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FOFLAGE PrODUCTIOi O SUWFOR smNvA COUIn'TY
By P. H. Rolfs.
The above lecture was delivered at the Parmers' Institute
held at Live Oak on the 13th and 14th inst.
yorage production for Florida is of principal importance
for the development of her agricultural interests. Tho possibilities
in this State for soil improvement and improvement of .ur fc-rms
generallyare so gre,.ot that :.o cannot fully coriprohend. wiat can be
done. Ilort2horn c..pitalists and cattle raisers .Trc t-urning their
i.att: tt) torrd the 'outih f'-r the production of chOcap live stock
and. cheap live rt c iroclucts. The ilxpe-ritant Station h..b proved
beyond que:-tion of doubt that we can proi...ce more fori..e 'or scre
per yeL-r in Florida tan ct.n be prdLuced in the la.re 6.-Cairy states
of the llorth. Th information i, having a ve.ry ubstntii:al
"i effect in direct ie attention of the careful investor to the
possibilities of FlUiida as a live stock State.
There is no other way in vwhch our coil c n be so rapidly
and permanently improved as by the feeding of for.,ge mad concentrates
to live stock. The newly introduced forage*crops give us much
larger yielded thanll.waic. ever expected froa the crops that are grown
in the North. It is neodesary for the Florida farmer to secure
the very best producing orops. This will require a considerable
amount of readjustment to the surrounding conditions, but these
readjustments are going on so rapidly that the average man does
not realize the fact.
S . ..
Stock-growing is certain to be one of the great agricultural
industries in Florida, and its foundation must be the production of
abundant and nutritious forage. Without forage stock-growing will ulti-
rra,tely become unprofitable. The cheapest forage is usually that which
is produced on the spot. Some of the high-priced concentrates, such as
cottonseed meal, can frequently be profitably shipped a long distance.
The judicious dairymen of Denmark and Holland have been importing our
cottonseed meal, feeding this to their dairy stock and competing with us
for the markets of butter and cheese. By importing these concentrates
they have enriched their soil until now the average production of wheat
Super acre is double the production of some of our wheat-groving States.
As long as Kansas, Nebraska, Dakota and Texas depended upon
wild grasces for beef production, the cattle industry was uncertain.
The native grasses provided just sufficient feed to fatten the cattle
for the production of beef, and to carry them through the winter alive.
Under range conditions thousands of animals perished every year, and
the longhornss" became a conspicuous feature on the landscapes. As the
population increased in these States the large ranges had .to be broken
up into smaller holdings, and the plow took the place of the range cattle.
These same States are now growing nutritious forage plants, and sending
the finest beef to the market and producing large quantities of the best
butter. All of this, however, is done, not with the native vegetation
as a base, but by the use of introduced and domesticated forage plants.
In every country of the world it becomes necessary to change the character
of the vegetation before the domestic animals can be sufficiently fed to
get the profits required in an intensive industry. Florida is no excep-
tion to the rule. The native grasses and other pasture plants of Florida
give just sufficient feed to enable the cattle to live through the summer
and make a fair growth. The winter, however, is a season of scarcity,
and in extreme years thousands of animals die for want of food.
Cattle cannot live on Climate.
The argument is usually advanced that the Florida climate is so
mild that it is unnecessary to provide extra food in winter or shelter as
a protection against freezing to death. This is true, but unfortunately
it takes more than climate to make good beef. Good forage crops must be
" produced or be found wild. As long as we had vast areas of native cane-
brake and only a few cattle to the square mile, it was possible for those
cattle to migrate into the cane-brakes and pass the winter in a compara-
tively good condition.. In recent years the fires have done much to
destroy the cane-brakes, and what little of them was left the cattle
devoured, and finally the cane-brakes were no longer there to support
cattle for the winter. The vegetation that grows in the pine woods is
so scanty and so hard during the winter that the cattle cannot subsist
upon it. They are therefore forced to congregate in the hanmiocks, along
the river sides, and around the lakes. These locations afford some
shelter, as well as a-varying amount of fairly suitable forage. Notwith-
standing such favorable conditions, there are not enough suitable localities
for the entire stock of most cattle owners to pass the winter without a
large mortality. Frequently when the spring grasses begin to make their
appearance, the cattle are in such emaciated condition that they are un-
able to migrate to food, or to properly digest the food that is at hand.
This winter starting period so stunts the young animals that they never
attain their normal size.
The experiments conducted hy Professor Scott at the Experiment ,
Station have proved conclusively that notwithstanding the lone number
of years during which the cattle have been subjected to this kind of
treatment, their inherent quality for producing fair-sized animals has
not been lost. As a matter of fact, native cattle when placed in
suitable pasture for the winter have made as good gain in pounds as did
the half-breed animals from beef strains. The native animals of course
were deficient in the quality of beef and in the size of the desirable
^., Sandy Soil made the Scapegoat
We are often inclined to be lazy, and are prone to blame the
other fellow or our environment for our misfortunes. It so happens
that Florida has an abundance of sand in nearly all of its soil. As'this
is different from what people are used to in the hilly and mountainous
regions, the sand in these soils is .qadLe the scapegoat for our indiffer-
ence either to work or to active thought. Before the cattle industry
assumed large proportions in Denmark the peninsualjwas thought to be too
sandy and poor to be of value to anybody. As soon as the Danes secured
heir independnce they had nothing but the poor sandy soil upon which
o ive an ally they usea tir brains and their muscles to make a
living. They soon discovered that by introducing stock-raising and
butter-making they enriched the soil and increased its capacity to
producee forage, in turn producing m ore butter and beef. The forage
again enriched the soil enabling them to produce more butter and beef.
By continuing this for decades their country has developed from a sandy
waste to one of the most prosperous spots in the world. Some of the Florida
farmers are doing the same thing. They are starting in with a sandy soil
that is nearly worthless as it is, but by good farm management the soil
fertility is not only conserved but increased. Even without stock-raisingn
there would be no difficulty in increasing the soil fertility by proper
rotation of crops. However, by means of stock-raising the work is made
Stock feeds mainly on Air
*' The bodies of plants which are eaten by animals are made up
almost entirely of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, and it so happens
that the atmosphere which we breathe is made up approximately by weight of
76 parts nitrogen,..23 patts of oxygen, a few hundredths of one percent of
carbon dioxide, and the remainder water vapor and a small portion of various
other gases among them a trace of ammonia, which is chemically made up of
nitrogen and hydrogen. In analyzing the animal body the chemist finds that
it is made up of exactly these same elements. In other words, plants are
merely canned air and sunshine; the animal eats this and converts it into
valuable food materials for the human race. A. number of our most concen-
trated feed stuffs, such as velvet beans in the hull, contain only a very
small percentage of mineral matter. Potassium is one of the chief constit-
uentsamaounting to only 1.59 per cent. A ton of velvet beans in the hull
would contain in round numbers thirty pounds of potash or as much as would
be carried in sixty pounds of nuriate of potash. Phosphorus is present
in a smaller amount or only sixty nine hundredths of one per cent. Expresses
in whole numbers it would be fourteen pounds of phosphorus in a ton'of velvet
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beans in the hulls. The rest of the velvet beans is made up of the chem-
ical elements of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. The nitrogen
composes about 2W per cent of the velvet beans. The elements potassium
and phosphorus are about the only ones that need be supplied by commercial
fertilizers. The nitrogen may be obtained by leguminous plants from the
atmosphere and therefore can be obtained free. We have then only to
supply the potash and phosphoric acid. (It is possible that sulphur may
be sometimes needed, as also calcium.)
Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen when combined in the proper forms
make butter, starch, sugar, and nearly all of the foods which we eat. A
j ma umt of nitrogen occurs in the tissues of plants combined with
carbon and oxygen, and then is known as protein. Protein builds
up the animal tissues but to a smaller degree than the compounds of carbon,
hydrogen and oxygen. We have seen that nitrogen may be obtained- free from
the atmosphere. The water which is so largely needed by all animals is
composed of oxygen and hydrogen. Aside from the, elements we have mentioned
above, animals need a cert-iin amount of calcium, sulphur and magnesium, and
a trace of iron. These minor elements enter into the economy of the plant
or animal in so small quantities that a sufficient amount is present in
nearly all cases.
If you have followed me closely you will have seen that the great
mass of the' animal body is made up of the elements carbon,. hydrogen, oxygen
and nitrogen- all present in the atmosphere either as gas or as water. The
total amount- of mineral elements present in the animal body amounts to five
per cent. or less in a lean steer, and about one and a half per cent. in a
fat pig. Animals must depend on plants for their food to build up the
Cattle can Forage for Twelve LMonths in the Year.
The fact that the climate will permit cattle to forage for
twelve months has been known since Florida was discovered. Nutritious
wild grasses grow in abundance from about the middle of i.arch 'Antil late
in the fall. During this season of plenty cattle increase rapidly in .-
size and put on a conisderable amount of flesh. After that the pastures
gradually become poorer, until during the winter season there is scarcely
enough to keep the cattle alive. It is during the fall, winter and early
spring that they should be provided with good nutritious forage from
a When our knowledge of agriculture was rudimentary, it was somewhat
of a haphazard undertaking to grow untried plants or to introduce new ones
for cultivation. This was notably so for Florida, but with our present
1kowledge no one need hesitate longer in taking up this line of work for
want of inforraationi. As a matter .of fact we have. so many suitable crops
that we are really surfeited with them and hardly know which to choose.
It reminds me of the donkey in Aesop's fable who stood half way between a
sheaf of oats and a sheaf of wheat; whenever he made up his mind to eat
from the sheaf of oats his remembering how sweet the wheat tasted caused
him to hesitate and make up his a ind to eat the wheat. But before eating
the wheat the inclination to eat the oats becarme so great as to cause him"
to desist. In his dile;ama the poor donkey died in hesitating between the
The Experiment Station introduces new Crops.
Hundreds of different grasses have been tried on the Experiment
Station. Of course in this large number only a few canu be expected to
succeed. The introductions, however, are made from regions that are in
many respects similar to Florida. This makes it anything but a hap-
hazard undertaking., The question is only of introducing a sufficient
number and possessing a sufficient amount of perseverance to secure
the best things that can be grown. Among the crops belonging to the
grass family that we have introduced within the last few years may be
mentioned Ilatal grass, which grows so luxuriantly and abundantly from
S central Florida southward.
The Rhodes grass was introduced some 5 or 6 years ago and has
proved itself well adapted to almost all parts of Florida. In soie parts
of the State it is grown in large areas. The planting this year is
limited by the possibility of getting seed. This is one of the most
promising meadow and pasture grasses that has been introduced.
Molasses grass has also.been introduced. It makes a very large
crop, and under Florida conditions is quite valuable. It is an annual
and makes a good late fall crop.
Para grass has been tested and distributed to many different
places. It. shows itself well adapted to moist farm lands and gives
abundant and nutritious grazing and also an abundance of good hay.
Guinea grass would be considered .a most valuable acquisition, were it
not for the fact that so many others that do better have arrived. This
does well from the centraL1 portion of the peninsula southward.
This plant belongs to the grass family and is very closely
related to the common sugar-cane. For a number of years it was
largely advertised as a syrup and sugar producing cane and under these
conditions was "boomed into disfavor." At the present time we may
call it the king of forage plants in Florida. It will produce large
quantities of green forage just at the time it is most needed. Stock
can be placed on it early in the fall or early winter. It is most
profitable t: reserve the cane until at least the middle of December,
since the amount of sugar increases rapidly the last few weeks. As
high as 27 tons of green matter per acre have been produced at the
Experiment Station on land that would ordinarily growv only 15 or 20 bush-
els of corn. To state what could be grown under the most favorable
conditions would give such a large figure as to make it seem untruthful.
The original stock of this cane was introduced into the country by
General Le Duc from Brazil over 40 years ago. It is not likely that the
first introduction gave us the best of the varieties that can be grown;
we have therefore made new introductions and have received 4 varieties"
from Japan whiMh are now being tested. Seed canes of eight varieties
from Ceylon have also been received. These will be tested out and if
any of the varieties are superior to the old well-established variety,
seed canes vill be distributed with a view of replacing the old variety.
Sorghums grow most luxuriantly in the tropics. Some hew
varieties have been introduced from Africa and other tropical countries;
many do extremely well in Florida. The long-lived varieties are the best,
though some of the early forms, such as Early Amber and Kaffir Corn, can
be used to good advantage in special ones. The Experiment Station ha
tested so nethinp like 60 different varieties of these Sumac and Goose
ieck have generally given the best satisf-.ction. Durin,- certain years
other v-arieties hav. v given better crops, but on the average these two
varieties seeu to give larger yields.
SThe le&uwiinous crops are the very best f:oraige that c ntr be
grown in any agricultural section. 1Tot only do they prod-uce ubund.Lnt
andi nutritious forage, but the have the power of extracting nitrogen
froma the atmosphere anld enrichinC. the soil with it. This ii.:.:-s it pos-
sible to g'rov a crop of le,.u.jes, and remove them from the soil anid still
leave the land mor.: productive th.,.n before the leg ue.- were lantted.
And since-nitrogen is the most ex:p en.ive element in our fertilizer it ;is
Sdoubly desirable to grow.r leg-les not only for for:agi but for enriching
the soil. Le&'gut-ies properl- handled on l-'lorida soils vr ll enable the
' f farmer to c ut his fertilizer bill in h'ilf.
T he Exper-iient Stat ion.has tested between 30 and 40 different
S varieieec; receiving; seed fro.-i Peru, Turkestan, Ioon oli.. and nearly
Severe other alfalfa-producin, country of the vorld. All the seed
eriLiinted well and produced vigorously g'ro ring pliats. Ho ever, the
crop failed to be sufficiently pr&iioctive to be profitable commercially.
This experience coincides ex:actly with the exapea ience of thoru.sands d of
others who have tried alfalfa in Florida. Alfalfa seed crc :;lin ,-tes
promptly, produces vigorous plants, and a fa.r crop the firPt saring;
but during the rainy season most of the plants die aund the amount of
alfalfa hay that can be made in the fall after the dry season begins
is very small. Even the Peruvian variety, which grows pretty well all
winter, has made only an indifferent growth in the spring and cannot be
relied upon to produce a good pasture.
Some 80 to 100 varieties of soy beans have been tested from
time to time. A few that originated in South China produced vigorous
growth and gave a fair amount of seed and forage. These are-being
tested, and if anything valuable is among them it will be discovered.
For iorth Florida and West Florida soy bean:: do quite well, but for
Central and South Florida they cannot be recommended at present.
Between 200 and 250 varieties of covpeas have been tested.
This crop ha- been grown for a great many years in Southern United
States, and ha: proved very acceptable to the farmers. There are rmlany
points, however, that must be considered before any particular crop
can be called the best of its class. Two varieties of cowpeas,
Brabham and Iron, have done unusually well i.nd under ordinary circurm-
stances are resistant to rootlknot, but under adverse conditions seem to
be pretty badly affected by this pest. As a whole, cowpeas are declin-
ing in favor in Florida, largely because the velvet bean family produces
a larger amount of ammonia pei acre at less expense. As a general
cover crop they are not sufficiently. long-lived to meet all conditions.
- W J.-
Velvet Bean Family
For nearly a quarter of a century only one ~iea-iber of -Utis family
was knovn in Florida, or what is usually spoken of as velvet bean, or
more properly Florida velvet bean. Originally it was used as an arbor
plant, but was found to grow luxulriantly, and finally a few people had
the courage to try it on their stock. It was found to make a good stock
feed and cane into general use. It now stands seventh in value of our
farm crops. About 20 years ago the Experiment Station began testing
this crop. A vast amount of work has had to be done on it, since not
even the chemical analysis was known at the time it was being considered
as a crop. Experiments on its effect on the soil, its effect on various
animals, cattle, horses, mules and hogs have been tried. Its digesti-
bility has been worked out, snd we now have a fairly comprehensive
lhmknowledge of the velvet bean. Since there is only one Florida, it has
been this Florida that has had to work out this particular problem, and
the scientific end of it has had to be worked out by the Experirment
Station. A good crop of velvet beans should be worth from ,130 to .,40
per acre to the farmer. The beans themselves would readily sell as seed
for ;30. The average production of a good crop would not run below 20
bushels per acre. In addition to this the amount of nitrogen that is
left in the soil is about equal to the amount taken off by the beans.
This will vary according to the vigor of the beans. A good crop of
velver beans when foraged from the field has as good effect on the plant
growth that follows as would occur from the application of 1000 pounds
of cottonseed meal.
Yokohama Velvet Bean..
This variety of tile velvet bean was distributed by the Experiment
Station two years ago and tested by a great many different farmers in
the State. It succeeded unusually well and gives promise of filling an
important niche in our agriculture. The plants ripen seed in about 4
months froui the time of planting provided the weather is sufficiently
warm to cause rapid growth. It is a good crop to plant after the spring
grain crop or after the truck oros have been harvested. It is a much
smaller and weaker growing plant than the Florida velvet bean. The rows
should be made about 30 inches apart and the beans placed from 6 inches to
a foot apart in the rows.
Chinese Velvet Bean.
This is one of our latest introductions from the Orient. One
seed was received by the Experiment Station in the spring of 1910. As
only one seed was received it was given the greatest care, being planted
in the green-house, and after growing to a height of 8 or 10 inches in
a flower pot was transferred to the open ground. All of the seed from
this plant was saved and planted in the spring of 1911. That fall, in
spite of severe ravages of caterpillars, a bushel of seed was harvested.
In the spring of 1912, something over two acres of this bean were planted.
It takes the bean about 6 months to mature, differing in this respect
from the Florida velvet bean, and Lyon velvet bean; the two last bloom
only in late fall, regardless of the time of planting. The Chinese
velvet bean on the other hand blooms early in the year and matures its
pods during October, putting: it at least a month and possibly six weeks
ahead of the Florida velvet beans. In productiveness it seems equal or
superior to the other kinds. In vigor of growth it is the best of
any that we.have tested.
Lyon Velvet Bean.
This was introduced from the Philippines in the sorin, of 1907,
and is thought by many to be quite superior to the Florida velvet bean.
Its behavior, however, is so similar to the Florida velvet bean, that for
ordinary purposes I see no very great reason for planting it in prefer-
ence to the Florida .velvet bean.
The Kudzu Vine
This plant has been grOwn on the Experiment Station since 1907.
Seed may be obtained from the large seed houses .of the north. The
plants produced the first year are not vigorous, but the second year
long vines are produced. These will root at various joints and plants
arising from these rooted joints may be set out to the field.
Under good cultural and soil conditions kudzu will make a
large yield o. nutritious hay. It is recommended by some for a spring