New Series Number
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE K
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
UNDEVELOPED POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
Without the obligation of guarantee that the experi-
menter will make a success of his venture in any line
herein mentioned, a number of interesting experiences
and comments are presented for the consideration of
Floridians and would-be Floridians.
The State of Florida in no way undertakes to give
financial aid in any project or to those interested in
experimenting with crops or projects mentioned. The
publication is made up entirely of selections of news items
on the subjects covered. In fact,
"We have gathered posies from other men's flowers
And only the cord that binds them is ours."
However, all progress is made in venturing to solve
the unknown. The adaptability of the individual to his
task is the main determining factor in the results he
attains. We think that the evidence points to the possi-
bility of successful enterprises, providing industry, sin-
cerity of purpose, sagacity and foresight are exercised.
New sources of income await those willing to venture
into developing new crops and new factories for utilizing
minerals, fibers and basic food products. Some of these
are currently coming into general use and others await
being grown in commercial quantities.
Most food crops in use today are from plants and
seeds brought in from the countries of the world, and this
applies to any country. During recent years a number
of food crops, fiber crops, nut crops, fruit crops, and tim-
ber trees have been introduced into Florida, most of which
have proved decided acquisitions.
To facilitate such activities, the Federal Government
conducts, near Miami in Dade County, the U. S. Plant
Introduction Station under the direction of Harold Loomis,
well kown plant specialist. Here plants, trees, and seeds
from the corners of the earth are not only tried out but
their value, under Florida soil and climatic conditions is
definitely determined. The State Forestry office is also
introducing trees which bid fair to become of importance
to the wood-using industries.
All that appears in this book is by the way of sugges-
tion. Select that which appeals to you most and try your
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
We Waste What Others Eat
QUESTION PUT BY DR. FAIRCHILD ON FINDING IT
By ELINOR CECIL SMITH
(Daily News Staff Writer)
"Either these people here (Netherland Indies) are
doing a dangerous thing by eating the leaves of the
papaya or we in Florida and elsewhere are stupid in over-
looking a perfectly good new vegetable which we grow in
great quantities and deliberately throw away." So wrote
Dr. David Fairchild in a letter from a tiny island south
of the Philippines in February of 1940 on his plant explor-
ing expedition to the Malay Archipelago.
The letter, which has since been included in one of
the occasional papers of the Fairchild Tropical Gardens,
tells of his experience in finding a whole people who in-
cluded papaya leaves in their diet as a "greens" and how
he inquired into the matter as a step toward offering it
to Floridians as a subject for possible experimentation.
In addition to the value of the plant for its fruit the
extraction of papain, a proteolitic enzyme in some re-
spects similar to pepsin, from the latex, or milky juice
found in the leaves and tender shoots and the green fruit
is well known. The seeds, he says, contain a peppery oil
but no papain, or as it is popularly and erroneously called,
pepsin. Concerning the drug, karpaein, of which he
speaks in his letter, he investigated with a well-known
drug company and was told that about 40 pounds of the
leaves would have to be eaten to produce any harmful
His letter, interesting for its style and romance as
well as information, follows:
DR. FAIRCHILD'S LETTER
"Yesterday Daan and I went with the letter of intro-
duction to call on the king, the Rajah of Siaoe, Pareng-
kuan. We found him in his Kantoor; a dignified,
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 5
handsome man with a large, strikingly shaped head and
a smiling, intelligent face. He was courteous and con-
siderate of my poor Malay and understood at once Daan's
careful exposition of our mission to his island. We had
come, he understood, to gather "bigi di poehoen, roepa
roepa" (seeds of various kinds of trees), and he at once
took us for a tour of the village.
"Later, in a bus, he accompanied us in a trip around
the island, up and down along the coast with its idyllic
beaches lined with praus, and up high among the nutmeg
plantations and coconut palms and down again to the
coast where the Sago palms grow.
"As we walked and conversed in rather a halting
fashion I hit quite naturally upon the topic of the edibility
of the leaves of the papaya. 'Of course we eat them,' he
said. They are very good indeed. We all eat them and
eat them every few days. We usually cook them and
serve them as greens, but you can eat them raw if you
do not mind their being very bitter. They cannot hurt
anyone. In fact, when I feel tired I often drink the bit-
ter water which is usually thrown away when the cook
prepares the papaya leaves for the table. It is good
when I feel tired. It is good when one has fever, too.'
FINDS ANOTHER DEVOTEE
"By this time we had arrived near the house of the
Tuan schoolmaster, a very intelligent man, and after a
few words of conversation with him about the papaya
leaves he invited us to come in and taste the leaves which
his wife had just then cooked for his luncheon. 'These
are of the male papaya,' he explained. 'The leaves of
the male plant are not so bitter as are those of the female
plant,' he declared. 'It is my favorite "soyer" (greens).
I have it nearly every day. And the children like it, too,
when the cook does not make it too bitter-does not fail
to throw away two waters in which it is cooked.'
"Here I was among the papaya leaf eating people
which my old friend, Koorders, of my Buitenzorg days
had written about and which 25 years ago I had read
about. The romance of the situation filled my mind.
Here were people who for generations had been eating
the cooked and even raw leaves of a plant which my
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
friend, Dr. Powers, the great chemist, had discovered con-
tain large quantities of karpaein, a drug as stimulating
to the heart as digitalis. I seemed to see Dr. Powers' face
as he held up his test tube half full of the white crystals
of karpaein that he had gotten out of a few leaves of
papaya that I had sent him from Coconut Grove.
PAPAYA HAS MANY USES
"Then the strangeness of the situation dawned upon
me. Here was one of the most remarkable tropical fruits
in the whole world, grown from Panama to Australia and
from Brazil to Southern China, and now in recent years
become one of the favorite fruits of the newly inhabited
region of South Florida.
"Volumes in the aggregate have been written about
it. Its papain has become the subject of hundreds of
chemical studies. The great research chemist, Bergman,
of the Rockefeller Institute, has even discovered it to be
one of the most interesting of all the proteolitic enzymes
known to man and one of the chemists of the department
of agriculture in Washington has obtained the pure crys-
tals of this remarkable enzyme and the meat packers
have begun to use it as a 'meat tenderer' commercially.
"And yet, I have had to come to this far away place,
this corner of the world, to discover that it is not only the
fruit of this remarkable tree which is a food but that the
leaves as well form an integral part of the diet of hun-
dreds of thousands of people who to all appearances are
unusually healthy and vigorous. As I write these lines
I can hear the happy voices of the crowds of children here
on the shore close by.
"As I lay in my bunk pondering over this situation
I determined to do something about it. I recalled the
movie pictures which I staged once in the backyard of
Mrs. (Secretary) Lansing during the Great War when it
was thought desirable to teach people to use dried
PHOTOGRAPHS THE RAJAH
"Why not stage a picture of the Rajah and his wife
eating the leaves of the papaya and get him to write me
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
a letter stating that they are good to eat. When the
Rajah came on board I laid the plan before him and he
was pleased, and his wife, whose laugh is the most con-
tagious I think I have ever heard, received the proposal
that we take pictures of her husband eating the leaves of
the papayas, with roars of laughter.
"So this morning Edward and I, both armed with
cameras, appeared at the door of the Rajah's handsome
dwelling and there for nearly an hour kept our cameras
going in an attempt to portray the Rajah and his wife
in the act of eating both the raw leaf and the cooked leaf
as it is used as 'greens.' His Highness even suggested
that he be taken drinking the water poured from the
greens which is of course very bitter.
"He seemed to grasp the full import of my mission
to teach the people of Florida that the leaves of the pa-
paya are not poisonous as eaten by the people here. The
bitterness of the raw leaves here does not differ from that
of the leaves in Florida, furthermore, so that it is not a
question of the papayas elsewhere containing the alkaloid
karpaein and those here not having it.
IS IT A NEW VEGETABLE?
"So I shall send this short account of an overlooked
use for the papaya to my friends in Florida where in the
course of time perhaps it will have an effect of some sort.
Either these people here are doing a dangerous thing
by eating the leaves of the papaya or we in Florida and
elsewhere are stupid in overlooking a perfectly good new
vegetable which we grow in great quantities and deliber-
ately throw away.
"The fact that although we served papaya greens
for luncheon today and that Edward Beckwith refused
to even taste it has nothing to do with the case. Like
many Americans and others he does not like to taste
new things. I have a very close friend who has all his
life refused to learn to eat cheese of any kind whatever.
"I found the greens most excellent and so did Mrs.
Archbold and Fenton Kilkenny, even though Ho, the
cook, had not washed out as much of the bitter principle
as he could have. All of the bitter can be easily washed
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
out by three changes of water. I know this for I have
done it. And so I send this little story out into the con-
tentious world of taste. It has taken me a quarter of a
century to gather data for it and I trust it will be given
sufficient publicity to reach the ears of Florida papaya
growers at least."
Advise Planting of Tropical
Gooseberry As Vitamin Source
By The Associated Press
Hollywood Beach, Fla., April 30.-The Ceylon
gooseberry, a tree-borne fruit grown only in South Flor-
ida, offers the area a new crop rich in vitamins A and C
the Florida Federation of Garden clubs was told Thurs-
day by S. J. Lynch.
Lynch, assistant horticulturist of the sub-tropic ex-
periment station at Homestead, advised club members to
cultivate the trees in their front yards as a source of nutri-
tion and health for their families.
Donald Burgis, federation research fellow of the
University of Florida, urged residents of North Florida
to grow newly-developed varieties of peach, pecan, per-
simmon, plum and pear trees as a wartime measure. The
fruits should be canned to widen the family diet, particu-
larly in areas where the soil will not nourish other fruit
trees, he stated.
The State Board of Health is mapping a campaign
to acquaint the public with the fact that Florida guava is
probably one of the richest known sources of vitamin C.
According to Mrs. Vera Walker, the board's nutritionist,
no one has taken the trouble to acquaint the average
person with its food value.
She makes the following suggestions on how to pre-
pare and eat this little-known Florida fruit.
"The best way to use guavas is to eat them raw.
They are delicious sliced and eaten with cream and sugar
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 9
or made into shortcake. Jellies, butter and paste cannot
be counted on as a good source, as long as cooking in the
presence of air destroys vitamin C.
"Guavas can be canned, however, without long cook-
ing and consequent loss of food values as tomatoes, ber-
ries and other acid fruits are canned. Canned guavas
may then be used like canned peaches," she asserted.
Many Types of Seeds Will Be
Produced by 'Glades Farmers
RICH EVERGLADES TO PINCH HIT AS WAR CUTS
OFF FOREIGN IMPORTS
Tallahassee, Nov. 18.-(AP.)-More of the rich,
black acres of Florida's vast Everglades are being turned
into agricultural production this winter to supply Amer-
ica's groceries and to help keep a stream of foodstuff go-
ing to England and the democracies.
It's all part of the vast national defense program,
which includes such things as producing spinach seed to
take the place of supplies originally received from Japan,
Italy and other warring countries.
All sections of Florida, including the 15 square feet
of the city resident's back yard, are turning to more food
production. The increased tempo applies particularly
in the Everglades section, because its big season is winter,
when it pours all kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits-
from cabbage to mango-onto America's table.
The step-up goal for commercial agriculture is,
roughly, 25 per cent. It means, for instance, that Florida
will be called upon to produce an extra 17,000,000 pounds
of milk, an added 1,800,000 dozens of eggs, 10,000,000
more pounds of beef and veal, and 15,000 additional acres
Tied into the general program is the requirement for
seeds, such as spinach, mustard, turnips and a lot of other
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
vegetables. In past years, Japan, Italy and other coun-
tries have supplied much of these. Now, American farms
and gardens will step into a double schedule-some for
food and some for seed.
Lowly Florida Guava Will Be
Glamourized For Public Use
Jacksonville, Aug. 5.-(AP.)-The lowly Florida
guava is about to be glamorized by the state board of
health because of its high vitamin C content.
Nutritionists and chemists say they have known for
a number of years that guavas are an excellent source. In
fact, they declare it probably is the richest known source
of vitamin C.
Nobody, it appears, has bothered to publicize the
fruit, so the average person hasn't known about its nu-
trition values, said Mrs. Vera Walker, the board's
Anxious to acquaint the public with the merits of
guavas, she made the following suggestion:
"The best way to use guavas is to eat them raw.
They are delicious sliced and eaten with cream and sugar
or made into shortcake. Jellies, butter and paste cannot
be counted on as a good source, as long as cooking in the
presence of air destroys vitamin C.
"Guavas can be canned without long cooking and
consequent loss of food values as tomatoes, berries and
other acid fruits are canned. Canned guavas may then
be used like canned peaches."
Also emphasizing the high vitamin C content of cit-
rus fruits, the nutritionist added:
"In Florida, we should thank our lucky stars for an
abundance of citrus fruits during most of the year and
for guavas during the summer when oranges are scarce
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
The shortage of labor exists even in the face of high-
er prices for the deer tongue. The price last year was
five and a half cents a pound dried, while this year it is
seven and a half cents.
One local packing house has a contract for 15 car-
loads of deer tongue, but is having difficulty in meeting
the order, it was stated.
The picking, drying and shipping of deer tongue was
started in Volusia County several years ago when pro-
moters discovered that it grows in abundance in local flat-
woods. Its harvest has grown to be among the county's
major agricultural interests, and men and women pickers
have been known to earn from $3 to $5 a day supplying
The valuable weed has become vital in the blending
of cigarette and pipe tobaccos, and is in use generally
throughout the tobacco processing industry. After dry-
ing, the leaves of the plant exude a pungent aroma that
is said to enhance the fragrance of tobacco without in-
jury to the smoker. It is mixed with tobacco in about a
3 per cent mixture, it was learned.
Okaloosa Plans Harvesting of Blueberry
WORK MAY BE DON' WITHOUT OUTSIDE
Crestview, June 26.-(Special)-In an effort to get
the 1943 blueberry crop picked without having to bring
in outside labor the USDA assisted in a local meeting of
interested individuals here last week to correlate all
organizations in an endeavor to hire, transport and supply
pickers. J. Lee Smith, Florida extension, presided at the
meeting held in the office of County Agent Fred Barber.
Tom Fountain is chairman of the local committee.
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The committee reported, at a late date, that pickers
were being located and that it appears possible to harvest
the six-weeks crop of berries without the importation of
outside assistance. Several blueberry organizations are
purchasing all available berries. The crop is fair this
The majority of orders for blueberries and blue
berry juice comes from Uncle Sam who plans to feed the
vitamin filled berry to the armed forces. Fruit specialists
have pointed out that the blueberry has more vitamins
than any other fruit and so Uncle Sam has ordered some
five million pounds from Northwest Florida packers and
canners. Although the larger portion of berries are in
Okaloosa county both Walton and Santa Rosa counties
have fair acreages.
Florida lost her only garment factory last week when
the Smith-Johnson factory moved equipment to Florala,
Alabama but her loss was a gain when other factories
immediately negotiated to occupy the city owned factory
building with the Alabama Textile Products corporation
of Andalusia winning the contract to occupy the local
building and to manufacture articles under contract to
the United States government.
A tentative agreement was reached between Repre-
sentative Newman Brackin, city commissioner O. H.
Thomason, Clerk Bea Adams and R. F. Butler and Tom
Fountain, Crestview committee when they visited the Ala-
bama plant and later were visited here by President J. G.
Scherf, George H. Barnes, V. P., and J. A. Thompson,
The Smith-Johnson factory employed about 20 people,
mostly women while the new factory expects to start off
employing more than 300 people. They will get under
operation as soon as moving, installation of equipment
and operating facilities can be concluded. The factory
moving in already has equipment available.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 13
Gainesville, July 24.-(AP.)-A little sugar cane
syrup-the kind that is made on most Southern farms-
added to the baby's bottle will help prevent anemia,
Florida State Experiment Station research workers have
Addition of refined corn syrup or glucose to the milk
as a food long has been a practice of many physicians,
but Dr. Ouida D. Abbott, head of the experiment station
home economics staff, reported that babies on such diet
often develop anemia-a blood deficiency that leaves
them pale and listless.
It isn't anything in the corn syrup or glucose that
causes the condition. It is just that they don't contain
the minerals that will prevent it if there is a natural short-
age in the baby's body.
Sugar cane syrup, particularly if it has been boiled
down in an iron or copper pot, supplies those minerals.
The first tests were made in 1935 when Ruth O.
Townsend, Dr. Abbott's assistant, began supervising the
feeding of eight underweight and malnourished infants
who had been born of severely anemic mothers.
Cane syrup was used instead of the usual glucose
syrups. At the end of six months all the babies were
making normal progress and none was anemic.
Since then many rural mothers, upon the advice of
cooperating physicians have modified the feeding formula
with cane syrup and in all cases the results have been
satisfactory, Dr. Abbott said.
She has had no reports of harmful effects from the
substitution of cane syrup for glucose, and there is little
difference in the caloric values of cane syrup and other
syrups commonly used to fortify the baby's diet.
Gainesville, Fla.-Florida farmers who want to
make some old fashioned brown sugar to help relieve the
sugar shortage wil find the process fairly simple, says J.
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Lee Smith, agronomist with the State Agricultural Exten-
sion Service. He lists the following six points in the
1. Any well matured cane will do but that produced
from stubble, higher in sucrose content, is preferred.
Top is low, eliminating all green, immature joints, which
can be used for sirup or feed.
2. Heat the juice, skim it, and add lime water (made
by dissolving 1 pound of lime in 2 quarts of water) until
the pH reading is 7 or until red litmus paper (bought at
the drugstore) dipped in the juice shows signs of turning
blue. Lime water helps clarify the juice, makes skim-
ming easier, and increases the sugar turnout.
3. Skim as needed until a temperature of 238 to 240
degrees Fahrenheit is reached or until the juice reaches
a density of 42 degrees on the Baume hydrometer, when
cooking should cease.
4. This high density mass, called messecuite, should
be immediately dipped or shoveled into tanks. It should
be thoroughly stirred for 15 minutes every three or four
hours for two or three stirring, then left to stand for six
or eight hours.
5. After i+ is zoo' the mass should be transferred to
an open barrel or other containers-good clean porous
bags, preferably of cotton, are good-where the remain-
ing sirup may be drained off. Some farmers put a few
holes in the bottom of the barrel and stand canes over
them in a way to channel off the sirup without plugging
6. The well drained sugar can be air-dried, and is
satisfactory for many uses in the farm home.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
Green Pigeon Peas Could Be Half
Million Dollar A Year Florida Crop
By JOHN FORNEY RUDY
Green pigeon peas.
Most Florida farmers have never heard of the vege-
table, but they can easily mean a half-million dollars a
year for the farmers who will grow them, Scott U. Stam-
baugh, agricultural expert of Babson Park revealed to
Sunday Sentinel Star.
Ten years ago the Federal Bureau of Plant Industry
of the United States Department of Agriculture obtained
100 pounds of the seeds for Stambaugh from Puerto Rico.
Stambaugh requested the seeds after he had found they
were grown extensively on that island and shipped to this
nation for consumption.
Hill Brothers of New York City annually can 50,000
cases of the peas, high in protein content, in Puerto Rico,
to supply three-quarters of a million Latin-Americans and
Jamaicans living in New York City with a vegetable
they're crazy about.
The green pigeon pea is shipped from Puerto Rico
in three forms for human consumption. Thirty thousand
bags of dried peas, 100 pounds to the bag, and worth
about $10 a bag; 30,000 hampers of the green peas in the
pod, and about 50,000 cases of the canned peas are
shipped annually to New York. Total shipments each
year from the Caribbean Island amount to about $500,000
now largely cut off due to the lack of ships.
Stambaugh first grew several crops of the peas in
Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, obtaining 128 selections
from the variegated seeds in the first crop. The second
crop was more successful; he reduced the selections to 32,
and has since gotten the selections down to 19 varieties.
The green pigeon pea apparently has some pollen-
izing type of insect carrying pollen from one plant to an-
other in Puerto Rico. The insect evidently does not exist
in this country, Stambaugh believes.
16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The sex parts of the flower, in this country, are en-
capulated and in the absence of the pollenizing insect
they are self-fertilized. Because of the absence of the
insect in this country Stambaugh has been able to select
single plant lines to a definite purity.
The amazing thing about Stambaugh's experiments
is that all of the 19 varieties are far better than the best
variety grown in Puerto Rico.
Few persons realize that about one-fourth of the
world's population exists largely on rice and green pigeon
peas. They are nothing new in agriculture. Botanically
they are known as Cajan-Cajan. Most of the populations
of the West Indies, East Indies and India use the peas as
the principal source of their protein.
"Hoppin' John" is a well known dish in the East
Indies and Jamaica, made from rice and green pigeon
Stambaugh has proved that Central Florida and the
Ridge Section are the most ideal sections in the United
States for growing the peas, for some climate stimulation
seems to enter into their habit when grown in these areas.
In Puerto Rico, and South Florida, the peas make
only one crop, January-February. On the Ridge or in
Central Florida they make two crops, January- February,
and again in April-May. But the more important aspect
is that the second crop is three times the size of the first
crop, Stambaugh found. This means that green pigeon
peas, grown in this area, produces the equivalent of four
crops. Conversely the unit cost in Central and Ridge sec-
tions of Florida would be about one-fourth the cost in
South Florida and Puerto Rico..
On the first crop, Stambaugh explained, the peas
come out on the tips of the branches. The stalks then
bend with the weight of the vegetables and where the
sun strikes the exposed buds on the stalk as many as 50
short terminals spring out and bear peas.
Stambaugh said that the plant is almost foolproof
and almost weatherproof. It will grow in soil so high
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 17
and dry where even grass will not grow satisfactorily.
Frost does not affect the plant and it takes a severe freeze
to kill it.
Fertilizer used for the plants does not require nitro-
gen, but phosphorus, calcium and other exchangeable
bases must be supplied and the PH corrected to at least
six, he said. This means an average fertilizer cost of
about $16 an acre for which a minimum 110 hampers of
peas can be raised for the first crop. By re-fertilizing at
the end of the first crop over 300 hampers can be ob-
tained to the acre on the second crop. It all adds up to a
low cost per marketable unit.
Stambaugh disclosed that the American Railway
Express research bureau has already found a demand for
2,000 hampers a week in New York City alone.
If green pigeon peas catch on in the United States,
and they may due to the shortage of many high protein
content foods, Florida farmers will find acres of diamonds
right in their own back yards.
Paprika---A New American Crop
Paprika, pungent spice indispensable in many delec-
table foods featured in American restaurants, was one of
the first European exportations to America to be cut off
by the war. It is most familiar to Americans as the red
flavoring powder which is frequently used to add zest
and color to vegetable salads and baked potatoes. In ad-
dition, it is also used in pharmaceutical preparations. Pa-
prika, in the raw state, is a pepperlike vegetable which is
ground until it is thoroughly pulverized. During 1939,
we imported more than 6,000,000 pounds, valued at over
a million dollars. Cultivation of paprika would be a good
defense measure for it is the main source of vitamin P
and also contains vitamin C.
The leading source of supply heretofore has been
Hungary in middle Europe. The producers of that area
maintained a near-monopoly on the production of the
plant, and so jealously guarded their enterprise that very
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
few seeds of the paprika plant were permitted to leave
the country. The plant was also cultivated in Spain,
Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria.
Several emigrants from Europe, however, succeeded
in taking with them a small supply of seed and limited
production was started in the Yakima Valley, Washing-
ton, and in St. James Parish, Louisiana.
Previously it was believed that there were more than
fifty varieties of paprika but recent studies at the Mis-
souri Botanical Gardens concluded that there were only
two species, one of which is herbaceous and either annual
or biennial, the other is shrubbery and perennial. The
first is the one that is most widely cultivated in Europe
and the following outline pertains to this variety.
The paprika is the fruit of the plant, flowering in the
middle of summer and reopening its fruit in the early
autumn. The climatic requirements of the plants are rig-
orous and they do not withstand severe cold weather as
they will perish or develop a sharp taste.
The soil must be light and friable and if poor should
be fertilized with humus. While the plants are growing
the soil may be further improved and the plants lightly
banked. Excessive humus will be too strong as it encour-
ages the leaves to develop at the expense of the fruit.
Before planting, the soil should be lightly plowed,
from four to six inches. In Louisiana, where test plant-
ings were conducted last year, the seeds were drilled into
the ground ;n Ms rch on the basis of about 7,000 plants
per acre The u ual method is 18 by 36 inch plantings
on very lig"lit s'il i; ad 20 by 42 inch plantings on the bet-
ter soils, as thl vines may be larger. Deep furrows are
made between the rows for frequent irrigation. The care
consists of weeding and cultivating often until the plants
When the peppers have set on the vine the plants
are dusted with an insecticide, usually calcium or cryolite.
This is repeated at weekly intervals or about four or five
times, varying according to the extent of infestation of
pepper weevils and aphis.
The harvesting period varies. The ripe fruits are
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
collected once a week, the stalk being removed with the
fruit intact. Usually the fruits are dried in the sun, and
care should be taken to avoid streaks and blemishes.
Reports regarding production per acre vary, in Lou-
isiana about one ton per acre is considered a normal crop
while a grower in Oregon contends that yields of from
3,000 to 5,000 pounds of dried pods is possible. Accord-
ing to the usual prices of 15 to 25 cents per pound paid
for this commodity by the spice mills, $450 per acre gross
upwards may be possible.
Extensive tests plantings of paprika were conducted
in Idaho this year by the Idaho Farm Chemurgic Com-
mittee of the National Farm Chemurgic Council. In most
every case, the reports received to date indicate that pa-
prika can be successfully cultivated in that state.
Florida's Flower Farms
There are some mundane-minded folks who long
have thought that there was no money in beauty; that in
order to make money one must have a drab and strictly
However, fortunately the number of folks who have
discounted beauty as a money-maker are now on the
W. F. Therkildson, editor of the Miami Herald's
"Florida page," says the widely cultivated and colorful
modern gladiolus is known to a host of folks now as "the
poor man's orchid," and as such has an increasingly
important part to play in Florida.
This well-known commentator on the Florida scene
says that Florida for several years has led all states in the
production of spikes of cut "glads." The "glads" are
produced in commercial quantities for both bulbs and
cut spikes, in practical every state in the Union, but in
the winter, or off-season production, Florida ships more
cut spikes than do several states combined.
Believe it or not, this annual volume has reached
20 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
approximately 15,000,000 pounds, or 7,500 tons. Car-
load daily shipments are not unusual in several of the
main producing areas. These spikes are shipped "tight,"
or just when the color has begun to show. Mr. Therkild-
son says, "What this huge tonnage of spikes would look
like when they open and expand into their many-colored
magnificence, would be difficult for even the seasoned
growers to visualize."
Horticulturist Says New Uses Found for
Gainesville, Fla.-Conditions in the South Florida
Papaya industry, which for years has had a series of ups
and downs, now seem "more stable than at any period of
its history," two State horticulturists report.
"Until quite recent years the papaya was valuable
in Florida only as a fresh fruit," H. S. Wolfe and S. J.
Lynch said in a State Extension Service bulletin, but lately
it has come into demand as the source of other products.
For one thing, the green fruit, leaves and stem of
the plant contain a milky juice which bears a powerful
digestive enzyme called papain, that is on the market in
a water solution as a meat tenderizer.
"This enzyme partially digests meat and if care is
not taken one may have soup instead of meat," Wolfe
The scientists also reported that "a number of cos-
metic products are manufactured with the papaya pulp
as an ingredient, such as face creams and hair shampoos."
Wolfe, who is dean of the University of Florida
Department of Horticulture, said he did not know "the
quality of the fruit which makes it of value in the prep-
aration of cosmetics," but said "I cannot overlook the
possible usefulness of the enzyme present in the latex of
the green fruit."
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
More important to the industry than direct use of the
enzyme are several new uses for the papaya as a food.
Whereas, it once was eaten only when ripe, like a
melon, it now is used in making sweet pickles, pies, jams
and preserves. Canners are using the pulp of the fruit as
bases for soft drinks. A papaya paste, similar to guava
paste, is made from the flesh of the ripe fruit.
Green fruit which is almost mature is processed com-
mercially for crystallized fruit, salad balls and pickles.
Experimental work is being done on the use of ripe pa-
payas as a base for ice cream, sherbets and ices.
The papaya is essentially a flavor fruit, and contains
very little actual nourishment. However, it is a very good
source of vitamin A, a good source of C, a fair source of
G, and contains a small amount of B1, Wolfe and Lynch
Wolfe estimated that the total Florida crop would
fluctuate between one and two million pounds annually,
with a value ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 a year.
The papaya plant really is a gigantic herb which may
live for 20 years and attain a height of 30 feet. Hor-
ticulturists say it is not profitable to allow plants to live
more than three years because the fruits become smaller
as age and height of the tree increase.-Tampa Times.
New Bean Developed
A new triple-purpose snap bean, especially adapted
to summer and fall planting in the South, has been devel-
oped by plant scientists of the United States department
of agriculture, says Dr. F. S. Jamison, truck horticulturist
with the Florida Experiment station.
The new bean, called the "Logan," is described as a
triple-purpose vegetable, because it is well adapted to the
market garden, the home garden, and to growing for com-
Although the bean has passed the experimental
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
stage, commercial seed supplies will not be generally
available before 1945.
The Logan is highly resistant to common bean mosaic
and powdery mildew, and has some tolerance to bacterial
blights. The very strong disease resistance of the Logan
makes dusting with sulphur unnecessary.
This new bean will set pods and yield well in hot
weather, which characteristics make it a good one for
planting in spring, summer, and fall in the South.
The new member of the snap bean family was
developed by the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and
Agricultural Engineering at its regional vegetable breed-
ing laboratory at Charleston, S. C., from a cross between
Stringless Black Valentine and United States No. 5 Refu-
gee, the latter a very hardy and disease-resistant type.
Tung-Oil Meal Use Reported
By The Associated Press
Lakeland, Fla., Nov. 20.-The Florida Academy of
Sciences was told Thursday that young chickens at the
University of Florida lived and gained weight on a five-
week diet of tung-oil meal, which had been extracted
from a nut long considered poisonous.
L. L. Rusoff and N. R. Mehrhom of the university,
and R. S. McKinney of the U. S. Tung Oil Laboratory at
Gainesville reported at the academy's opening session on
their research to test possibility of a new use for the three
to four million-pound annual production of tung-oil meal
WEIGHT GAIN GOOD
Although the chickens did not grow to the size of
another group fed on a standard diet, the scientists said
the tung-oil meal proved economical in terms of gain of
weight per pound of food.
Tung-oil meal was not recommended for immediate
use by poultry raisers. The authors said further experi-
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 23
ments to make the meal more palatable by addition of
shark oil or shark meal, recently developed products of
Florida waters, would be "interesting."
At present, tung-oil meal, which is the residue left
after oil is pressed from the tung nut, is used mainly as
Castor Bean Production in Florida
Sarasota, Jan. 9.-An attempt to revive the commer-
cial growing of castor beans in Florida to help meet the
nation's acute shortage of castor oil was inaugurated here
last week when the Chamber of Commerce set wheels in
motion to raise funds for initial plantings, upon assurance
of Guy Paschal, president of Florida Chemical Research,
Inc., that his company had a pilot press and roller mill
now operating for the rendering of fixed oils from crops
which might be grown here to supply war shortages.
Paschal stated that his company had already devel-
oped marketable products from local materials available
in quantity, including water hyacinth, scrub oak, slash
pine needles, sawmill shavings, sawdust, dog fennel and
Coconut Markets Listed by Chamber
Persons interesicd in commercial markets for coco-
nuts and coconut s- !ls are asked to write Redland
District Chamber of Commerce or to get in touch with the
Ft. Lauderdale Chamber.
Coconuts are in demand-both the nut and the shell.
The shells are being used for the manufacture of gas
masks and Florida grown coconuts are sought by buyers
to replace their former imported nuts.
The Redland District Chamber of Commerce has had
correspondence with a buyer who uses about 120 bags
per year of coconuts in making fresh shredded coconut
24 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
for the local market in his town. He places his orders
once a month for them. However, the larger commercial
coconut producers in Florida have their outputs already
contracted for and thus the small buyers are unable to
The Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce has ad-
vertised for persons who can supply coconut shells on a
commercial basis to get in touch with that office.
Soy beans and peanuts are going to have to move
over to share part of the new food spotlight with the lowly
sweet potato. The late Dr. Carver, a negro scientist, ele-
vated peanuts from something to munch at baseball
games to an all-purpose food while Henry Ford was one
of the first to put his experimental chemists to work on
soy beans. Blazing the trail for sweet potatoes, a stock
crop on all soils in the South, is Prof. L. M. Ware of Ala-
bama Polytechnic Institute, better known as Auburn.
The Auburn researcher recently exhibited sweet
potatoes in more than 20 forms, all highly palatable,
nutritious and fully prepared to put right on the table for
breakfast, luncheon, dinner or supper. He uses a form of
dehydration to change the potatoes from their original
form into breakfast foods, candy bars, cookies, ice cream
powder and malted milkshakes. These products have
been named "alayams" by the professor who has taken
out patents on his process.
Here in Lee county, Carl Heuck, the county agent,
recently demonstrated how sweet potatoes could be de-
hydrated to make an excellent cattle food. Then about
a month ago the first Lee county "sweets" went to mar-
ket and brought as high as $6.50 per bushel which defi-
nitely took the limited supply out of the stock feed classi-
fication. But the local planting was slight despite the
fact that sweet potatoes are one of the easiest grown
Naturally sweet potatoes won't be fed to the cows if
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
Professor Ware's process to turn them into cookies, ice
cream and other delicacies is as practical as first appear-
ances indicate. Emphasizing a distinction between his
alayam products and other dehydrated foods, Ware says
his wares have the advantage of being ready to use while
other dehydrated foodstuffs have to be rehydrated and
cooked over a period of hours. He also sees a definite
future for his products in peacetime while most dehy-
drated foods are designed to meet war conditions.
One beauty of the new sweet potato concentrate is
that it is a good mixer and combines with peanuts, choc-
olate, all tree grown nuts, pineapple and other fruits to
make extra tasty foods-particularly nutritious desserts.
This is because the new process of dehydration without
use of water and steam is supposed to preserve the natu-
ral good qualities of the sweet potato without loss of
carbohydrates, minerals, carotene and vitamins.
It may take quite a while for housewives to adopt
new products such as those made from yeast, soy beans,
peanuts and sweet potatoes but it is certain, from the prog-
ress being made, that our menus are going to be changed.
According to nutritionists, and others who teach us to eat
for health, these changes are on the way. It is heartening
that many of the new food developments are being made
in the South where agriculture is still the leading industry.
Florida Lemon Grass Oil Now in Full
Clewiston.-Only commercial source of lemon grass oil
in the United States-used by housewives for flavoring
and the cosmetic industry for perfumes and scented
soaps-is now in full production here on a chain-line
basis, Jay W. Moran, vice-president of the U. S. Sugar
Corporation, reported today.
With East Indian supplies cut off by the war, some
1,000 acres in the Everglades will provide about 100,000
pounds of the oil for American industry. Samples of the
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
oil show it to be between 75 and 80 percent pure citral,
Harvesting is now operating on a continuous cycle of
ten weeks. By the time the last acre had been cut, the
first is again ready for harvesting, with the climate per-
mitting four cuttings a year.
The sugar company began experiments back in 1935,
bringing the plants to a full production commercial basis
at the moment when the nation is entirely dependent upon
its own resources for the oil. Only other source at present
is plantings in Guatemala, and these are subject to ship
Lemon grass, once the oil has been extracted, also
has been proven an excellent cattle feed when mixed with
black strap molasses.
This new industry is the development of the culture
of essential oil bearing plants, which have been imported
from foreign countries but supplies of which are now cut
off by the war to a large extent. They must now be pro-
duced domestically if there is not to be a great scarcity.
Fortunately most of these essential oil bearing plants are
produced on muck lands or sandy loam river bottom
land, than which there is none better than the Everglades
of Florida, according to Mr. Nash. At present there are
five oil bearing plants absolutely essential to the health
and comfort of the American people.
They are cymbopogon citratus, which produces an
oil generally termed lemon grass or sour grass oil; oci-
mum cannum, from the oil of which camphor is produced;
mentha arvensis piperascens, which produces a natural
menthol; mentha piperita vulgaris, which is generally
termed English mint and produces an cl 50 per cent of
which is menthol and the remainder is used in flavoring;
and pelargonium capitatum, which produces an oil used
in perfume. These are all being produced now on a small
scale near Belle Glade.
Several other plants still in the experimental stage
include Java citronella grass, cymbopogon and koellia
muticum. All of these plants, play an important role in
the general war effort. Java citronella grass produces
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 27
an oil from which menthol and other essential oils are
processed. Cymbopogon martini produces palm rose oil
used in the perfume industry. Koellia muticum, common-
ly termed mountain mint, produces an oil which is syn-
theized into menthol.
Of all these plants the most important is mentha ar-
vensis piperascens, generally known as Japanese mint.
This plant produces more oil per ton than any of the
others. The menthol content is above 80 per cent and is
easily produced from the oil by freezing, and centrifu-
ging. This particular plant is so important to the war
effort that it is a story in itself. The United States has
been importing each year between 400,000 and 500,000
pounds of this Japanese mint oil from China and Japan,
sources now practically cut off by the war. The average
price during the last 31 years is $7.46 per pound. It is
extensively used in many medicines, pharmaceuticals and
other preparations. A synthetic menthol is on the mar-
ket, but the natural product is obtained almost exclusively
from this plant grown in China and Japan. It follows,
therefore, that domestic consuming industries have been
largely dependent on these countries for their requirement
of this important natural product.
The plants are easy to propagate. They grow and
spread through numerous underground runners. Hence
they require, for normal development, a deep rich soil,
rich in humus and retentive of moisture but well drained.
Light, loose soils that dry out quickly and heavy clay soils
are equally unsuitable for mint culture. Favorable types
are muck lands such as the Everglades, sandy loam river
bottom lands and well cultivated loamy uplands.
The cultivation of peppermint and spearmint has
long been a specialized industry in certain sections of the
United States, Michigan, Indiana and Oregon being the
principal areas producing these oils. Since mint plants
as a whole do not differ greatly in their cultural require-
ments the Everglades is a natural place to produce these
The advantage of the Everglades over these other
mint producing sections of the United States is that three
crops may be cut in succession each year, whereas only
28 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
one may be produced in the Northern States. Another
advantage for the expansion of this oil industry in the
Everglades is that while land suitable and available for
mint culture is limited in the Northern States, is prac-
tically unlimited here.
Development of the root stocks, which is character-
istic of Japanese mint, requires considerable rainfall well
distributed throughout the growing season such as is
found in the Everglades. Long periods of drought greatly
retard the growth of the plants, and the consequent re-
duction in herb development lowers the yield of oil. It
also causes the leaves to shed, especially those on the
lower parts of the plant, which further reduces the oil
Harvesting is quite simple. The herb is cut green
and distilled in ordinary steam stills. The same type of
still used for distillation of peppermint is adaptable to
distillation of Japanese mint.
Sugar Firm to Fatten 6,000 Feeder Steers
(Times-Union, Jacksonville, August 20, 1943)
Clewiston, Aug. 19.-(AP.)-A new cattle feeding
project, designed to produce about 1,500,000 pounds of
dressed high quality beef a year, has been put into oper-
ation here by the U. S. Sugar Corporation.
Jay W. Moran, vice-president of the corporation,
said upwards of 6,000 head of feeder steers will be fat-
tened annually on 3,280 acres of land several miles west
The program, undertaken with approval of Federal
agencies, will be operated in conjunction with the com-
pany's dry-lot feeding project which has produced steers
in recent years that brought prices comparable to those
offered on Chicago and Eastern markets.
Workers now are building feeders, corrals, shelters
and fences. Pastures will be broken up into units of 160
acres, and cattle will be turned into them in rotation to
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
provide maximum grazing. Improved grasses are being
planted on the area.
Moran said feeder steers for the intensified fattening
program will be bought from Florida cattlemen.
Volusia Cattlemen Planting Sorghum for
(Special to The Sunday Sentinel-Star, Orlando, August 22, 1943)
Daytona Beach.-Three Daytona Beach dairy firms
and one cattleman are counting strongly on sorghum from
their fields to help them keep their herds well fed in spite
of feed shortages, Volusia County Agent F. E. Baetzman
R. D. Beville, J. D. McLarty and R. E. Stevens, dairy-
men, and M. L. McDonald, cattleman, have plantings of
sorghum that are now being harvested and ensiled for
future use. Beville, owner of the planting and harvest-
ing machinery, planted the crops and has begun harvest-
ing and ensiling them, being compensated at a set rate
by the others for the work he does for them.
Beville and McDonald each has 50 acres, while Stevens
(Stevens and Carrow) and McLarty have 40 acres apiece.
The sorghum has made very good growth, and yields of
from 12 to 15 tons per acre are expected.
Each man's crop is planted on his own land and
each owns an upright silo for storing it.
Kudzu and Sericea Make Good Live Stock
(Southern Farmer, August, 1943)
For several summers tests have been conducted on
the Alabama Experiment Station farm in grazing kudzu
with both cattle and hogs. During the summer of 1942
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
a test also was conducted in grazing sericea with cattle
Conclusions drawn from these tests are summarized
1. One acre of average kudzu will furnish grazing
for 1 cow or 5 hogs from May 1 to September 1.
2. Cows will gain about 1 to 11/4 pounds daily while
grazing kudzu with no supplementary feed.
3. Animals should be removed from kudzu fields
about September to allow the plants to put on a growth
of leaves before frost. This prevents injuring the stand.
Immediately after frost the leaves will drop off the plants.
These frosted leaves contain considerable food value and
are relished by cattle. They should be grazed at once
because they soon decay and are practically worthless
after 6 weeks or two months.
4. Fifty pound pigs just about maintain their weight
on kudzu alone but 75 to 100 pound shoats will gain 1/j
to 1/3 of a pound daily.
5. Hogs receiving a full feed of corn with no protein
supplement will gain about 1.5 pounds per head daily.
This is about the same rate of gain which hogs make when
receiving all the corn and tankage they can eat in the
6. During the summer of 1942 four mature beef
cows grazed on 3 2/3 acres of sericea from April 10 to
October 16. They received no feed other than the sericea
during the above dates and they gained an average of 210
pounds per cow.
7. Hogs ate all the weeds and grass in a sericea
pasture but refused to eat the sericea.
8. Cows should be turned on sericea when the young
shoots first begin to grow in the spring or soon after the
plants are mowed in the summer. They do not relish
sericea when the plants are tall and woody.-J. C.
Grimes, Alabama Experiment Station.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
Revival of Pineapple Industry to Former
Multi-Million Dollar Status Forecast Soon
By JOHN FORNEY RUDY
Florida's pineapple industry, once worth several
million dollars a year to the State's farmers but today
amounting to less than $25,000, may soon be revived by
the stimulus of war food needs, shortage of shipping, and
successful experimental work being carried on by the
U. S. Department of Agriculture here.
As early as 1860, Florida pineapples were being
shipped to many northern markets where, because of
their exceptional qualities, they brought top prices. By
the early 1900's the area along the East Coast of Florida
from Indian River to Miami was producing one million
Disease and adverse tariffs gradually put an end to
the industry, and within the next decade thousands of
acres were abandoned. In 1924 the industry was tem-
porarily revived when 90,000 crates were shipped, re-
turning about a quarter of a million dollars to the growers
along the lower East Coast.
Last year Department of Agriculture statisticians
estimated that Florida shipped only 10,000 crates of the
succulent fruit at an average price of $2.35 per crate: '- a.
total market value of $24,000. War and successful ex-
perimentation have sent the average price per crate
Ethylene Gas Helps
Perhaps the biggest factor in reviving the State's
pineapple industry is the development of ethylene gas by
the Bureau of Plant Industry which has been found amaz-
ingly successful in making the plants bloom months in
advance of the normal blooming period. This means that
mature fruit can be produced at controlled periods and
shipped to the market when fruit from Puerto Rico and
Cuba has not yet ripened.
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Drs. Williams C. Cooper and Philip C. Reese, horti-
culturists of the plant bureau, located on N. Parramore
Street here, revealed that the use of ethylene gas is entire-
ly new in pineapple growing. 0. R. Winchester of Flat-
woods Plantation, Lake Worth, probably the State's larg-
est grower, thinks it is a real scientific contribution that
has taken his pineapple plantation out of the red and
into the black.
In addition to the experimental work on the use of
the gas, Dr. Erston V. Miller, plant physiologist, at the
bureau, is making studies as to the proper temperatures
at which pineapples can be stored, as well as the accurate
times at which they can be picked for shipment.
$9 Per Crate
Through the use of ethylene gas, the Flatwoods
Plantation in the last 12 months has produced matured
pineapples in off-season months which brought as high
as $9 a crate in the Winter and $6 a crate in the Summer.
The government scientists found that covering pine-
apple plants with a muslin canopy and treating the plants
for six, nine, 12 and 24-hour periods, they obtained nearly
100 per cent flowering in the 12 and 24-hour treatments.
They used a 40 bubbles per minute flow of ethylene gas
and the treatments were carried out during the months
of July, August, September and October. Six-hour treat-
ments of the gas never induced flowering. Nine-hour
treatments were only partially effective. The use of the
gas is inexpensive and easily obtainable. It is furnished
in steel cylinders.
The horticulturists also found that acetylene water
tests gave the same results as the ethylene gas. In these
experiments they found that by pouring one-fourth pint
of a saturated solution of acetylene into the heart of each
plant induced early flowering. In the small scale experi-
ments the saturated solution was prepared by placing a
weighed quantity of carbide into a pressure cooker nearly
filled with water. The lid was clamped on and a pressure
of 15 pounds was allowed to develop while shaking the
Both scientists agreed that it was more feasible for
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
the small grower to use the acetylene water treatment
rather than the ethylene gas procedure. The former is
easier to use and the initial investment smaller.
As for the large grower, he will find utilizing both
methods will produce better results. The ethylene gas
cannot be used satisfactorily when high winds prevail.
The acetylene water treatment doesn't re-act favorably
during heavy downpours of rain. Thus the method to be
used is reliant on weather conditions to a great extent.
Flatwoods Plantation produced about 75 per cent
of the fruit shipped last year. This year they expect to
produce and ship about 12,000 crates. They plant the
Golden Abaca variety, principally which averages about
9,000 plants to the acre and produce from 250 to 300
crates per acre.
Cuba normally ships about a million crates of pine-
apples a year to the United States. Puerto Rico, depen-
dent entirely upon boat, ships about a half million crates
a year to East Coast cities. Production of both islands
is expected to be cut sharply due to the lack of ships.
Although both scientists warned against over-opti-
mism that the use of the gas or water treatment in itself
would revive the industry, they pointed out that improved
methods of cultivation, the planting of hardier varieties,
eradication of pests and the perfection of new fertilizers
make the future of the industry look bright indeed.
All From The Little Soy Bean
(Wide World Features)
By EDWIN R. GREENWALD
Columbus, Ohio.-It was just a little bean that
looked like a pea, and they called it the upstart of
Now the little bean gives us baby food and hub caps,
pancakes and varnish, celluloid and soap-and a host of
34 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
other things. And they aren't calling it an upstart any
Likely we would be doing without a lot of things
these days had not a few far-sighted men seen possi-
bilities in the soy bean. They shrugged off the disbeliefs
of a skeptical farm belt back in the 20's and began devel-
oping the soy bean oil that became one of the world's
greatest sources of substitutes.
They say it is impossible to determine just how great
a role the bean will play in the war. Its services, multi-
tudinous as they are, so far have been of a domestic
nature chiefly, but chemists are delving further, the
National Farm Chemurgic council says.
Used Chiefly in Food Products
The list of commodities which use the oil already is
as long as your arm, and contrary to general belief, most
are food products. The public picked up an idea some-
where that virtually all the oil flowed from processing
mills to motor plants, the plastics factories, toy shops.
The truth is that last year more than 85 percent of
this highly-nutritious oil went into edible products-salad
oils, vegetable shortening, margarine. Much of the re-
mainder found its way into paint, varnish, linoleum, ink
soap, foundry core binder, artificial rubber.
That does not account for all of last year's crop, how-
ever. Actually, farmers kept nearly half of the yield
from 9,996,000 acres for their own use-seed, stock feed,
greater portion, according to figures at Ohio State uni-
versity, and still larger amounts in previous years.
For even though the bean became one of the best of
money crops, the farmer still did not lose sight of the
primary purpose for which the legumous plant first was
planted in this country. He saw in it then a supply of
forage for his stock, either preserved as hay and silage or
cut and fed green.
With the price of beans getting toward $2 a bushel,
however, experts figure that the percentage of the crop
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 35
kept on the farm will fall steadily. The acreage yield
last year averaged a bit under 19 bushels.
The government has asked a 50 percent increase in
this year's crop. That's a pretty big jump, but then-
The rise of the soy bean is one of the striking agri-
cultural developments in American history. Back in
1907 only 50,000 acres were planted. Twenty years
later that had been increased 10-fold, 35 years later
During the 20's oil mill operators began paying more
attention to the bean, and this interest became a potent
factor in its production as a commercial crop. Scores of
processing mills sprang up across the farm belt, crushing
the oil from the bean, converting the residue into soy bean
meal for stock fertilizer for soil.
Farmers still were skeptical, however, chiefly
because they had no assurance what price they reason-
ably could expect. Two years ago the soy bean futures
market was established on the Chicago grain mart and
growers took a new view.
There has been no letup in research on the bean and
its oil. Breeding to meet varied cultural, food and indus-
trial needs now is being conducted by experiment stations
in 32 states, and one agricultural leader remarked that
in spite of progress already made, development of the
versatile little oval still is in its infancy.
While the crop is raised over much of the nation, the
greatest yield comes from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and
Ohio; and of these, Illinois leads by a good 150 percent.
The bean came to America from the Orient, where it
grew rather haphazardly for centuries. No one knows
just how old it is, nor from whence it came. It was men-
tioned in a writing by Emperor Shen Nung of China back
in 2838 B. C. That's as far as it has been traced.
36 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Two New Ideas For Florida Farmers
(Tampa Morning Tribune, June 20)
Everybody has heard of Rex Beach, the author. Anyone
who can read knows of Rex Beach, the world traveler. But few
people, even Floridians, know of Rex Beach, the farmer. A
former Tampan, Beach lived here from the time he was nine
years old until he went to school at Rollins. After making his
fame and fortune in Alaska and other rugged places, he has
returned again to Florida to write magazine articles and to
return to farming. "When I left my dad's farm in the Garrison,
I despised and hated the idea of farming," hs once said. "I
swore I'd never go back to a farm. Now here I am, running a
farm again, and finding it's not as bad as I had grown to be-
lieve." At Sebring, Beach has gone in for Easter lily bulbs,
gladiolas and cattle, and his faith in Florida is such that he sees
tremendous possibilities ahead of the state after the war. Here
is a report on his success to date, written for The Tribune by
Florida's author, traveler and farmer.
By REX BEACH
For several seasons I have been experimenting in
feeding cattle: i. e., finishing them for the market. Al-
though Florida is a great cattle raising state, it is not a
grain growing state, hence the quality of the native beef
doesn't compare with western beef or beef fed on mid-
Highlands county, I am advised, has done more in
the way of pasture improvement during the last few
seasons than any other county in the state. New vari-
eties of grass, grown on improved pasture land, are turn-
ing out better beef than we are accustomed to, never-
theless very little has been done until recently in the
way of pen feeding.
Several seasons ago, I started a feeder station with
the idea that Florida "grade" steers could be bought and
fed out at a profit. Due to steadily rising prices on
account of war conditions, also to rising prices in feed,
I satisfied myself that it was impossible to make the game
pay, unless Florida could develop a substitute for the corn
and other concentrates necessary.
Grows Silage and Grain Substitutes
It is easy to grow silage in this state, and I began by
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FL'OIDA
experimenting with Napier grass and the construction of
trench silos. That type of construction is cheap but silos
of any sort, I am convinced, are unnecessary in Florida.
Sugar cane makes silage as good as or better than Napier
grass but experiments by the state department have
shown that it doesn't need to be ensiled. It can be cut
and shocked (stood on end) in huge piles and run through
a silage cutter when needed. I have carried it this way
from November until May. In other words, the expense
I went to in building trench silos was wasted. Further-
more, cattle do better on sugar cane shocked up in this
way than on sugar cane silage. This takes care of the
roughage problem, for on rich land certain varieties of
sugar cane will yield an enormous tonnage per acre.
As for grain substitutes, I began experimenting with
dasheens and the new stock sweet potato which has
recently developed. Both yield heavy crops on suitable
land; both can be shredded and sun-dried so that they
will keep indefinitely. Both are extremely high in starch
and appear to afford a fine quality of meat.
For the last two seasons I have fed freshly ground
sugar cane, dasheens or sweet potatoes, either fresh, or
dehydrated, all raised on my place. The only feed I have
found it necessary to buy is the protein food element such
as cottonseed meal or soy bean meal. Minerals, of course,
must be supplied.
This diet has shown an increase in weight of two
pounds a day over a hundred day feeding period, which
is good enough for anybody.
New Soil Tests Boon To Florida Farmers
Two new soil tests for phosphorus have been devel-
oped by the University of Illinois College of Agriculture.
Through use of the tests it is now possible for farmers to
save money on phosphate fertilizers and at the same time
help conserve sulphuric acid for war needs.
One part of soil and seven parts of an ammonium
38 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
fluoride extracting solution, available through regular
commercial sources, are shaken together. After the soil
has settled, eight drops of an acid molybdate solution are
added and stirred with a tin rod. If the soil is high in
phosphorus, a deep blue color develops. If it is low in
phosphorus, there is no color. Test No. 1, which measures
only the rapidly soluble absorbed forms of phosphorus,
depends for its extraction mainly upon the ammonium
fluoride. Test No. 2, which measures the combined ad-
sorbed and acid soluble forms, contains the ammonium
fuoride plus an excess of a strong acid, such as
It is estimated that millions of acres of farmed soils
have accumulated enough phosphorus reserves in highly
available forms so that they can be cropped with de-
creased rates of fertilizer applications or with fertilizers
lower in phosphorus. This will mean cash savings to the
farmer who finds he has accumulated a reserve of phos-
phates in forms still highly available. The tests will also
show him which of his soils are still highly deficient and
where the full rate of application should be made.
The new tests are the first to distinguish between
the readily available, or adsorbed, forms and the acid-
soluble forms of phosphate in the soil. The adsorbed
forms are those concentrated on the surface of clay par-
ticles of the soil. The acid-soluble forms are those such
as rock and bone phosphate. The adsorbed forms not
only are more soluble but also more rapidly soluble than
the acid-soluble forms. Hence a distinction between the
two forms is necessary, and this can be done only with
two tests, it was explained.
Test No. 1 will be particularly useful for tobacco,
cotton and truck crop soils on which heavy applications of
fertilizer are the rule and a high state of phosphorus
availability is desired. In most soils soluble phosphates
when first added go directly into the adsorbed forms
which have a relatively high availability for all crops.
As these forms are built up by repeated applications, the
original rate of application can be greatly reduced.
Test No. 2 will be more useful for field crops and
will replace the original phosphorus test put out by the
University of Illinois College of Agriculture in 1929.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
AND SOME NEWER DEVELOPMENTS
By DR. W. H. TISDALE
Director of Pest Control Research Laboratory
of E. I. duPont de Nemours & Company
The highest tribute we can now pay to the American
farmer and to our agricultural research institutions in
these critical times is to point to the unprecedented crop
yields of 1942. There are many signs that agricultural
research is functioning in an increasingly practical way.
Undoubtedly many of you can recall the time when re-
search in our agricultural institutions was concerned
chiefly with the fundamental and descriptive phases of
the agricultural sciences.
Truth Was Sought
The truth was being sought and sometimes with little
thought of its practical applications. Professional and
even institutional jealousies were not uncommon. This
retarded progress. However, in spite of the shut-in
methods employed, fundamental discoveries were made
that have found many practical applications in more re-
cent years. There is no doubt that results could have
been obtained in much shorter time in many cases if effi-
cient organization and a spirit of cooperation had
The spirit of teamwork has in recent years con-
tributed to more rapid progress. This has been accom-
plished largely through wise foresight in the organization
and administration of our agricultural research insti-
tutions. Agricultural problems are being viewed in their
broader aspects. Better balanced programs of research
are being organized, which include all phases of the
agricultural sciences from soil care and improvement to
the marketing of the well graded and packaged products,
both plant and animal production included. Not only
have professional bounds been made more flexible, re-
sulting in closer cooperation of individuals and divisions
within institutions, but the trend is toward the much
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
needed regional, national and international cooperation.
Only through such cooperation and coordination of effort
can these problems be viewed in their broad as well as in
their more local aspects, and larger numbers of trained
minds, representing the different sciences and professions
involved, employed in their solution. This is the way it
Other Sciences Employed
Often it is necessary to employ the methods and
results of other sciences in our agricultural research. In
fact, there is no sharp line of demarkation between the
so-called agricultural sciences and sciences such as chem-
istry, physics, engineering and mathematics. Many of
the fundamental basic principles underlying the advances
in agriculture are products of the discoveries of other
sciences. Likewise, the practical solutions of many of
our agricultural problems depend on the discoveries of
applied research in other sciences, and especially research
in the industries. The flow of knowledge and assistance
is by no means all in one direction. Much that is accom-
plished through agricultural research is useful to the
Further Cooperation Needed
I mention these well-known facts as a further pos-
sible means of emphasizing the need for more extensive
cooperative effort. The manufacturing industries have
recognized the importance of research directed toward
the solution of practical agricultural problems, and prog-
ress is being made by those industries which are in posi-
tion to serve agriculture in the organization of effective
research units of their own, whose purpose it is to supple-
ment the excellent research done by State and Federal
In the evaluation of the results of agricultural re-
search it is often difficult to determine what is old and
what is new. Progress can more easily be measured in
terms of decades than in terms of months or even years.
Many of our outstanding developments have slowly
evolved through years of earnest and painstaking re-
search effort. They develop step by step until the stages
of practical application are reached. Therefore, develop-
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 41
ments that are new, and possibly spectacular to the lay-
man, may be familiar knowledge to those who closely
follow the advances of research. Many practical develop-
ments may evolve from a long-since-discovered funda-
Research in Genetics
Let's use as an example Mendelism which, at the
time of its discovery, failed to make an impression beyond
the walls of the monastery in which Mendel lived, but
was later rediscovered. The employment of these funda-
mental laws of heredity by genetics in the breeding of
improved animals and plants has in the past few decades
revolutionized agriculture. We have only to compare the
fine beef and dairy cattle breeds, the high pork-yielding
hogs and modern breeds of other farm animals with the
long horn, the razor back and other similar types to be
impressed with the importance of research in genetics.
Progress has been no less outstanding in plant
genetics and, if anything, it has been even more impressive
because of the ease and speed with which plant breeding
can be handled. New improved strains of animals and
plants are being developed at an ever-increasing rate.
This has been made possible for a number of reasons.
The great importance of this field of investigation has
encouraged an expansion of effort, and new fundamen-
tal discoveries along the way have supplied much-needed
tools for accelerating research results and have opened
up new fields of application for genetics.
One of the outstanding recent advances in the breed-
ing of farm animals undoubtedly is the discovery and per-
fection of methods of preserving in viable form male
sperm to be used in greatly extending the propagation of
proved superior sires.
Plant Breeding Advances
In the breeding of plants, many varieties and strains
of fruits, field crops and vegetables have been developed
representing better quality, higher yields and resistance
to disease, insects, drought and frost. Research is now
underway to breed strains of cotton adapted to the me-
chanical picker. Very recently the development of a
42 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
plant that resists the injurious effects of the control
chemical, rather than the disease, has been announced.
That is a strain of cantaloupe immune to sulfur injury, to
which sulfur can be applied to control mildew without
causing injury to the plants. This is a departure from
the regular course of breeding the plant to resist the
Relatively few years ago hybrid corn was considered
more or less of a curiosity except by those scientists who
knew the purpose and importance of the investigations.
Today more than 90 per cent of the corn acreage in our
leading corn states is planted with hybrid strains which
produce from 15 to as much as 30 per cent higher yields
than the old varieties. A waxy strain of corn which may
be considered more or less a by-product of the extensive
corn-breeding program has now been found to have the
desired qualities, and promises to be of great value as a
substitute for imported tapioca.
Resistant Strains Developed
The breeding of adaptable varieties of soy beans of
high oil and high protein content laid the foundation for
the tremendous increase in recent years of the acreage
grown to this crop-a timely and important development
in view of our needs for oils and food during the war. A
new, higher-yielding variety of flax has recently been an-
nounced. Wheats and other grains that resist smut and
rusts represent valuable advances. Cotton that resists
wilt and has longer and more durable staple, sugar beets
that resist curly top, and sugar cane that is resistant to
virus diseases, are among the many new developments in
The discovery that disease resistance or susceptibility
in plants is inherited according to Mendelian laws has
proved a very valuable tool in the hands of the geneticist
and plant pathologist. But even with this valuable tool
there was still trouble ahead. In comparatively recent
years, some of our leading scientists believed that plants
developed to resist given diseases would maintain this
resistance under all conditions. Unfortunately this is
not always the case.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 43
Research Is The Answer
It has been found that climatic factors and soil con-
ditions which influence the 'hysiology of either host or
parasite, or both, may upset this balance and result in
attacks of the normally resistant hosts by the parasite.
This indicated that resistant strains of plants might pos-
sibly maintain their resistance only under the local con-
ditions where they are developed. This has proved true
in some cases. Evidence has accumulated rapidly in re-
cent years to show that new physiologic races of plant
pathogenic fungi are produced continually by mutation
and by hybridization. Many of these new races of the
parasite are less virulent while others are even more viru-
lent than their ancestors, and are able to attack the
hitherto resistant host plants. There are now well over
one hundred known strains of stem rust of wheat, and
many strains of other important fungi are kown to occur.
This further complicates the work of the plant breeder.
Eternal vigilance and a continuous program of research
is the answer.
But even this is not the end of his troubles. The
recent advances in the study of aerobiology have included
a study of the movement of fungous spores in the upper
air currents. The discovery was made that spores of the
fungus causing the stem rust of wheat are carried by
wind from Mexico and Texas, where repeating stages of
the rust overwinter, to the Red River Valley where they
are able to infect growing wheat. The interchange of
spores is known to go both ways, from south to north and
the reverse. They are known to travel by wind as far as
one thousand miles in forty-eight hours. This means that
resistant varieties must be developed for all regions where
there is an interchange of spores by wind, or the investi-
gation will not be successful. This principle will no doubt
be found applicable to many other plant-breeding prob-
lems for disease control within a continent. It may even-
tually be found that there is an interchange in the air,
between continents, of parasitic organisms, possibly both
plant and animal parasites, including those attacking
humans-another worry for our quarantine and health
44 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
New Plant Varieties
The discovery that the X-ray could be used to modify
the chromosome number in the reproductive cells of
plants and animals, and thereby influence the offspring,
has been followed more recently by the discovery that a
chemical, colchicine, doubles the number of chromosomes
in plant cells. This discovery is now being used to aid
the plant breeder.
The causes of virus diseases in animals and plants
and their control are among the most baffling problems
confronting science. Many scientists have dedicated their
lives to the task of determining the nature of these virus
diseases so that satisfactory control measures may be de-
veloped with greater certainty. Proof has been offered
in recent years to show that at least some of the plant
viruses are caused by chemicals of protein nature. How-
ever, opinion is still divided as to the nature of viruses.
Perhaps the newly developed and extremely highly mag-
nifying electron microscope and the more recently devel-
oped electron spectrometer will prove useful in solving
these baffling problems.
Vitamins and Hormones
Much has been learned about the physiology of ani-
mals and plants, and the functioning of the necessary
elements in their systems. Valuable progress has resulted
from the discovery of the functions of vitamins and hor-
mones in promoting growth, reproduction and disease
control in animals. It has recently been discovered that
synthetic nitrogen in the form of urea can be used to some
extent to replace nitrogenous plant material in feed for
cattle and other ruminants. Hay crops cut while young
and tender are kown to be more highly digestible and
nutritious than those harvested according to old
standards. The acid curing of silage represents another
Fertilizer Industry Revolutionized
The old dogma of ten plant-food elements no longer
holds. The positiveness with which this was taught
probably prejudiced the minds of young scientists to the
extent that discoveries of the real facts were delayed.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
The discovery of the functions of the trace elements, or
"micro nutrients," such as boron, zinc, copper, manga-
nese, iodine and several others in the development and
health of plants, together with the adaptation to satis-
factory use of synthetic nitrogen in the form of free am-
monia and urea have revolutionized the fertilizer industry.
The nitrogen formerly used in fertilizers is now being em-
ployed for direct military purposes. However, we are
assured of even greater quantities of nitrogen for fertili-
zers and other civilian uses when the war is over.
Extensive, efficient research has been done by many
investigators in determining the reactions, including hun-
ger symptoms, of plants to the various essential elements,
including the trace elements. Fortunately, this informa-
tion has recently been brought together in book form, and
will undoubtedly serve a valuable purpose to agricultural
experts and farmers alike in the identification and treat-
ment of these nutritional deficiencies in plants.
The discovery of plant hormones, or growth-promot-
ing substances, in plants, has attracted much attention in
recent years. Enthusiasm seems to have resulted in over-
optimism, especially on the part of many laymen. How-
ever, much of value has resulted and the work is just
beginning. The stimulation of root growth on plant cut-
tings that are ordinarily difficult or impossible to propa-
gate is of practical value. Certain of these synthetic
substances when applied to apples and pears prevent pre-
harvest drop and hold the fruit in place from ten days to
two weeks longer than usual. This results in a valuable
saving of fruit and is of particular value at the present
time when labor is scarce. By use of the treatment the
grower can spread his harvest over a longer period of
time. The shedding of the foliage of holly and certain
other Christmas greens can be reduced by the use of cer-
tain of these hormones. Other possible uses for growth-
promoting substances are the growth of larger fruits of
better quality, the development of seedless fruits, the
stiffening of the stems of plants that have a tendency
to lodge, stimulation of plant growth under some condi-
tions by treating the seed with these substances, and the
retardation of sprouting of potatoes and bulbs in storage.
46 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Although the discovery of the effects of light on the
growth and reproduction of plants is not new, important
facts have been learned regarding the nature of light re-
sponses in plants which have led to practical applications,
such as the use of controlled artificial light in the green-
house to determine the range of adaptability of many
kinds of plants. Varieties of high quality can be bred
that are adaptable to the day lengths of the regions where
they are to be grown. Florists can hasten or retard the
flowering of greenhouse plants at will by controlling the
amount of light to which they are subjected.
Chemical Control of Pests
Pests such as insects, worms, rodents, fungi, bacteria
and weeds, constitute a major factor in agricultural pro-
duction and in the preservation of farm products. The
use of chemicals for the control of pests has long been
known. It is only within recent years, however, and espe-
cially since wide publicity has been given to the toxicity
to humans of some of the leading products in use, that
extensive research effort has been directed toward the
discovery of safer and more effective chemicals. The
investigator has been faced with the demand for products
that are colorless, odorless, tasteless, cheap, nonpoisonous
to humans and highly effective on pests. The explora-
tions have gone into the field of natural plant products
and synthetic chemicals. Unfortunately, no outstanding
theories have been developed to serve as a guide in syn-
thetic work. It is largely a matter of cut and try. Thou-
sands of new chemicals have been made and evaluated.
While the ideal has not been attained, the results are
One of the outstanding discoveries in recent years
for the control of pests of farm animals is phenothiazine,
which has proved highly effective for the control of round
worms, nodular worms and certain other internal para-
sites of sheep, cattle, hogs and horses, and for the control
of cecal worms of chickens. The extensive use of this
product in sheep during the war emergency has taken on
added importance. The intestines of sheep free from no-
dular worms make much better surgical suture material,
which is now an urgent need.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 47
More recent promising discoveries, which have not
as yet come into practice, are the use of sulfanilamide,
and a combination of mineral oil and iodine for the con-
trol of mastitis in cattle. Sulfoguanadine ad tetrathyl-
thiuram monosulfide have proved highly effective experi-
mentally for the control of coccidiosis in animals.
The extensive use in recent years of rotenone-bear-
ing products for the control of insects on leafy vegetable
crops, where highly poisonous materials cannot be used
safely, constitutes a major advance in insect control.
Phenothiazine, the athelmintic, has proved more effective
than arsenate of lead for the control of codling moth of
apples under some regional conditions. It also is highly
effective on certain other insects, but it has defects which
must be overcome before it can be used extensively.
The new fumigant, methyl bromide, has advantages
over the older fumigants for some purposes. The organic
thiocyanates and certain phenolics have found some use
for the control of insects attacking plants, but the thio-
cyanates are more widely used as fly sprays.
A recent development that has already proved of
value and offers much promise for the future is the dis-
covery of the synergistic action resulting from the mixing
of two or more chemicals for insecticidal use. A mix-
ture of rotenone and an organic thiocyanate is more
effective than an equal quantity of either of the ingredi-
ents alone. A number of chemicals have been found that
increase the lethal action of pyrethrum in household
and cattle fly sprays. The amount of pyrethrum used can
be greatly reduced. This is particularly important now
when the supply of pyrethrum-an imported product-is
limited and the demand for urgent war needs is g-eat.
Aerosol Method of Application
Another recently developed principle in the use of
insecticides is the aerosol method of application, which is
useful for the control of flies, mosquitoes and possibly
certain other insects that inhabit enclosures. The insecti-
cide is dissolved in a very volatile, nontoxic solvent, and
discharged from pressure containers into the room or
other enclosure, where the insecticide is distributed in the
48 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
form of a vapor which remains suspended in the air for
hours. A much higher degree of efficiency is obtained
from the insecticide applied by this method.
For the control of plant diseases the greatest prog-
ress in recent years has been accomplished by chemical
or physical modification of the old established fungicides,
but very recently some new and promising types of
compounds have been uncovered.
Copper compounds, such as the basic chlorides,
sulfates, and oxides, have proved superior to Bordeaux
Mixture for certain uses. Elemental sulfur reduced to
micro fineness is superior in fungicidal efficiency and can
be used in smaller quantities than the coarser material.
Outstanding among recent advances is the discovery and
adaptation of the organic mercurials to fungicidal use.
Certain of the alkyl mercury compounds are especially
valuable. The use of these products in dust form as dis-
infectants have revolutionized seed treatment. Corn seed
treatment came into use with the advent of the organic
mercurials, which seem to be peculiarly adapted for this
purpose. The treatment of the seeds of small grains, cot-
ton, vegetables and ornamentals has been greatly
simplified and expanded.
Among the more recent developments of promise
which are just coming into use are tetrachloroquinone and
several derivatives of dithiocarbamic acid. While these
products are somewhat specific in fungicidal action, for
some uses they are superior to any materials yet
Advance in Weed Control
Weeds constitute one of our major agricultural
problems. Cultural methods of control and eradication
have made progress. Until recent years little well organ-
ized intensive chemical research was done in this field.
The ideal sought for is a chemical that when applied to
the foliage is translocated through the plant to the roots
to kill the entire plant. A selective product is needed-
one that kills weeds and does not materially injure culti-
vated plants, is nonpoisonous to animals, and does not
render the soil toxic to plant growth A number of prod-
ucts have proved useful, but none of them meet all re-
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 49
quirements. A recent development is ammonium sulfa-
mate, which offers considerable promise. It is a non-
poisonous and nonflammable product, which is highly
effective against poison ivy and many other weeds. Full
information regarding its efficiency and limitations is not
Methods of Application Improved
Timeliness and thoroughness of application of sprays
and dusts are essential to effectiveness-this is especially
true of fungicides where coverage should be complete.
Research in engineering is supplying the answer. Instead
of the old laborious, low pressure, barrel sprayers of
twenty-five years ago, we now have the motor driven,
large volume sprayers that develop up to 1,000 pounds
pressure which, with the modern spray guns and nozzles,
are capable of covering trees 100 feet in height. A prom-
ising so-called "high speed" sprayer involving a new
principle was recently announced. For dusting, the
gunny sack and hand sifter have been replaced by power
drive machines that apply clouds of dust in large volumes
and are capable of covering the largest fruit trees. The
airplane and autogiro are finding increasing use in the
application of insecticides and fungicides. The old shovel-
ing and tumbling barrel methods of seed treatment are
giving way to power driven community treating plants.
Many seedsmen now treat their seeds before selling them.
Parasitic Control of Pests
The use of parasites for the control of pests has been
given considerable attention for many years for the con-
trol of insects, with promising results. The recent dis-
covery of the milky white, or bacterial, diseases of the
Japanese beetle, one of our most destructive insect pests,
is very encouraging. These bacteria are able to live in
the soil from year to year and destroy the successive
broods of Japanese beetle grubs. The distribution of the
inoculum is well under way in the beetle infested region
by Federal and State agencies.
In the harvesting and preparation of agricultural
products for distribution and for consumption, steady
progress is being made. You have only to compare the
grading and packaging methods of today with those of
50 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
only a few years ago to realize the progress that has been
made. Among the many important advances are the re-
cently improved methods of dehydration of food mate-
rials so as to retain their food value and normal flavor-
major items in supplying food for war purposes. Of out-
standing importance are the newly developed methods of
quick freezing of both plant and animal products, to-
gether with the frozen locker and frozen pack method of
handling them. Another development of merit is the
discovery that propionic acid and its calcium and sodium
salts can be used effectively in foods, such as breads,
cakes, pies and cheese, to inhibit the growth of molds and
preserve these foods in edible form over longer periods of
Inspirational Teaching Needed
The accomplishments of agricultural research in the
aggregate appear great, but still huge tasks lie before
us. Many of these tasks are of proportions that will re-
quire greater painstaking efforts and more extensive
cooperation than anything we have yet experienced. One
has only to drive through many of our agricultural regions
to raise the question as to whether full advantage is being
taken of the agricultural knowledge that is available.
Obviously it is not. Is our educational system keeping
pace with research? In some instances the answer is no.
More intensive research into new methods of inspirational
teaching of the advantages of farm life, and the funda-
mental principles underlying profitable farming, for use
in the public schools, beginning with the primary grades,
might prove profitable. Nor should this teaching be con-
fined to the rural schools. Some of our leading indus-
trialists and professional men came from the farm. There
is no reason why an equal flow in the other direction
should not pay good dividends. The purpose should be
to train and make an opportunity for all those especially
suited to agriculture, and not try to hold the potential
industrialist or professional man on the farm.
Post-War Agricultural Research
Since our declaration of war there has been, and
there will continue to be, curtailment of many meritorious
investigations, and special consideration will be given to
those problems which are of urgent necessity in the war
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
effort. No one will take exception to this. After we have
won the war we will be able to reconsider our agricultural
research programs. Many of our trained young research
men will return from the front, and those who have re-
mained at home on vital war production research will be
available to take places in a more permanent order. If
the ideals set forth in the Atlantic Charter are to prevail,
research in all its phases, and especially its international
phases, must and will surpass anything yet known, and
agricultural research will take its place near the top in
the new scheme of things.
The natural resources are available in the world, if
effectively developed and distributed, for all to live in
comfort. Certainly if anyone is entitled to the comforts
and conveniences of a modern home it is the farmer and
his family who have known no time clock except the early
morning alarm. Following the war we will see a rapid
expansion of rural electrification and mechanization,
which makes possible many other conveniences. It is con-
ceivable that the farmer may have his own refrigeration
plant to replace, at least in part, the smokehouse and the
canning outfit. Research already under way may enable
us to grow at least a part of our needs of natural rubber,
and insecticides such as rotenone and pyrethrum. We are
already growing raw materials suited for use in synthetic
rubber if this becomes economically feasible.
Air transport will probably come into extensive use
eventually for overnight transportation of perishable
agricultural products. Instead of eating tasteless, shriv-
eled melons for breakfast we will be served delicious ripe
ones picked the day before, probably several thousand
miles away. Valuable perishable flowers are already be-
ing shipped across the continent by air. Many millions
of acres of our worn-out and waste lands will be con-
verted into profitable forests and pastures. But why go
on speculating with regard to the future. I am sure that
we have faith in our agricultural research institutions to
help lead the way to a more porsperous and peaceful
52 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Plant Fibers in Wartime
(Agriculture in the Americas, June, 1942)
A look at what is being done and what more can be done
in the Americas to solve the emergency problem created by the
fact that much of the world's commercial fiber production is
normally concentrated in areas that are now under the control
of the Axis.
By HARRY T. EDWARDS
If all the products made from plant fibers were to be
removed, civilized life as it is known today could no
longer exist. In every home and shop, in every factory
and mine, and on every farm and ship, there are almost
countless products made from the slender, threadlike fila-
ments which are produced by a wide variety of plants.
Textile fabrics for clothing and household furnishings;
cables, ropes, twines, and threads for towing ships, bind-
ing grain, and catching fish; millions of burlap bags for
packaging raw materials and manufactured products-
these are a few of the hundreds of articles that are made
from plant fibers.
Since nearly two thousand recognized species of
plants yield useful fibers and fibrous materials, there
tends to be a good deal of confusion about their character-
istics, uses, and interchangeability. The subject is not so
complex as it appears, however, for only a few of the
hundreds of known species are used in large quantities in
industry, and these divide quite satisfactorily into three
classes. Here is the usual classification, with the leading
examples of each class:
Hard fibers, which extend through the pulpy tissues
of the leaves and leaf stems of plants. The hard fibers
of primary importance are abaca, sisal, and henequen, all
of which are used in the manufacture of different types of
cordage, particularly that in which tensile strength and
durability are desired. For some types of cordage, the
hard and soft fibers are interchangeable.
Soft or bast fibers, which are obtained from the inner
bark of plants. The outstanding fibers of this sort are
flax, hemp, and jute, the most important uses of which
are in both fine and coarse textile fabrics and many dif-
ferent types of cords, twines, and threads.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 53
Seed fibers, which are produced inside of seed pods,
The leading product of this type is cotton, perhaps the
most versatile of all fibrous substances. Kapok, which
belongs in the same group, is used in the manufacture of
life-saving apparatus, insulation, and upholstering.
Nature scattered useful fiber plants widely over the
face of the globe, but mankind through the centuries has
done a thorough job of rearranging them so that today
production of most of the leaders has become concen-
trated in the Eastern Hemisphere, particularly in the
tropical regions of the south Pacific. The Western Hem-
isphere, while relatively self-sufficient in food production,
has never gone in heavily for the production of fibers in
competition with low-cost areas of the East and is on an
import basis for all of the principal fibers mentioned
except cotton and henequen.
The wide separation from the sources of supply may
not be particularly efficient, but under normal conditions,
when production is uninterrupted and there is no inter-
ference with transportation, it is ordinarily possible for
every country to obtain its required supply of these ma-
terials. The situation is radically changed when a world
war stops the production of fibers in regions where mili-
tary operations are in progress, closes many of the sea
lanes, and destroys ships by the score. War manufac-
turing increases the demand for most of the fibers, and
it becomes necessary either to produce some of the plants
in regions where they have not been grown previously or
to obtain acceptable substitutes. This is the situation
which now confronts the American republics and to
some extent practically all of the United Nations.
Cotton, of course, is produced abundantly in the
Western Hemisphere. The fiber problem of the Americas
in the present emergency thus consists essentially in find-
ing ways of maintaining adequate supplies of abaca, sisal,
henequen, flax, hemp, jute, and kapok or of providing
substitutes for them. It is not a problem to be solved
off-hand, over a cup of coffee, but it is far from insoluble.
Current progress and future prospects can perhaps best
be appraised by discussing the fibers one at a time.
54 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The Hard Fibers
Most important of the hard fibers is abaca, normally
one of the leading export products of the Philippine
Islands. Although it is not a true hemp and is not grown
in the immediate vicinity of Manila, it is know to the
trade as Manila hemp, probably because the term hemp
has been used loosely for years and because exports origi-
nate in Manila. The word abacaa" is of Malay origin
and is used in the Philippines to designate both the plant
and the fiber.
With the exception of relatively small quantities pro-
duced in the Netherlands, Indies and Borneo, the entire
world supply of abaca fiber has been obtained from the
Philippines, to which the plant is native. The records
of Ferdinand Magellan show that abaca was being grown
and used in the Philippines when he visited the islands
early in the sixteenth century. During the next 300 years
the fiber was used to some extent by the Spaniards
in the Philippines for the manufacture of cordage, and
during the early part of the nineteenth century an officer
in the American Navy brought samples to the United
States. It was found to be an exceptionally valuable
rope fiber, and in 1818 about 40 tons were imported. In
course of time abaca became the leading export product
of the Philippines, and at one time early in the twentieth
century it represented two-thirds of the total value of
all products exported from the Islands.
The abaca plant, a perennial, is closely related to the
banana plant, which it resembles in appearance. A ma-
ture abaca plant or "mat" consists of a group of from
10 to 30 stalks, each of them composed of the overlapping
leaf stem, the outer portion of which contains the fiber.
The plant produces a green fruit that looks like a small
banana but is filled with black seeds. As abaca plants
grown from seeds do not come true to type, the usual
method of propagation is by the use of suckers or root-
stocks. In cleaning the fiber, the outer fibrous portion
of each leaf stem is stripped off in the form of ribbons.
To remove the pulp and waste material, these ribbons
are drawn under a knife that rests on a block of hard
wood. Small machines that are a modification of the
hand-stripping process are used for cleaning the fiber in
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 55
the southern part of the Philippines. In Sumatra large
automatic machines are used.
In 1925 the United States Department of Agriculture
brought a shipment of abaca plants from the Philippine
Islands to the Republic of Panama. These plants were
first grown in a quarantine station on Columbus Island
and were afterward removed to the mainland near the
town of Almirante. Experimental work was carried on
both in growing the plants and in cleaning the fiber, and
it was determined that the climatic and soil conditions
of that region are favorable for abaca, that the plant is
resistant to the common diseases of the banana, and that
fiber of excellent quality can be produced in Panama.
In 1937 and 1939 field plantings were made, and these
plantings are now being extended both in Panama and
in Costa Rica.
Although there is little doubt that the abaca plant
can be grown in the American Tropics in places having
suitable climatic and soil conditions, the cleaning and
processing problems are not yet entirely solved. It is
questionable if the production of abaca fiber anywhere in
the Western Hemisphere either by hand-stripping or by
the small machine method of cleaning will be a profitable
business undertaking, and the use of the large fiber-
cleaning machines requires big acreages and heavy capi-
tal expenditure. Except for experimental plantings. it
is regarded as advisable for the present to confine the
expansion of the abaca industry in the Western Hemi-
sphere to the regions in which commercial plantings are
now being made.
The combination of strength and water resistance
makes abaca the most valuable fiber for the production of
naval and marine cordage, and it is thus a raw material
of prime importance in wartime. A few small shipments
of abaca from Panama to the United States have been
made, but since about 18 months must elapse before new
plantings mature, it will be some little time before sub-
stantial relief of the abaca situation can be expected
from Latin America. For the present, stocks are being
rigidly conserved and substitutes are being sought. One
of the most promising substitutes is the soft fiber,
56 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Henequen and sisal are ordinarily considered to-
gether, since both are imported into the United States
under the one trade name of "sisal," despite the fact that
they come from two distinct species of plants that require
for their best development different climatic and soil
conditions. Henequen is produced in Mexico and Cuba by
the plant Agave Fourcroydes; sisal, in the Netherlands
Indies, East Africa, Haiti, and the Bahama Islands by the
Agave Sisalana. The fibers are similar in appearance
and quality, but they are by no means identical and their
uses are somewhat different. It would be of advantage
to both producers and users if the two fibers could be
known by the distinctive trade names, henequen and
Both henequen and sisal are native to Mexico and
were being used by the Aztecs and Mayas when Cortez
invaded that area in the sixteenth century. The primitive
methods originally used for cleaning the fibers were slow
and tedious, but about 1830 a simple cleaning machine
was invented and its use led to a gradual expansion
of the industry. The two plants were introduced from
Campeche, Mexico, to Coconut Grove, Florida, about
1834, and from Florida sisal has been distributed to many
At present henequen is cultivated for the commercial
production of fiber only in Mexico and Cuba. The prin-
cipal sisal-producing countries are the Netherlands Indies
and the East African colonies of Britain and Portugal,
with Haiti contributing a relatively small portion of the
world supply. There is a small production in El Salvador
from the plant Agave Letonae of a fiber similar to hene-
quen and known to the trade as Salvador sisal. All these
Latin American sources have customarily supplied 50 per-
cent or a little more of annual United States imports of
sisal and henequen combined.
Henequen is a hardy slow-growing plant that can be
cultivated in regions where climatic and soil conditions
are unsuitable for practically any other cultivated crop.
Mexican production centers in the rugged State of Yuca-
tan, where the plant flourishes on rocky limestone soil
and the only cultivation the fields receive is an occasional
clearing of brush and weeds. The plants come into
production 5 to 17 years after the suckers are set out and
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
continue to produce for a period ranging from 10 to 20
years. Because of a heavier rainfall and somewhat more
favorable soil conditions, the henequen plant matures
more quickly in Cuba but lives for a shorter period of
The sisal plant yields its first crop of leaves about 3
years after the suckers are planted and continues in pro-
duction from 5 to 7 years. Sisal is ordinarily grown in
regions having a fairly heavy rainfall, frequently on
fertile soils, and the fields are usually cultivated.
Both of these fibers are cleaned with Icr.e automatic
machines which scrape away the pulp and waste mate-
rial, leaving the clean fiber. After leaving the cleaning
machines, the fiber is dried either in the sun or in mechan-
ical dryers and the superior grades are :'-ually brushed
before being baled for market. The United States is the
principal market for Mexican and Cuban henequen, and
the fiber is used mainly for the manufacture of binder
twine. Large quantities of henequen fiber are consumed
locally in Yucatan for the manufacture of twines, cord-
age, and sacks. The more important uses of sisal are for
binder twine and miscellaneous cordage purposes, but
this fiber is also used for mattress pads, floor mats, and
Before the outbreak of the war, total world produc-
tion of henequen and sisal was rather more than adequate
to supply requirements, and efforts were being made to
curtail production and to develop new industrial uses for
the fibers. This situation has been drastically altered by
decreased production in the Far East and interference
with shipping facilities, and now emphasis is on increased
production in the Western Hemisphere. There are oppor-
tunities for an extension of acreage in all of the countries
where these fibers are now produced, and reports from
the south indicate that steps in that direction have already
been taken. Although it is impossible to determine at this
time how long the emergency will continue or what the
fiber situation will be after the war, the tropical Ameri-
can republics should have little hesitancy in increasing
their production of sisal and possibly of henequen.
The Soft Fibers
Jute may well be regarded as the world's most im-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
portant soft fiber, even though it is inferior in quality to
flax and hemp, for it is consumed in larger quantities than
all the other plant fibers combined, omitting cotton. Pro-
duced in large commercial quantities in but one country,
India, it is used throughout the civilized world. There
are many acceptable substitutes, but it has not been pos-
sible to produce any of them at a cost that would enable
them to compete successfully with jute.
In a fairly compact area, principally in the Province
of Bengal, and on a large number of small farms, some
two million tons of jute fiber are produced annually in
India. Jute farmers ordinarily do not cultivate more than
3 acres, and all members of the family participate in the
operations. With climatic and soil conditions that are
exceptionally favorable for this crop, with adequate
facilities for separating the fiber, and with labor costs
reduced to a minimum, it has been possible to produce
jute more cheaply in India than in any other part of the
world. Large sums of money have been expended in the
effort to perfect machines for cleaning jute fiber, but no
machine has yet been obtained that can compete with
the cheap labor of the Indian Ryot or peasant.
Jute is used for many different purposes, but the
most important is the manufacture of burlap and other
types of coarse fabrics. From these fabrics are made the
hundreds of millions of bags and sacks that are used for
packaging both agricultural and manufactured products.
The total elimination of the supply of jute bags would
require a general reorganization of the present methods
of handling and transporting many of the world's most
important raw materials. The American republics import
burlap bags in much larger quantities than they do jute
Experimental plantings of jute have been made in
different countries in the Americas, and in several in-
stances there has been a small commercial production of
this fiber. Ultimately, however, it has been found in
each one of these projects that jute could be imported
from India more cheaply than it could be produced.
There are many places in the Western Hemisphere where
conditions are reasonably favorable for the cultivation of
this crop, but until machines for cleaning the fiber have
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 59
been perfected it is unlikely that there will be any large
production of jute in the American tropics. So long as
Eastern sources are unavailable, substitutes of higher
quality and cost are going to have to be used.
Fiber flax, used in the production of linen thread,
fabrics, fish lines and other textile articles requiring both
fineness and strength, is a temperate zone product. It is
grown in cool moist regions of many countries, but large-
scale production in recent years has been confined largely
to the Eastern Hemisphere, with Russia as much the
largest producer. The seedflax plant, widely grown in
Argentina, Canada, and the United States for linseed-oil
production, yields a fiber that is used as a paper material
but is not suitable for spinning.
The strands of fiber in the flax plant lie between the
outer skin of the stem and the woody pith forming the
center. To separate them, the straw is first retted (per-
mitted to rot) in water. It is then dried, and passed
through rollers which break the core into small pieces.
The broken straw is subjected to a process called scutch-
ing, in which it is beaten with special blades that remove
the broken woody portions and outer skin. In the linen
mill, the scutched flax is hackled (combed) to remove
the short fibers, known as tow, which has important uses
but sells for somewhat lower prices than the longer
strands called line fiber. Until recent years, a large
amount of hand labor was required in this cleaning oper-
ation, but machinery has now been perfected for doing
much of the work.
The Western Hemisphere normally produces only a
small percentage of its flax fiber needs. The United
States has a small industry and has approximately dou-
bled its acreage in the last couple of years. Peru has
made marked progress in developing its fiber flax in-
dustry in the last two years, and several other American
countries, notably Argentina and Chile, have begun to
produce small quantities. The fiber flax plant is rather
exacting in its climatic and soil requirements, and special-
ized knowledge is required both in growing the crop and
processing the fiber. In view of increased wartime de-
mand for the fiber and of the improvements that have
been made in producing and processing methods, an
60 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
increasing production of fiber flax in the Western Hemi-
sphere seems likely.
Hemp may prove to be the Cinderella of the fiber
world. Not many years ago hemp production was a
substantial agricultural industry in the United States,
particularly in the State of Kentucky, and the fiber was
extensively used in rope manufacture. Then abaca was
introduced, and the domestic fiber dropped into a sec-
ondary position. Today, with imports of abaca and jute
curtailed, there is renewed interest in hemp, which can
be substituted to some extent for both of them.
The name, hemp, is applied in the trade to so many
different products that it has become almost a synonym
for fiber. There is, however, only one true hemp, a soft
or bast fiber produced by the plant Cannabis Sativa. It
is more nearly like flax than any other commercial fiber,
is removed from the plant by retting, breaking and
scutching, and may be hackled so as to be as fine as the
coarser grades of flax. The principal use in recent years
has been for the manufacture of twines and certain types
of marine cordage. Hemp tow is used extensively in the
manufacture of oakum. The plant requires a temperate
climate, annual rainfall of at least 30 or 35 inches, and a
fertile loam soil.
Like flax, hemp is grown to some extent in practi-
cally every temperate zone country, but by far the larger
part of the world supply has been produced in the Eastern
Hemisphere. Total world production in recent years
has ranged from 275,000 to 350,000 tons a year, pro-
duced principally in Russia and Italy. The United States
has been using only between 1,000 and 1,500 tons a
year, about half of it produced domestically and the
rest imported, chiefly from Italy.
Like the United States, Chile and Argentina produce
small quantities of hemp fiber, and all three countries
are prepared to produce more. The United States is
aiming at doubling its acreage of hemp for fiber in 1942
and has launched a program for increased seed produc-
tion. In addition to the countries mentioned, there are
other regions in the Americas where conditions are favor-
able for hemp production. Farmers who have had ex-
perience with the crop like to grow it, since it clears the
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
land of weeds and improves the physical condition of the
soil. Machinery for cleaning the fiber is available and
markets are well established.
As a substitute for abaca in the manufacture of
marine cordage, hemp yields a product of somewhat less
strength and water resistance but of fairly satisfactory
properties in an emergency. The tow can be used to pro-
duce bagging ordinarily made from jute, although at a
somewhat higher cost. Under these circumstances, there
seems to be little doubt of a largely increased consumption
of hemp during the war period provided supplies are
Kapok, the Seed-pod Fiber
The kapok plant, an American native that is sup-
posed to have been taken to the Far East by the early
Portugese navigators, is now widely distributed through-
out the tropical regions of the Orient. The plant still
grows in the wild state in nearly all parts of the American
tropics, but the commercial production of kapok fiber is
mainly in the Netherlands Indies. Although kapok is
cultivated as a plantation crop in Java and Sumatra,
approximately 90 percent of the total production in the
Indies is obtained from trees growing along roadsides
and around the houses of the native people.
Perhaps the principal reason why there has been a
relatively large development of this industry in Java is
the fact that the production of kapok requires a large
amount of hand labor. The pods must be gathered, one
at a time, from the large trees on which they grow, and
after being dried, the down and seeds are removed, also
by hand labor, from the pods. Formerly the fiber was
cleaned by hand labor, but the superior grades are now
cleaned with machines.
With the elimination, at least for the time being, of
the main source of supply of kapok fiber, there is an un-
usual opportunity for developing the production of this
fiber in the Americas. Ecuador already has a fairly large
production of kapok, and several different species of the
Ceiba trees, which produce the fiber, are distributed
throughout the American tropics. It is questionable if
the production of kapok will ever become an important
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
plantation industry in any of the American countries, but
there are may places where this fiber could be made
the basis of a household industry.
The more important uses of kapok are for the manu-
facturing of life-saving apparatus, for insulation pur-
poses, and as a stuffing and filling material. The con-
sumption of this fiber is increasing, and it is probable
that new uses would be discovered if larger supplies were
An unusual amount of attention is now being given
to some of the so-called "new" fibers, which may perhaps
be used as substitutes for products of which there is an
actual or a prospective shortage. Under normal condi-
tions of world industry, the introduction of new fibers is
ordinarily rather difficult. Manufacturing machinery has
been perfected for handling the fibers that have long
been in general use, and markets have been developed
for the products made from them. The manufacturers
of textile fabrics, cordage, and other products made from
the plant fibers are usually disinclined to use new raw
materials without definite assurance that these new ma-
terials are either cheaper in price or superior in quality
to the materials that have formerly been used. It is
also required that regular supplies of the new fibers shall
be available in commercial quantities, and that they shall
be of uniform and standard quality. In other words, it
is difficult to establish production of the raw materials
on a commercial basis until there is definite assurance
of a market, and it is difficult to establish a market until
there is assurance of production in commercial quantities.
An emergency time like the present furnishes favor-
able conditions for the introduction of new fibers, but
the producers of these fibers should clearly understand
that when the emergency is over they must be prepared
to compete both in price and in quality with the fibers
that have formerly been used. The development of a
new industry on the basis of war prices is ordinarily
neither a substantial nor a profitable undertaking.
There are several plant fibers that are used in fairly
large quantities in the countries where they are produced
and that have an established, though minor, position in
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 63
the export trade. It should be possible to develop the
use of these fibers as substitute materials. Included in
this group are palma istle, produced in Mexico, and used
both for cordage and fabric purposes; caroa, which is
produced in Brazil and is also used for fabrics and for
cordage; and ramie, which is grown in small quantities in
several Latin American countries and is primarily a
A second group includes fibers that have a local use,
and that could probably be used as substitute materials
if available in larger quantities. Ordinarily these fibers
are produced, either entirely or in part, from wild plants,
and are cleaned by hand methods or by small and crude
machines. Under these conditions of production, the
available supplies are likely to be irregular, and the
quality may not be entirely satisfactory. Promising rep-
resentatives of this group are the Pita Floja and Fique
fibers of Colombia, and the soft fibers produced by many
different plants of the Malva group, which are widely
distributed throughout the American tropics.
These, and perhaps a number of other plant fibers,
are worthy of attention at this time. The increased pro-
duction of any of these fibers will furnish material for
which there is now urgent need, and current prices for
all fibers should serve to stimulate their production. As
the new fibers become better known to the manufacturers
and as improvements are made in the present methods
of cleaning and processing, it is not unlikely that the
production of some of these fibers may be established on
permanent and profitable basis.
Roselle fiber compares favorably with jute fiber. It
is adapted to growing in many tropical American coun-
tries and would fit well into their ecomony. Roselle has
been widely grown in the Old World Tropics but only
recently and on a restricted scale in the Western Hemi-
.sphere. The fiber has been used for many products
64 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ranging from heavy marine cordage to fine cloth and
Roselle is known scientifically as Hibiscus Sabda-
riffa and is a member of the Malvaceae, the cotton family.
It is an annual, native to tropical Africa.
The production of good quality fiber is said to be
dependent upon an environment which favors rapid and
continuous growth of the plant. It appears roselle re-
quires an average rainfall of 10 inches per month during
the growing season. Areas subject to strong winds and
much fog are said to be undesirable for production of
roselle fiber. It is said that the soil must be particularly
permeable and well drained, and very fertile if rapid
growth is to be attained.
Roselle is seeded at the beginning of the rainy season
in rows 8 inches apart with the seed spaced 6 inches apart
in the rows. Plantings for seed production are not so
The crop should be ready to cut after 80 days under
such conditions; in any case it should not be allowed to
grow longer than 4 months. Fiber from older plants is
of low quality and market value and is more difficult to
clean. Seed plots require a longer period of growth.
The stems are cut at the ground level. The leaves
and tops are removed and the cortex stripped off by hand
in the field. The fiber stalks are then bundled for retting.
Retting tank capacity is provided at the rate of about
850 cubic feet per acre of crop. The fiber is retted 7 to
10 days in standing water. Over-retting weakens the
fiber. When retted, the fiber is washed first in the ret-
ting water and then in cleaning running water and dried.
An average yield of fiber is about one ton per acre.
Seed is harvested by collecting and drying the fruits
and screening out the seed. The cleaned seed is bagged
and stored in a cool dry place. Seed yield is about 350
pounds per acre.
Roselle requires much less labor for decortication
and retting than does jute and therefore is likely to prove
a practical source of fiber for war-time needs. In time
of peace, roselle might again be unable to compete with
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
jute fiber, produced with lower cost labor, unless more
efficient methods of producing and cleaning the fiber can
Roselle May Become an Important Crop in Tropical
Roselle fiber may be an important substitute for jute,
and suitable for extensive production in tropical America.
According to Campese (3) who has studied production in
Java and elsewhere, and Dalton (5) who has grown
roselle in El Salvador, this fiber can be cleaned with much
less labor than can jute fiber. It would fit well into the
economy of many countries of tropical America
where hand labor is readily available and in need of
Roselle Has Not Been Widely Cultivated
in the Western Hemisphere
Roselle is native to tropical Africa according to
Campese (3) where it has long been cultivated for its
fiber. He also reports its production in French Indo
China, India, Ceylon, other tropical Asiatic countries.
According to the trade magazine Cord Age (4) roselle
has been grown in Australia and the West Indies. British
authorities report its production in the East Indies (2).
Campese (3) indicates commercial production has been
most highly developed in Java. It has not yet been
grown commercially in the Americas. Dalton (5) has
made limited plantings in El Salvador. Other plantings
have been made in Peru, Chile, and Argentina according
to information reported by the State Department (13).
Roselle Could Be Grown in Many Countries
of Tropical America
Environmental conditions favorable to the growing
of roselle may be found in the following countries:
Santiago River Valley
Balsas River Valley
San Pedro River Valley
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Guatemala-the Pacific coast area
Colombia-lower Cauca Valley
Argentina-Department of Misiones
Other considerations which will determine the feasi-
bility of production in areas physically suited to the plant
are (a) an abundant and dependable supply of low-
priced labor (b) an adequate supply of water for retting
and washing the fiber, and (c) transportation facilities.
The Quality of the Fiber Depends on the Way it is Grown
Reports of the quality and utility of roselle fiber are
not all in agreement. The records have been carefully
studied and it is believed that most opinions unfavorable
to roselle fiber have been occasioned by mistakes in its
culture or in the harvesting and preparation of the fiber.
Good quality fiber has not been produced when growth
was slow or interrupted by lack of moisture, the stems
were woody or branched, the soil was lacking in fertility,
permeability or drainage, the crop was harvested too late,
or when the fiber was overretted or poorly washed and
Roselle Fiber Has Many Desirable Characteristics
When properly grown and well prepared, roselle
fiber is apparently, according to various authorities in
the United States, Java and the British Empire (1, 3, 12)
as strong though somewhat less flexible and resilient than
jute. The fiber is creamy white in color, lustrous, silky,
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 67
soft and up to 6 to 10 feet in length. Over-retting weak-
ens the fiber and destroys its gloss according to British
and Indian authorities (2, 8).
The fiber from plants with branches is usually weak
at the points where the branches grew from the stems
according to authorities in India (9). Early trials by im-
porters (1) indicate the fiber was too webby for machine
spinning but recent information from other trials in the
United States (4, 12) indicate that roselle fiber is readily
spinnable on machines used for jute.
Roselle Fiber is Adapted to Many Uses
Roselle rope and cordage is preferred by the Dutch
Navy and merchant marine because of its resistance to
salt and fresh water (3). It is considered better for
sacking than is cotton because of its lasting qualities ac-
cording to consular reports (13). It has been used for
tapioca and sugar bags in Java, for sandbags by the
Netherland Indies Army according to reports of the State
Department (11). Importers and trade magazines (4,
12) report it has been used for gunny sacks and sacking.
When roselle fiber is used in mixture with jute or other
fiber it improves the appearance of sacks or other articles
(11). If well prepared the fiber can readily be woven
into cloth which serves for dresses, shirts, table cloths,
napkins, bed linen and other articles for which cotten is
used according to Campese (3). He states that fiber
from very young plants and especially that from the root
is suitable for making paper.
Perhaps the most comprehensive trials of roselle
fiber are those made by the American Manufacturing
Company. According to Mr. F. H. Filley, President, that
company imported 3,400 bales in 1939 under the trade
name java jute. He stated (7): "The fiber was some-
what harsh and was not as strong as dacca tossa jute but
was more like mesta jute from India. I do not think
there is any question as to being able to work it as a sub-
stitute for jute on short line machinery. It did not make
a satisfactory carpet yarn, due to the harshness of the
fiber. The yarn was hairy and lacked the strength of
dacca tossa jute. However, as a substitute, it will do and
I am sure jute spinners will be glad to get it."
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Roselle is closely related to cotton
The genus Hibiscus belongs to the Malvaceae, the
cotton family. Of the approximately 140 species of Hi-
biscus, the species H. Sabdariffa, known commonly as
roselle, is that with which this report is particularly
Roselle requires much rainfall and fertile well drained soil
Roselle is a plant of tropical climates. In coastal
areas near the equator it may be grown at elevations up
to 600 to 700 meters above sea level according to Campese
Dalton (5) states that roselle requires not less than
60 and will do well under 90 to 100 inches of rainfall
which must be well distributed throughout a six-months
rainy season. It appears to require not less than about
10 inches of rainfall per month during the growing sea-
son. It has been grown by Dalton in El Salvador (5)
with less rainfall supplemented by irrigation.
Since roselle is a tall-growing crop and soft rather
than woody stems are desired, it should not be grown in
areas subject to strong winds according to Campese (3).
Roselle can not be profitably grown and does not
produce good quality fiber in shallow, impervious, infer-
tile, or poorly drained soils. It has been grown in soil
varying from clays and sandy clays in Java (3) light
loams in the Malay States (10) and deep heavy loams in
El Salvador (5). The most important requirements of
the soil are that it be fertile, permeable, well drained, and
not subject to inundation according to Campese (3).
Growth should be rapid and continuous
Roselle is not well adapted to areas prevalently
foggy during the rainy season because foggy weather re-
tards its growth according to Campese (3). Dalton (5)
reports that in El Salvador, under the best conditions, a
growing season of 80 days is sufficient. In any case,
roselle grown for fiber should be cut before the end of
the fourth month when it should be 10 feet or more in
height, according to Campese (3).
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 69
The culture of roselle is not difficult
The cultural requirements of roselle have not, so far
as is known, been determined by agricultural scientists.
A considerable fund of empirical information is available
and is briefly presented in the statements below.
Campese (3) reports it is essential to plow the soil
to a depth of 10 or 12 inches. According to him the crop
requires much nitrogen, potash and calcium. If the soil
is deficient in these nutrient materials, he states, they
should be supplied by use of commercial fertilizers, green
manure crops or barnyard manure according to the soil.
He states the fertilizer should be incorporated in the soil
to a considerable depth because the close spacing of the
planting prevents much horizontal growth of roots. Rapid
growth is therefore dependent on absorption by roots
growing more deeply in the soil. Campese (3) also states
the seed bed should be well harrowed and smoothed be-
Roselle seeds should be planted evenly and close together
According to Campese (3), Dalton (5) and British
authorities (2) roselle should be planted at the beginning
of the rainy season. Campese (3) states that germination
is speeded up by soaking seed overnight before planting.
Rate of germination is decreased if soaked seed is not
planted the next day.
Seeding for fiber production at the rate of 14 to 16
pounds per acre is recommended by Campese (3). Dal-
ton (5) has reported that 28 pounds of seed per acre pro-
duced as much fiber as heavier rates of seeding. Accord-
ing to Davson (6) seed in Java is spaced 5 to 6 inches
apart in the rows.
Broadcast seeding is not recommended by Campese
(3) because the uneven stand permits woody and
branched stems to develop. Woody stems make retting
uneven and more difficult and branches weaken the fiber.
When plantings are made for seed production the
spacing should be 20 inches in the furrow and 32 inches
between furrows according to Campese (3).
The crop requires little cultivation
Campese (3) states the crop should be kept free of
70 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
weeds by hoeing. British authorities (2) report that no
weeding is necessary. It is essential that roselle grow
rapidly and without interruption, therefore it might need
to be hoed if competition from weeds was severe enough
to affect the growth of the young plants.
It may be grown in rotations and as a catch crop
British authorities (2) state that not more than two
or three crops of roselle should be grown in succession on
new land and that thereafter it should be grown in a two
year rotation. Campese (3) recommends that it be pre-
ceded by a leguminous green manure crop, and followed
by corn. The British also suggest it be grown between
rows of rubber plantations but not after the rubber plant-
ings are 21/2 years old. They state the roselle should not
be planted closer to the trees than 5 feet.
The sooner the crop is cut the higher the quality
of the fiber
Reports vary as to how long roselle should be allowed
to grow before cutting. Campese (3) states that if the
stems are allowed to become woody the fiber is of lower
quality and decortication and retting are more difficult.
Dalton (5) also emphasizes the need for cutting stems for
fiber as soon as adequate growth in height has been ob-
tained. From the reports of these and others it appears
evident that a well grown crop should reach a height of
10 feet or more in 80 to not more than 120 days and that
it should be cut as soon as this height is attained.
Roselle can be decorticated by hand
According to Campese (3), the stems should be cut
at the ground level, freed of leaves and top, and the cor-
tex stripped off in the field. Women and children assist
in these operations in Java. It is said by Campese that
decortication is easier if the plant is cut right after a rain.
It is not clear whether or not Dalton (5) has found it
necessary to strip the cortex before retting.
Campese (3) also recommends that if the crop has
been cut late, the more woody lower stems should be cut
off at a height of one meter, and bundled separately.
These parts are more difficult to decorticate and rot.
According to Campese (3), the leaves, tops and cor-
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 71
tex are valuable as green manure and should be left on
the ground and plowed under.
Retting roselle is not difficult
Campese (3) states there should be about 857 cubic
feet of retting tank capacity per acre of crop. The fiber
should be retted in standing water. He states retting
takes about a week but should not be continued longer
than 10 days. Over retting weakens the fibers. Accord-
ing to British authorities (2) it should be kept submerged
while retting. At the end of the retting period the fiber
is free except for a mucilaginous coating. This can be
removed by washing first in the retting water and again in
clean, preferably running water. This washing produces
clean lustrous fiber.
Roselle fiber can be produced with less labor
than can jute fiber
Both Campese (3) and Dalton point out this advan-
tage of roselle over jute. In spite of this fact, jute has
maintained its place in world trade for two reasons.
First, jute was widely established in the major soft fiber
producing areas and accepted by the trade before roselle
was well known. Second, the wage scale in India is much
lower, six or seven cents per day, than in tropical Ameri-
can countries where the wage scale is commonly some-
what higher. For this reason, in spite of a higher labor
requirement, jute from India has been available on the
market at prices lower than those for which roselle fiber
would have to be marketed by growers in this hemisphere.
War conditions now limit the transportation of jute
from India. If fiber needs of the United Nations are to be
supplied, jute or a substitute must be produced in this
hemisphere. Since roselle can be produced with less
labor than jute and is a fiber that compares favorably
with jute, it seems desirable to seriously consider increas-
ing its production in Latin American countries.
It is recognized that after the war jute would be
likely to again compete with roselle. Therefore, if roselle
was to maintain its place, it would be necessary to reduce
costs of roselle by such means as improved field produc-
tion and mechanical cleaning methods. It may then be
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
able to compete more successfully with jute and become
permanently established in world commerce.
The fiber should be carefully dried
According to Campese (3) the washed fiber should
be dried in the shade on wooden frames at a height of
about one meter above the ground. He recommends that
the ground be in good sod, since the oxygen released by
the grass helps to bleach the fiber. He states that drying
in a well ventilated shed produces the most attractive
fiber. Dalton (5) states that the well retted stalks will
dry in two sunny days. The dry stalks are then trans-
ported to a central "breaking" mill, very similar to a
flax breaker, but with differently pitched flutes. The
fiber emerges practically free of boon, which is almost
entirely eliminated by shaking the strick by hand before
sending to the spinning mill. The small amount of boon
remaining is eliminated by the bale opener, the softener,
the teazer and breaker cards.
When rainy conditions prevail, it is necessary accord-
ing to Dalton (5), to run the stalks through roller hydro-
extractors and dry with hot air before breaking. This is
done at the breaking mill, where boon is used to generate
steam for power and at the same time heat the air which
is blown through a simple drying shed.
One ton of fiber per acre is not a high yield
Reports of the yield of fiber are quite variable, how-
ever, it seems that an average yield of about one ton per
acre may be expected. If weather and soil conditions are
more favorable, higher yields may be secured according
to Campese (3). He points out that more fiber may be
secured by allowing a longer growing season but that the
fiber is of lower quality and consequently lower value.
Dalton (5) says he has obtained yields on small plots at
the rate of 31/4 tons of fiber per acre. He states that if
roselle were sold at the same price as jute, it would be a
highly profitable crop.
Roselle seed is produced abundantly and is easily
When the fruits of roselle are matured, according to
Campese (3) they should be spread to dry on a wire
netting in the shade of trees or in a well ventilated shed.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
After 7 or 8 days when the fruits are well dried, the seed
may be cleaned by passing through a screen. They
should then be sacked and stored by hanging in a cool
and well ventilated place. He reports that the yield is
about 350 pounds per acre.
After harvesting the seed the plants should be pulled
up, left to dry, and burned since if they are left in the
field, they will according to Campese (3) harbor fungal
diseases which will infect the young plants of the next
The few diseases which attack roselle are eas !y prevented
Apparently diseases of roselle have not been investi-
gated by plant pathologists. The best discussion of
diseases of roselle has been supplied by Campese (3). He
states there are three diseases of roselle which are the
most apt to occur.
He describes an infection of the vascular tubes of
the roots at the point where they grow from the stem. It
occurs within 8 to 10 days after the young plants have
germinated. It is characterized by deep ulcerations of
the roots which contain an amber-yellow liquid with a
nauseating odor. It does not occur in well drained soil
high in calcium.
A bacterial leaf wilt caused by Bacterium Solana-
cium E. F. Smith, causes yellow spots on the leaves
according to Campese (3). The spots enlarge, the leaf
becomes brown and curled, and later drops to the ground.
Loss of leaves brings about death of the plant. If the
stem of diseased plants is cut transversely a viscous
whitish liquid is exuded.
Campese (3) also mentions a fungus, Schlerotium
rolfsia, which may infect the plants which then exhibit the
same symptoms as do plants infected by the bacterial leaf
wilt. However, the cut stems of infected plants do not
have the exudation characteristics of plants suffering
According to Campese (3) all of these diseases may
be prevented by improved drainage and tillage, and by
correcting calcium deficiencies of the soil.
Campese (3) recommends the following treatment of
areas infected by these diseases: Cut the roselle imme-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
diately surrounding the infected area and spray the dis-
eased plants with a 3 per cent solution of Bordeaux mix-
ture. After some days, cut the diseased plants, remove
from the field and burn.
Report prepared September 1, 1942 by
VOLORUS H. HOUGEN,
Assistant to the Agricultural Adviser,
Office of Imports,
Board of Economic Warfare.
Production of Roselle
By J. H. BEATTIE, senior horticulturist, Division of Fruit and
Vegetable Crops and Diseases, Bureau of Plant Industry
Roselle (Hisbiscus sabdariffa), sometimes called
"Jamaica sorrel," is a plant the enlarged calyces or flower
bases and swollen bracts of which possess excellent quali-
ties for the making of jellies and similar products. The
jelly made from the fruit of this plant is acid, of a trans-
parent nature, and possess a bright-red color. The fruit
is also used for making an acid drink and as a substitute
for cranberries and currants in regions where these fruits
do not grow. The variety usually grown is of a rich red
color; the yellow forms do not appear to be adapted, by
reason of color, to the making of preserved foods. The
plant also yields a fiber called "roselle hemp."
This plant is quite sensitive to fr.:st and is usually
found in subtropical gardens. For tins reason there is
doubt as to its ruit-producing qualities north of Florida,
unless the so-called "early strains" prove satisfactory.
However, evidence has been produced which leads to the
belief that, although the floral portions may not develop
in the northern latitudes, the leaves and terminal shoots
possess some merit as a jelly-making product. Every
effort shouldd be made to secure seed from plants that give
evidence of ability to fruit in latitudes north of Florida,
in order that strains may be secured for cultivation
throughout a larger productive region.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
Roselle is an annual of tropical origin related to okra,
cotton and ornamental hibiscus. In habit it resembles
cotton, and in Florida it reaches a height of from 5 to 7
feet. The stems are reddish and branch profusely. The
leaves are entire in the young plant, becoming palmately
five-parted on the upper growths. The large, almost ses-
sile flowers are usually borne singly in the axils of the
leaves. The fragile, yellow corollas, much like miniature
hollyhocks, last only a day. Subsequently the red calyces
and bracts enlarge. The fruit, developing in from 3 to 4
weeks, is tart, resembling the cranberry. Latent flower
buds may develop after the first picking.
The plants may be grown from seed or cuttings.
Experiments in Florida and Hawaii with standard strains
lead to the conclusion that October is the normal flower-
ing period and that best results will be obtained by plant-
ing the seed during March. Seedsmen are now offering
a strain designated as "early," which, it is stated, will
mature before frost occurs. The seed is sown in special
beds or in flats 4 to 6 inches apart, covered with soil to a
depth of from one-quarter to one-half inch. When 3 or 4
inches high, the seedlings should be potted and given the
same treatment as the plants of tomatoes, peppers, or
Roselle will grow in any soil that is moderately rich.
In order to hasten maturity, it is advisable to avoid ex-
tremely rich soil or the application of nitrogenous ma-
nures, since these tend toward the development of large
plants at the expense of flower production. The soil
should be well drained. One of the precautions for
northern culture should be to grow the crop on rather
dry instead of moist land. A sandy loam is best for use
north of Florida.
The soil should be prepared deeply, because the
plant makes a large root system which descends to greater
depths than the roots of many other crops. Seedlings
that are started indoors can be planted in the open at the
76 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
same time as tomatoes. They produce best when planted
in rows 4 feet apart and from 3 to 4 feet apart in the row.
If not too highly fertilized, the plants will grow 4 to 5 feet
high, producing a bushlike growth. The culture recom-
mended for tomatoes should give good results with ro-
selle, but the plants should not be given too much water.
Pruning or cutting back the plants during the early stages
of growth induces the production of a larger number of
branches, increased leafage, and a larger number of
Harvesting and Utilization
The fruit is ready to gather when the calyces or
flower bases are plump, crisp, and of a deep red color,
and before any woody matter has formed in the tissues of
the fruit. The fruit is picked by breaking if off with a
sharp, sudden snap. The yield will vary with the region
and conditions of growth, but may be anywhere from 3
to 12 or 15 pounds to the plant.
The fruit may be used in the preparation of jelly,
jam, marmalade, a fresh or bottled drink, a flavoring ex-
tract, tarts, sauce, and a number of other products. One
of the interesting features of this plant is that after jelly
is made, the pulp can be used for jam.
It is best to use the fruit before it has lost its plump-
ness unless one wishes to dry it. In either case, the fleshy
calyces or flower bases are used. The seed capsules
should be removed, because they have a parchmentlike
nature and are covered with a large number of minute
curved hairs, which are reported to be somewhat injurious
In the preparation of the fruit for preserving or dry-
ing, hold the pod stem end up and cut off the stem and
the basal end of the calyx at the point where the seed pod
is united with the calyx. A slight pressure or tearing
apart of the calyx will force the seed pod to drop away.
In making jam, it is essential that none of the woody por-
tion be included in the material used. Stringiness should
be avoided if sauces or jams are to be made.
Wash 4 pounds of fruit, open and remove the seed
pods. The weight of the flesh will be about 2 pounds.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 77
Add 4 cups of hot water and boil to a pulp. Drain
through a cloth jelly bag without pressing. Measure
the juice and boil it continuously 20 minutes. Then add
1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice. Cook until on test-
ing the drops run together and slide off in a flake or sheet
from the side of the spoon, leaving the edge clean. Re-
move from the fire, skim, and pour into jars. Four
pounds of fruit will make about 2 pounds of jelly.
Wash 4 pounds of fruit, open and remove the seed
pods. The weight of the flesh will be about 2 pounds.
If the pulp from the fruit used in jelly making is used,
the original weight of the roselle material may be calcu-
lated and used in the above proportion. Add 1/.2 cups
of water to the fruit and cook for about 1 hour or until
reduced to a soft pulp. The juice and a part of the rind
of a lemon is frequently added before the material is
boiled. Measure the cooked fruit and add 1 cup of sugar
to each cup of fruit. Cook 20 minutes.
In making sauces, the usual procedure should be fol-
lowed. In the making of fresh or bottled drinks, the
cleaned calyces are placed in enough water to cover them
and allowed to stand overnight. In the morning the mate-
rial is boiled until it assumes the consistency of pulp.
Then strain and bottle the juice for use as a drink or for
future jelly making. The pulp may be used for making
jam or preserved without the addition of sugar.
The young stems or tip shoots are reported to have
been used in making good jelly. One experimenter has
taken the leaves, added water, and boiled the material
until the liquid was thick. Then the juice was strained
through a cloth, sugar added, and the liquid was boiled
until it reached the jelly stage. The use of the leaves of
the roselle in the same manner as those of the rose ger-
anium, mint, wintergreen, and several other plants in jelly
and jam has been suggested as of possible value. For
these special uses the plant can be grown almost any-
where in the North or South.
78 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Ramie is said to have been cultivated in China and in
Egypt four thousand years ago. By a slow and laborious
process fine fabrics were made from it in the time of
the Pharaohs as is attested by the wrappings of mummies
in the tombs of kings. It has also been cultivated in
Japan, Java, Borneo, Sumatra and the East Indies.
The reason that ramie has never been used as exten-
sively as other fibers is because of the difficulty encoun-
tered in separating the fibers from the gummy substance
with which they are surrounded in the stalks. Any proc-
ess that would do the separating effectively and rapidly
would damage the fiber. This fact accounts for the use
of so many other fibers in the place of ramie. It is now
claimed that a machine has been invented that will accom-
plish this without damaging the fiber. But as yet no
general increase of the production has been manifest.
The plant is a coarse perennial, producing a great
number of hollow stems, about as thick as the little finger.
The stems grow about five feet high, and when once well
established they grow for some twenty years without
being replanted. It yields from two to three crops a year.
It is propagated by seeds and by the planting of roots,
or the rooted joints of stems. Five thousand roots will
plant an acre. After that the plants spring up from the
roots everywhere. After the second year no cultivation
is needed or possible. It flourishes on different types of
soil. Before planting the soil should be plowed a foot
deep and allow to lie fallow till all vegetation turned
under has time to decay. Its fertilizing needs are potash,
nitrate of soda and phosphate. Planting season is from
March to November. It will perish in a hot dry season
the first year. The rows should be set no wider than three
feet as it should soon multiply till the stalks will grow up
straight without branches. The stalks bear large leaves
on the upper portion and are white on the under surface.
From the base underground runners are sent out and
make a close mat of supporting roots.
If the land is poor and thin it should be top-fertilized
with muck or ordinary compost, or other nitrogenous
manures, each winter in December or January. It is not
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 79
an exhaustive crop and on a good, deep, rich soil will
thrive many years without manure. The leaves of the
plant contain a large amount of potash and if allowed
to remain on the ground, or turned under, act as a fine
fertilizer. In the Gulf States ramie has been grown in an
experimental way, and in a large variety of soils, from
the light, sandy uplands to the rich, alluvial Louisiana
bottom lands. The medium light soils, however, have
given best results. In Florida, where it has been tested,
the medium light drained uplands have yielded the best
results; but any good soil that will produce other crops
successfully will also be good for ramie, if it be well
The fibre of ramie is very handsome, resembling silk,
and is exceedingly strong. Its strength is twice as great
as flax or hemp. It bears washing better than any other
textile, becoming whiter than hemp or flax. When prop-
erly worked it has the luster of silk to the extent that it
is used for many articles, such as dresses, fine passemen-
teries, portieres, plush, or as an adulterant in silk manu-
facture, etc. Ramie is more hygenic than flax, hemp, or
cotton, and its use is recommended in hospitals for
It does not decay in water, and for this reason it is
in great demand wherever resistance to the atmosphere
and water is needed. With ramie, or "vegetable silk" as
it has been called, valuable combinations are being made
with cotton, wool, flax, and silk. This fibre will doubtless
enter largely into wearing apparel of the near future, and
the growing and manufacture of it may be expected to
take rank among the leading industries of the Southern
States. Especially should it be so in Florida, where natu-
ral conditions are most favorable and -wher ramie is
destined some day to become a leading source of wealth.
If the claim is true that machinery has been invented for
the perfect extraction of the fibre from the plant, there
is probably no crop that can better be grown, with proper
management, or made more profitable with so small a
cost of labor as ramie.
The demand for ramie root stock, not only in this
country but in Central and South America as well, pre-
sents a golden opportunity to Florida farmers who will
devote small plantings to this crop.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Florida has large areas suitable to the growing of
this plant and that with ordinary cultivation one area of
good ramie roots planted now will yield from 60,000 to
90,000 salable roots within two years. He cautions how-
ever, that care should be exercised in selection of original
root stock which should be only the best white underleaf
"There is no reason," he said, "why Florida cannot
become the ramie root center of the world, as well as a
large producer of high grade ramie fiber.
The following is from:
CROP REPORTING SERVICE BULLETIN NO. 140-
Wisconsin Agriculture 1930
World Production 122,750,000 Bushels Flaxseed-1930
"The bulk of the world's crop is produced under
widely varying climatic conditions. Argentina leads with
over 40 per cent of the world's total, followed by Russia,
the United States, and India. Most of this flax is grown
purely as a feed crop, though in Europe flaxseed is often
produced as a by-product of the fiber industry. Flax has
been an important pioneer crop.
"The flax center of the United States, like that of
spring wheat, is in North Dakota and to a considerable
extent the flax region coincides with that of spring wheat.
There is a region of flax production in Canada adjacent
to that of the United States. North Dakota, Minnesota,
Montana, and South Dakota have for years been the
most important producers, though the crop is grown in
a few states adjoining this area. Flax is a cash crop
planted in the spring usually after the other grains are
sown and is harvested in much the same manner and by
the same machinery as wheat, which accounts in part
for its close tie-up with the spring wheat crop."
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
This plant is found growing in nearly all parts of
Florida, principally in gardens, as an ornamental plant.
Its value as a fibre producing plant is not generally
known. It is commonly recognized as Rattlesnake Lily
or Spotted Lily; makes rapid growth in suitable soil;
spreads rapidly; and completely takes possession of the
soil in a short time. The plant has been known and
prized in India from remote antiquity under the name
Murva. The Sansevieria abounds on the coast of Guinea,
around Ceylon, and the Bay of Bengal, extending even
to the coast of Java and China. The plants are easily
propagated, and grow with ease, practically taking care
of themselves. Of the several varieties, the Sansevieria
is the best to cultivate for fibre. The fibre is capable of
being manufactured into anything-from the heaviest
cordage to the finest fabric for dress goods, and is con-
sidered equal to many of the finest silks in beauty and
fineness of texture. It grows with perfect ease and suc-
cess in the same latitude as Sisal hemp, and can be grown
safely much further north. It is one of the most valuable
of all the fibre-bearing plants, and is thoroughly adapted
to the soil and climate of Florida.
Bromelia Sylvestris-Wild Pineapple
This plant is found growing abundantly in Mexico,
Central and South America and the West Indies. It
thrives upon poor, barren, sandy or rocky soils, grows
rapidly, and produces leaves as much as twelve feet in
length. The leaf is identical in shape with the pineapple
leaf. The plant is propagated by suckers, as is the pine-
apple. Except as an experiment it has not been grown
on Florida soil, but it succeeded perfectly. The length
of the fibre makes it very valuable, and of superior
strength. It is much lighter than hemp, and said to pos-
sess a greater average strength by four times than hemp.
The American Manufacturing Company, of Brook-
lyn, makers of rope and twine, advised that a coil of 3/-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
inch rope, made from sansevieria fiber cleaned in Cuba
sustained a weight of 4800 pounds before breaking.
In addition the rope, supporting a weight of 960
pounds, withstood 18,000 flexings in an abrasion test.
F. H. Filley, the company president, said the average
strength for sisal rope, -%Y-inch diameter, was about 4500
pounds and 13,000 cycles in the abrasion test.
Manila rope of the same diameter, Filley said, had
a tensile strength of from 5400 to 5700 pounds, with an
abrasion test of from 7000 to 8000 cycles.
There has been established near Boynton in Palm
Beach county, Fla., an experimental farm for the planting
of 15 acres to sansieveria, looking towards the commercial
production of fiber for cordage.
This plantation has the combined sponsoring of
United States Department of Agriculture, Florida Experi-
ment station, WPB and Seaboard railway.
Florida-grown sansevieria was taken to Cuba and
decorticated in the plant of the sisal mill of the Inter-
national Harvester Company.
The clean fiber was then sent to the rope walk of
the American Manufacturing Company at Brooklyn and
made into rope.
The American Manufacturing Company officials
were so favorably impressed by the quality of rope made
from the Florida product that they recommended to WPB
that the experiment be carried on.
Conditions for the production of sansevieria are so
favorable in Florida those interested claim that, if decor-
tication processes are perfected and mills built in Florida,
sansevieria fiber is a post-war potentiality.
The 15-acre plantation at Boynton is under the direc-
tion of O. R. Winchester, well known pineapple grower.
Sansevieria has long been experimented with in Flor-
ida, with some promoters pointing to 35 years of attempts
to economically obtain fiber from sansevieria.
The commercial production of sansevieria for florists'
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 83
plants proves beyond all doubt that the plant grows most
luxuriantly in Florida.
Several very successful planting of sansevieria in
Dade county are being operated by nurserymen who cater
to this florist trade in northern cities?
There is no question whatsoever that sansevieria may
be most successfully grown in Florida; the real problem,
insofar as fiber production is concerned, is the economic
removal of the mucilagenous pulp from the fiber.
Cultivation of the pineapple began in Florida about
fifty years ago on the keys of the East Coast near Bis-
cayne Bay. It is generally understood that the leaves
of the plant contain a fine fibre of great value, and is even
now being used in the manufacture of various fabrics.
Thousands of tons of these leaves go to waste every year
that could be utilized for valuable purposes. After the
fruit has been removed, the leaves of the pineapple are
of no value to the plant, and using them for fibre is
utilizing a waste product for a valuable purpose. In a
report by the United States, we find the following:
"The fibre of the pineapple is very soft and fine, the
filaments being quite flexible and resistant. In the East
Indies, where the pineapple was introduced as early as
1600, the fibre is extensively used in the manufacture of a
delicate fabric called pina, as well as for cordage. Pina
is considered to be more delicate in texture than any other
known to the vegetable kingdom."
The fibre is long, exceedingly fine, and of great
strength; the natural color is whitish-blue, or flaxen, but
is susceptible to dyeing processes. It is also adapted to
the manufacture of various yarns and webs, and a beau-
tiful silk-like fabric has been produced therefrom. Un-
doubtedly the pineapple plant could be cultivated for
its fibre alone, but when the value of the fruit is con-
sidered, in addition, at once it becomes most valuable to
84 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Urena Lobata--Florida Jute
This plant is indigenous to Florida soil and climate,
and is found growing wild and uncultivated in nearly
every portion of the State. It is commonly known as
"Caesar Weed," and termed by some people "French
Cockle Burr." This plant produces an excellent fibre,
which is found in the bark of the plant, and belong to
that class known as bast fibres, such as jute, ramie, etc.
The fibre is long, firm, soft, nearly white, with a silken
lustre. In the opinion of competent judges, it will make
an excellent substitute for flax. This plant, in common
with many other Florida weeds, grows up in the early
spring and summer months and dies down in the fall.
As a fibre-producing plant it is one of great merit.
Agava Sisalana-- Sisal Hemp--Henequen
This is used for the same purpose generally as Manila
Hemp. The plant is found growing in nearly all parts
of Florida south of the 28th degree of latitude, and it
frequently matures as far north as Jacksonville, and as
far west as the Apalachicola River. As it does not stand
very cold weather, it would not be safe to plant it com-
mercially north of the line above mentioned. The plant
was introduced into Florida in the year 1834 by Dr. Henry
Perrine, whc had formerly been United States Consul
at Campeachy. He h5i obtained a grant of land from
the United States for the purpose of introducing and ex-
perimenting with tropical plants. This grant of land was
located a few miles south of Miami and is known as the
Perrine Grant. He was never able to carry into effect his
project, as he was killed by the Indians in the Indian Key
massacre in 1840.
The Agava Sisalana will grow and thrive in nearly
all varieties of Florida soil, but it is generally believed
that the poorer sandy soil is best adapted to the cultiva-
tion of this plant, because of the superiority of the fibre
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 85
over that grown on rich soils. The life of the plant in
which it yields profitably is about fifteen years. It is
easy of cultivation and very inexpensive. It has no known
enemies, and is unaffected by drouth or excessive rain-
fall, and requires no fertilization.
There are numerous other fibre plants of possibly
equal value, indigenous to this country such as Indian
Mallow, whose bark yields a fine and dark fibre. The
plant grows in almost every yard and stable lot, coming
up spontaneously, and grows vigorously to a height of
three to five feet.
Bear Grass, one of the palmetto family of plants,
supplies a fibre from the long leaf that for fine cordage
or combining in the manufacture of ordinary fabrics has
no superior. It grows in immense quantities, in its wild
state almost over the entire State.
Agava Mexicana, or Century Plant, is of the same
family of plants as Agava Siealana, or Sisal Hemp. Its
fibre is in the leaves like the Sisal Plant, and has to be
extracted and treated in the same manner. The fibre is
coarser than the Sisal and not so valuable, but can be
grown in almost all of the eastern and southern parts of
Spanish Bayonet or Yucca Palm
Spanish Bayonet or Yucca Palm is useful for the
medicinal properties of its berries as well as for the fibre
86 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
of the leaves, the quality of which almost equals the
pineapple fibre. The plant grows in great abundance
in every section of the State, and is unaffected by the
coldest temperature known in Florida.
Palmetto (Saw Palmetto) is a well known plant that
grows in every section of Florida, covering literally mil-
lions of acres, therefore, practically inexhaustible. The
fibre, like the Spanish Bayonet, is in the leaf, and is its
equal in quality. This is also true of Bear Grass. All
are adapted to the same method of decortication, and are
said to yield to treatment easier than Sisal Hemp. The
fibre is adapted to the same purposes as the pineapple
and the other palmettos; and in addition has yielded
writing paper-stationery of the finest quality, being
equal in every respect to the very best quality of linen
Okra, the palatable vegetable made famous in con-
nection with "gumbo," a favorite dish in the Southern
States, particularly in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and
the Gulf Coast country, contains in its bark a fibre of
great strength and firmness.
Okra stalks can be made into imitations of any kind
of timber and used as ceiling material for homes. When
kept in the dry it lasts well and is much cheaper than
Cotton, the plant supplying the downy fibre that has
yielded covering for man throughout the civilized world
for centuries, also contains in the plant itself, a fibre
of unusual strength and firmness.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 87
The leaves from the pine trees of the forests furnish
a fibre that has been used successfully in the manufacture
of coarse fabrics such as bagging in which cotton is
wrapped when baled. Vast quantities of this material go
to waste every year, which should be employed in some
useful purpose; approximately, sixty million yards of
jute are used every year in wrapping the cotton crop
alone, and if pine straw will make satisfactory material
for the purpose, it would seem the height of folly to
import jute from India. There is money in this industry
to those who engage in it.
Now that the necessary machinery for the working
up of these various fibre plants has been invented, and
proven successful, the fibre plants can be cultivated
profitably by farmers in the section of the State where
the several varieties of the plant are adopted. Prospec-
tive homeseekers, looking for a more congenial clime in
which to prosecute husbandry, have the assurance that
cultivation of fibre plants will not only be found remuner-
ative but attended with less difficulty and anxiety than
the crops of a more rigorous latitude, while the man with
capital seeking profitable investment will find in the
fibre industry, unexceptionable inducements for the in-
vestment of his capital. There is no question but that
the business will prove highly remunerative and satis-
Station Experiments With Fibre Plants
The following comment is by A. Daane, Agronomist
in charge State Experiment Station at Belle Glade:
"We have grown hemp for several years, however,
while the growth is exceptionally heavy the quality of the
fiber is very poor. It may be that through cultural prac-
tices that a better quality of fiber can be grown. It may
necessitate growing the crop on a somewhat larger scale
than we have grown it heretofore.
"Flax has not been given a fair opportunity in the
past to show what its possibilities are. I am of the opinion
88 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
that there is somewhat of a future in the Glades for fiber
products. We have at the present time a crop of ramie
which is about ready to harvest. It may be that the
quality of the fiber of ramie also may be of low quality.
The crop is about ready to harvest and if the use of
proper machinery for separating the fiber from the stems
can be had an attempt will be made to determine the
value of this fiber also. We are quite certain that hemp
and ramie can be grown in the Glades but the question
of quality of fiber must yet be determined."
W. E. Stokes, Agronomist and Head of Department,
Experiment Station at Gainesville, says:
"Would like to state that we have done a limited
amount of experimental work with these two fiber crops
at several of our experiment stations here and in the state
and practically in all instances the results have been
Palm Tree Fibre
Many useful articles are made from the fiber of the
palm tree. Various kinds of brushes and ornamental
articles are turned out of Florida factories. It is yet
to be demonstrated as to the value of palm wood for
the making of paper.
New Textile Plant For Florida
The vision of an empire of the future builded upon
the vast stretches of arable land within the State of Flor-
ida was sketched into the clear lines of a coming reality
yesterday by a slender man of middle age and moderate
height, hailing from Redbank, N. J.
His name is Henry J. Ramsden, and the empire he
dreamed of is to be founded upon the cultivation of a
fibrous plant known as the cotine plant. As a result of
extensive experimentation, methods have been devised
whereby the cotine fibre may be utilized in place of cotton
and linen thread in the weaving of various cloths.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 89
"Now setting the strength of cotton at 100, the
strength of this new fibrous material runs from 160 to
187. So you can just imagine what this new fabric will do
to the tire trade when they get a tire made out of it. And
that's just one instance."
As for the cultivation of the plant from which the
cotine fiber is obtained, Mr. Ramsden said the tubers
could be planted either with machinery or by hand. The
crop can be reaped by machinery instead of requiring
hand picking as with cotton. Moreover, no ginning is
required as with cotton, nor retting as with flax.
"Suppose for instance you start with a hundred
acres," Mr. Ramsden suggested. "The plants are set out
like dahlia bulbs, and in from 14 to 16 weeks you have
your first crop. You dig the roots up, as with dahlia
bulbs, and you have three tubers on each root of the fiber
plant. Thus after the first crop the matter of new culti-
vation is practically self-financing."
Mr. Ramsden introduced rayon, use of which is now
widespread, into this country in 1909 for Samuel Court-
auld & Co., of London, through the Viscose Company of
New York. He developed his idea of the introduction of
a fibrous textile, which could be produced at a fraction
of the cost of cotton cloth, by a consideration of cotton.
"The very lowest cost of cotton production, according
to government figures," Mr. Ramsden explained, "is be-
tween six and eight cents a pound, and in the majority
of cases it runs closer to eight cents."
The basic discovery that led to development of this
new fibrous material, according to Mr. Ramsden, was
made by a group of English scientists in South America
who were studying various botanical matters down there.
That was about 18 years ago.
"They witnessed a particular bird building its nest,"
the textile expert recounted. "And they noticed that it
always came down to a certain plant for the building
material for the nest. They became interested in the
fibrous plant with which the bird was building its nest.
They took it and analyzed it, and discovered, or thought
they had discovered, a plant that would produce a low-
priced fiber which would compete with cotton."
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Wealth is Seen in Fiber Crops of Everglades
State Official Predicts New Industry for Dade Farmers
(Miami News, August 1, 1928)
Some future day will see a great tract of the Florida
Everglades devoted to growing a fiber-producing plant
and supplying the product to the world's markets in huge
quantities, predicted T. J. Brooks, head of the state Bu:
reau of Immigration, in an address Wednesday morning
before the South Florida Farmers' and Homemakers'
Congress at the University of Miami.
Uses of Tung Oil
As a waterproofing material, nothing as satisfactory
as tung oil has been found, although several substitutes
have been attempted, some of which are in use.
Tung oil's waterproofing qualities were utilized cen-
turies ago in China, where it is still used for waterproofing
of masonry, cloth, shoes, clothing, paper, umbrellas, and
receptacles for liquids. Crude grades are used for the
waterproofing of Chinese junks. The Chinese even utilize
the residue of the tung nuts, by burning and mixing it
with the oil, to form a paste for caulking boats. This
residue is also used in manufacture of lampblack and
Chinese ink, commonly known as India ink and used by
draughtsmen the world over.
The introduction of tung oil, or Chinawood oil, into
America brought changes in the manufacture of varnishes
and products with varnish as an ingredient, which until
then had been manufactured from a basic combination of
linseed oil and imported fossil gums, the supply of which
was rapidly decreasing. The paint industry discovered
that tung oil in combination with rosin, produced a resul-
tant product of such quality that it was possible for
manufacturers to dispense with the imported fossil gums.
When used in varnishes, tung oil tends to make the
product waterproof and also reduces its liability to crack.
It is claimed that no varnish which will not turn white
under exposure to water can be made without the use of
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 91
tung oil. It is unmatched for waterproofing and is one of
the best "driers" known.
Tung oil is responsible for China's famous water-
proof, glossy lacquers which so largely feature their
temples and the interior decorations of other buildings.
Paints that contain tung oil give a much glossier finish
than other paints and seem to be more resistant to fungus
attack. For these practical reasons, tung oil has been
supplanting linseed oil in ordinary plants.
A vital ingredient in the manufacture of varnishes,
paints, lacquers, enamels, and fillers, tung oil is also used
in the manufacture of linoleum, oil cloth, automobile top
dressings, and several other products. The oil is used as
a dressing for leather and in the manufacture of soap.
Fatty acids from it are utilized in making lacquer or sub-
stitutes for shellac, and in combination with rosin, water-
proof- or spar-varnish. With aluminum oxide it is made
into aluminum tungate, used in waterproofing numerous
Tung Oil Importations
Tung oil ranks tenth among the primary animal and
vegetable fats and oils used by American industry, in the
composition of manufactured products. American im-
ports of tung oil, mostly from China, reached a peak in
1937, and have declined sharply since then. As a result
consumption of tung oil has followed the same trend. In
1937 a total of 120,378,000 pounds were used, but in 1940
the total had dropped to 59,057,000 pounds. More than
174,884,000 pounds were imported in 1937, while in
1940 imports amounted to less than 97,049,000 pounds.
The above information was contained in a booklet, Ani-
mal and Vegetable Fats and Oils; released by the U. S.
Department of Commerce in 1941.
Importations for the five-year period 1936-1940 were
1936: 154,829,996 pounds.
1937: 174,884,805 pounds.
1938: 107,455,674 pounds.
1939: 78,717,634 pounds.
1940: 97,048,595 pounds.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Industrial consumption of tung oil for 1940 was as
Trade Pounds Tung Other Oils
Paint and Varnish
industry ........ 54,611,000 12.6 87.2
Linoleum and Oil
Cloth industry. .. 2,064,000 1.8 98.2
Industry ........ 1,728,000 8.2 91.8
industries ....... 654,000
The oil is going into the manufacture of high explosive
shells and bombs used by the air services. Had the rec-
ommendations made a number of years ago been followed
for the planting of tung tree groves, fortunes would have
been made by planters in this territory.
"American tung trees this year will produce over
8,000,000 pounds of tung oil. This is a valuable contri-
bution to national security and a promise of greater agri-
cultural prosperity to the South. The Gulf coast states
have a monopoly on tung oil production, due to favored
climatic and soil conditions. Pensacola is the center of
the proved territory in which tung nut crops can be
Industrial Oil That Grows at the River's
ROMANTIC HISTORY AND PRESENT PROMISING
STATUS OF OITICICA
By WILLIAM N. SMALL, Department of Commerce
(Foreign Commerce Weekly, July 11, 1942)
Wars close some markets and open others. When
the tung oil of China became hard to get, United States
industry, turned in part, to the next best substitute,
oiticica oil from Brazil. Peaceful research emphasized
the commercial usefulness of oiticica oil; war is making
imperative its widespread adoption.
In the nineteenth century, a friar of scientific bent
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 93
saw possibilities in oiticica, chemical researchers in recent
years discovered ways to make it thoroughly practical,
and Mr. Charles E. Lund, Chief of the United States Vege-
table Oils Mission to Brazil, ascertained that a very large
supply is normally obtainable.
Oiticica Oil Comes Into Its Own
Oiticica oil, gifted child of a prolific mother, Brazil,
has come into its own in the last, very few, years. But
the spectacular increase in demand, reflected by the rising
volume of exports, has not been accomplished without
sweat and toil.
A fast drying oil, oiticica has usually been acclaimed
as a highly successful substitute for tung oil, which is pro-
duced to some extent in our Southern States but is still
almost exclusively an export of war-torn China and, under
present circumstances, almost unobtainable. Experimen-
tation, however, has demonstrated that oiticica and tung
are not merely competitive but have complementary quali-
ties that in conjunction permit them to command a wider
range of use than either does alone.
Oiticica is versatile. It is used not only in the paint
and varnish industry, but in products such as linoleum and
inks. It is used for moisture-proofing pressed fiber
boards, for automobile brakebands and metallic soap. It
improves the elasticity of rubber base products. As in-
vestigation continues, the scope of its usefulness con-
The Tree in Its Native Habitat
During the dry season in northeastern Brazil when
the country is parched, and unbearable heat has turned
the vegetation to dreary ash-gray, the oiticica tree retains
its deep and rest-inviting green. It is a well-developed
tree, bushy and symmetrical, sometimes growing as high
as 50 to 70 feet and having a comparable spread.
Often growing in dense stands, the oiticica is usually
found along rich, alluvial river banks, principally in the
valleys of the Apody, Upanema, and Assu Rivers in the
State of Rio Grande do Norte, and the Jaguaribe and
Acarahu Rivers in the State of Ceara. Appreciable num-
bers are found also in the States of Parahyba and Piauhy.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Its habitat, in other words, is the northeastern part of
Brazil, where South America bulges closest to Africa.
Despite its partiality for river banks, many isolated trees
frequently large and beautiful ones, bearing large crops
of nuts, have been found growing on hilltops in otherwise
The botanical classification of the oiticica tree most
generally accepted, and officially recognized by the Jar-
dim Botanico of Rio de Janeiro, is Licania Rigida, Benth.
It is generally agreed by local inhabitants that there are
three distinct types of tree, classified according to size
and yield of fruit and varying ratios of spread to height,
but, as one observer put it, "to the layman it appears that
the variations are due rather to soil, climatic conditions
such as temperature, moisture and wind, individual his-
tories of trees . ." In any of its variations, the tree, be-
cause of its greater height, more bountiful spread, and
distinctive type, is conspicuous among its neighbors which
are very apt to be palms. It is instantly recognizable even
at the distance of a mile.
Often not more than 6 feet high, the main trunk of
the larger trees is very thick and frequently divided into
several subboles, giving the appearance of many trees
growing together. As in the case of the banyan tree,
roots often grow from the aerial stems, entering the
ground to come up some distance away, then growing
down, and up again, forming a succession of arches. The
long branches, though slender, are tough and support a
dense green foliage throughout the year. The leaves are
oval-shaped and thick, having an abundance of sap ves-
sels which no doubt account for the evergreen appearance
during dry seasons.
The commercial importance of the oiticica tree lies
in the fruit, which is a nut resembling the pecan in shape
but more pointed at the ends and varying in length from
21/2 to 6 centimeters. Between 30 and 40 percent of the
nut is shell; the rest is kernel, which contains from 60 to
63 percent of oil on the average. When ripe, the shell is
of a dull greenish color, while the kernel, ordinarily a
dull chestnut or henna, may be any color from yellow to
black, depending on the degree of ripeness and other
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA
Thrives in Wild State-Not Systematically Cultivated
The oiticica thrives in its wild state, and has not yet
been systematically cultivated on a commercial scale,
although the Brazilian Government is studying grafting
and plantation possibilities at experiment stations. Since
the oticica is a relatively slow-growing tree, taking 7 years
or more before it starts producing, development of planta-
tions from seedlings would be a long-range operation, and
returns from investment would not come in for years.
Apathy toward improvement of present oiticica
stands and development of new ones seems to be induced
by the expectation that large tung-oil shipments from the
Far East will eventually be resumed, and by the possi-
bility that an oil superior to oiticica may some day be
produced by treatment of a much cheaper oil or by
discovery of a synthetic.
Although the trees mature late, they live to a great
age, perhaps 100 years or more, and under favorable con-
ditions produce large crops of nuts over a long span of
Blooms generally appear in September, and the
oiticica ripens about 4 months later, in January, when
gathering of the crop begins, continuing through April.
The fact that the harvesting period coincides with the
rainy season does not facilitate harvesting operations.
Even in the rainy season the rainfall may not be very great
but, when heavy rains do occur, many nuts, dropping
from trees that stand in water, are necessarily lost, and
many falling in mud are trampled underfoot. Droughts
and insect infestation likewise decimate the crop, which
varies widely from year to year. In the brief time that
oiticica has been exploited, experience has indicated that
copious production can be expected only every third year.
Potential Yield Extremely Large
Although no official estimates have even been under-
taken, some sources believe that there are a million oiti-
cica trees in Ceara alone, and a late report indicates that
there may be a like number in Piauhy. In normal years,
150 kilograms is often taken as the average yield of seed
per tree. Many small trees, however, consistently yield
larger quantities under favorable conditions.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The Carob Tree
Every now and then the attention of South Texas
farmers is called to some plant entirely new to this section
but offering interesting possibilities. Not many agricul-
turists here have ever heard of the Carob tree, yet consid-
erable commercial planting has been started in Southern
California, and at its Chico Experiment Station there the
U. S. Department of Agriculture has a Carob grove in
which studies of the tree have opened promising vistas as
to its value, particularly in providing excellent forage for
The tree's history and performance in California
have proved it to be well adapted to southern latitudes.
Older trees will withstand temperatures as low as eigh-
teen degrees Fahrenheit, though younger ones are less
immune to cold weather. The tree produces a bean which
is about a foot long and has, when mature, a sugar con-
tent of forty to forty-five percent and about eight percent
protein. A representative tree's annual yield varies
widely with its age, being between four and five hundred
pounds in early maturity and becoming five or six times
that amount in later years.
The forage value of carob beans is recognized by
many California cattlemen. In the land of the tree's
apparent origin, Arabia, the beans have been used for
many centuries as feed for the celebrated Arabian breed
of horses and for human consumption.
Carob trees attain considerable height, have a rather
luxuriant foliage and, in addition to their bean crop value,
are regarded highly for their shade in the hot regions of
their origin. New trees are usually grown from buds on
parent stock and begin to bear fruit in three or four years.
If developed from seedlings, the time required for fruit
production is about seven years. Seeds could probably
be obtained from the Experiment Station at Chico.
St. John's Breadfruit
An article on Carob trees appeared in the December
number of Nature Magazine, published in Washington,
D. C., and what follows is mainly information supplied by
the author, John Edwin Hogg. The Carob tree has been
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES IN FLORIDA 97
highly esteemed for many centuries by the peoples of the
semi-arid lands bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. It
has been called numerous names, the best known of which
is St. John's breadfruit, John the Baptist being supposed
to have had subsisted on it during his sojourn in the wil-
derness. Carobs first came under the observation of the
writer in Palestine in the summer of 1912. This was on
a trip from Jerusalem into the Valley of the River Jordan.
He was traveling in an ancient automobile which blew
a tire a few miles out of Jericho and while hi, guide was
under a big umbrella to protect him against the torrid sun
when mending the tire, Mr. Hogg beat a retro at into the
welcome shade of a nearby grove.
Here there were perhaps fifty trees, each about sixty
feet high, with branches that would have easily over-
lapped a fifty foot lot. They bore great clusters of pods
about a foot long. An Arab sheep-herder was under the
trees knocking off the pods with a long pole. His sheep
were devouring them hungrily and so was he. Traveler
Hogg bit into a bean and found his teeth sinking into
what was like a perfumed, rubbery gumdrop. It required
some chewing, but was palatable, tasting like citron fla-
vored with brown sugar, raisins and honey and suggesting
a rather coarse kind of candy. He learned from his guide
that the fruit is the staple food of millions of Arabs and
that without it Arabaic domestic animal husbandry would
come to an end.
After Many Years
Returning to the Mediterranean countries nearly
thirty years afterward, Mr. Hogg found that the cultiva-
tion of the tree had been greatly extended. Where he
had previously seen bald hills and treeless plains he now
observed forests of Carobs,, which in addition to their
fruit, are planted for the control of soil erosion. Also,
the hard, close-grained wood, is used for furniture, tool
handles, stocks for firearms and numerous other purposes.
The sugar in the pods, amounting to more than forty per-
cent, is now in strong demand by confectioners and bakers
in those regions, and it is said that honey-like Carob syrup
now appears on millions of European tables. It is
esteemed for its high nutritive value as well as for season-
ing and flavoring a wide variety of breads and cakes.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
However, the heaviest demand is still for livestock,
and it is stated that always there is a profitable peace-
time market for carob beans in England, Holland, Den-
mark and other European countries having a .large
population of domestic animals.
The answer to questions as to why the bean has not
been cultivated to any extent in the United States is
that American farmers have been so preoccupied with
numerous crops going into established markets that
few of them have been receptive to suggestions that
they try something entirely new to their experience.
This is in line with general agricultural history in this
country. Progress in adopting foreign plants has been
slowed by suspicion of the unknown. This has been true
of citrus fruits, figs, tung trees, eucalyptus trees and
numerous others which have eventually proved to be of
Carob trees had the attention of the U. S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture as long ago as 1860, and experi-
mental plantings have been developed into groves. One
of the largest of these is in Santa Barbara County, Cali-
fornia, where 600,000 pounds of pods were harvested
and sold last year at the reported price of seven cents a
pound to a single manufacturer of a nationally known
stock feed. The most recent large importation of Carob
trees came from Spain in 1911 and was left at the Depart-
ment of Agriculture's Foreign Plant Introduction Station,
Chico, California. The Department has available-a four-
page leaflet containing an outline of the economic im-
portance of the tree in the Mediterranean countries and
assuring the reader that it will thrive and bear in all parts
of the United States where the annual rainfall is six inches
or more and where winter temperatures do not ordinarily
fall below 15 degrees. Also in the leaflet is an analysis
of the nutritive value of the carob pod for livestock.
Because of the enormous taproot that makes the
Carob a drouth resisting tree, the nursery stock is culti-
vated in tin pipes, five inches in diameter and five feet
long. Young trees, pipes, and all, are transplanted in
holes dug with a post auger.