Forage and Pasture
Crops in Florida
* S 0
Commissioner of Agriculture
Introdii n ............. ***a****...........
Carpet. Gr ..... .... ..s *. ...........**......... 1*
Souirn e Gra ses .. .............. .... ........-
Napier G a s .......... ........ .........* ... .....*.. ........
"'Rhodes: Gras .. .. .:; .:..... ... ...... ....... .,*. -46
Para G; sL:.. ... ... ... ......-... ... ......... :4
Kudzu ..................... ............................ ..... 4
Pean ts . ......................... .... 4
Velvet Beai ......,............ ..... ... .... .. . -. . .
Lawn Grasses ................................. ... ... .
Next in importance to the divine profusion of water, light,
and air, those three great physical facts which render existence
possible, may be reckoned the universal beneficence of grass.
Grass is the most widely distributed of all vegetable beings,
and is at once the type of our life and the emblem of our
mortality. Lying in the sunshine among the buttercups and
dandelions of May, scarcely higher in intelligence than the
minute tenants of that mimic wilderness, our earliest recollec-
tions are of grass; and when the fitful fever is ended, and the
foolish wrangle of the market and forum is closed, grass heals
over the scar which our descent into the bosom of the earth has
made, and the carpet of the infant becomes the blanket of
As he reflected upon the brevity of human life, grass has
been the favorite symbol of the moralist, the chosen theme of
philosopher. "All flesh is grass," said the prophet: "My days
are as the grass," sighed the troubled patriarch; and the pen-
sive Nebuchadnezzar, in his penitential mood, exceeded even
these, and, as the .sacred historian informs us, diW eat grass
like an ox.
Grass is the forgiveness of Nature-her constant bened.
tion. Fields trampled with battle, saturated with blood, torn
with the ruts of cannon, grow green again with grass, and
carnage is forgotten. Streets abandoned by traffic become
like rural lanes, and are obliterated. Forests decay, harvests
perish, flowers vanish, but grass is immortal. Beleaguered by
the sullen hosts of winter, it withdraws into the impregnable
fortress of its subterranean vitality, and emerges upon the first
solicitation of spring. Sown by winds, by wandering birds,
propagated by the subtle horticulture of the elements which
are its ministers and servants, it softens the rude outline of
the world. Its tenacious fibres hold the earth in its place, and
present its soluble components from washing into the wasting
sea. It invades.the solitude of deserts, climbs the inaccessible
slopes and forbidding pinnacles of mountains, modifies cli-
mates, and determines the history, character, and destiny of
nations. Unobtrusive and patient, it has immortal vigor and
aggression. Banished from the thoroughfare and the field, it
abides its time to return, and when vigilance is relaxed, or the
,- rn ( .
4 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
dynasty has perished, it silently resumes the throne from which
it has been expelled, but which it never abdicates. It bears no
blazonry of bloom to charm the senses with fragrance or
splendor, but its homely hue is more enchanting than the lily
or the rose. It yields no fruit in earth or air, and yet should
its harvests fail for a single year, famine would depopulate
Extract-JOHN J. INGALLS.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 5
Reproduction of Farmers' Bulletin No. 1130, U. S. D. A.
Carpet Grass, also known as Louisiana grass and by the
French inhabitants of the state as petit gazon, is the most
valuable grass known for permanent pastures on the sandy
soils of the southern Coastal Plain region of the United States.
Although long since introduced into the country, its high value
has been unappreciated. The reasons for this are not clear,
but may be ascribed partly at least to the fact that until very
recent years improved pastures in the South were not properly
appreciated. Furthermore, carpet grass has been confused
with several more or less similar grasses, and in the belief that
it was a native grass has been left like the others to shift for
Extensive observations on carpet grass and the data derived
from careful farmers who had learned from experience the
value of this grass lead to the conclusion that under conditions
suitable for its growth it is at least equal to Bermuda grass in
carrying capacity and feeding value and will thrive on soils
where Bermuda grass can be made to succeed only by the use
It is estimated that at least one-third of the Coastal Plain
area of the Southern States will grow excellent carpet grass.
Furthermore, by the use of this grass most of this area can
be developed into admirable permanent pastures without re-
moving the stumps from the land. Land thus improved will
support many times the live stock that now exist on the native
The natural grasses of the Coastal Plain do not furnish good
pasturage. They are mainly broom sedge (various species of
Andropogon) and wire-grass (a name indiscriminately applied
to several wiry, slender-leafed, tough grasses) the most wide-
spread of which is Aristida gracilis. These grasses are burned
off nearly every winter when dry. From early spring to mid-
summer the young growth furnishes very good pasturage, from
midsummer till frost, the animals gain slowly if at all, but
from frost until the following spring they become greatly
emaciated. Much of this very poor natural pasturage can be
replaced cheaply by excellent high grade pastures with carpet
grass as a basis. For this purpose carpet grass is of outstand-
Probably carpet grass has not invaded the open ranges of
the Coastal Plain to a greater extent mainly because of light
grazing and annual fires. Light grazing permits a large
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
growth of tall native grasses which by shading prevent any
vigorous growth of carpet grass, and, when burned, make so
strong a fire that all carpet grass plants are destroyed.
Carpet grass is a perennial pale-green grass, spreading by
creeping stems which root at every joint, thus forming a close,
compact turf. The stems and sheaths are compressed and
thus two edged, and this character taken with the blunt leaf
tips will distinguish carpet grass from most others. The seed
stems are very slender, two or three jointed, and 12 to 24
inches high. Very often two flowering branches arise from
the sheath of each stem leaf. Each stem bears two or three,
rarely four or five, slender spikes of flowers, which later form
very small seeds. Flowering stems are produced almost con-
tinuously from early spring until frost in the fall.
Young plants begin their growth in a more or less circular
small patch and quickly send out runners in all directions.
Under favorable conditions, when without competition from
other plants, a single plant in a single season will spread so as
to form a circle 2 or 3 feet in diameter and produce abundant
Carpet grass never becomes troublesome as a weed, and
when its eradication is desirable it is very easily destroyed by
plowing it under.
Carpet grass was probably first recorded from Jamaica by
Sloane in 1696. Previous to 1830 it is recorded from Peru,
Chile, Brazil, Mexico, San Domingo, and Porto Rico. More
recent collections show it to be native throughout the West
Indies and from Mexico southward to Argentina and Chile.
In the United States its present distribution is in the southern
states. The oldest specimen from the United States is appar-
ently one collected by Drummond at New Orleans, 1832. An
earlier record by Rafinesque is clearly based on misidentifica-
tion, as his grass was 6 feet tall. The next older specimen was
not collected until 1869. It was not found by Elliott around
Charleston, S. C., in 1821, nor by Michaux in North Carolina
in 1803. A careful study of carpet grass and its behavior in-
dicates clearly that it is not a native in the United States.
This carpet rass was first named by Swartz in 1788 from Jamaica as Millium com-
presum: from South America in 1791 by Lamarck as Papsalum tristachyon: from Porto
Rico by Poiret in 1804 as Papealum platyeaule; and from Tropical America by Flugre in
1810. These three plants are indistinguishable. In the older literature It appears com-
monly as Pausalun compressum (Swartz) Nees. The name now used by moat botanists is
Axonopus compessus (Swartz) Seblechtendahl, but some authorities use Anastrophus com-
presn (Swartz) Beauvois. All of these refer to one and the same ras.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 7
The plant is never found remote from civilized habitations
even in favorable places where annual fires can not be the
explanation for its absence. Furthermore, like other intro-
duced plants, such as Bermuda grass and Lespedeza (Japan
clover), its ability to spread aggressively is a phenomenon
rarely found in a native grass.
Carpet grass also occurs in Java, Sierra Leone, and Sing-
apore. It seems safe to say that.carpet grass was introduced
in the United States at New Orleans about 1830 and by 1880
was widespread in the Southern States, occurring at that date
in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida.
Previous to 1890 carpet grass was known as Louisiana grass,
but since then the name carpet grass has become general.
Among the Creoles the name petit gazon is in frequent use.
Unfortunately, the name carpet grass is also applied, especially
in Florida, to any broad-leafed grass, such as various native
species of Paspalum, but the true carpet grass can readily be
distinguished by the blunt leaf tips and compressed stems.
SOILS AND MOISTURE RELATIONS
Carpet grass will thrive on any type of soil if the moisture
conditions be favorable, but, like other plants, it grows better
on rich than on poor soils. It is remarkable, however, for its
ability to grow on poor sandy soils, thriving under such con-
ditions far better than does Bermuda grass. Even on many
alluvial soils, as in the lower Mississippi Valley, carpet grass
will gradually crowd out Bermuda grass. The latter, however,
will grow under more drought conditions than will carpet
grass. Where the ground-water level is only a few inches
from the surface carpet grass grows luxuriantly, but it is
equally good on well drained hilly lands with clay subsoil that
prevents it becoming too dry. The ideal condition for car-
pet grass is a water table only 1 or 2 feet below the surface.
Large areas of such lands make up the so-called flatwoods.
Carpet grass is not injured by ordinary floods, but quickly
renews growth when the water subsides. Thorough compac-
tion of the soil seems very important for carpet grass, and it
is rarely found growing where the soil is loose.
Carpet grass seems entirely indifferent to lime, growing
equally as well on "acid" soils as it does along the borders of
shell roads. Actual field tests have shown no noticeable result
from the use of lime.
Carpet grass is of tropical origin. Its northern limits
indicate that it can rarely survive a winter temperature lower
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
than about 10'F. It certainly will not withstand conditions
so far north as does Bermuda grass, probably because all of its
stems are above ground, and Bermuda grass possesses under-
ground stems that are protected. On the other hand, the
leaves of carpet grass are not injured by frosts that completely
kill leaves of Bermuda grass, and furthermore carpet grass
greens up in mild winter weather much more than does Ber-
muda grass. For these reasons carpet grass may be grazed
considerably later in the fall and earlier in the spring.
ESTABLISHING CARPET-GRASS PASTURES
On cultivated land, carpet grass succeeds best on a well-
firmed seed bed. The seed may be sown at any time from
early spring till after midsummer when the moisture conditions
are favorable. To secure a full stand of the grass promptly,
seed should be sown at the rate of 10 pounds per acre. A
method of seeding that has often been used is to cut the grass
with mature seed and scatter the hay over the land where it
was desired to establish carpet-grass pasture. Many writers
have advocated planting the grass vegetatively as Bermuda
grass is propagated, but the expense of this method has dis-
couraged its employment.
It is frequently desirable to establish carpet-grass pasture
in open forests or on cut-over land, without going to the ex-
pense of clearing. To do this all the standing trees should be
deadened by girdling. The land to be seeded should be burned
over in winter in order to remove all the tall straw of broom
sedge, wire-grass, and other bunch grasses. Plowing or discing
is not necessary, and the available evidence does not indicate
that it is desirable. As soon as the native grasses begin to
grow, animals should be put on the area in sufficient numbers
to keep the grass eaten short. Carpet grass at the rate of 5
pounds per acre may then be sown at any time after the
weather becomes warm, but preferably when there is ample
moisture. Under close grazing most of the native bunch
grasses will occupy the land. It is not advisable to seed carpet
grass indiscriminately on cut-over land. To get good carpet
grass pasture on such lands the rate of grazing must be under
control, so that it will be heavy enough to destroy the broom
sedge and wire-grass while the carpet grass is getting estab-
lished. Practically all bunch grasses may be destroyed by
continuous heavy grazing, but creeping grasses are not mate-
rially injured by such treatment. The trampling incidental to
heavy grazing seems to be an important element in securing
good carpet-grass pasture. If lespedeza (Japan clover) is not
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 9
already on the land it should be sown, as it succeeds well if
mixed with carpet grass. The general plan of converting
broom-sedge and wire-grass lands to carpet-grass pastures
may thus be summarized:
(1) All brush should be cut and all trees not valuable for
timber deadened by girdling.
(2) Burn over the area as cleanly as possible when condi-
tions are favorable. Disking or plowing is not necessary and
apparently not desirable. In lieu of burning, close mowing
may be used, but this is more expensive.
(3) Limit the area, preferably by fencing, to the acre-age
that can be kept heavily grazed.
(4) Seed to carpet grass at the rate of 5 to 10 pounds per
acre any time after spring weather has begun and moisture
conditions are favorable. If not already present, lespedeza
should be seeded at the rate of 5 pounds per acre.
(5) Drain by open ditches all areas where water is likely
to stand for a considerable time.
(6) Heavy grazing will destroy all bunch grasses in one or
at most two seasons, and solid carpet-grass sod will cover
(7) On "flatwoods" and other soils well suited to carpet
grass, gallberry* and bayberry** often occupy much land.
These shrubs may be eradicated by cutting with a brush hook
or other device two or three times. Gallberry and bayberry
are both so bitter that animals refuse to eat them.
Two native weeds in particular, namely bitterweed (Hel-
enium tenuifolium) and fennel or Yankee weed (Eupatorium
capillifolium), are very likely to invade carpet-grass pastures.
These weeds should be mowed at least once a season, before
they have formed seeds. This is sometimes difficult to accom-
plish on stump land, and therefore the removal of stumps as
promptly as possible is desirable. Goats will keep down fennel
to a considerable extent. After two or three seasons further
mowing will be unnecessary.
Good carpet-grass pasture on the evidence available seems
little, if any, inferior in value to bluegrass pasture. The
experience of careful farmers indicates that the best carpet-
grass pasture will furnish grazing for one cow to the acre for
about five months each season and for one cow to two acres
for three or four months longer.
nex ilabrbm. *Myrica sp.
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Close grazing is very essential to maintain the grass in good
condition. The trampling by the stock keeps the soil com-
pacted, favoring the spread of carpet grass,.and close grazing
keeps down the taller growing plants which would injure it
If a field of carpet grass be left ungrazed after October 1
it will grow quite tall. In the protection thus afforded green
leaves will appear through much of the winter and furnish
winter pasture. The cattle in eating the green leaves consume
incidentally many of the dry leaves which otherwise they would
avoid. Such a field must never be burned over, as fire is very
destructive to carpet grass.
OTHER GRASSES TO GROW IN MIXTURE WITH CARPET GRASS
Carpet grass and Bermuda grass rarely grow together for
any length of time. As a rule Bermuda grass prevails on clay
soils, while carpet grass dominates on sandy soils. On soils
that will grow both grasses it is often economy to seed the two
in mixture, but eventually one or the other will occupy the land
almost exclusively. Dallis grass (Paspalhm dilatatum) usually
grows well in carpet grass soil, and it is a good plan to sow
seed of this, especially on the better soils, after the carpet
grass is well established. Plowing furrows 10 feet apart and
sowing the rather expensive Dallis grass seed in the furrows
is a good plan.
North of Florida lespedeza, if not already present, should
always be added to catpet grass. It succeeds admirably and
adds a desirable constituent to the field.*
Carolina clover (a native species), yellow hop clover, and
rabbitfoot clover (the last two introduced) are desirable le-
gumes. The first comes naturally and the other two if intro-
duced spread year by year. Commercial seed of these clovers
is not on the market.
Bur clover, perhaps black medic, are exceedingly desirable
legumes to establish in carpet-grass pasture, where the former
often succeeds splendidly and results in a 12-months pasture.
Success with bur clover is nearly always conditional on secur-
ing abundant inoculation.** Black medic on some soil types
may be expected to succeed at least as well as bur clover.
Augusta vetch is another exceedingly desirable winter legume
for carpet grass pastures. All of the above legumes seed them-
White clover is also a very desirable constituent in carpet-
grass pastures, particularly on moist or rich soils. It will
*McNalr. A. D.. and Merrier. W. B. Lespedeza, or Japan clover. U. S. Dept. Agr.
Frnicrs' Bul. 441. 1911.
*Piper. C. V..and McKee. Roland. Bur clover. U. S. Dept, Agr. Farmers' Bul. 693. 1915.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 11
make much feed in the cool season, but becomes dormant or
semi-dormant in summer.
Italian rye-grass sown on carpet grass about October 1
under favorable moisture conditions will make much winter
grazing. With this grass, however, it is necessary to seed it
Carpet-grass pasture supplemented by the plants mentioned
will make an ideal pasture that can be grazed nearly, is not
quite, the entire 12 months.
On low or moist soils, particularly near the northern limits
of carpet grass, the first seeding of a pasture either on plowed
or unplowed land may well be to redtop. The advantages are
that the seed is much cheaper and the 1-year-old pasture is an
excellent foundation on which to sow carpet-grass seed. Redtop
seed in the area referred to must be sown in the fall or early
winter. Pure redtop pastures may be expected to persist two
or three years. For permanent pastures the addition of carpet
grass is imperative.
Carpet seed is in much larger demand than supply at present.
Unfortunately there has never been sufficient seed on the
market to allow any extensive sowing of the grass. There is
no apparent reason why ample seed to supply all needs should
not be harvested. Lack of knowledge on the part of those who
have the grass in abundance as to the market demand for the
seed seems largely responsible for the deficient supply. Those
who have open areas of carpet grass of sufficient area to justify
harvesting the seed never have to sow it. On the other hand,
in the localities where the seed is most needed the grass does
not exist except in small areas.
Perhaps the most promising location for developing the
carpet grass seed industry is on the alluvial lands of the lower
Mississippi Valley. In that region cotton growing has been
curtailed to some extent because of the boll weevil, and cattle
raising has been substituted. Many of these old cotton fields
are now thickly set with carpet grass and an abundant seed
crop goes to waste every year.
Carpet grass will form a seed crop in spite of pasturing.
The stock graze the basal leaves, while the seed stalks are
rarely eaten. Perhaps a larger crop of seed may result if all
stock is kept off the field for a few weeks while it is going to
seed. This is a point on which there are no data and which
needs investigation. Meantime the crop of seed which is pro-
duced in addition to the pasturing will pay good returns if
harvested. An ample supply of carpet grass is at present a
great need in southern agriculture.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Carpet grass begins to mature seed in June, but continues
to bloom throughout the summer. The main crop of seed and
the only one that will usually pay to harvest is ripe early in
September. There is a period of a month or six weeks in the
fall when seed may be gathered, but there is considerable loss
from shattering if the crop is gathered when it first becomes
HARVESTING THE SEED
Carpet grass seed shatters easily when ripe. The seeds are
small and light, being about the size of timothy seed, and not
so heavy. The grass should be cut with a mower and handled
as little as possible in order to avoid loss from shattering. The
straw should be allowed to become thoroughly dry before
attempting to separate the seed.
Much seed can be obtained by beating it out of the straw
with a flail on a tight floor or on a large canvas. Where there
is a considerable area to be harvested a thrashing machine is
desirable. Almost any kind of a thrasher will do this work
if equipped with proper screens. An ordinary grain thrash-
ing outfit will answer, but it will require more work to clean
the seed from the chaff. The chief danger in thrashing will
be from too heavy blast of air, which will blow the seeds out
with the straw. The air intakes of the fan should be reduced to
the minimum or the fan cut out entirely. Another source of
loss is shaking the separating apparatus of the thrashing ma-
chine too rapidly. If this action is very violent the seeds, being
light in weight, may not fall through the screens, but pass out
with the straw.
CLEANING THE SEED
Good screening will clean carpet grass seed very satisfac-
torily. A sieve with a mesh one-twentieth of an inch in size
will let the carpet grass seed through and take out the large
weed seeds and coarse material. One with a mesh of one thirty-
eighth of an inch will hold the carpet grass seed and separate
the finer material. Hand sieves are sometimes used, but the
process is slow and laborious. If much seed is to be cleaned a
fanning mill is needed. Manufacturers will gladly advise as
to the best combination of screens for cleaning carpet grass
seed with their particular machine if a sample of seed is sent
to them. In fanning, the air blasts must be light in order to
avoid loss of seed.
Carpet grass seed well cleaned weighs about 18 pounds to
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 13
SOUTHERN PASTURE GRASSES
BULLETIN NO. 194-A PASTURE HANDBOOK.
U. S. Department of Agriculture.
The southern grasses that contribute most to pastures are
Bermuda, carpet, and Dallis grasses. Those less commonly
found in pastures are Johnson, centipede, Rhodes, Napier,
rescue, and Vasey grasses. Para, Bahia, Guinea, and molasses
grasses are hardy only in the subtropical belt along the Gulf
coast, indicated on the map as section 2-b. They can also be
grown on irrigated lands along the Mexican border in sections
3-b and 4-b.
Carpet grass is persistent and aggressive on moist sandy soils
and often appears spontaneously in region 2 when the land has
been cleared and grazed heavily. It endures close grazing very
well, but is not very productive, is only fairly nutritious, and
makes such a close turf that it is very difficult to keep legumes
Bermuda grass has spread naturally on loam, clay, and silt
soils over most of the Cotton Belt, and even a little north of
the 60 isotherm. It is late in starting in the spring and ceases
growth at the first light frost in the fall. In the irrigated
sections of 4-b and 5-b Bermuda grass produces viable seed and
spreads out into the cultivated fields, where it is a nuisance.
In region 2 it is propagated mostly by planting pieces of sod.
Dallis grass, a long-lived perennial, while less abundant than
carpet and Bermuda grass, is becoming increasingly important
as a grazing plant in region 2. It is a bunch grass, and the turf
is more open than that of the other two. The growth of basal
leaves is luxuriant, and Dallis-grass pastures are both produc-
tive and nutritious. The chief drawback is the difficulty of
obtaining a good stand. The presence of a fungus (Claviceps
pasvali) in the seed heads, which if eaten in any quantity by
cattle causes a disease, characterized by nervous symptoms,
may be controlled by preventing the production of seed heads
by heavy grazing or mowing the pasture. It is best adapted
to clay, loam, and silt soils.
Johnson grass is best known as a pest in cultivated fields, but
is also found in pure stands, where it is utilized as a hay crop
and to a lesser extent as pasture. When grazed closely and
continuously it gradually becomes unproductive and is not very
desirable in pastures.
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Centipede grass, a rather recent introduction from China, is
an aggressive stoloniferous grass much like carpet grass in its
tendency to form a very compact turf, which gradually excludes
other grasses and legumes, leaving pure stands of centipede
grass. Such centipede-grass pastures are low in productivity,
and their nutritive qualities are questionable. Centipede grass
will grow on most soil types but appears to best advantage on
sandy soils of the Norfolk series. It is propagated by scatter-
ing pieces of sod or stolons and for this reason is rather expen-
sive to establish.
Rhodes grass has been tested in most parts of region 2 and
sections 3-b and 4-b but has achieved importance only on some
of the large ranches in southern Texas, where a drought-resis-
tant plant is required. It will grow on moderately alkali soils
but is less palatable under such conditions. Seed is expensive
and difficult to obtain in quantity.
Vasey grass resembles Dallis grass very much but has fewer
basal leaves and is less valuable for pastures. It comes in
spontaneously on the rice and sugarcane lands of southern
Rescue or arctic grass is a winter annual which often reseeds
naturally in southern Texas. It appears usually at the end of
the dry summer season and provides grazing after Bermuda
grass has become dormant.
Para grass is characterized by its long trailing stems and very
rapid growth under favorable conditions. It is very sensitive
to low temperatures and is of most value on wet lands. No
seed is available, therefore it must be propagated vegetatively.
Bahai grass is not grown to any extent except in Florida. It
is of most value on poor sandy soils. Seed is expensive and
usually of low germination.
Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) is a large, coarse bunch
grass which is very drought resistant and one of the most de-
pendable pasture grasses of the West Indies. In the United
States it has never become popular, but it should be valuable in
southern Texas where Rhodes grass has succeeded.
Molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora) is one of the most pro-
ductive pasture grasses in Brazil and Colombia, South America,
where it is known as Gordura. It has fine stems and makes a
very dense leafy growth about 2 feet deep over the ground.
The leaves and stems exude a sticky sweetish fluid which gives
the grass an odor. Cattle dislike the grass at first, but later
appear to relish it and thrive on it to a remarkable degree. It
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 15
can be grown only in practically frost-free localities, such as the
southern half of Florida.
Natal grass (Tricholaena rosea), introduced from South
Africa, has become naturalized in southern Florida and has
spread to citrus groves and uncultivated land including the
roadsides. It appears well adapted to the climate and the
sandy soil of this part of Florida, but it is not relished by live-
stock and contributes little to the pasturage resources of the
LEGUMES DESIRABLE IN PERMANENT PASTURES
The legumes which alone or in mixture with the grasses
previously described contribute most to the productiveness
of our permanent pastures are listed in Table I and are
discussed in the text that follows. The table supplies
information respecting the climatic and soil adaptations of
these legumes, their palatability, the time and rate of seeding,
the season of the year when they are available for grazing, and
other facts affecting their grazing value. No attempt has been
made to include the native legumes the seed of which is not
available commercially, nor introduced species that are of only
minor importance in pastures.
CHARACTERISTICS OF VARIOUS LEGUMES
Alfalfa.-While alfalfa has been used extensively for grazing
in California, it has not been much used in the Eastern States
because of frequent losses of livestock by bloating and because
of the injurious effect of grazing on the stand. If the crop is
allowed to become quite mature before being grazed, both
troubles are avoided to a large extent, but the full feed value
of the crop is not realized by such a practice. The most profit-
able practice appears to be to cut the first crop for hay and to
graze during the rest of the season. Apparently the stand of
alfalfa may be maintained if not grazed too severely and if the
animals are removed sufficiently early in the fall to allow the
alfalfa to restore the exhausted food reserves in the root
Alsike, red, and white clovers are too well known and com-
monly used for grazing to need discussion. The first two are
included in the majority of pasture mixtures recommended in
those sections where adapted, but generally they do not last
more than 2 years. White clover seldom provides much graz-
ing until the second season, but if the pastures are kept fairly
well grazed it is quite permanent, although it is much more
TABLE I-lORMATION REGARDING LEGCUES FOR PERMANENT PASTURES
Nile lcu tic d plial p l for 8 rm aig pier li SUil adlptitio Io iubk
Ni tp,| i l ( v,,
Alllfl (illl ni elicntiall,, ,, v lr.l i mnlac miicmtotilisll.
fiet, hut only lIoclly ill
Alli donr ihfloinHeia i(|l(ielyragi.n liad i)tli.n o,
rid4al lInaetioanaondl IIif i'iii
letianle al, i tin lrenop
lld clover riN/iuOm eoi. o.................
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lot (Nlifo iloieu., ai ~b.
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ucoill State EIpri
Early srir, 8 it 10
Enrly pring In fall. E Wly sprin O1 to II
t el il, ,lllk
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111 |Plll Iuillllll ldl.
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.. do. do .. . .. . ......
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loil nt wat or rill.
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land iligit acidity;
alan will iolerate anos
indii lue drainage.
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drained soil ifeat uaid,
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liall' aly type.
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1 Rlon andi naton number .
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(God puli t u, but iluFer
of !utl, It Ioally
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loil cillity tlaI com.
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dl nal;l din|ppera in
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Grow only oelly; do
ratlie ndll produced in
Anual; vulunltn noi
vdul iotl ol rnAlion ,
alt prominent enct on
bnl Ind Ia ,siul ni
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AIunl., but rnudl,
Annll, bul I muuuly
pmint In pusltures
Ieeule1 Of toOilnti r
unlll bll vdBlliteen
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 17
prevalent some years than others. All are very responsive to
phosphatic fertilizers, and red clover in particular requires
neutral or only slightly acid soils. On strongly acid soils red
clover should be omitted from seed mixtures for pastures, and
from central Indiana south lespedeza should be substituted for
the clovers on such soils. Ladino is a large, highly productive
variety of white clover which has proved its value under irriga-
tion but has so far not shown permanence under grazing in
regions 1 and 2.
Bur-clover is used mostly for winter pasture in the South and
the far West. In Arizona and California the burs and dry
herbage are eaten in summer. Inthe South it succeeds very
well with Bermuda grass or Dallis grass, as it furnishes grazing
in the fall, winter and spring, while Bermuda grass furnishes
summer grazing. It is advisable to graze bur-clover lightly in
May in order to allow it to reseed. New seedings of bur-clover
should be inoculated if hulled seed is used, but generally suffi-
cient soil adheres to the burs to carry inoculation if seeded
in the bur.
The low and least hop clovers are important in some parts of
the South and the northern Pacific slope. They furnish early
grazing but disappear in June. They combine well with carpet,
Dallis, and Bermuda grasses, and with lespedeza in the South;
also with bluegrass and redtop in section 1-b. Seed of Tri-
folium dubiuni is available in quantity and that of T. procmin-
bens in limited amounts in Tennessee.
Cluster clover (Trifolium glomneratunm) is a winter annual
which has done well at McNeill, Miss., where it is called McNeill
clover. The seeds germinate in the fall, and the plants grow
rapidly in early spring so that grazing can begin in late Feb-
ruary and lasts till June. Cluster clover fits in well, therefore,
with Bermuda and carpet grasses and materially lengthens the
While experimental data are incomplete, there is reason to
believe that cluster clover is not reliably hardy much further
north than the cut-over pine area in the Coastal Plains and that
its chief place will be on such lands in the southern half of
Persian clover (Trifolium resupinatum) is a winter annual
suited to moist rich land wherever winters are mild. Its value
is still much in doubt, since where it thrives best white clover
also does well as a winter and early-spring grazing crop, and
Persian clover has not shown any superiority over white clover.
Persian clover makes its greatest growth about May, at which
time it is high enough to cut for hay; soon after that it matures
seed and dies.
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Ladino clover is a giant strain of white clover which has
achieved its greatest success in the irrigated sections of the
Northwestern States. Where soil moisture is abundant Ladino
clover is one of the most productive pastures known, but it
should not be grazed continuously, and there is considerable
danger of bloating. It prefers a rich soil and on the poorer
soils responds markedly to applications of phosphate fertilizer.
Sour clover or annual melilot is an annual legume which, like
lespedeza, reseeds in pastures each year and thus becomes more
or less permanent. It is very sensitive to soil acidity and there-
fore is found growing only on soils of limestone origin or those
but slightly acid. Its distribution is confined to the southern-
most States, and it is of no value in the North.
Strawberry clover is a perennial legume with about the same
habit of growth as white Dutch clover. It is reported to be
grown as a regular farm crop in Australia and New Zealand,
where it apparently thrives on excessively wet soils and yet is
able to resist drought. In the United States it is grown only
locally in sections 3-a, 4-a, and 5-a, and so far has not proved
useful in the humid Eastern States. Its chief recommendation
is its ability to grow on alkali soils.
Yellow trefoil or black medic is a winter annual like the hop
clovers but more widely distributed and usually making a larger
growth. It is most abundant on the black prairie soils of
Alabama and Mississippi, where it occasionally furnishes a
considerable part of the pasturage in early spring. Its abun-
dance varies greatly from year to year, and it cannot therefore
be depended upon for grazing.
Common or Japanese lespedeza, a self-seeding annual, is the
most widely distributed of all lespedezas, being naturalized as
far north as southern Iowa. Because of its ability to reseed
under most conditions, it is useful in pastures from southern
Indiana and Illinois south to the Gulf of Mexico. It is a stand-
ard hay and pasture plant everywhere in section 1-b and
region 2 except on very sandy lands, and even on sands it does
fairly well unless they are quite dry.
Kobe lespedeza is a variety similar to Common lespedeza, but
it makes a larger growth of stems and leaves than Common and
has larger seed. It has about the same range of distribution
as Common, btt sometimes fails to reseed in the northern part
of section 1-b. It is preferable to the Common in region 2 on
account of its higher yields of hay and pasture. Like Common,
its growth is low and spreading except in thick stands.
Tennessee 76 lespedeza is a selected strain of Common lespe-
deza originated by the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 19
Station. It is characterized by an erect growth, heavy yields
of hay, and rather late maturity. It is most popular in western
Tennessee and parts of North Carolina. It should succeed
throughout region 2 also, but authentic seed of Tennessee 76 is
rather difficult to obtain in quantity. The seed is not distin-
guishable from that of Common lespedeza.
Korean lespedeza is an annual also, but belongs to a different
species from Common. It is earlier, coarser, and usually a
heavier producer than Common, but its production is ordinarily
less than that of Kobe or Tennessee 76 in localities where these
two varieties are grown successfully. Korean is of most value
in section 1-b but has promise in some parts of 1-a as far north
as southern Michigan. In the southern part of section 1-b its
early maturity is of some disadvantage, as there are usually
30 days or more of grazing weather after Korean matures.
An early strain of Korean advertised under the name Harbin
lespedeza may have value still farther north than the original
Korean, but this has not yet been determined.
All the annual lespedezas are valuable in permanent pastures
because they reseed each year. They may also be used as
supplemental pasture. They begin growth late in the spring,
and it is usually May 1 to June 1, depending upon the latitude,
before they are ready to graze. The season for grazing ends
for Korean about August 30, but that of Common, Kobe, and
Tennessee 76 may last until frost comes.
Inoculation is not necessary in the South, but in the northern
part of section '1-b and in 1-a inoculation is advisable unless
lespedeza has been grown on the land previously. Except on
poor soils the application of lime and fertilizers is seldom profit-
able. Applications of phosphate are the most profitable.
The prospective planter should consult State authorities in
regard to source of seed. This is especially important in the
case of alfalfa and red clover.
There are other possible permanent legumes, such as Lespe-
deza sericea, but their value has not been sufficiently established
to warrant general recommendation.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
SUDAN GRASS AS A FORAGE CROP*
Sorgkum sorghum var. sudanense
"The discovery of this new hay grass (Sudan grass) came
about as the result of a search for forms of wild andropogons
which do not have rootstocks. It is acknowledged by agricul-
turists that Johnson grass, which belongs to this group, would
be a valuable hay plant for the Southern States if it were not
supplied with aggressive underground stems. Recognizing
this fact, an organized search for forms lacking these root-
stocks was begun under the direction of Prof. C. V. Piper, in
charge of the Office of Forage-Crop Investigations, with the
assistance of the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction.
As a result of this effort a grass was obtained under the name
garawi on March 16, 1909, from Mr. R. Hewison, Director of
Agriculture and Lands of the Sudan Government at Khartum.
One-half pound of seed was received, and a portion of this
small quantity was planted at the Forage-Crop Field Station,
Chillicothe, Texas, that spring. The grass looked very prom-
ising there and plans were immediately laid for extending the
plantings to other points. In order to give it distinctiveness
and assist in its distribution, the name Sudan grass was
applied to it.
DESCRIPTION OF SUDAN GRASS
"Under cultivation in the United States, Sudan grass has
shown itself to be distinctly an annual. In only two instances
under our observation have plants lived over the winter-at
Gainesville, Fla., and Bard, Cal., both places being practically
frost free. This grass is very closely related to the cultivated
sorghums and hybridizes with them readily. The fact that it
has no rootstocks places it nearer the cultivated sorghums than
is Johnson grass, which for many years has been credited by
some botanists with being the wild prototype of the sorghums.
"Sudan grass when seeded broadcast or in drills averages
about 3 to 5 feet in height and has stems a little smaller than a
lead pencil, being about three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.
If grown in rows and cultivated, it reaches a height of 6 to 9
feet, and the stems are larger than usual, being about one-
fourth of an inch in diameter. The panicle is loose and open,
very much like that of Johnson grass, but a little larger
*Fnrmers' Bulletin 605. U. S. D. A.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 21
and a trifle more compact. The hulls, or glumes, are awned
and, when in flower, often purplish in color. This color
usually fades to a light yellow when ripe. The awns are
broken off in threshing, so that the commercial seed rarely
has awns. The leaves are broader and more numerous than
those of Johnson grass, giving the grass a much more favorable
appearance as a hay plant. The most important difference,
however, is that the aggressive underground stems, or root-
stocks, with which Johnson grass is equipped, are entirely
absent in Sudan grass. Sudan grass, like the cultivated
sorghums, never develops anything but fibrous roots, there-
fore it can not become an obnoxious weed comparable to
the perennial Johnson grass. Furthermore, it has shown no
tendency to persist in fields as an annual weed thru volunteer
seedings. When given plenty of room, the grass stools very
freely. It is not uncommon to find over 100 stems arising
from one crown. This decided tendency to stool is most appar-
ent after the first cutting, and this characteristic makes the
hay from the second cutting usually of finer texture than that
from the first.
CLIMATIC REQUIREMENTS OF SUDAN GRASS
"Sudan grass, like other sorghums, does best in a warm
climate. In favorable seasons, where the growing period is
long, as many as four cuttings can be obtained in one year. As
is the case with all other crops, in determining the regions of
greatest importance climatic and soil conditions are linked with
the acuteness of the need for such a crop. For example, in the
present instance Sudan grass promises to become of most im-
portance throughout Texas, in western Oklahoma, western
Kansas, western Nebraska, and Central South Dakota. This
is not because it makes better yields here than in other regions,
but because there has been found no other satisfactory hay
plant, generally speaking, for this region, while in other re-
gions, timothy, clover, and alfalfa all do well and there is no
strong demand for another hay plant. This region extends
north to the south line of North Dakota, because in the central
Great Plains the summers are sufficiently warm and long
enough to mature one cutting, and in some cases two cuttings
of Sudan grass, thus giving this region a hay of good quality
to replace the millets. At Brookings, S. D.. it has done well
for two years, making hay yields much in excess of those pro-
duced by millet and maturing abundant crops of seed. In the
southern part of the United States, the climatic conditions are
also favorable to the production of this grass, but there are
several other grasses and legumes found there which partially
22 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
fill the need for a hay crop. The results of tests in this region
have been quite favorable, but sufficient data have not been
obtained to warrant recommending the use of Sudan grass as
the principal hay crop. In the southwestern part of the United
States, Sudan grass will no doubt be extensively grown under
irrigation, since the yields of both hay and seed have been
highly satisfactory. Its value in alfalfa-growing communities
will no doubt depend very largely on its ability to furnish a
change of feed without loss of tonnage.
"It is likely that Sudan grass will supersede the millets as
catch crops in most of the region east of the Rocky Mountains,
south of the southern boundary of New York and north of
Tennessee. The yield from one cutting in this region is not
apt to exceed that of German millet, but if handled properly
two cuttings can be obtained in many cases, and the quality of
the hay is much superior to that of millet hay. Near the Gulf
Coast the humid atmosphere and contimnous heat favor the
development of the red-spot disease (sorghum blight) and thus
reduce the yield. This is true to some extent also on the
Atlantic coast of the Southeastern States.
"Continued cool weather, such as one encounters in high
altitudes, is detrimental to the growth of Sudan grass. This
fact precludes its successful production in the intermountain
section, including most of Wyoming and Montana and consid-
erable of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Results in these States have for the most part been unfavorable.
At Burns, Ore., the yields of Sudan grass varied from 350 to
500 pounds per acre. At the State Experiment Station, Cor-
vallis, Ore., it was reported as of much less value-for hay than
vetch and oats. At Moro, Ore., the yield was 1,780 pounds per
acre, but even there it was doubtful whether it would supersede
grain hay. At Adams, in Umatilla County, Oregon, it did
poorly also. At Walla Walla, Wash., when seeded at the same
time and under the same conditions as alfalfa, it made less
growth, atlhough alfalfa is usually slow in starting. At Lara-
mie, Wyo., with an altitude of 7,188 feet, it made only six
"Sundan grass is not at all exacting in its soil requirements.
It does best on a rich loam, but it has been grown successfully
on almost every class of soil from a heavy clay to a light sand.
Where the soil is quite sandy, however, the yield may be ex-
pected to be light. To do well, the ground must be fairly well
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 23
"The value of Sudan grass under conditions of extreme
drouth has not been definitely established. Reports from
those testing it do not agree on this point. Reports from the
South, where lack of moisture has been combined with extreme
heat, have in general been favorable to this grass in compari-
son with millets and sorghums. Farther north most of the
reports indicate that, grown under extreme drouth conditions,
it produces less than millet. It may be that high temperature,
which is known to be necessary to the best development of the
grass, is the deciding factor. During 1913, when the drouth
was especially severe in the central Great Plains region, direct
comparisons of Sudan grass and millet indicated that the latter
is capable of making better yields under such conditions.
"The following extract from a letter of Joseph E. Maxwell,
superintendent of the Kaibab Indian School, Moccasin, Ariz.,
is interesting, as showing the evident difference in the relative
behavior of Sudan grass farther south:
"'All the sorghum planted this year was a failure on ac-
count of the extreme drouth early in the season. No moisture
fell to wet the ground from early in March until July 18, and
then the ground was wet to the depth of only about 3 inches.
. . The Sudan grass was planted on May 15. while the ground
was quite dry. . The Kafir corn and other sorghum planted
in the same field dried out, but the Sudan grass kept growing
through the dry weather.'
"A photograph accompanying Mr. Maxwell's letter shows
the grass to have reached a height of over 5 feet. Confirming
this report are the experiences of F. J. McCarthy, Boerne, Tex.,
J. R. Stegall, Detroit, Tex., and others recorded on pages 17 to
20 of Circular 125 of the Bureau of Plant Industry.
"It is possible that Sudan grass may not produce as much
hay per acre as the millets under exceptionally unfavorable
conditions, but in ordinary years it will yield two cuttings and
will, like other sorghums, stand semi-dormant through a period
of drouth, and if rain comes before the end of the growing
season it will immediately renew its growth. In very few in-
stances have millets been known to do this. It is believed,
therefore, that during a term of 12 or 15 years, even consider-
ing the whole Great Plains region, Sudan grass will out-yield
CULTURE-PREPARATION OF THE SEED BED
"In seeding Sudan grass a rather firm seed bed is best.
Usually, when it is desired to drill the seed, the ground is
plowed in the spring and harrowed down well as for corn. A
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
cool soil delays the germination of the seed; hence, spring plow-
ing is preferable for the seed bed, because it assists in warming
the soil. No fertilizers are necessary in the West, where the
soil is reasonably good, but in the East it is probably advisable
to use some complete fertilizer, such as is applied for corn.
No experiments, however, have been carried out to determine
the best practice to follow.
DATE OF SEEDING
"It has been found best to seed Sudan grass after the soil
has become warm, about corn-planting time or a little earlier.
When sown in cold soil the result is usually a poor stand or
slow growth for several months, so that in the end no advan-
tage has accrued from the early seeding.
"Widely scattered experiments have shown that in very few
cases are the earliest seedings highest in yield. The experience
so far gained by the Department of Agriculture in its tests
indicates that for the extreme South the best time for seeding
lies between April 1 and 15; farther north, in the latitude of
Oklahoma and Kansas, April 15 to May 15 is most profitable;
and north of that, in the latitude of Nebraska and South
Dakota, May 1 to June 1 has given the best results.
METHOD OF SEEDING
"In regions of abundant rainfall, for hay production the
best machine for seeding is no doubt the common grain drill.
Well-cleaned seed feeds freely from this drill, and it can be
distributed evenly and a good stand thus secured. If a press
drill is used, the ground is left level and in good condition for
the mower. The depth of seeding has but little effect on the
root system of Sudan grass. It seems to be a characteristic
of the grass that the root system begins near the surface of
the soil, regardless of the depth at which the seed is placed.
The best depth, everything considered, is from one-half to one
inch, but where the soil does not become packed the plant will
force itself to the surface even from a depth of 31/ to 4 inches.
"In the semi-arid regions for hay, and in any locality for
seed production, better results are obtained by seeding it in
rows far enough apart to allow cultivation. This can be ac-
complished with the grain drill by stopping up a sufficient
number of the holes so that the rows seeded will be the desired
distance apart. Where only the ordinary corn cultivators are
available for the work it is best to place the rows 36 to 42 inches
apart. If a beet cultivator or some similar tool is available,
larger yields can be obtained from rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 25
the latter distance (24 inches) is perhaps as close as prac-
ticable, unless horses especially trained to walk between rows
are to be had. If such is not the case, much of the stand will
be destroyed by trampling. It has been found in carefully
planned experiments that the cultivated-row plantings are apt
toqgjve larger yields under irrigation. Against this difference
in favor of the cultivated-row planting over the broadcast
field will have to be charged the cost of cultivation. There is
also in many cases a better quality of hay procured from the
broadcast stand, owing to the finer stems. The grass grown
in cultivated rows is apt to be coarse and therefore not so
desirable for market hay. For home feeding the coarseness
will be of little disadvantage, as the stems do not become so
woody that they are refused by stock.
RATE OF SEEDING
"When sown broadcast, 16 to 24 pounds of good clean seed
per acre is necessary. In the arid districts a light seeding is
most profitable, while in the humid sections or under irrigation
24 pounds per acre is none too heavy. If the ground is weedy
or the seed bed is poorly prepared, 30 pounds is better. For
seeding in cultivated rows 36 to 44 inches apart, 2 to 4 pounds
of seed per acre will be found sufficient, while in rows 18 to
24 inches apart, 4 to 6 pounds per acre will be required, the
less quantity being used. as in the broadcast seedings, for
regions of light rainfall. When a seed crop is desired, the rate
of seeding should ordinarily be somewhat less than for a hay
SUDAN GRASS AND LEGUME MIXTURES
"The suitability of Sudan grass for growing in mixtures
with cowpeas, soy beans, and other legumes is at once apparent,
for several reasons. Sudan grass grows strictly erect, with a
stem stiff enough to support the vines characteristic of most
legumes, and it thus makes the harvesting easier by keeping
the legumes off the ground. It also allows them to cure more
quickly by preventing the leaves from matting. It is low in
protein, which is prominent in legumes, and thus a well-bal-
anced mixture is produced. The yields, although they are not
often as great as that of Sudan grass alone, are so large that
little forage weight is lost by the intermixture of legumes, and
the feeding value of the hay is considerably enhanced.
"The yields obtained from such a mixture in 1913 varied
from 1 to 314 tons per acre. The best showing was made at
the Maryland Experiment Station, where the yields averaged
about 3/4 tons of cured hay per acre. In 1912, at Arlington
26 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
farm, Virginia, the mixture of Sudan grass and cowpeas gavt
a yield of 4.6 tons of cured hay per acre, while Johnson graas.
in mixture with the same varieties of cowpeas made a yield
of only 2.8 tons per acre. Sudan grass in mixture with soy
beans the same year made a yield of 4.4 tons per acre.
"The most common way of harvesting the grass for hay is
with a mower. It cures readily and can be cut in the morning
and raked up that afternoon or the next day if the sun is bright.
After bunching, it is placed in cocks, similar to millet, and
removed from these cocks to the barn or stacks after it has
thoroughly cured. The leaves are retained well, and if it has
been cut at the right stage of maturity and handled properly
it will make a bright, leafy, sweet hay of the very best quality.
Where the crop is desired for seed, it is harvested like the small
grains with an ordinary grain binder and allowed to cure in
shocks. This method can also be used in making hay in semi-
arid regions where good drying weather prevails, so that the
grass will cure in the shock.
"Where the planting is made in cultivated rows, a corn or
row binder can ,he used, but in a majority of cases a grain
binder is preferable. In some cases, where the growth is rank,
trouble is experienced in getting the reel over the tops of the
plants and at the same time cutting a short stubble. The time
for cutting is governed to some extent by the fact that several
cuttings are expected in most cases, and this makes it most
profitable to cut the first time as early as possible, so that the
grass will have more time for growth. Sudan grass makes
the best quality of hay if cut after full bloom, and when there
remains a chance for an additional cutting the hay will be
improved by waiting until this stage of maturity is reached.
When cut for seed, the first heads should be fully ripe, as the
stools will ripen somewhat later than the main stem and there
is little loss from shattering.
"There are very few hay grasses which are injured so little
by standing beyond the proper stage of maturity as Sudan
grass. This is due largely to the numerous stools, which,
arising from the base, mature successively later than the main
stem and always furnish immature stalks, even when the main
stem has ripened. There is, in addition, the fact that most of
the sorghums hold their leaves well and make the best quality
of fodder when the seed has reached the dough stage. This
characteristic makes it possible, where necessary, to extend
the haying process over a long period without any material loss
either in the quantity or quality of the hay. Such a feature
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 27
is of great importance to the farmer, since the cutting time for
his hay often comes when he is rushed with other work, or his
haying may be interfered with by rains and thus prevent him
from cutting at the most favorable time.
"Sudan grass, being an annual, can be fitted into any rotation
without much trouble. Very little benefit to the soil will result
from growing it. However, as it is a rank feeder and leaves
nothing in the soil for improvement except the decaying roots,
it can perform no such office as the legumes, which are known
to benefit the soil by the addition of nitrogen through nodules
on the roots. It will, however, furnish hay and afford a change
in crop, which usually benefits the soil.
"As stated previously, the hay from Sudan grass is of first-
class quality and the yields are quite satisfactory, so that the
grass will no doubt be largely utilized as a hay crop. From
the central United States southward it will be possible to get
two cuttings, and in favorable instances as many as four cut-
tings have been secured. From seeding to the first cutting 75
to 80 days are necessary. The second cutting comes on about
45 days after the first one, and the third one is likely to take a
little longer-50 to 55 days. This means that the growing
season must extend over a period of six months to get three cut-
tings. By cutting the grass a little earlier each time four
cuttings can be obtained in the same period. This was done
at Chillicothe, Tex., in 1912. A plot was seeded April 26 and
the following cuttings obtained:
Yield per Growing
Date. acre. period.
June 22 ...................... 2,140 57
July 17 ...................... 1,810 25
August 20 ...................... 3,050 34
October 14 .................... 1,800 55
Total ........................ 8,800 171
"It is quite probable that an equally large yield of hay of
better quality would have been obtained from three cuttings,
28 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
as this would have given time for each cutting to reach the
proper stage of maturity. In 1913, when conditions were
unusually severe in the Great Plains region, the following hay
yields in tons per acre were recorded for Sudan grass when it
was sown at the most favorable time: In western and central
South Dakota, 11/4 to 2 tons; eastern South Dakota and south-
ern Minnesota, 4% to 5 tons; eastern Colorado and northern
Texas, 11/ to 21/4 tons; in the eastern United States (Maryland
and Virginia), 214 to 3:% tons; arid farther south (Tennessee,
Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida), 2 to 51/ tons.
"These yields were all made without irrigation. When irri-
gated, the yields compared favorably with those of alfalfa, as
shown in the following pages. In a few localities millet has
given a slightly larger crop than Sudan grass, but comparisons
between these two crops have been based on one cutting only.
When the very much better quality of the Sudan grass hay
and the probability of two or more cuttings are taken into
account there is little doubt that Sudan grass will eventually
replace the millets as the most widely used catch crop.
"That Sudan grass is palatable has been demonstrated on
numerous occasions, but so far no feeding experiments have
been carried out to determine its digestibility. It has been
reported by farmers, however, that cattle have done well when
fed on the hay. Numerous analyses of the grass have shown it
to be about the same in chemical composition as Johnson grass
and timothy hay. The percentage of protein decreases from the
heading period until the seed is ripe, but the value of the grass
for hay is no doubt as great about blossoming time as at any
previous stage. This comes from the increase in yield as well
as the improvement in digestibility. Nearly all immature
forage is inclined to be laxative and probably does not remain
in the digestive tract sufficiently long to permit the complete
assimilation of the food elements.
VALUE IN IRRIGATED SECTIONS
"In many of the irrigated sections of the West where alfalfa
is the principal crop and dairying the chief industry of the peo-
ple, alfalfa has been made the constant and the almost complete
diet of the cows. The continuous use of this high-protein hay
has caused digestive troubles, and this derangement of the di-
gestive functions seems to disappear promptly when the feed is
changed. In some sections south of Oregon and Wyoming,
Sudan grass would make an excellent crop to grow for mixing
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 29
with the alfalfa. Yields of cured hay obtained under irrigation
the past year in California and Arizona have been equal and
in some cases superior to those of alfalfa. At Chico, Cal.,
Sudan grass when irrigated gave a yield of 9.8 tons of cured
hay per acre against a yield of 8.3 tons of alfalfa hay; at Bard,
Cal., in the extreme southern end of the State, Sudan grass on
favorable soil gave a yield of 8 tons of hay per acre against a
yield of 7.9 tons of alfalfa. The yield of 8 tons at this place
was made notwithstanding the fact that the grass was planted
almost a month later than it should have been. At Phoenix,
Ariz., the yield of Sudan grass was 7.8 tons per acre, as com-
pared with a yield of 9.8 tons of alfalfa, and at Owens, Ariz.,
it made a yield of 4.5 tons per acre with only one irrigation
during the season.
"These unusual yields of hay from an annual crop which by
its nature can be made to fit into any rotation will no doubt
mean much to the dairying industry of the Southwest.
"The percentage of moisture is apt to be somewhat greater
in Sudan grass than in the alfalfa when the weights are taken
directly from the field, but there is less labor necessary to
handle Sudan grass because the maximum yield from it will be
secured in three cuttings, while with the alfalfa five or more
cuttings will be required to produce the yields mentioned.
"This is the first grass yet found which will yield under
irrigation in the Southwest even approximately as much as
alfalfa. It can be used, therefore, in providing a change of
feed without any loss in the tonnage obtained from the land.
It has appeared just in time to solve this problem which only
in the last two or three years has become acute and for which
dairymen have just begun to clamor for a solution. Sudan
grass is not as rich in protein as alfalfa, but when mixed with
alfalfa or fed with some concentrate rich in protein the limited
experience indicates that the flow of milk will be nearly or
SOILING AND SILAGE
"Sudan grass is suited admirably for use as a soiling crop,
since it makes a large yield and is very palatable in the green
state as well as when cured for hay. Enormous yields are
secured under irrigation, because the growth is so rapid and
the recovery from cutting so prompt. A small area in the
South, where the rainfall is adequate or where irrigation is
possible, can be made to support a goodly number of animals by
"No trial of Sudan grass as silage has as yet been carried
out, but judging from its palatability and its succulence it
would be excellent for this purpose, especially in mixtures with
30 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
legumes. A mixture of Sudan grass and cowpeas or soy beans
could be grown for silage as well as for hay. Its use for silage
will no doubt be very limited, owing to the ease of making it
into hay and the fact that there is little waste in feeding it.
"No pasture tests yet have been completed, but Sudan grass
seems to lack several of the essentials of a good pasture: First,
it is an annual and the ground would necessarily be soft and
considerable injury from trampling would result, since it does
not form a turf; second, livestock pasturing on it would, no
doubt, pull out quite a number of plants; and finally, being a
sorghum, it may, in some cases, be a carrier of prussic acid,
which is quickly fatal to cattle when occurring in considerable
"Diseases.-The worst disease that so far has developed is
the so-called sorghum blight, more appropriately designated as
red-spot. This disease is characterized by the appearance of
distinct reddish spots or blotches on the leaves, these spots
gradually spreading until the leaves turn brown and die. Its
effect on the plant is much the same as rust and, like the rust,
it is most destructive in warm, humid regions. Sorghum blight
is one of the chief drawbacks to the culture of Sudan grass on
the Gulf coast, but it seems possible to overcome this weak-
ness by the production of disease-resistant strains.
"Another disease which is apt to be slightly troublesome in
the South is the grain smut of sorghum. This will not be-
come of any great importance, however, since Sudan grass is
certain to be used almost exclusively as a hay crop.
"Insects.-Among the insects which are to be considered in
connection with the growing of Sudan grass the chinch bug
and grasshoppers are so far of most importance. Grasshoppers
are very fond of this grass, and when abundant will do immense
damage. Chinch bugs also like it, and little can be done to pre-
vent the attacks of these pests by any treatment of the crop.
The grasshoppers can best be controlled by the distribution of
poisoned bran baits around the edges of the field, while the
chinch bugs may be destroyed in their winter quarters through
the burning of the bunch-grass and trash in which they are
usually found hiding, or their access to the Sudan grass field
may be prevented by means of dust furrows, ditches, or oil
barriers. The sorghum midge also is destructive in the South,
where it prevents the formation of seed in Sudan grass, as it
does in other sorghums.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 31
"Animals.-Moles, squirrels, and other rodents which injure
the stand of perennial crops, like alfalfa, do not harm Sudan
grass much, because it is resown annually, and this places such
animals at a disadvantage.
"Weeds.-No serious weed pests interfere with the produc-
tion of Sudan grass, for the same reason that animals are of
minor importance, as the annual cultivation of the soil destroys
all but annual weeds and the grass grows so rapidly that such
weeds are not likely to crowd it out.
"The Sudan grass imported from Africa seemed quite free
from impurities and very uniform in growth, so that in the
original crop there was but little room for selection. The sec-
ond and third year, however, it began to show signs of having
crossed quite freely with the sorghums, and in these hybrid
plants and their progeny there is sufficient variation to satisfy
any breeder. Some decidedly promising silage and soiling
types have appeared in the progeny, and these are being
watched and propagated with the idea of developing strains
adapted to special conditions and uses. It is doubtful whether
any improvement will be made in the original grass as a hay
type; therefore it is important that this original type should
be maintained in a pure state. Its fine stems and splendid
stooling characteristics make the quality of the hay better
than that from the sorghum-Sudan grass hybrids. One field
of improvement which looks promising is that of resistance
to disease. A number of the hybrid progeny grown at Arling-
ton farm, Virginia, in 1913, were very much more resistant
to the red-spot than others. These are being developed, in the
hope that a strain which can endure the humid and warm
atmosphere of the Gulf coast will be obtained.
"(1) Sudan grass is closely related to the cultivated sor-
ghums and is thought by some to be the progenitor of this
"(2) It was obtained from Khartum, Sudan, in 1909.
"(3) In appearance it is similar to Johnson grass, but it is
somewhat more erect, taller and has a broader leaf.
"(4) It lacks entirely the underground rootstocks which
make Johnson grass a pest.
"(5) Two or three cuttings can be obtained from it under
"(6) The yields vary from 1 to 8 tons of cured hay per acre.
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"(7) Its seed habits are good, and large returns are now
being secured from the seed produced.
"(8) The seed of Sudan grass resembles very closely that of
Johnson grass; therefore farmers should use seed only from
regions free from Johnson grass.
"(9) It promises to fill a long-felt want for a hay grass in
the South, and will likely replace millets as a catch crop in the
Central and Eastern States.
"(10) It does not do well in sections having a high altitude,
because the nights are generally cool.
"(11) There seems to be a place for it in irrigated regions
as a forage to mix with alfalfa hay.
"(12) Chinch bugs and grasshoppers among insects and the
red-spot disease are its greatest enemies."
The following table taken from Texas Experiment Station
Bulletin 172 gives a good idea of the feeding value of Sudan
grass hay in comparison with a number of other hay crops.
TABLE IIL-AVERAGE COMPOSITION OF VARIOUS GRASS HAYS.
Name of Hay Protein Fat Fiber free Extract Ash
Sudan ......... 12.42 1.93 29.93 45.56 10.16
Johnson ........ 7.99 2.10 33.22 48.79 7.90
Oat hay ....... 8.91 3.33 32.11 48.70 6.95
Sorghum ....... 9.95 3.73 26.68 50.00 9.64
Millet ......... 8.63 2.50 31.98 48.10 8.79
Bermuda ....... 12.09 2.37 25.52 51.55 8.47
Timothy ....... 6.79 2.87 33.41 51.84 5.09
The above figures show that, on a water-free basis, Sudan
grass shows a higher percentage of protein and ash than any
of the other hay crops compared. Protein and ash are two of
the important elements in any forage crop. The only other
hay in the above list that compares with Sudan grass hay is
Bermuda grass hay.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 33
DISTRIBUTION AND HISTORY
"Napier grass is a native of tropical Africa. The Rhodesian
Department of Agriculture has the distinction of having first
introduced it into cultivation. This was about 1910. In 1913
the United States Department of Agriculture first introduced
it into this country. Here it promises to be valuable for
planting in the extreme South, including the entire State of
Florida, and a strip extending through the southern portions
of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. It also promises to be
successful in southwestern Arizona and the warmer portions
of California. Work with it was first started at the Florida
Experiment Station in 1915. Since that time it has been
grown co-operatively or distributed in small lots for planting
in many widely separated sections of the State.
"Since this grass has been given recognition as an important
crop in agriculture, many common names have been suggested
for it. In South Africa it is known as Elephant grass or
Napier's fodder grass, while in the United States it is most
widely and correctly known as Napier grass. In Florida the
name 'Carter grass' has been associated with it to some extent.
The name Napier grass has, however, been generally adopted
in other sections of the United States; and as a means of
avoiding future confusion it is best to adhere to this name,
which was the one originally applied to it in this country. The
name 'Napier grass' is especially appropriate, since it was
through the enterprise of Col. Napier of South Africa that its
agricultural value has been established.
"Napier grass is a rank growing cane-like perennial. It
grows to a height of from 6 to 12 feet or more, depending
upon the fertility of the soil and other general conditions under
which it is grown. The plants tiller extensively, forming
clumps with many coarse, leafy stalks. Under favorable con-
ditions and where the plants are not crowded, as many as
seventy-five or even one hundred or more stalks may be pro-
*Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 153.
34 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
duced by a single plant. Such large clumps are unusual, but
an average of from one to two dozen stalks from each plant is
not uncommon. The stalks or canes are erect growing and
leafy. When nearing maturity these canes produce yellow,
millet-like seed spikes varying from 4 to 10 inches in length.
Prior to seeding many fine, erect growing branches are pro-
duced from the leaf axils of the main stems. These branches,
which occur singly, bear terminal seed spikes. Hence it is
possible for a single cane to yield as many as ten or more seed
heads. At the Experiment Station the seed heads have usually
appeared during the latter part of October, the first seed
maturing in the early part of November.
PROPAGATION AND PLANTING
"This grass may be propagated from joints or cuttings of
the canes, from divisions of the root clump, or from the seed.
The mature canes should be cut in the fall before danger from
killing frosts, and banked over winter after the method com-
monly practiced in handling Japanese cane or sugarcane. The
factors entering into the preservation of Napier grass canes
are not well known. A lot of Japanese cane, Napier grass, and
Merker grass canes were 'banked' in November, 1918, at the
same time and under similar conditions. These were examined
in January, 1919, a little more than two months after banking.
The Japanese cane appeared to be in a perfect state of preser-
vation, while many of the 'eyes' of both the Napier and Merker
grasses were discolored and apparently dead. Work should be
done to establish the best methods of handling these canes. In
the latitude of Gainesville, it is probably best to harvest the
seed canes about the first week in November, while farther
south it may not be necessary to cut until a little later in the
season. It should be kept in mind that a killing frost will
injure the buds, rendering the seed canes inferior or even
worthless for planting. In the milder portions of the State
the practice of planting direct to the field at the time of cutting
has given satisfactory results. In preparing the canes for
planting, cuttings of one or more joints should be made. Cut-
tings containing more than one joint should be dropped hori-
zontally in shallow furrows, and covered to a depth of from
4 to 6 inches. Where this method of planting is practiced top
and root growth will both proceed from each joint, whereas
cuttings set with one joint above and one below the surface
will strike root only at the lower node. At the present time
it is not always possible to obtain seed canes in quantity, and
it is sometimes desirable to adopt a system that will insure the
maximum number of plants from a limited number of canes.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 36
Under these circumstances single eye cuttings may be suc-
cessfully used. These are prepared by severing the canes
with a slanting cut about an inch above each joint. The
ground intended for planting should be plowed and thoroughly
harrowed to eliminate air spaces and prevent the cuttings from
drying out too rapidly. Single eye cuttings are planted with
very little difficulty. The operation of preparing it provides a
sharp point at the lower end of the cutting; and this is simply
thrust obliquely into the ground to a depth of 4 or 5 inches.
With canes in good condition and other factors favorable, both
roots and sprouts will be sent out from a single joint and a
good vigorous plant soon established. If desired the large
root clump may be taken up and divided into several parts,
each of which is capable of producing an independent plant.
"Napier grass seeds freely in Florida. At Gainesville it has
produced mature seeds as early as the first week in November.
Many of these seeds will germinate if planted, and the practice
of propagating plants by this method would seem entirely prac-
ticable, at least while there are not enough seed canes available
to meet the demand. A germination test started at the Experi-
ment Station on January 16, 1919, with seed collected on
November 5, 1918, resulted in 68 percent growth. The seed of
this grass is light and fluffy and should not be covered too
deeply. By merely covering them in well pulverized soil and
exercising care to insure a constant supply of moisture, they
will germinate in four or five days. In ordinary farm practice
the seed may be sown in 'seed flats' or shallow boxes small
enough to be convenient in handling. The seedlings will be
ready for transplanting to the field when about 6 inches high.
Under favorable conditions seedlings of this size can easily be
grown in five weeks from the time the seeds are sown. In
6-foot rows and with 3 feet between plants, 2,420 plants will
be required to plant an acre; if spaced 4 feet apart 1,815 plants
will be needed to plant the same area. The seedlings grow
readily after transplanting and may be set as rapidly as cab-
bage plants. The long blades should be pinched back severely
at this time, and such precautions taken as are usually observed
in transplanting tender, succulent plants of this type.
"Whatever method of propagation is employed, the planting
on soil of average fertility should be made in rows 6 feet apart
with spaces of 3 to 4 feet between plants in the rows. On
poor ground closer plantings may prove satisfactory, while
on highly fertile soil these distances should be increased.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
SOIL, CLIMATIC AND CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS
"Napier grass is not as exacting in its soil requirements as
are many of our better known forage crops. It seems to be
about equal to Japanese cane in its ability to grow successfully
on a wide range of soil types. In general, any soil that will
produce good yields of Japanese cane may also be expected to
grow satisfactory crops of this grass. In both South Africa
and New South Wales where it is grown as a cultivated crop,
it thrives comparatively well on rather poor land, though it
responds to increased fertility. This tendency has been ob-
served in its behavior in Florida, where it has proved itself
able to grow on soils of only moderate fertility. But like most
other heavy yielding crops, it succeeds best on good rich ground.
It can not continue indefinitely to yield heavy crops on a light
soil without some provision for restoring the plant food re-
moved by the crop. This is, of course, a general principal,
and is equally true of most non-leguminous crops. As Napier
grass is of tropical origin it succeeds well during hot summer
weather. It also makes good growth during the cool autumn
season, but the canes will be killed back by the first frost. The
roots, however, are hardy as far north as Charleston, S. C.,
and these will send out new growth upon the advent of warm
"The grass is also said to possess drouth resistant qualities
in a marked degree, but it will thrive best where soil moisture
is not lacking. Growing under natural conditions in tropical
Africa, it shows a decided preference for soils abounding in
moisture. As having an important bearing on this subject the
following quotation from the Kew Bulletin, 1912, appearing
in the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, July 2, 1917,
is of especial interest. In a discussion of this grass as found
in a state of nature in tropical Africa the author says:
"'It occurs along watercourses and in marshy depressions.
but also enters the bush and forest where open spaces afford
sufficient light. . In rich marsh land it attains a height
of 21 feet, while in drier soils it only grows 6 feet high.'
"During the past year Napier grass has received considerable
advertisement through parties who have become enthusiastic
over its possibilities in Florida. In some cases over-enthusi-
asm has led to error and exaggeration and the impression has
become more or less prevalent that this grass will produce very
large crops on practically any type of land and that it requires
little or no cultivation. This belief is based upon a misappre-
hension. Plantings made in many parts of Florida during the
past year indicate that results will vary directly with the fer-
tility of the soil, and that as thorough cultivation will be re-
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 37
quired as is necessary to produce a good crop of Japanese cane.
The Experiment Station conducted a series of co-operative
tests among farmers during the summer of 1918 in which this
and various other grasses were planted on a small scale. These
plantings were located in twenty widely separate sections from
Dade and De Soto counties in the south to Escambia in the
northwest. The various soil types of the State have also been
well represented in these plantings. In summarizing the re-
sults of this work Napier grass was found to succeed in all
parts of the State when planted on a reasonably fertile soil and
given good care and cultivation. It has done well on good pine
land and flat wood soil, and on rich muck land it makes remark-
ably vigorous growth.
YIELDS OF FEED
"We have comparatively little definite information on the
yield of feed from this crop in Florida. However, where con-
ditions are favorable there seems to be no other crop that will
excel it in the production of green feed. One test made at the
Experiment Station within the past year yielded at the rate
of 19.5 tons to the acre. Another planting made at a different
time and under somewhat different conditions gave a crop
weighing at the rate of 39.1 tons of green feed to the acre.
These results were obtained as a first crop from newly broke
good pine land without fertilizer. In these tests the canes
were allowed to mature to be used as seed canes and the harvest
was limited to a single cutting. A considerable increase in
the total yield for the season might have been expected if the
usual practice of cutting two or three crops had been followed.
Two tests made under government auspices in New South
Wales resulted in yields of sixteen and twenty-five tons, respec-
tively, after a period of four months from the time of planting.
Many other reports of large yields have been received from
various sources. In actual practice, however, it will usually
be found that like most other crops the yield will vary widely,
depending upon the character of the soil, the nature of the
season, and the general treatment given the crop. Still enough
has been learned to justify the belief that Napier grass will
produce more tonnage per unit area than any other forage crop
known to grow in Florida, with the exception of Merker grass.
Two other exceptions, those of pearl millet and teosinte, might
possibly be made to this statement. However, both of these
are annuals and the ideal conditions required to produce maxi-
mum yields are so rarely met with that they need scarcely be
38 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
UTILIZATION, PALATABILITY AND FEEDING VALUE
"This grass affords great promise as a soiling crop. It
grows very rapidly and may be cut when 4 or 5 feet high, sup-
plying a heavy yield of green fodder. In nutritive value and
palatability Napier grass is probably not excelled by any sim-
lar non-leguminous feed. When cut at this stage of maturity
the stubble is in a tender growing condition. This tends to pro-
mote a quick and vigorous ratoon growth and insures a maxi-
mum number of good cuttings during the growing season. In
the extreme southern part of the State the crop will continue
to grow throughout the year. It seems especially suited as a
green feed for dairy animals, as its high content of protein
and its decidedly palatable nature render it valuable in a milk
"As a soiling crop Napier grass should be cut while young
and succulent. This is not only important in encouraging sub-
sequent ration growth but it also insures a green feed of the
highest quality. As the stalks advance towards maturity they
tend to become hard and woody and many of them will be
refused by stock. In this stage the feed will be eaten more
readily and with less waste if cut into small pieces by running
through a feed cutter. In New South Wales this grass is
claimed to make a splendid quality of hay if cut when 3 or 4
feet high and properly cured. Just how valuable it may be
TABLE IV.-COMPARING COMPOSITION OF GREEN NAPIER
GRASS WITH OTHER FORAGE CROPS.
Green Fodder 1 rom
S (1) (2) (1) (3) (4)
Pt 96 Z 0. Z Cs
Water ...... 78.1 75.1 70.40 72.8 61.81 65.84
Ash ......... 1.2 1.4 .60 2.4 2.92 2.68
Protein ..... 1.9 1.5 .45 1.7 2.92 3.58
Carbohydrates 13.0 14.0 21.40 13.4 17.29 14.13
Fat ......... .6 1.0 .60 .5 .29 .53
Fiber ....... 5.2 7.0 6.55 9.2 14.77 13.24
(1) Taken from Henry and Morrison's "Feeds and Feeding."
(2) From Florida Experiment Station Bulletin No. 105 and converted
to terms of green feed containing about normal percent of water.
(3) From Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, Vol. XXVIII,
(4) From Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, Vol. XXVIII,
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 39
for silage and as a pasture crop is not yet known. The mature
canes contain a high percentage of woody fiber, and this might
reduce their value for silage. On the other hand if the canes
were cut when too young and succulent, it would seem probable
that a soft, washy silage with high acidity might result. These
problems must, however, be solved by experiment. It has been
suggested that with a multiple lot arrangement, light rotation
grazing might be satisfactory. Napier grass is unusually high
in feeding value, though, as has been pointed out above, the
mature growth shows a comparatively high content of fiber.
In Table IV the composition of green Napier grass is com-
pared with that of green corn, sorghum, Japanese cane and
"The analyses in Table IV show that Napier grass com-
pares very favorably in feeding constituents with any of our
common non-leguminous forage plants. The only objectionable
feature brought out in this comparison is the rather high per-
centage of fiber in Napier grass. These figures indicating the
composition of Napier grass represent the results of two sep-
arate analyses. Another analysis of a Florida grown sample of
the cured Napier grass was made in the laboratories of the
State Chemist at Tallahassee and published in the Tampa
Tribune on November 25, 1917. This analysis is used in Table
V to contrast the cured feed of Napier grass with some of
the most important Florida grown hays. Napier grass hay is
here shown to contain a greater percentage of protein than any
of the other non-leguminous hays included in this table, though
the amount of this constituent is not as great as in alfalfa hay."
TABLE V.-iCOMPARING COMPOSITION OF NAPIER WITH
Cured Hay, Percent
(1) (1) (1) 1) (2) (3)
Timoth Alfalfa Crab Natal Rhodes Napier
SAlfafa Grass Grass Grass Grass
Water ....... 11.6 8.6 9.5 9.8 9.9 9.35
Ash ......... 4.9 8.6 8.5 5.0 7.6 9.92
Protein ...... 6.2 14.9 8.0 7.4 7.3 11.32
Carbohydrates 45.0 37.3 42.9 39.2 44.6 41.06
Fat ......... 2.5 2.3 2.4 1.8 1.4 2.15
Fiber ....... 29.9 28.3 28.7 36.8 29.2 26.20
(1) Taken from Henry and Morrison's "Feeds and Feeding."
(2) Annual Rpt. Hawaii Experiment Station, 19U0, pages 58-59.
(3) Analysis made in laboratories of the State Chemist, Tallahassee,
and published in the Tampa Tribune, November 25, 1917.
40 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"Rhodes grass is a perennial with very leafy, slender, erect
stems, three to five feet tall, and very long and narrow leaves.
It seeds freely at the tops of the stem in clusters of from ten
to twenty spikes, three to four inches long. In addition to the
erect seed-bearing stems, it produces numerous prostrate run-
ners, which are often from six to eight feet in length and take
root at every joint where they rest on the ground, so that even
where the original stand is thin these runners soon cover vacant
spaces of considerable size. They serve not only to spread the
grass, but also to establish a constant succession of new plants,
more vigorous and productive than those which are older. Al-
though the grass seeds freely and also spreads by runners, it is
easily controlled and rarely becomes as troublesome as a weed.
"Owing to its inability to withstand severe cold, Rhodes grass
is not grown north of Florida, the immediate Gulf Coast, and
southern Texas. In Florida it is grown principally from St.
Augustine southward along the East Coast, from Brooksville
southward along the West Coast, and in a good part of the
Everglades region. Probably more than half of the total acre-
age in this country at the present time is in Texas, from Hous-
ton and San Antonio southward to the Rio Grande, and there
it has become the practice to have one or more acres of it for a
feed and pasture lot near the stable on every farm and ranch.
It rarely survives the winter where the temperature falls below
15 degrees or 18 degrees F., and on that account it is some-
times grown as an annual in regions of colder winters, as it
will then give two or three cuttings of about one ton each dur-
ing the summer and fall, but at the present price of seed that
is seldom profitable.
"Rhodes grass does best on a soil which is fairly moist, al-
though it will live and make some growth during several
months' drouth. A deep, rich loam is best suited to it, and
it is likely to be unsatisfactory on dry, hard clay, or on dry,
sandy soils. It grows vigorously on the well drained peaty
soils of Florida, on the reclaimed muck soils of southern Louisi-
ana, on the heavy irrigated lands of southern Texas, and on
the black-wax soils wherever there is a moderate amount of
rainfall or where irrigation is available.
"Early in the spring, when the soil is in a proper condition
and there is no further danger from late frosts, or in the late
*Farmers Bulletin 1125.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 41
summer, the ground should be well plowed and then harrowed
until the surface is fine and even. Too much stress can not be
put on the importance of thorough preparation. As the seed
is often low in germination and the young plants are weak
until they become well rooted, it is poor economy to risk the
securing of a full stand by withholding a little work in pre-
paring the field. The most successful growers in Texas recom-
mend that the ground be prepared by irrigating, plowing,
double disking, harrowing, seeding, rolling, and then another
irrigation. Florida growers, who are not obliged to irrigate,
recommend plowing, harrowing, smoothing with a plant drag,
seeding, and then rolling the heavier soils or using a weighted
plank drag on those which are more sandy. The important
point in seeding anywhere is to have the soil sufficiently moist
to germinate the seed quickly and then to maintain this mois-
ture until the young plants become well established.
"The quantity of seed needed varies with its quality and
with the condition of the land. When the land is in good con-
dition and well-cleaned seed is used, from seven to eight pounds
per acre are sufficient, and some planters use much less. From
two to three pounds are sufficient where a press drill is used
on well-prepared soil. The seed is usually sown broadcast, the
work being done on a still day, so that the wind will not inter-
fere with an even distribution.
"After the seed is sown it should be covered very lightly.
In regions of abundant rainfall a light harrowing or covering
with a plank drag is usually sufficient, although if that is fol-
lowed by a rolling, it will be better. In Texas and other dry
regions the use of the roller is much more important, as it is
necessary to compact the surface of the soil so as to conserve
all the moisture possible. If the soil is not fairly moist when
the seed is sown, it should be irrigated immediately. The seeds
germinate rather slowly, and as young plants are weak they
should not be allowed to suffer from lack of moisture before
they have become well established.
"Under favorable conditions the crop is often grazed within
a month after seeding, and frequently it will give a fair cutting
for hay in two months, though the first cutting is likely to be
"The yield of Rhodes grass hay varies greatly with the char-
acter of the soil and the length of the growing season, and still
more with the amount of moisture in the soil. Cuttings should
be made as soon as the seed begins to ripen, and in arid regions
each cutting should be followed immediately by an irrigation,
so as to secure a new growth as quickly as possible. Little new
growth is made after cutting until the soil is well moistened.
From three to six cuttings usually can be made during a year,
42 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
about five weeks being sufficient for the growth of a hay crop
when all conditions are favorable. When Rhodes grass is
grown on thin, sandy or clay soil, with only a moderate amount
of rainfall or with insufficient irrigation, the yield may be only
one or two tons per acre, while on the soils best suited to its
growth and well supplied with moisture, the yields are often
eight tons or more.
"The quality of the hay made from Rhodes grass is superior
to that of hay made from most other grasses, in that it con-
tains a larger proportion of leaves, while the stems are slender,
tender and sweet, so that Lhe hay is eaten with very little waste.
Horses, mules and cattle eat it with great relish. It retains its
color well in drying, therefore making an attractive-looking
bale for the market."
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 43
"This species also claims Brazil and the adjacent region of
South America as its birth place. As early as 1880 it had
become established in the United States, probably being intro-
duced somewhat earlier than that time.
"It is a rank-growing, leafy perennial with strong surface
runners that sometimes measure as much as 20 or 30 feet in
length. These runners take root at the joints and form new
plant centers from which upright plant growth proceeds. When
first planted on plowed surface, these runners are sent out in
all directions until the ground is well covered. An erect leafy
growth is then started which soon attains a height of four or
five feet. Para grass is essentially a warm weather grass and
thrives best upon reasonably rich soils that contain an abun-
dance of moisture.
SUITED TO WET LANDS
"The habit of growing on moist, wet lands is a peculiarly
valuable characteristic. Even lands with relatively poor drain-
age or those occasionally submerged for short temporary inter-
vals, sometimes yield good crops of this grass.
"Para grass is propagated from cuttings of the stem. Plant-
ings should be made on plowed land during the warm, growing
season when the ground holds plenty of moisture. Many differ-
ent methods of planting are used. A good method is to dis-
tribute the canes on the surface of a plowed and well prepared
soil, and then cover by running a disc harrow over the ground.
An even distribution of the canes is facilitated by first running
them through a feed cutter or old style cutting box, making the
cuttings several inches in length. These may be scattered from
a wagon with a fork or they may be mixed with stable manure
and spread with a manure spreader. Sometimes the cuttings,
two or three joints in length, are simply thrust into the soil by
hand at intervals of from four to eight feet in either direction.
If a plant is established every eight or ten feet in both direc-
tions, growth will eventually cover the ground; but planted at
closer intervals, a good stand will be hastened.
*Bulletin 28, Florida Agricultural Extension Division.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"Under optimum conditions, Para grass supplies an abun-
dance of good leafy herbage that can be variously used for
grazing, as a soiling crop or hay. Under good conditions the
carrying capacity of the pasture is high, it frequently being
possible to maintain from one to two adult animals to the acre
on it for several months. As far south as Dade county good
pasture for six or seven months out of the year, and fair pas-
ture for an additional three or four months, may be expected.
In mild winters some pasturage may be available throughout
the entire year.
"Hay made from Para grass is rather coarse in texture, but
it is sweet and palatable and readily eaten by stock. It should
be cut before getting woody. Under favorable conditions suc-
cessive cuttings at intervals of six or eight weeks are often
obtained. During the period of rapid growth when a surplus
above the needs of the herd is available, it is sometimes possible
and advisable to convert a portion of the pasture into a tem-
porary hay meadow. After one or two cuttings have been
made for hay the area can again be devoted to pasture purposes.
"Sooner or later Para grass will show a tendency to choke
itself out and become sod-bound. The yield will be reduced
and the deep green color characteristic of vigor will have
changed to a lighter hue. As a means of improving this condi-
tion and restoring the yield, the field should be plowed once a
year or as frequently as need is indicated. Para grass is essen-
tially a grass for cultivated lands, and plantings made on
unplowed lands around ponds or on the margins of swamps
will seldom pay for the expense of planting."
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 45
Mr. C. E. Pleas, of Chipley, Fla., who first introduced Kudzu
vine to America as a forage plant, knows more perhaps than
any one else of the adaptability of Kudzu to Florida's climate,
and of the various uses to which it can be put, and his writings
on the matter are the main sources from which I draw for
further reply to the many queries that have come to us.
The best time for planting Kudzu is "two to three weeks
in advance of corn planting time." This is a safe guide
in any section of the State, but the earlier it can be planted,
as soon as all danger from frost is over, the better. In South
Florida it can be planted as early as December; in Central
Florida during January and February, according to local con-
ditions, and in North and Western Florida up to the end of
March. In from 40 to 60 days it will be ready for pasture, and
could be cut for hay a month later. It comes again quickly
after cutting, and in from two to three weeks the ground is
again completely covered by the new growth.
For planting, Mr. Pleas prefers old ground, or if on new
ground this should be at least in its second year. It is best
if possible to proceed Kudzu with a crop of velvet beans, the
year previous. Mr. Pleas also plants closer than what I rec-
ommended in my article which was eight feet apart each way.
He sets his plants five feet apart each way, requiring 1,742
plants per acre. This makes a thicker stand, with a corre-
sponding increase in the yield of hay.
The only safe way of propagating Kudzu is by means of
self-rooted plants. After many experiments covering a num-
ber of years all other methods of propagation have been dis-
carded. Seed germinates very poorly, if at all, and even then
must be grown in beds for a year before being transplanted,
and also the resulting plants have but one root, a tap-root,
which cannot be taken out whole. Self-rooted plants have
many branches, which is obviously better than only one piece.
Cuttings were discarded promptly as not one percent would
live and those that did survive never made vigorous plants,
and moreover had the same fault as seedlings in that they were
not "inoculated." "Self-rooted plants are all inoculated, in
fact it would be impossible to find one that does not carry the
bacteria with it when handled in the usual manner. Thus soil
inoculation is unnecessary."
No fertilizer is required, nor does Kudzu require lime, as
is the case with Alfalfa and some other legumes. In fact ex-
periments have proven that not only is fertilizing unnecessary
but it is unprofitable. The poorest soil will produce without
46 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
any fertilizer as much as six tons of dry hay in season when
the plants are matured and on ordinary medium soil the yield
is often as high as ten tons. Very naturally in poor soils the
young plants do not start off as readily as would be the case
on richer ground, but there would be little difference between
the two growths at the end of a second season.
Now with regard to hay making. Kudzu is far easier to
cut and handle than either Velvet Beans or Cowpeas. Unlike
these two crops Kudzu is "well anchored to the ground every
few inches so that the vines do not drag ahead of the mower
blade." There is no more trouble in cutting and handling
Kudzu for hay as there would be in a heavy crop of red clover
or any other crop that makes a matted growth.
As to Kudzu's adaptability for cutting or pasturing at any
time during the season, Mr. Pleas points out "that hay taken
May 1st analyzed 17.60 percent protein; that taken on July
30th (a third cutting) analyzed 14.80 percent protein, while
that which had stood all the season without cutting or pastur-
ing, analyzed 16.59 percent protein, and an exceptionally well
cured sample analyzed as high as 19.82 percent protein and
about 35 percent carbohydrates."
In Japan, its native habitat, Kudzu is grown on rough rocky
land or steep hill-sides impossible for cultivation, and in this
country it could be raised on lands too poor for otherwise
If the raising of Kudzu is taken up seriously (as it should
be) by the farmers of Florida, it is going to aid materially in
the building up of one of the greatest industries in store for
this State, that of high-grade beef cattle raising and of dairy
farming. Poor pine lands, apparently at present available for
nothing, can be brought in to use and made profitable in more
cases than one, especially as hay fields and pasture lands.
Kudzu furnishes more forage and at less expense than Florida's
own pet, the Velvet Bean, and is moreover adaptable to an
infinitely greater variety of soils.
With Kudzu as a main crop coupled with the many other
forage crops which can be grown in this State, year in and
year out, and Florida's other climatic advantages, it cannot be
but a few short years now within which northern stock raisers
and farmers will swarm to this, the fairest State in the Union.
It behooves therefore those who are here now to "get busy"
and, by anticipating the future and what is certain to come
about, get in "right now" on the ground floor.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 47
Peanuts, as a crop, besides being a special feed for hogs, is
a great soil renovator, and is therefore of double utility and
value to the farmers in Florida. As such the peanut, like other
leguminous plants, is rich in nitrogen, and contains, in addition,
a considerable amount of phosphoric acid and potash. The
kernels are as rich in these constituents as the kernels of cotton
seed and the vines are nearly as valuable as those of cowpeas
for a fertilizer.
Treating the peanut purely as a forage crop and not taking
into account its market value as a confection, there is not a
single part of the plant that cannot in some form or another
be utilized as feed. The kernels, the vines with leaves as green
fodder, the vines cured as hay, the roots, the hulls ground as
peanut meal, are all found constituents of more than ordinary
Peanut kernels average 29 percent of protein, 49 of fat.
and 14 of carbohydrates, thus ranking in the same class as
such concentrated foods like soja beans, cotton seed, etc. The
vines are shown to be superior to timothy hay as a feeding
stuff, and but slightly inferior to clover hay. As our friends
from the north have a habit of comparing most hay crops in
Florida with timothy, the following authentic analysis of com-
parison taken from Bulletin Vol. 4, No. 2, of the Tennessee
Experiment Station, may be of interest:
TABLE VI.-AUTHENTIC ANALYSIS OF COMPARISON OF HAY
CROPS WITH TIMOTHY.
eanut hay 7.83 11.75 1.84 46.9 22.11 17.04
Timothy ..... 13.50 7.17 1.97 52.94 33.41 4.51
Clover hay... 14.30 12.84 2.11 48.31 29.27 7.47
When some of the nuts are cured and fed with the hay the
feeding value is greatly increased.
The hulls have considerable value as a feed, being richer in
fat, protein and carbohydrates than cotton hulls. The ground
hulls are used to a considerable extent as a coarse fodder in
many European countries,
48 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Peanut meal ranks with cotton-seed meal, linseed meal, etc.,
as a concentrated feeding stuff, and is far more extensively
used in foreign countries than in this. It contains about 52
percent of protein, 8 of fat, and 27 percent of carbohydrates.
But as a food for hogs it is one of the greatest and best of
forage crops. If grown for that purpose, which so far as
Florida is concerned, is the right one, there is no more trouble
once the crop is planted. This therefore renders it a very
cheap one to raise. When the crop is ready, just turn the hogs
in and they will do the harvesting for you.
There are many varieties of the peanut amongst which are
the Virginia, North Carolina or African, two varieties in Ten-
nessee, the white and the red, the Georgia red nut, and the
Spanish variety. This latter is the best for Florida, especially
for the purpose under consideration. It has a relatively small
upright vine, and the pea-pods are formed near the tap-root,
hence this variety can be planted much closer than any of the
others and a heavier crop produced to the acre.
Peanuts do well on almost any soil in Florida, provided it is
not too low or wet. A sandy loam, neither too dry nor too
sandy, but light and porous, is the best, but any soil, provided
it can be put into a friable condition and kept so by cultivation,
will produce peanuts, provided it contains a sufficient quantity
of lime, and herein lays the secret of successful peanut culture.
It is not necessary that the soil on which peanuts are to be
grown should be naturally calcareous, but if it is not so it must
be limed. Lime is necessary to the peanut, both for the proper
fruiting of the plant and to aid in its mechanical effect on the
soil. Any kind of lime may be used, provided it is finely com-
muted by burning before application. Ground limestone or
marl will answer the purpose as well. The quantity of lime or
marl to use at one application depends very much on the nature
of the soil, and the amount of humus it contains. Generally 30
bushels of lime to the acre, or of marl from 10 to 150 bushels,
are safe applications. Less than this amount would be suffi-
cient if the soil is thin with little vegetable mold. Land will
bear large quantities of marl with perfect safety if kept well
stocked with some vegetable matter to subdue its caustic effects,
but most of the soils in Florida are deficient in humus, and the
planter should commence cautiously, using small quantities of
lime. Besides this addition of lime on soils where it is not
naturally found, the peanut needs a dressing of phosphoric
acid and potash. The latter is best supplied in the form of
kainit, and the former by fine ground phosphoric slag. If the
soil is heavy, instead of the slag a dressing of superphosphate
may be used.
Peanuts should never be planted on the same land in suc-
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 49
cession, and only in rotation with some other crops. A good
rotation is cowpeas, peanuts, sweet potatoes, or peanuts, winter
rye or oats, beggarweed. The advantage of this latter is an
increasing forage crop for the farmer, the land is covered
almost the whole year with a growing crop, and the rotation
of a cereal with a leguminous crop.
About June is the right time for planting generally in
Florida, except in the southern portion of the State, when May
is preferable. About twenty pounds of shelled peanuts are
required to plant an acre. Plant in rows slightly ridged up
two feet six inches apart, dropping the seed (two at a time)
about eight inches apart and two inches deep and cover lightly,
Good seed is of paramount importance.
If the land has been thoroughly prepared before planting
and it is porous, in good tilth and free from weeds, very little
cultivation is needed, just sufficient to keep down weed growth
and to keep the soil from packing. Keep the soil loose and
open so that there may be no resistance to the podbearing
"snikes" in penetrating the ground.
Once more let us return to our pigs. Pork production
in Florida is not receiving anything like the attention it
deserves, more than 50 percent of the consumption in the
State being imported from the north. With the facilities for
raising suitable forage at all seasons of the year, Florida
farmers should certainly produce pork more cheaply and of
a better quality than the cost of production elsewhere, plus
"To make the largest profits from hogs they should be
put on the market at the youngest possible age. Many of
the Florida hogs are from one year to a year and a half old
before they are ready for market. The Florida market de-
mands a hog that will weigh from 125 to 160 pounds."-Bulle-
tin 113, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
With peanuts and Cassava as ground crops animals of such
weight could be produced in from five to seven months.
50 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
THE VELVET BEAN
C. V. PIPER, Astrostologist in Charge, and W. J. MORSE,
Agronomist, Office of Forage-Crop Investigations,
Bureau of Plant Industry.
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Farmers' Bulletin No. 1276
(This is not a complete copy of the Bulletin)
Velvet Beans have become a most important factor in de-
veloping the live-stock industry in the South and as a rotation
crop which helps the succeeding crops. The Velvet Bean is
a summer-growing annual legume which produces a large
quantity of seed, and because the feeding value of the leaves
and seed is not seriously injured by exposure in the field during
winter, the crop is of great value for grazing from late fall
until early spring. The beans have high feeding value and
so are of importance as a concentrated feed. Silage made by
mixing the Velvet Bean with corn is a much better feed than
silage made from corn alone. For fertilizing crop the Velvet
Bean is of greater value than the Cowpea, as it makes a much
heavier growth and is less expensive.
The Velvet Bean first came into notice as a forage and fer-
tilizing crop about 1890, at which time its cultivation was con-
fined, on account of its lateness, almost wholly to Florida. With
the introduction and development of earlier ripening varieties
its culture has now been extended northward to Virginia and
The Velvet Bean is the most vigorous-growing annual
legume cultivated in the United States, the vines often reach-
ing a length of more than 50 feet. The leaves are tripoliolate.
The membranous leaflets, which are shorter than the petiole,
are from 3 to 10 inches long and about two-thirds as broad,
the terminal one being rhomboid-ovate and the lateral ones
obliquely so. The flowers of the different varieties, which vary
in color from white to dark purple, are 1 to 11 inches long
and are borne singly or in twos or threes in long pendent
Velvet-bean pods are of two distinct types, one being cov-
ered with a dense, black, velvet pubescence, as in the Florida
and Alabama varieties, while in the other type the pubescence
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 51
consists mostly of short white or grayish hairs, as in the Lyon
and Chinese varieties. In all kinds the pods are covered with
more or less numerous short bristles which cause a slight
irritation of the skin. Much of this pubescence falls off soon
after maturity. The pods of some varieties are only 2 to 3
inches long, while those of others may reach a length of 5 or 6
inches. The seeds vary from nearly white to marbled brown,
and black. Varieties which commonly produce marbled seeds
may produce occasionally an entirely white or an entirely
Velvet Beans have numerous rather fleshy surface roots,
which are often 20 to 30 feet long and abundantly supplied
with nodules varying from one-fourth to 11 / inches in diam-
eter. The plants are rarely attacked by root-knot and are
immune to wilt.
While the Florida Velvet Bean has been grown for more
than 40 years as an ornamental vine for porches and trellises,
its value as a soil-improving crop or as a forage crop was not
recognized until rather recently. As early as 1890 this plant
was used to some extent for green manure in citrus orchards
in Florida. From that time until the present the acreage has
increased rapidly, and the crop now occupies an important
place in southern farming systems.
The Florida Velvet Bean was the only one grown for forage
in the United States until about 1906, but during recent years
the Department of Agriculture has introduced about 20 other
species, including the Chinese, Lyon, and Yokohama varieties,
which have become more or less extensively cultivated.
According to present information the first early-maturing
variety of Velvet Beans was discovered in August, 1906, on a
farm operated by Clyde Chapman, at Sumner, Ga. At this
time several mature plants were found in a field planted to
corn and Florida Velvet Beans. The seeds of these plants
were saved and planted in corn the following year. The plants
produced were similar in every respect to those found the pre-
vious year. In 1908 seed of this variety was distributed to
some of Mr. Chapman's neighbors, but only a small quantity
of it was sent out of his immediate neighborhood prior to 1912.
An early-maturing variety which resembled in every respect
the one discovered by Mr. Chapman was found in August, 1908,
in a field planted to corn and Florida Velvet Beans on a farm
operated by R. W. Miller, at Broxton. Ga. The early-maturing
plants found by Mr. Chapman and Mr. Miller have been named
the Georgia Velvet Bean.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Another early-maturing Velvet Bean was discovered in 1911
by H. L. Blount, at Flomaton, Ala. This variety, now known
as the Alabama, was found in a field planted to corn and
Florida Velvet Beans. It is a more vigorous and later variety
than the Georgia, but it matures considerably earlier than the
original variety. The Georgia Velvet Bean was also called
Hundred-Day Speckled, Ninety-Day Speckled, and Early
Speckled, but the same names were later transferred to the
It is very probable that early-maturing Velvet Beans were
also found by other people and that they were present but
unobserved in other fields. There is no doubt that the Georgia,
Alabama, and many early-ripening varieties are simply early-
ripening kinds of the Florida Velvet Bean.
There are now many varieties of the Velvet Bean grown in
the United States. These differ from each other principally
in growth of vine; color of flowers; size, shape, and pubescence
of the pods; size, shape, and color of the seeds; and in length
of time required to mature. While these varieties vary greatly
in many ways, the common name Velvet Bean is applied to all.
THE FLORIDA VELVET BEAN
The Florida Velvet Bean makes a very rank growth of
vine and requires a season of eight or nine months without
frost to mature. The purple flowers are borne in clusters
usually 3 to 8 inches long, and the pods, which are 2 to 3 inches
in length, are nearly straight, blunt at each end, and covered
with a black velvety pubescence. The seeds are nearly spher-
ical, about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and usually
grayish, marbled with brown. White seeds are produced
occasionally, and a white-seeded variety has been isolated, but
this variety has shown no special superiority over the one with
THE GEORGIA VELVET BEAN
The Georgia Velvet Bean is a very early sport of the Florida
Velvet Bean. It makes a much less vigorous growth and yields
somewhat less seed to the acre than the original Florida variety,
but otherwise it is practically the same. The plant matures in
110 to 130 days and is adapted to all parts of the Cotton Belt.
This variety was much grown for a few years, but proved
inferior to the somewhat later Alabama.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 53
THE ALABAMA VELVET BEAN
The Alabama Velvet Bean is very similar to the Georgia
variety, except that it makes a more vigorous growth and
matures about six weeks later. It is best adapted to the
country south of Central Georgia, Central Alabama, and Cen-
The Alabama is now the principal variety cultivated, having
replaced the Georgia almost entirely, but often under the names
Early Speckled or Hundred-Day Speckled.
THE OSCEOLA VELVET BEAN
The Osceola Velvet Bean is a hybrid between the Florida
and the Lyon varieties developed at the Florida Agricultural
Experiment Station. The white or rarely purple flowers of
this vigorous-growing plant are borne in rather short racemes.
The pods are 4 to 5 inches in length, flat, ridged lengthwise,
covered with a black velvety pubescence, and bear from four
to six, usually five, seeds. The seeds are slightly larger than
those of the Lyon or Yokohama varieties and usually are
marbled with brown, although occasionally white seeds are
produced. The pods are nearly free from stinging hairs. This
plant matures in 150 to 160 days and is therefore earlier than
the Florida and later than the Alabama and Yokohama sorts.
It is adapted to the country south of a line running through
the center of the States of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
This midseason-maturing variety yields heavily, but the pods
are more woody than those of the Alabama.
THE LYON VELVET BEAN
The Lyon Velvet Bean was introduced in 1907, the first
specimens being obtained from Pampanga Province, Luzon,
Philippine Islands. This plant makes a vigorous growth of
vine and requires a long season to mature seldom ripening
more than 10 days earlier than the Florida bean. The white
flowers are borne in pendent racemes which often reach a
length of 2 to 3 feet. The woody pods are 5 to 6 inches long,
compressed, ridged lengthwise, and covered with a fine grayish
pubescence. They have a tendency to split open and shatter
the seeds when still in the field. The ash-colored seeds are
similar in size and shape to seeds of the Lima Bean.
THE CHINESE VELVET BEAN
The Chinese Velvet Bean was introduced from Tehwa,
China, in 1909. In nearly all respects this variety is like
Lyon, but does not make as vigorous a growth. It ripens about
54 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
six weeks earlier than either the Lyon or the Florida variety.
For this reason it will mature much farther north. It usually
ripens before frost south of Central Georgia, Central Alabama,
and Central Mississippi.
THE YOKOHAMA VELVET BEAN
The Yokohama Velvet Bean was obtained from Yokohama,
Japan, in 1909. This plant produces a smaller vine growth
than any of the other species arin is not a heavy yielder. It
is an early-maturing species, requiring 110 to 120 days to
ripen. It will ripen before frost in the Atlantic Coast States
south of Washington, D. C. The purple flowers are borne in
short racemes. The pods are 4 to 6 inches long, flat, quite
pointed at each end, and covered with a rather long gray pubes-
cence. The seeds are ash colored, oblong, compressed, and
about two-thirds of an inch long.
This species has several undesirable characteristics. Many
of the pods form so close to the ground that they become water-
soaked with each heavy rain, causing many to decay; also the
pods split readily and shatter the seed in hot, dry weather.
THE BUSH OR BUNCH VELVET BEAN
This is a nontwining variety of velvet bean, a sport of the
Florida, which first developed as a single plant on the farm of
Roan Beasley at Kite, Ga. The seeds were saved and the
sport was found to breed true to type. An individual plant is
about 3 feet high, branched near the base, most of the branches
short, but an occasional one 5 to 7 feet long. These long
branches show no tendency to twine. The pod clusters are
formed in a dense mass near the base. The variety matures
at about the same time as the Alabama, but the yield is less.
The bunch variety has become very popular as a green-
manure crop in orchards. It is also grown quite largely in
corn, as the plants do not vine and weight down the corn as
do the twining sorts. The main objections to this variety are
that the pods can not be gathered as rapidly as those of the
twining varieties, and they lie so close to the ground that they
become water-soaked in wet weather, causing many of them
Many hybrid Velvet Beans have been developed by the
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and by the Office of
Forage-Crop Investigations of the Bureau of Plant Industry.
Some of these were named and distributed, but none have been
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 55
grown to any considerable extent with the exception of the
Osceola, which became rather popular. All of the species
except the Florida have rather woody pods and shatter very
readily, characters which are not considered desirable. These
same traits appear in most of the hybrids and have prevented
their becoming popular,
The Florida Velvet Bean seldom matures more than a few
pods if grown north of the extreme southern portions of
Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, but with the introduction
or development of early-maturing types the area to which this
crop is adapted has been gradually extended northward until
it now comprises nearly the entire Cotton Belt. Most of the
varieties, and especially the Alabama and Yokohama, will
make considerable growth as far north as the Ohio River, but
when the Velvet Bean is planted north of the southern boun-
dary of Tennessee in the Piedmont section and north of south-
eastern Virginia in the Coastal Plain area it should be planted
primarily as a green-manure crop, for only in years with favor-
able growing seasons and late fall frosts will many pods ma-
ture. As the Florida variety has been grown for a long time
in the southern portion of the Gulf States as a grazing and
green-manure crop, it was only natural that the farmers in
sections where it failed to mature fully should be the first to
take advantage of newly introduced and early-maturing vari-
eties which promised to give better results. There are other
reasons which contributed to the rapidly increased acreage of
Velvet Beans in the Gulf States, the most important of which
was the serious damage done by the cotton-boll weevil in recent
years, making it necessary to change the methods of farming.
EXTENT OF CULTURE
The extent of culture of Velvet Beans and the rapidity with
which it increased are shown in Table VII. Until the early
varieties were obtained, the crop was grown mainly in Florida
and probably never exceeded 700,000 acres in any one year.
The whole story of the Velvet Bean is one of the most striking
romances of American agriculture.
Velvet Beans are especially adapted to the well-drained
portions of the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain areas. The
soils of this area are in general sandy in texture, and the
quantity of fertilizers used per acre is greater than in other
56 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
TABLE VII.-AREA AND PRODUCTION OF VELVET BEANS, 1919
TO 1921, INCLUSIVE.
State 1919 1920 1921
North Carolina.. 55,000 44,00 60,000 51,000 74,000 55,500
South Carolina.. 90,000 45,000 150,000 75,000 250,000 125,000
Georgia ........ 750,000 153,965 750,0001 155,053 780,000 436,000
Florida ........ 250,0001 160,000 240,000 184,000 252,000 150,000
Alabama ....... 750,0001 485,000 750,000 676,000 838,0001,085,000
Mississippi ..... 180,000 150,000 290,000 203,000 300,000 120,000
Louisiana ....... 125,0001 178,848 173,000 179,820 254,000 182,250
Texas ......... 4,000 ........ 4,000........ 4,000.......
Arkansas ....... 4,000W ......... 5,000 ........ 6,000 ....
Total ........ |2,217,00011,216,81312,422,00011,523,87312,758,00012,153,750
These figures were compiled by the Bureau of Markets and Crop Esti-
mates, United States Department of Agriculture, and represent tentative
estimates submitted in December, 1921.
parts of the United States. In this section, where the greatest
acreage is to be found, the Velvet Bean will make a profitable
growth on newly cleared land and also on soil that has been
under cultivation for a long time. In many places it is used
extensively on cut-over pineland and on sandy soils as a green-
manure crop, as it has been found that it will produce more
vegetable matter under such conditions than any other annual
legume grown at the present time.
Velvet Beans also make a good growth on the clay soils in
the northern portion of the Cotton Belt, but on the poorer soils
in this area it is questionable whether they will do better than
Cowpeas. Velvet Beans will not succeed on cold, wet soils and
should never be planted before the soil has become warm.
Even though Velvet Beans make a fair growth on poor soils,
some farmers in some sections make a small application of
fertilizer at the time of seeding. Where it is used, the mixture
and quantity are about the same as for corn.
Velvet Beans, through the nodules on their roots, are able to
obtain nitrogen from the atmosphere, and most of this nitrogen
is returned to the land when only the pods are picked or when
the crop is pastured and the roots and uneaten portions of the
At the Agricultural Experiment Station at McNeill, Miss.,
Phosphatic fertilizers are necessary to obtain good yields, and
100 to 200 pounds per acre are recommended on the basis of
experimental results. Cottonseed meal at the rate of 200
pounds per acre gave an added yield of 280 pounds of beans
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 57
per acre as compared with the use of 200 pounds per acre of
acid phosphate alone. The further addition of 200 pounds of
kainit gave no increased yield. At the Florida Agricultural
Experiment Station no increased yield was obtained from fer-
tilizers applied singly or in various mixtures.
Apparently all of the Velvet-bean area is provided with
organisms that form nodules on Velvet Bean roots. No lack
of root nodules seems to occur when Velvet Beans are planted
on land for the first time, but instances have been noted where
growths of the vines has been materially increased by inocu-
Experiments conducted by the Office of Soil-Bacteriology
Investigations of the Bureau of Plant Industry prove that the
same strain of organism that inoculates Lima Beans, Cowpeas,
and Lespedeza (or Japan Clover) also inoculates Velvet Beans.
As Lespedeza grows abundantly over most of the South and as
Cowpeas have been planted widely for many years in all Velvet
Bean regions, it is easy to understand why the Velvet Bean has
succeeded so well without artificial inoculation. The large
acreage of Velvet Beans planted during recent years has served
also to increase its inoculating organisms.
TIME OF PLANTING
Velvet Beans will not germinate well in cold or wet soil, and
the young plants are very susceptible to injury by frost. On
this account they should not be planted until all danger of frost
is past, or about cotton-planting time. However, when late-
maturing varieties are used it is necessary to plant the seed as
soon as the soil is in good condition, so that the plants will have
as much time as possible to mature before frost. With early-
maturing varieties the date of planting may extend over a
period of six weeks or two months in the southern portion of
the Gulf States. When early varieties are used in the northern
part of the Cotton Belt it is necessary to plant the seed early,
or at corn-planting time. In the Coastal Plain section of the
Gulf States the early planting of early-maturing varieties has
been found undesirable by some farmers, as the beans mature
so early that the pods will split and shatter the seed to a certain
extent, and the foliage will shed before the corn is gathered or
the animals can be turned into the field. When the crop is to
be pastured, many farmers prefer to have the beans frosted
before all of the pods are matured rather than to have them
mature too early. As most of the beans are grown with corn,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
it is better in many cases to grow varieties which can be
planted with the corn and which will mature at the desired time.
Growers of Velvet Beans do not agree as to the best time to
plant the beans in the corn. In some sections it is the common
practice to plant the corn and beans at the same time, while
in other sections the beans are planted some weeks later than
the corn. The method of planting the two crops, the variety
of beans used, and the labor available should determine this
matter. When late-maturing varieties are to be grown, it is
necessary to plant them at the same time as the corn, but when
early-maturing varieties are used, and especially in the south-
ern portion of the Cotton Belt, it is best to plant the corn some
time before the beans. Where sufficient labor is available,
the beans may be planted at a later date by hand in the rows
of corn. On richer soils the method of planting two rows of
corn and one row of beans is used extensively, and when an
early variety of Velvet Bean is used in this way it may be
planted later with no extra expense. However, on the poorer
soils, where Velvet Beans should be planted in every row of
corn, it is a saving of labor to use a planter which will place
both kinds of seeds in the same row and at the same operation.
The length of the growing season for an average year can be
approximately determined from the frost lines, and this, to-
gether with the time required for the different types to mature,
should give an idea as to the best time of planting.
The length of time required for the ripening of any variety
will vary greatly according to the time of planting. Velvet
Beans grow well only when the weather is warm, and they
make little progress when the soil and air are cold or even
moderately cool. The warmer the weather when the seed is
planted the more rapid will be the growth of the plants.
Velvet Beans contain high percentages of protein and car-
bohydrates, thus making them a source of these valuable con-
stituents needed for growing stock and milk production.
The feeding experiments thus far conducted indicate that
Velvet Beans and Velvet-Bean meal are excellent feed as part
of the ration for beef cattle and dairy cows. The Mississippi
Agricultural Experiment Station finds that as a partial ration
Velvet-Bean meal is a good feed for work horses, brood mares,
and mules. For swine the reports of results of feeding this
meal are conflicting, many of them being unfavorable. In
most cases, however, Velvet-Bean pasturage is very economical
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 59
as a part feed for pigs and hogs. There are some indications
that these beans cause abortion in brood sows, and while the
evidence is not conclusive it is well to be cautious in such cases.
FEED FOR BEEF CATTLE
The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station found Velvet
Beans in the pod a very satisfactory feed for steers as part of
the ration. The daily gains were higher and the cost of the
gains much less than with any other rations compared with
them, including one composed of corn, cottonseed meal, and hay.
In a later experiment 220 head of cattle were pastured on
Velvet Beans for 28 days and then fed a ration consisting of
sorghum silage, Velvet Beans in the pods, and cottonseed meal.
The results were considered highly satisfactory.
At the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station Cotton-
seed meal was compared with Velvet Beans in the pod, each
being fed with corn silage. In the two feeding tests it was
found that from 2.05 to 2.46 pounds of Velvet Beans equaled
1 pound of high-grade Cottonseed meal, measured both by
gains and by quality of meat.
In a later trial 3.07 pounds of dry beans in the pods, 2.7
pounds of beans in the pods soaked in water, and 2.16 pounds
of pods and beans ground into meal were each equal in feeding
value to 1 pound of cottonseed meal.
In several tests carried on by the Animal Husbandry Divi-
sion of the United States Department of Agriculture both dry
and soaked Velvet Beans have given satisfactory results.
FEED FOR DAIRY COWS
At the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station 816 pounds
of Velvet Beans in the pods fed with wheat bran and Japanese
cane silage produced 348.7 gallons of milk at a cost of 13.3
cents per gallon, while 576 pounds of cottonseed meal fed with
wheat bran and more silage produced 352.5 gallons of milk at
a cost of 16.5 cents per gallon. On this basis Velvet Beans in
the pod are worth $2.37 when cottonseed meal is worth $2.40
per 100 pounds. In another test it was found that 267.75
pounds of Velvet Beans in the pods fed with bran and silage
produced 934.6 pounds of milk, while 94.5 pounds of cotton-
seed meal fed with bran and less silage produced 937.1 pounds
From still later experiments it was concluded that when fed
with bran and silage 2 pounds of Velvet-Bean meal were equal
to 1 pound of cottonseed meal.
According to Prof. M. P. Jarnagin, the Georgia Agricultural
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Experiment Station found that 2,035 pounds of Velvet-Bean
meal were equal to 2,000 pounds of cottonseed meal for milk
production, and that 5/. pounds of Velvet Beans produced 1
pound of milk as against 5 pounds of cottonseed meal to pro-
duce the same quantity.
At the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, during
an experiment of 56 days, 4 cows consumed 1,370.9 pounds of
Velvet Beans, 913.9 pounds of corn, and 6,720 pounds of silage
and produced 3,252.4 pounds of milk at a cost of $1.47 per 100
pounds; while 4 other cows consumed 678 pounds of cottonseed
meal, 894 pounds of corn, and 6,700 pounds of silage and pro-
duced 3,418.1 pounds of milk at a cost of $1.33 per 100 pounds.
At the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station equal
quantities of cottonseed meal and velvet-bean meal fed in no
greater amount than 10 pounds a day proved good feed for
dairy cattle. Of the velvet-bean meal 9 pounds were hardly
equal in value to 6 pounds of the cottonseed meal.
The Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station made
two experiments with groups of 6 and 4 cows, in which the
ration consisted of hay and a grain ration of 20 percent cotton-
seed meal, 40 percent corn-fed meal, and 40 percent velvet-
bean feed or wheat bran. The results showed that the cows
while receiving the velvet-bean ration produced 2.7 and 9 per-
cent with an average of 5 per cent more milk than while on the
wheat-bran ration. It was concluded that the velvet-bean feed
is somewhat superior to wheat bran for dairy purposes and
that it may constitute as high as 40 percent of a dairy ration,
together with quantity of corn or hominy meal or ground oats
and some 20 percent of cottonseed or linseed meal or other
high-grade protein concentrate.
FEED FOR SWINE
At the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, corn and
cracked velvet beans in various proportions were compared
with corn alone as feed for pigs. In all cases the pigs made
more rapid and cheaper gains on the corn and velvet-bean
mixture than on corn alone.
In another test at this station shelled corn and soaked velvet-
bean feed were fed to three hogs, gradually increasing the
proportion of velvet-bean feed one-fourth to two-thirds by
weight. The hogs made very satisfactory gains, and it was
found that the feed produced a hard pork.
At the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station a
ration composed by weight of 20 parts velvet-bean feed, 20
parts of high-grade peanut meal, 40 parts of corn meal, and
10 parts of corn meal, and 10 parts of alfalfa meal gave as
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 61
satisfactory results as one composed of 80 parts corn meal and
10 parts each of digester tankage and 10 percent alfalfa meal.
The addition of 10 percent of ground alfalfa to the grain ration
for growing pigs, in order to supply the necessary vitamins,
did not seem to exert any marked effect in promoting growth.
At the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station various
feeding experiments with swine have been conducted. In one
test 5 pigs, averaging 62 pounds weight, were pastured on
Velvet Beans for 72 days, receiving in addition a half ration of
corn 4 parts and tankage 1 part. They gained 1.23 pounds a
day, each requiring two-fifths of an acre of velvet beans and
170 pounds of corn and tankage to gain 100 pounds.
In another test pigs fed on corn meal alone gained 100
pounds at a cost of $8.64, while those fed on equal parts of
corn meal and ground velvet beans gained 100 pounds at a
cost of $9.37.
In a third test it was concluded that velvet-bean pasture
reduced by one-third the costs of gains in comparison with
corn 10 parts and dried blood 1 part.
In a test made by the United States Department of Agricul-
ture at the Experiment Farm at Beltsville, Md., in 1918, pigs
fed soaked whole velvet beans and shelled corn made an aver-
age daily gain of 0.586 pound. Pigs fed soaked ground velvet
beans alone made an average daily gain of 0.417 pound, and
pigs fed soaked ground velvet beans, shelled corn, and fish
meal made an average gain of 1.15 pounds.
With corn costing $1.92 a bushel, fish meal $100 a ton, and
velvet beans $36 a ton, the feed cost per pound of gain was
18.323, and 14.3 cents, respectively. Observations during the
test indicated that hogs did not like the taste of the beans.
At the Kentucky, Michigan, and Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Stations the results from the use of velvet-bean
meal as a part ration did not compare favorably with the other
FEED FOR HORSES
The Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station reports
that velvet-bean meal mixed with corn or other grain is a
satisfactory feed for horses.
In feeding tests at the Massachusetts Agricultural Experi-
ment Station it was found that velvet-bean feed, if sufficiently
dry to prevent decomposition, may comprise some 20 percent
of the grain ration, mixed together with 30 percent of oats, 40
percent of cracked corn. and 10 percent of wheat bran.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The only insect which causes serious injury to the Velvet
Bean is the larva of the velvet-bean caterpillar, which feeds
on the leaves. The moth of this caterpillar does not winter in
Northern or Central Florida, but flies northward each summer
from the southern end of the peninsula, or perhaps from Cuba.
This insect seldom appears farther north than Southern Geor-
gia. At times the damage is very severe, and often all of the
plants in large fields are entirely defoliated. The moths usually
make their first appearance in July in Southern Florida, during
August in Central Florida, and during the last part of August
or first part of September in the northern part of that State
and in Southern Georgia.
As little damage is done for the first 10 days or two weeks
after the appearance of the moth, this insect should give no
trouble when the early-maturing varieties of Velvet Beans
are planted, as they will usually mature by the middle of Sep-
tember in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia.
The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station has been suc-
cessful in combating this pest by dusting the vines with arse-
nate of lead or zinc arsenate 10 or 12 days after the first appear-
ance of the moth. For this purpose 3 pounds of powdered
arsenate of lead or zinc arsenate mixed with 12 pounds of air-
slaked lime is sufficient for an acre. When this quantity is
used there is no danger from poisoning the stock when pastured
in the field, especially after one or two rains.
According to the Bureau of Entomology this insect is gener-
ally distributed throughout tropical America and has also been
recorded as appearing in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 63
Centipede grass (Eremochloa aphiuroides) was introduced
from China by the Office of Foreign Plant Introduction, United
States Department of Agriculture, in 1918 and 1919. This
grass was at first called "Hunan grass," as it was obtained from
the province of Hunan, China. The name "centipede" has
since been applied to it, and it is now better known as centipede
grass than by any other name.
It is a perennial, forming a dense, close sod, and seldom
grows more than three or four inches high. The surface run-
ners, however, may make a growth of six to eight feet in length
during one season. The grass will grow under a moderate
amount of shade as well as in exposed areas.
So far centipede grass has been grown to only a limited
extent as a pasture grass in Florida, although considerable at-
tention has been given to it as a lawn grass. Wherever it has
been used as a pasture grass, it has given very satisfactory re-
sults, as it stands grazing well and stock seem to relish it.
PROPAGATION.-Centipede grass may be propagated by root
cuttings, stem cuttings, and seed. At the present time no seed
are produced in the United States, which makes it necessary to
propagate by root and stem cuttings.
The growth obtained from root and stem cuttings has been
found quite satisfactory if plantings are made when there is
sufficient moisture in the ground to insure growth. Best results
will generally be obtained if new growth is used for planting
The material may be prepared in two ways for planting. The
stems may be cut in pieces from four to six inches in length;
these are then set in the ground, leaving from one-fourth to
one-third of the stem to remain above ground. If the soil is
moist, roots and new growth will start in a very few days.
Another method of preparing the planting material is to cut
the stems into short pieces about one inch in length and scatter
the cuttings broadcast over the surface of the soil, after which
they are covered from a quarter to a half inch deep with soil.
The surface soil should be kept moist until new growth has
become well established.
The few trials that have been made with gathering and
planting the seed have been fairly satisfactory. Tests at the
Florida Experiment Station showed about 65 percent ger-
It is a very satisfactory lawn grass as it will stand a lot of
tramping and considerable shade.
64 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Almost every farmer in the Southeastern States knows Ber-
muda grass (Capriola dactylon) by sight. In fact, a great
many farmers know it so well that they despise the land upon
which it grows. Bermuda grass, it is true, is a problem in many
cultivated fields; nevertheless, it is one of the important pasture
grasses in the southeastern part of the United States.
This is not a native grass of the United States, but probably
came from India, although it is now found in all tropical and
sub-tropical parts of the world. The exact date of its first
appearance in this country is not known, although it is known
to have been here for at least 125 years.
PROPAGATION.-Bermuda grass is a perennial which spreads
by runners on the surface of the ground, making roots at every
joint. It also produces underground root-stocks that form new
plants at every joint. The surface runners under favorable
conditions often make a growth of from 20 to 25 feet in length
during one season. Seed are also produced, although there has
been some question in certain localities as to whether the seed
produced would germinate. In the majority of cases, however,
a fair amount of seed will usually germinate and grow.
When seed cannot be obtained for starting a pasture, Ber-
muda grass sod may be taken up and cut into small pieces and
scattered over the surface of the ground, after which it is
plowed under. It is necessary for enough moisture to be in the
ground to insure growth of the plants if cuttings are used.
If seed are sown, it is best to have a well-prepared seedbed,
using from 20 to 25 pounds of seed to the acre. The seed are
covered with a light tooth harrow. When Bermuda is mixed
with other grasses, an equal amount of seed of each of the
grasses should be used so as to make the total amount of seed
equal from 25 to 30 pounds per acre.
SoILs.-Bermuda grass will grow on almost any well drained
land, but more grazing is secured when planted on a fertile
soil that contains a fair amount of humus. On light, sandy
land, however, it makes an unsatisfactory growth and produces
but a small amourt of Prazing.
As a lawn grass it is all right if a large lawn is contemplated
where it can b- -.razed. It keeps land from washing. It is
tough and very hard to cut with a lawn mower.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 65
ST. AUGUSTINE GRASS
One of the favorite lawn grasses in Florida is St. Augustine.
It makes a pretty lawn and is easily cut by lawn mower. It
grows rapidly when on good soil and plentifully watered. It
is easily started by getting sod of it, separating it in small
sprigs and setting them out a few inches apart. A perfect sod
will result in a few weeks. It is susceptible to a weevil which
is difficult to eliminate. Dr. J. R. Watson, Entomologist, Uni-
versity of Florida, Gainesville, has suggestions on the subject
which are given herewith:
66 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
THE CHINCH BUG ON ST. AUGUSTINE GRASS
By DR. J. R. WATSON,
Entomologist, University of Florida, Gainesville.
St. Augustine grass is one of the most popular grasses for
lawns in Florida, as it grows well in both sun and shade and
by making a heavy mat which crowds out weeds, is a cheap
lawn to maintain. With the exception of chinch bugs it is
very free from insect depredations. But chinch bugs are a
very severe pest and if not checked will often kill out a lawn
This insect is a small bug about an eighth of an inch long.
The adults are black; the young are a reddish brown color.
The grass on an infested lawn turns brown in patches and if
it is not promptly treated may die out completely. Around
the dead brown spots will be a circle of grass which has turned
yellow. It is in this circle rather than in the dead center that
the bugs are working.
An infested lawn should not be mowed too closely. It
should be kept well watered. Chinch bugs are subject to a
fungous disease which thrives better where moisture con-
ditions are best.
Like all true bugs the insect does its damage by sucking the
juices from the plant and therefore cannot be killed by stomach
poisons, but only by contact insecticides. Among the strongest
of these is calcium cyanide, a black dust. It is a very strong
insecticide and in using it certain precautions must be employed
or the grass may be burned. The most important of these is
that the grass must be perfectly dry. It must be put on in the
middle of the day after the dew has evaporated and with a
bright, clear sky, so that there will be little danger of rain
wetting the grass before the cyanide has dissipated its strength.
The cyanide must be applied very evenly to the grass and it
is best to take an old broom and sweep the grass immediately
after application. This brushes most of the cyanide off of the
green leaves down into the mat of dead leaves and stems near
the ground. This serves a double purpose of preventing burn-
ing of the green leaves and getting the cyanide down where
the bugs are.
Cyanide is a violent poison and one working with it should
keep to the windward of the dust. Cans containing the ma-
terial should be opened only where there is good ventilation.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 67
Other good insecticides are the nicotine sulphate-lime dusts.
These can be purchased already mixed or one can make his
own by thoroughly mixing 93 pounds of hydrated lime with
71/.) pounds of nicotine sulphate. This dust should be applied
evenly over the lawn, but no burning will ensue if one happens
to get it stronger in some spots than others. This should be put
on thick enough so that the grass looks somewhat whitish.
A fairly good dust may he made by mixing finely ground
tobacco dust with an equal weight of hydrated lime.
The lawn may also be treated with a solution of nicotine
sulphate, using for this purpose one pint of nicotine sulphate
to 100 gallons of water. To make the material spread better
it is best to put into the water five or six pounds of whale oil or
laundry soap or a pound of calcium caseinate.
One of the most satisfactory and economical insecticides is
finely ground tobacco dust such as "Snuff No. 2." This sells
for about fuur cents per pound and is also a good fertilizer.