OCTOBER 1, 1914
W. A. McRAE
COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE
JAPANESE CANE GROWING
Entered January 31, 1903, at Tallahassee. Florida, as secoud-class
matter under Act of Congress of June, 1000.
"Acceptance for mailing at special rate of postage provided for
in Section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized Sept. 11, 1918."
THESE BILLETINS ARE ISSUED FREE TO THOSE REQUESTING THEM
T. J. APPLEBARD, STATS PRIWTSR
By JOHN M. SCOTT,
Animal Industrialist and Assistant Director
For the successful production of live stock it is impor-
tant to have an abundance of feed and forage at all times.
If the natural grasses do not afford this, we must plan
our crop rotation so as to supply the feed when needed.
It may be that the natural grasses will supply sufficient
feed for all live stock, except for a short period during the
winter months or during a severe drought. It is just at
such times that the animals must need our help. If we
fail to supply sufficient food to young growing animals,
development is retarded or growth stops. We get as a re-
sult undersized and poorly developed beasts, and often
what are commonly known as runts. Such stunted ani-
mals never develop into as good live stock as do those in-
dividuals that are kept growing from birth to maturity.
During the past ten years the numbers of cattle in this
State have doubled. On January 1, 1900, we had 412,820
head of cattle. On January 1, 1910, there were 807,000
head of cattle. If the number of cattle should increase as
rapidly in the next ten years as in the last ten years, we
shall own one million and a haff head in 1920. Such a
rapid increase would require that our farmers take steps
to produce enough forage to properly feed the increment.
There will probably be a like increase in hogs and sheep,
and also a considerable increase in the number of horses
and mules. The needed extra supply of forage can easily
be obtained by the growing of Japanese cane. There is
no other crop that we can grow that will produce such a
large yield of forage at so small a cost.
Florida is more of a live stock State than many realize.
On January 1, 1910, there were 807,000 head of cattle, 98,-
000 sheep, and 456,000 hogs. These are all forage-eating
animals. To supply the needs of all these animals we
must provide forage of some kind from November to
March. Japanese cane is a' crop that supplies a large
amount of roughage at the very time of the year when
the natural pasturage is limited. The want of an abun-
dant supply of forage is one of the hindrances to the pro-
duction of good live stock in Florida. Stockmen have
been negligent in supplying the necessary food to main-
tain their live stock during the winter seasons and dur-
ing the times of severe drought. To produce a good grade
of live stock an abundance of good feed must be supplied.
The best forage to grow is one that will produce the best
yield per acre, and that will supply the largest amount of
nutrition in the feed. As well as being nutritnous it must,
of course, be palatable.
Japanese cane was introduced into Florida from the
Louisiana Sugar Experiment Station some sixteen or
eighteen years ago. The Louisiana Station grew it for a
number of years for comparison with other varieties of
sugar-cane as a source of sugar and syrup. It is rather
probable that the Japanese cane was imported from
Japan into Louisiana by General LeDuc, U. S. Commis-
sioner of Agriculture, 1878. (There is, however, also a
possibility that it came from Brazil.) However, the ques-
tion as to where it came from is of secondary importance.
The question of most importance is how we can so handle
Japanese cane so as to obtain the best results in feeding
it to ous live stock.
Its chief value to the farmers of Florida, is as a forage
crop for the feeding of live-stock. It may be used as
silage, winter pasture, or dry forage. When first intro-
duced to Florida, Japanese cane was grown for the pro-*
duction of syrup. In most sections of the State and
under the usual conditions, the regular sugar-canes are
much more satisfactory as crops for syrup production.
This is because the Japanese cane is harder, and requires
more power in grinding. It is also more difficult to strip,
which increases the cost of stripping. However, as re-
gards the quality of the syrup, there is but little differ-
ence between the regular sugar-cane and Japanese cane.
The yield of syrup per acre from Japanese cane will vary
from 150 to 500 gallons.
The locality best suited for the growing of Japanese
cane will be all Florida, southern Georgia, southern Ala-
bama, southern Mississippi, Louisiana and southern
Texas. Any section in which the velvet bean will mature
seed will be found a good place to grow the Japanese
cane. This will be up to 200 to 250 miles north of the
Gulf of Mexico.
Japanese cane furnishes good pasturage from the mid-
dle of November to March. Cattle waste but little of it
when pastured. They first eat off the green blades, then
the tender joints at the top, and continue to eat from the
top until there is nothing left but the short stubble. It
should not be pastured late in the spring. If pastured
after growth starts in the spring the cattle or hogs will
eat off the new growth and soon kill out the plants. It
is not advisable to pasture later than March 1, or after
new growth begins in the spring.
Japanese cane makes a good silage. It keeps well, is
relished by cattle, and the yield that can be secured makes
it one of the cheapest and most economical crops that the
'Florida farmer can grow for silage. It has been used in
feeding experiments .with the dairy herd at the Experi-
ment Station with quite satisfactory results. The cost of
silage from this crop should not exceed $1.75 or $2.00 per
ton. As compared with sorghum or corn silage the cost
is about one-third less for Japanese cane silage.
Japanese cane will be found a valuable crop for dry
winter forage. It is an easy crop to cure and the loss in
storage is small. If it is stored in a barn or shed there
will be hardly any loss. At the Experiment Station we
have stored it in a barn in November and December and
kept it until the following June and July. Six months
after harvesting there was practically no loss; and when
run through a feed cutter it was relished by cattle, horses
and mules. If, barn or shed room is not available, it can
be stored in the barnyard and fed out as wanted. But
with this method the loss will be considerable. It will be
found profitable to put up a temporary shed under which
to store the dry forage. This need not be an expensive
shelter. It may be made of any material that will shed
rain. It will perhaps be advisable when stacking the
forage to set the butts of the canes on the ground. In
this way the canes absorb some of the moisture from the
soil, and will not dry out so much.
Japanese cane was used as roughage in one feeding ex-
periment in beef production. In this test the following
feeds per 1,000 pounds live weight were fed: Corn, 12.50;
velvet beans in the pod, 18.75; sweet potatoes, 20.8; 'and
Japanese cane, 12.50 pounds. During a period of sixty
days the steers made a daily average gain per 1,000 pounds
live weight of 0.5 pounds, at a cost of 4 cents per pound of
.TJiliit-, cane is a crop well suited to a variety ofsoils."
Good hammock land will no doubt produce the heaviest
yields. But even,.the high pine lands will give good re-
turns when properly fertilized. On swampy muck, land
Japanese cane will make a fairly good growth. On such
land the growth will be greatly increased by.an applica-
tion of lime (ground limestone, or burnt lime). The
amount of this which it is necessary to apply will depend
upon the amount of acid in the soil, and will vary from
2,000 to 6,000 pounds of ground limestone, or one-half
these amounts of air-slacked lime per acre. An applica-
tion at the rate of 2,000 pounds of ground limestone per
acre on high pine land on the Experiment Station from
increased the yield to the extent of 10.37 tons per acre
during the season of 1909.
Every farmer in Florida should grow a few acres of
Japanese cane, whether he has the class of soil best suited
to it or not. If it is not the best soil, Japanese cane will
produce as heavy a yield as will any other crop that can
be grown on the same soil, or even a heavier yield. High
pine land properly fertilized will give a yield of 15 to 20
tons per acre. Good hammock land will produce yields
beyond these figures.
Japanese cane is a perennial, and one planting will last
many years if properly handled. This in itself causes
quite a saving in the expense of growing the crop. In
fact, it reduces the annual cost of production by about
50 per cent.
Japanese cane is propagated by cuttings of the canes or
by divisions of the stools. The cheapest and most econom-
ical way of propagating it is by cane cuttings. Therefore
care and attention must be given to the saving of the seed-
canes. Poor seed-canes, like poor seed, result in poor
stands and unsatisfactory yields. The seed-canes should
be selected and cut before there is danger of frost, so as
to insure soundness. The buds will only stand a very
slight frost without injury, and it is not safe to risk pos-
sible exposure to frost.. The canes should be cut and
banked before there is any likelihood of the first fall frost.
The date for this will, of course, vary in different sections
of the State.
Almost every farmer has his own method of banking his
seedcane. Perhaps one method is about as good as an-
other. The important facts to keep in mind are: The
canes should be covered sufficiently deep to protect them
against frost; the bank should be situated so as to get
perfect drainage; if there should be standing water or
abundant moisture, the canes are likely to rot; if the soil
about the beds should become dry the canes may take the
dry rot, and a large amount of the seed be lost. It is,
therefore, important that we get the proper condition as
to moisture in the bank where we store our seed-canes.
It will be found better to make two or three small beds'
than one large one. It would be well to bank more canes
than you expect to use for planting. There is always
some possibility of loss from various causes. Sometimes
the loss may not exceed 10 per cent., while at other times
it may be as high as 25 to 50 per cent.
CANE FOR PLANTING.
The number of canes required to plant an acre will de-
pend upon the distance between the rows, the distance at
which the canes are dropped in the row, and the length to
which the canes are cut. Our experience has shown that,
putting the rows 8 feet apart, 3,000 whole canes are suf-
cient to plant an acre; and if good seed is used are
enough to give an excellent stand. Select only healthy
canes, and reject all that are green and unripe. Plant in
rows eight feet apart. Cut the canes in pieces having
three to four eyes to a piece, and drop them in a double
Some farmers drop the canes in a single line from 12 to
18 inches apart in the row. By this method of planting
it will only require from 1,000 to 1,500 canes to plant an
acre. The disadvantage is, however, that a thin stand
will be obtained, which will result in a small yield of
forage. This small yield of forage will not only be for
the first year, but there will be a light yield for several
years. It is nearly impossible to fill in the missing places
properly. Where new canes .are planted in the missing
hills, it will be found that they make either no growth or
a very unsatisfactory one. The old established canes
have such an extensive root system and draw so heavily
upon the plant food and soil moisture, that the new
canes have little chance to make any growth.
It is very important that a good stand of canes should
be obtained at the first planting. If only a half or two-
thirds of a stand should be secured, it will follow that
one-third to one-half of the crop will be weeds. For
weeds will grow up between the canes unless the stand
is thick enough to smother them out, and it costs less to
cultivate an acre that will produce 20 tons of cane than
one of half that yield. Hence we should obtain at the
start the very best possible stand.
PREPARATION OF SEED-BED.
Before planting, the ground should be plowed broad-
cast to a depth of six inches. Plow under all vegetable
growth on the land. As soon as the land is plowed it
should be harrowed with the tooth harrow. Harrow it
twice if necessary so as to put the surface in good tilth.
The rows can be laid off by the use of a marker, which is
made of 2 by 6-inch lumber, the runners being set on edge
at the distance apart that the rows are wanted and then
braced sufficiently to keep them in place. A tongue is
attached to the cross-brace in front, and a guide marker
is attached at the side, at the proper distance to mark
the next row.
For opening up the furrow in which to drop the seed-
canes the disc cultivator will be found most satisfactory.
The beginner, however, is likely to have trouble until he
learns how to set the disks. In throwing out the rows,
they should be set close together, so as to leave as nar-
row a ridge as possible in the bottom of the furrow. The
cultivator should be set to run quite deep. If not, when
the canes are covered the ground will be left in ridges, in-
stead of being level. In covering the canes it will be
found necessary to set the disks as far apart as possible,
so as to give room for the canes between the disks. When
the disks are set close they will catch the canes, which,
instead of being covered, will be thrown out on the top
of the bed. The use of the disk cultivator for this work
will reduce the cost of planting by 25 to 40 per cent.,
which means much in the total cost of production.
Just when to plant the-seed canes in Florida depends
on the locality. Some prefer to plant in the fall, at the
time of selecting the canes. This method reduces the
expense by the omission of the cost of banking. Fall
planting is perhaps not well suited to all parts of the
State. In the northern and western portions of the
State, where the winters are more severe than in the
southern part, there is likely to be a greater loss of seed-
canes during the winter season. Hence if fall planting
should be practiced, the result may be an unsatisfactory
stand. If the seed-canes are banked and kept till spring,
then only first-class cane will be planted. This will in-
sure a good stand. Fall planting would be advisable for
central and south Florida, and'spring planting for north
and west Florida. For fall planting, November 10 to
20 will perhaps be the best time. For spring planting,
the month of March will be the most satisfactory. All
territory north of Gainesville should practice spring
planting. All south of Gainesville may find fall planting
satisfactory under ordinary conditions.
The best formula to use in fertilizing Japanese cane is
yet an unsettled question. We know, however, that Jap-
anese cane has a very large root system and is a gross
feeder, and so we may use quite a liberal amount of fer-
tilizer. Any crop that produces such a tonnage of forage
must necessarily draw heavily upon the fertility in the
soil.' The following formula has given good results on
the Experiment Station farm, and perhaps may be taken
as a guide until we get better information:
Ammonia ....................... 3 per cent.
Phos. acid ........................ 6 per cent.
Potash ............... ........ 7 per cent.
(Apply fertilizer at the rate of 400 to 600 pounds per
Ground limestone, 2,000 pounds per acre.
It makes little difference whether our source of am-
monia is dried blood or sulphate of ammonia. Likewise
the source of potash makes no material difference.
Since it requires a long growing season (from March
15 to November 15 at Gainesville) for this crop to ma-
ture, it will be found advisable to give the fertilizer in
two applications. The first application may be made in
the latter part of April, and the second during the early
part of August. By putting the fertilizer on in two ap-
plications, there is not likely to be so much of it lost by
ir-.-iliug during the rainy season.
"" Japanese Cane, Feitilizer Test, 1909-1910; i ',
SPlot Plot Plot Plot
iilph. ite of ammonia ......... .. ....... ... .. 72
Dried blood ....... 11 2 .... ..112 ......
Miiriate of potash................. 84 84 ....:. 84
Sulphate of potash .......... ... ...... ....... .
Acid ,phosphate ....................... 224 224 :24
"Ground limestone ........ ... .... .... .. ... .. ... ... ..
Total fert. per acre................. 196 308 336 38,0
tYield, tons, 1909.................. 24.2 17.7 16.1' 19.1
TYield, tons, 1910...........;....... 14.6 12.4 10.0 :14.4
Sucrose per cent, 1909............. 11.85 13.50 13.75 13.65
Sucrose per cent, 1910............... 11.00 10.85 10.501 11.00
Brix, 1909 ........................ 16.7 17.2 17.7 17.4
Brix, 1910 .........................I 15.35| 15.40 15.301 15.40
*Ground limestone is not considered as a fertilizer, but: as a
TABLE X- (Continued.)
Japanese Cane, Fertilizer Test, 1909-1910.
Dried blood .......................
Sulphate of ammonia..............
Muriate of potash.................
Sulphate of potash................
Acide phosphate .................
*Ground limestone ................
Total fert. per acre................
tYield, tons, 1909..................
tYield, tons, 1910..................
Sucrose per cent, 1909..............
Sucrose per cent, 1910.............
Brix, 1909 ........................
B rix. 1910 ........................I
Plot Ploti Plot
5 6 7 ,
112 ...... 112
...... 72 ......
84 ...... ...... .
...... '4 84
224 224 224
. ..... ...... j......
420 1380 420
19.5 18.9 16.6
11.8 16.7 '14.1
13.60 13.501 13.58
11.20 11.10 10.95
17.4 17.5 17.6
15.60 15.601 15.501
*Ground limestone is not considered as a fertilizer, but as a
Since the Japanese cane makes a new root-system each
year, it is not necessary to give the first application of
fertilizer so early in the season, as many have been doing
in the past. If we examine the roots of the canes when
growth starts in the spring, we will find that the feeding
roots do not start until the tops have made a considerable
growth. In fact, the tops may have grown as much ,as a
foot before the roots make a start. This early growth
comes from the stored-up plant food in the old stubs of
the ratoons, and the plants do not draw on the soil fer-
tility until the roots have begun to grow.
The amount of ground limestone or lime to apply will
depend on the acidity of the soil. The more acid in the
soil the heavier should be the application of ground lime-
stone or lime. There should be an amount sufficient to
neutralize about all of the acid in the soil.
The cultivation of Japanese cane is nearly the same as
that of corn or cotton. The important point to remember
is the thorough preparation of the seed-bed before plant-
ing the canes. In the succeeding years the early spring
cultivation should be somewhat as follows: About the
time growth begins, give a thorough cultivation, stirring
the ground to a depth of three or four inches. This may
be done with the disk harrow going between the rows,
or with the two-horse cultivator. There is no danger of
injuring the roots at this time of the year, as the new
roots have not yet made any growth. The first applica-
tion of fertilizer should be applied just before the second
cultivation. The second cultivation should be thorough,
but not as deep as the first. As the crop continues to
grow, the depth of cultivation should be less each time.
Deep cultivation will be found to do much root pruning.
If one will take time to examine the root system when
the cane is nearly matured, a mass of fine feeding roots
will be found very near the surface, many of them not
more than' one-half inch deep. Deep cultivation destroys
these roots, reducing the feeding capacity of the plants
and so reducing the growth of the crop.
There is a tendency for the farmer to be in too much of
a hurry to harvest Japanese cane. To produce the best
quality of feed all forage crops must reach, a certain
stage of maturity. This is especially true of all saccha-
rine forage crops. The chief value of this crop as a feed
is its high sugar content. The higher the percentage of
sugar, the higher its feeding value. The formation of the
sugar does not take place while the crop is making a
rapid growth. When growth ceases, and the crop begins
to mature, which occurs in the fall when cool weather
comes, is the time the formation of sugar takes place
most rapidly. Harvesting, therefore, should be delayed
until near danger of frost. If it is to be used for silage,
the silage will keep better and will have a higher feeding
value if the cane is allowed to mature before putting it
into the silo. If used for dry forage it will also give
better results if not harvested until well matured. How-
ever, there is the danger of allowing it to stand in the
field until injured by frost. If it is used for feed a short
time after being injured by frost the loss will be but
slight. The feeding value after freezing deteriorates with
At the present time we cannot recommend any machine
that will successfully harvest Japanese cane. The canes
are too hard and heavy for a mowing machine. After a
couple of years' growth the rows spread out too widely
for a corn harvester to work successfully. A machete
corn knife, or hoe will be found to do satisfactory work.
No doubt as more farmers grow Japanese cane there will
be a demand created for the necessary machinery for har-
vesting this crop.
JAPANESE CANE AND VELVET BEANS.
The feeding value of Japanese cane pasture may be in-
creased by planting velvet beans between the rows. If
the rows of Japanese cane are eight feet apart, a row or
velvet beans may be planted between the rows and still
leave room to cultivate both cane and beans. Plant the
velvet beans as soon as the cane starts new growth in
the spring. Drop the beans about two or three feet apart
in the row. Gith both cane and beans good cultivation
until the beans throw out long runners. If the beans are
not planted early in the season, the Japanese cane will
get the start and will almost completely smother the
ANALYSIS OF AIR-DRIED SAMPLE.
Water ........................... 6.75 per cent.
Protein ........................... 1.37 per cent.
Fats ............................. 1.89 per cent.
Fiber ............................ 20.60 per cent.
Ash ............................. 2.04 per cent.
Nitrogen-free extract (sugars, etc.)..67.35 per cent.
Analysis from unpublished data of the Chemical
Department of the Florida Agricultural Experiment
Japanese cane is rich in carbohydrates, but poor in pro-
This should be remembered when feeding it. We
should not expect it to take the place of all the concen-
trates in the ration. However, since it is rich in carbo-
hydrates, it is only necessary to supply feed rich in pro-
tein ii' combination with Japanese cane to obtain the
best results. If this point be kept in mind we will not
be disappointed in the results we obtain from feeding
this to our livestock.
Japanese cane, 10 pounds......
Cowpea hay, 10 pounds........
Velvet beans in pod, 10 pounds.
(Nutritive ratio, about 1:6.5)
Japanese cane, 12 pounds......
Velvet beans in pod, 10 pounds.
Cottonseed meal, 2 pounds....
(Nutritive ratio, about 1:6.6)
Japanese cane, 10 pounds......
Compea hay, 10 pounds........
Velvet beans in pod, 8 pounds..
Protein Carbohydrates Fats
.14 7.30 .19
1.08 3.86 .11
1.71 6.19 .46
___________- ___________- I --
2.93 17.35 .76
.16 8.76 .23
1.71 6.20 .46
.74 .34 .24
2.61 15.30 .93
Total ..................... 2.50
(Nutritive ratio, about 1:6.7) 1
Is Japanese cane hard on land?-This is a question
asked quite frequently. No doubt Japanese cane is hard
on land. Any crop that produces such an abundant
growth of forage must necessarily draw very heavily upon
the plant food in the soil. If then the plant food is not
supplied by liberal application of fertilizer the soil will'
soon become exhausted and the yield obtained from the
crop will be unsatisfactory. The plants produce a new-
root system each year. Hence there is some humus added
and a small amount of plant food returned to the soil
annually, but the amount left in the soil does not equal
the amount taken out each season.
1. The great need of Florida stockmen is an abun-
dance of nutritious forage.
2. Japanese cane is the cheapest forage and silage
crop that we can grow.
3. Japanese cane is a perennial, and one planting will
last for many years if properly cared for.
4. Japanese cane will supply an abundance of good
pasturage during the time of the year when this is most
5. To obtain the best results in feeding, Japanese cane
should be fed in combination with feeds rich in protein.
6. Japanese cane produces good yields of forage on a
variety of soils.
7. Japanese cane has an immense root system and is
a heavy feeder; hence it should be given a liberal applica-
tion of fertilizer.
8. Japanese cane should not be pastured in the spring
after new growth begins.
9. Japanese cane should be well matured before it is