Dwarf Essex Rape
Winter Forage in Florida
JOHN M. SCOTT
STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of
Agriculture, University of Florida, Gainesville.
UrVWjpD- 1. J A Na NCP TA ILAn rIt HSE, LOROA
Bulletin No. 8
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture ..... .......Tallahassee
T. J. Brooks, Director, Bureau of Immigration .....Tallahassee
Phil. S. Taylor, Advertising Editor................................ Tallahassee
John M Scott, Agricultural Editor ................................. Gainesville
Dwarf Essex Rape as a Winter
Forage in Florida
BY JOHN M. SCOTT
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of Agriculture,
University of Florida, Gainesville.
O NE of Florida's greatest needs in livestock production
is more acres of good winter pasture. There is little
difficulty in growing an abundance of green forage crops
during the summer, but as a rule an insufficient amount of
green winter forage is grown to supply the needs of the live-
stock. Rape either as a winter pasture or forage crop seems
to answer this need, for it grows well in all parts of the State
when planted on good fertile soil. This crop is seldom checked
in its growth by cold weather in Florida. Under ordinary
conditions, rape will stand as much as six to eight degrees F.
of frost with little or no injury, although this depends some-
what upon the stage of growth. The young tender growth is
much more easily harmed by cold than the more mature leaves
and stalks. It is not likely that the weather will get cold
enough in Florida to kill the roots even if the tops should be
nipped by frost. When only the top is injured by the cold, new
growth will soon sprout again and produce a good crop.
Dwarf Essex rape is the most satisfactory variety of rape
for Florida conditions. This is a crop closely related to cabbage
and collards and may be grown on land that has already pro-
duced a late summer or early fall crop. It seems to grow best
in Florida during the fall, winter, and early spring months
and will produce many tons of nutritious feed per acre at a
time of year when green feeds are scarce. Farmers and stock-
men throughout a large portion of the State will find this crop
desirable for feeding hogs, dairy cows, poultry and sheep
during the autumn and winter months when the supply of grass
and other green forage is often limited.
The cost of seed for an acre of rape under average conditions
is less than 75 cents. There is no other crop that will supply
so much nutritious winter feed on good land at as small cost
as will Dwarf Essex rape. The better the land, the more feed
it will produce per acre.
DEPAR'17.TMEN'1' OF AGrRICULTURE
THE SOIL FOR RAPE
Rape does well on nearly all kinds of soil but, like many
other crops, the better the soil the larger the yield. An old
vegetable field is a remarkably good location, and generally
requires the addition of only a small amount of fertilizer. For
the best results, rape should be planted on a rich, moist, loamy
soil. Sandy soils and stiff clays which are deficient in vegetable
matter are about the only types of soil that will not grow rape
satisfactorily. All soils that will produce good crops of vege-
tables generally make good yields of rape. Several writers
have reported that rape is well adapted to newly cleared wood-
Fig. 1. A good crop of rape ready to graze.-Courtesy Fla. Exp. Sta.
Almost any good vegetable fertilizer containing about five
percent ammonia, seven percent phosphoric acid, and five per-
cent potash, applied at the rate of 300 to 700 pounds per acre,
will be found to give satisfactory results. A larger amount
should be applied on poor land than on the richer soils.
Barnyard manure is a desirable fertilizer, and it should be
used whenever available. An application of ten to fifteen two-
horse loads to the acre will increase the yield materially.
)WARF ESSEX RAPE
PREPARATION OF SOIL
Too much attention cannot be given to the preparation of
the land for this crop. Thorough preparation of the field is
one of the secrets of successful farming, whether in Florida or
elsewhere. Such preparation of the field will not only reduce
the after cultivation by half but it will also conserve a large
amount of soil water which would otherwise be lost by running
off or by evaporation. A fourteen- or sixteen-inch two-horse
Fig. 2. Rape showing effects of drought.
plow is the best implement to use in preparing the field. All
trash and litter should be buried, as this adds vegetable matter
to the soil. The plowing should be fairly deep, at least four to
six inches. The disk harrow should be used if the land is rough
after plowing. In using the disk harrow, it is best to lap half
the width of the harrow each time, since the surface of the
soil will then be kept level rather than being left ridged. It is
well to harrow with a toothed harrow after using the disk so
as to get the surface in good tilth.
HOW TO PLANT
Rape may be planted in drills or sown broadcast. If the
ground is badly infested with seeds of noxious weeds, it will
be better to plant in drills and give some cultivation. Rape is
6 I)EPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
rather a slow grower at first, but after reaching a height of
three to four inches, it grows rapidly. If planted in drills, the
drills should not be more than two or two and a half feet apart.
The following reasons are often given in favor of drill planting.
First, there is less waste when pastured, as stock naturally walk
between the rows and do not trample down as many plants
and leaves. Second, less seed is required. Third, drilling per-
mits cultivation, insuring larger yields.
WHEN TO PLANT
The amount of seed required per acre will vary from four
to eight pounds, less seed being required for drilling. The seed
may be planted any time from the 15th of September to the
15th of December. The farmers of West Florida will find it
best to plant during the latter part of September, while those
of Central and South Florida can plant later in the season.
Seed may be obtained from most seed houses.
Fig. 3. A field of rape just about the right size to begin grazing.
-Courtesy Fla. Exp. Station.
HOW TO FEED RAPE
Stock may be turned into the field and allowed to pasture
on rape, or it may be cut and fed to them. If cut so as to leave
the stubs five or six inches high, a second-and under favor-
able conditions, a third-crop may be secured.
When the crop is to be pastured, the stock should be fed a
little grain just before they are turned on the rape. When cattle
are first allowed to pasture on rape, there is danger of bloating.
DWARF ESSEX RAPE 7
In other words, one should not turn stock on the rape to pasture
when they are hungry.
The first day thile stock are on the rape, they should be al-
lowed to graze only ten or fifteen minutes; the second day they
may be allowed a few minutes more, and so on until they be-
come accustomed to rape. Another difficulty found in pasturing
cows on rape is that it may cause a disagreeable taint in the
milk. This may be overcome by using a little care and judg-
ment in feeding. If the cows are allowed to pasture on the
rape for about an hour just before and just after milking, but
at no other time. there is little danger of the milk becoming
A longer grazing season can be had if two pastures are
maintained. By having two pastures the livestock can be
rotated from one pasture to the other, thus making it unneces-
sary to graze either pasture too closely. Under these condi-
tions both pastures will furnish much more grazing than if
they were grazed down close.
YIELD PER ACRE
Many farmers have found that a yield of twelve to fifteen
tons of green material per acre may be expected in Florida on
good land that has been well prepared and liberally fertilized.
Many of the northern states report yields of thirty to fifty tons
of green forage per acre, but such yields can seldom be secured
in Florida except on the lmuck and semi-muck soils.
Fig. 4. This rape 70 days after planting seed gave a yield of 8.9 tons
of green material an acre.-Courtesy Fla. Exp. Station.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ACREAGE TO PLANT
"How many acres of rape should be planted in the fall?" is
a question many farmers have asked. This will depend upon
a number of factors: (1) The number of brood sows and litters
to be pastured; (2) The kind of soil-whether a rich, moist
fertile soil or a poor, light, sandy soil with very little moisture
(3) Whether or not the crop is to be fertilized. Data from a
number of experiment stations and successful hog raisers indi-
cate that one acre of good rape will furnish grazing for 600
pounds live weight of hogs for from four to five months, de-
pending upon weather conditions.
Hogs pastured on rape should be given a half grain ration,
generally about two pounds of grain for each 100 pounds live
weight of hogs. If the rape pasture is depended upon to fur-
nish all of the feed necessary to keep the hogs growing in good
shape, the results are apt to be disappointing to the farmer.