evident after 2 years on.

      Like

    • @Phil The lucerne tree is a pioneer plant and does well in most climates and conditions, however it does not do well in perpetual wet soils with poor drainage, in dense clay or high water-table areas. It hates to sit with wet roots!

      Like

    • @Phil McClure We have sold seeds to clients in the USA and have one recommendation – the lucerne tree is a pioneer plant and does well in most climates and conditions, however it does not do well in perpetual wet soils with poor drainage, in dense clay or high water-table areas, so this would be your most important guideline.

      We have excellent lucerne tree seeds in stock. Our seeds are packed in 100’s and 1000’s. (We do not sell in kilograms.) Included in the seed pack are detailed germination instructions that we successfully use ourselves and some extra seeds. We post the seeds all over the world,undeclared, with registered mail and then email the client the tracking number. Please pop over to our Prices and Orders page and tell us how many seeds you wish to order and include your full names, postal address and contact number details. We will email you an invoice with our banking or PayPal details. Please check that your contact information is correct on this invoice. Please note that we will not refund seeds uncollected or returned from the post office. Once we receive your emailed payment confirmation with your invoice number as your payment reference, we will post your seeds and email you the tracking number. You will find plenty of germination and planting information, step-by-step instructions and detailed photos on our website ~ http:/lucernetreefarm.wordpress.com.

      Like

  27. Hi I’m looking at growing some lucerne trees. I am in Australia. I have deep red scrub soil with 32 inches predominantly summer rain fall with winter frost occasionally down to-5 c I am planning to plant in north south rows. Do you think my country will suit. I will check the PH I would expect it to be acid. What is the optimum range. The information on this site is most helpful. Cheers

    Like

    • @Russell Klein, I am sure the lucerne tree will do well in your country as Australia leads the world in its use and application of lucerne trees in farming practices. These are pioneer plants and cope with most conditions except dense clay soils or water-logged areas. They thrive in well-drained soils.

      Like

  28. Hi i’am interested in planting this lurcen trees, and i stay in polokwane (limpopo), it is hot there.
    How can i get the seeds for the trees or ready trees

    Like

    • @Sylvan, Thank you for your interest in our seeds. Your trees should do well in Limpopo, so long as they are planted in spring, watered regularly during dry seasons and protected from severe frost while still young saplings.
      Please pop over to our Prices & Orders page to fill in the contact form with your order details and we will email you and invoice with our banking details. Unfortunately we cannot deliver to your area due to excessive transport costs.

      Like

    • @Annelie, You can cut, chip or hammermill lucerne trees to store, dry, ferment or form pellets. These trees will provide much more tonnage when pruned and processed than when grazed directly from the trees.

      Like

You are welcome to comment ~

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s