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 Kudzu, the midding link in our...
 Kudzu and Japanese sugar cane

Title: Florida quarterly bulletin of the Agricultural Department
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00077083/00065
 Material Information
Title: Florida quarterly bulletin of the Agricultural Department
Uniform Title: Avocado and mango propagation and culture
Tomato growing in Florida
Dasheen its uses and culture
Report of the Chemical Division
Alternate Title: Florida quarterly bulletin, Department of Agriculture
Florida quarterly bulletin of the Department of Agriculture
Physical Description: v. : ill. (some fold) ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida -- Dept. of Agriculture
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Tallahassee Fla
Publication Date: -1921
Frequency: quarterly
monthly[ former 1901- sept. 1905]
Subject: Agriculture -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Agricultural industries -- Statistics -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: -v. 31, no. 3 (July 1, 1921).
General Note: Description based on: Vol. 19, no. 2 (Apr. 1, 1909); title from cover.
General Note: Many issue number 1's are the Report of the Chemical Division.
General Note: Vol. 31, no. 3 has supplements with distinctive titles : Avocado and mango propagation and culture, Tomato growing in Florida, and: The Dasheen; its uses and culture.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00077083
Volume ID: VID00065
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 28473206
 Related Items

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Kudzu, the midding link in our chain of leguminous forage plants
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Kudzu and Japanese sugar cane
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
Full Text

Volum 24 Nmber

Supplement to



OCTOBER 1, 1914



Entered January 31, 1903, at Tallahassee, Florida, as second-claus
matter under Act of Congreas of June. 1900.
"Acceptance for mailing at special rate of postage provided for
in Section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized Sept. 11, 1918."



U. 2Li,,"o L/ ucpp /. lb ~, \("'


Volume 24

Number 4


i~ c





The following articles on the Kudzu vine and its value
as a forage plant for Florida, by Hon. E. B. Eppes, of
Tallahassee, and Mr. C. E. Pleas, of Chipley, Florida, are
the first authentic publications of special value or merit
concerning this plant.
The fact that both Mr. Eppes and Mr. Pleas are scien-
tific Agriculturists, who are successful farmers in the
highest degree, adds much weight to their statements
concerning this plant. Their experience with it continu-
ing through ten years or more of unfailing success, is
convincing testimony of its great value to the farmers of
Florida. Its adaptability to so many farm purposes un-
doubtedly places it among the foremost of both forage
and leguminous plants.


By HON. E. B. EPPES, Tallaha..sec, F1'riida.

This remarkable vine gives promise of being one of
the leading sources of wealth in the Southern States in
future. It is really a pea vine that springs up from the
roots when the first warm days come in the spring of the
year and grows vigorously until a killing freeze comes
in the fall. This gives a growing season of at least eight
months in the year, during which several cuttings of hay
can be made (some instances are known where four cut-
tings of hay, averaging two and one-half tons per cut-
ting and making a total yield of ten tons per acre in a
single season, have been made). This hay is of the highest
quality, being equal to cow pea or alfalfa and much richer
than timothy.
The analysis made by the State Chemist of Florida
shows protein 17.43 and starch and sugar 30.20, being a
somewhat richer food than wheat bran. Another remark-
able feature is that although the hay is as rich a food

as alfalfa, yet it is entirely free from the tendency to
cause loose' bowels and bloat in horses and other live
stock that interferes so seriously with the use of alfalfa.
When moistened, kudzu hay becomes almost like fresh
foliage again and makes an excellent green ration for
poultry in winter. It is well adapted for use in making
mixed feed stuffs and for all other purposes -that alfalfa
can be used for.
The hay cures very quickly, retaining ,it leaves and
bright green color instead of shedding as cow peas and
velvet beans do; in fair weather it requires only one day
before it is ready to put in the barn. For this reason it
can be easily cured in the fields in stacks under duck
covers, thereby avoiding the expense of building barns
and saving labor by using sweep rakes instead of hauling
the hay on wagons, after first cutting it with a mowing
,machine and raking it inti windows with a common
horse rake. The hay is worth about $20.00 per ton and
up, making the product of an acre yield $200.00 or over.
Kudzu is of even greater value for grazing purposes
than for hay, as it requires no cultivation after the first
season and. will thrive upon land that is too poor and
,rough for any other crop. It has been carefully tested
,on all of the types of soil found in Florida and found to
do well on all of them from pure sand to the stiffest clay,
provided the land is sufficiently drained to admit of grow-
ing corn or velvet beans; where the soil is too wet to
grow these successfully it is also too wet for kudzu.
Like any other crop, kudzu will make a stronger growth
oh rich land, but it does well on land that is too poor
for other hay crops and rapidly improves the soil by
drawing in nitrogen from the air through its leaves and
fixing it in the soil by means of the bacteria in the tuber-
cles on its roots, for it has the same power that cow peas
and other legumes have in this respect. This addition
of nitrogen to the soil and the protection from washing
rains and the baking heat of the sun afforded by the

dense growth of vines, causes rapid improvement in the
quality of the land planted in kudzu; even poor, worn-
out land soon becomes like the rich soil that has been
recently- clear dfrom the virgin forest. Yet although
poor land becomes rich within a few years when planted
in kudzu, it is advisable to use some fertilizer on such
soil the first season in order to hasten the growth/of the
kudzu until it can draw in this atmospheric nitrogen.
After this it will not require fertilizing, for its deep root
system draws potash and phosphoric acid from the sub-
soil, while its leaves draw all of the nitrogen needed by
the plant from the air. In this way tthe soil becomes
richer every year instead of becoming exhausted as from
growing grasses for hay. These deep roots live to a great
age and become stronger and more vigorous as the years
pass by.
One planting is permanent and the yield of hay in-
creases as the ground becomes more thickly set with
plants from the vines, taking root at the joints. The
great number of vines struggling for air and light have
a tendency to become more slender and leafy also, and
this improves the quality of the hay by eliminating Any
coarse vines, thereby enabling horses and other live stock
to eat it up cleanly without wasting any of it. The vines
-that run along the surface throw out roots at the joints
that become new plants and bind the soil firmly together,
thereby preventing the washing and erosion of hill sides
by heavy rains. While this improvement of the soil is
taking place the field is giving fine returns to its owner
by the immense supply of rich green forage, on which
the cattle, horses and other live stock can graze, thereby
keeping fat and in fine health at a very small cost for
eight months of the year.
The,roots of the kudzu penetrate so deeply as to make
it proof against any dry weather that is ever likely to
prevail here. This feature and its peculiar habit of
neither blooming or bearing seed causes the vines to

remain green and growing during the entire term from
spring to fall. The hay can accordingly be cut at any
time that is convenient when weather conditions, are
suitable for curing the hay, as kudzu does not become
injured by waiting for good weather as other hay crops
do. This feature gives an immense advantage over any
other hay crop.
Kudzu is propagated by means of the plants that have
rooted from the joints of the vines and whe transplanted
carry with them on their roots the tubercles that are
needed to inoculate the soil of the new field so as to
provide for fixing the nitrogen from the air into the
soil. In planting kudzu, first plow the land deeply and
harrow it, then check it into rows 8% feet 'apart each
way, setting a plant at each check. Lay tap roots along
the bottom of the furrow with crowns slanting upward
to within two inches of the surface, covering them with
loose earth to the level of the surface. This requires
1,018 plants per acre. Give them level cultivation during
the first season. A row of cotton may be grown between
each row of kudzu the first season if desired. After this
they will need no further cultivation, as the vines ,will
run all over the ground the next season and take root at
the joints, growing so rapidly as to choke out all other
plants (even such pests as nut, Johnson and Bermuda
grasses), yet it is an easy matter to get rid of kudzu if
desired, for the plants will only sprout from the crowns
and can be killed by cutting off these crowns with a disk
plow in hot, dry weather in summer. For this reason
there is no danger of kudzu ever becoming a pest.
Kudzu will be an excellent crop to replace cotton in
boll weevil sections; ,he demand for the hay is strong
and there is no danger of raising too much, as it can be
sent to all parts of the world for a market. After the
first season there will be no further expense except for
harvesting the hay, which requirPes much less labor than
making cotton, and it will enii.-i the soil instead of

making it poorer as cotton does; this will avoid having
to buy fertilizers. It is free from insect enemies and
diseases also, and for these various reasons will be far
more profitable than cotton.
Agricultural scientists have been searching in vain for
such a plant as kudzu and it will fill a long-felt want
among our farmers. Unfortunately, however, the supply
of plants is very limited an dthe demand for them can-
not be fully supplied for many years, to come.
Kudzu is perfectly hardy all over the United States
and endures the winters as far north as Nova Scotia. It
will therefore be a valuable crop in the Northern States.
as well as in the South, although the longer growing
season South will be an advantage.



The Solution of the Forage Problem
in the South

By C. E. PLEAS, b l ,ph, Florida.

The man who first introduced Kitdzu to America as a:
\ forage plant.

One great cause for the slow development in Southern
Agriculture has been the ,lack of good, nutritious pas-
tures and roughage that lasts throughout the entire year.
What we need is a forage that stock can live fat on
the year round. There are many most valuable cultivated
crops that make great yields, etc., but their period of
mature life is short, making frequent plantings neces-
sary in order to have a complete succession. The Velvet

'Bean is an all-season crop, yet it is not ready to feed till
November. The cow pea, soy bean and the various sor-
ghums and millets are good forage crops, but all must
be planted in succession and cultivated for best results.
And for those that are to be harvested before feeding,
the farmer only has a few days in which to get it in
in its prime condition and that is frequently impossible
in sections of frequent rains, especially during the rainy
All the legumes (with the exception of Kudzu) are
more or less bad about dropping their leaves and shat-
tering while curing and harvesting. And a heavy rain
on them, or any of the grass, hays or fodders, while cur-
ing, means serious injury if not ruin. Kudzu overcomes
all these difficulties and sas many other features in its
favor. One planting lasts for many years and it may
be cut or pastured at any time during the season, from
about the middle of April, in North Florida, till frost,
and where a growth is left on the ground, stock will feed
on it all winter. I found that my stock would eat the
dead leaves and vines that had laid out and weathered
till March, and then been hauled in for bedding, in pref-
erence to the best hay I could buy. They at the Kudzu
out from under their feet and left the $20.00 hay in
their mangers.
The next winter after making this discovery I had all
this trash raked up and hauled and piled outside the barn
before we began digging and shipping plants, and win-
tered two horses and a milk'cow and a calf or two, on
that alone as roughage, giving them their usual grain
feed, of course, and every oneof them came through the
winter in as good condition as they had formerly done
on good hay.
I do not mention this to advocate such a method, but
merely to illustrate the fact that Kudzu does not lose
its feeding value as readily, by rain or neglect, as other
forage plants do, and that there is something about it,

even in its poorest condition, that appeals to the animal's
appetite. And the properly cured hay has a delicious
fragrance, resembling tea, that is irresistible to stock.
To illustrate the endurance of Kudzu hay in rainy
weatlier, I would cite that in 1908 we made our first
cutting with a two-horse mower, cutting 5-12 of an acre
in July from young plants set the year before. The yield
was 2.88 tong per acre, and when almost dry the following
morning after cutting it, it rained just enough to soak the
hay good. When dry the next day and men were in the
field cocking it up, there came a very hard rain and it
drizzled along for three, days. Just how badly it suffered
could not bedetermined, but it looked better than velvet
bean hay ever does an dthe' stock ate it with apparent
relish. In 1912 we cut near 20 tons from about six acres
plante din 1910, and with the exception of about two
tons that were cut before the rainy season set in, all of
it was thoroughly soaked one or more times while curing,
and yet no one who did not know the facts would suspect
that it had ever had a drop of water on it, and it was
doubtless better than most shipped hay:
As to Kudzu's adaptability for cutting or pasturing
at aiy time during the season, I would point out that
hay taken May 1st Analyzed 17.60% protein. That taken
July 30th (a third cutting) analyzed 14.80%, protein,
while that which had stood all the.season without cutting
or pasturing analyzed 16.59% protein, and an exception-
ally well cured sample analyzed as high as 19.82% protein
and about 35% carbohydrates.
In my 35 years' experience in farming in different
States, and with various hay crops, I have never seen' a
hay that cured so quickly, held its leaves so well, or kept
its color so perfectly, under various conditions, as Kudzu
does. It does not require lime, as is the case with Alfalfa
and some other legumes. It does not require a rich soil,
and so far as our experiments have gone during the past
ten years, fertilizing is not only unnecessary but unprofit-

able, and I have had plantings in which some were located
in the very poorest of soils-soil that would not produce
corn, melons or even cow peas, and with the exception
that the young plants did not start off quite so readily
on these poor spots, no one could tell the difference at
the end of the second season.
We .have never used a pound of fertilizer of any kind
except in a very small way as an experiment, and I am
safe in saying that our poorest soil will produce six tons
of dry hay per acre, in a season, when the plants become
matured, without fertilizer, and I have had as high as
ten tons per acre on ordinary soil.
Kudzu is known to thrive in all. the United States as
an ornamental vine and therefore it must be adapted to a
greater variety of soils and conditions than almost any
other plant; and if it will thrive thus as an ornament,
why not under field conditions, making allowance, of
course, for a proportional yield as the season is long or
short in different localities.
Our native cattle manage to subsist the year round on
the indigenous wire grass, and for two or three months
in the spring are fat enough for the block, while many
die of starvation during the winter, and are too poor to
butcher the balance of the year, for the want of nutrition.
Blooded stock cannot stand range conditions and subsist
on wire grass alone. They require nutritious feed the
year round, and Kudzu comes nearer filling this want
than any other one forage, yet it is deficient in some feed
elements, and to make up the deficiency I recommend
the Japanese Sugar Cane, the two making practically a
balanced ration. The best way of feeding this combina-
tion is, in my mind, to put the cane in the silo and pas-
ture the Kudzu during the growing season, with the cane
silage to balance, say a feed at night, and in winter, feed
Kudzu hay and silage.
This cane is a true sugar cane and not a sorghum, and
is not propagated from seed, but by laying the matured

stalks, which grow vei'y rapidly and increases in yield
from year to year, stooling out from the past season's
stubble, each year, until it makes a very dense growth
and producing as many as 75 or 100 stalks to a single
hill, with a yield of 25 tons oir more of green forage per
But for the farmer who cannot afford a silo, this cane
may be cut and piled, about frost.time, and fed in racks,
first running it through a cutter or chopping it into short
lengths, or it may even be pastured, but pasturing is
wasteful, as is also the method of feeding the stalks
whole, as much will be tramped under foot.
This cane is adapted to the various-soils of our gi4f
coast region from South Carolina to Texas and for a
distance of some 250 to 30 Omiles north of the gulf. For
sections north of the limits of this, cane sorghum may
,be substituted, though an annual and not nearly so pro-
In the green state, Kudzu contains less water than the
clovers, cow peas, velvet beans and alfalfa, etc., which
enables it to cure so quickly, the heaviest cuttings re-
quiring only 24 to 28 hours in ordinary weather.
It does not injure horses like alfalfa and is less liable
to cause bloat in cattle than clover. In fact, it has every
:evidence of being ideal for all kinds of stock, and .for
-,dairy purposes. One test was to feed it to a milk cow
that had never produced yellow butter in the two years
we had owned her. The effect was like inagic and in a
few days' time she was making the first yellow butter
since we had owned her, and on the dry hay at that.
We have not been able to pasture Kudzu or cut it very
extensively, owing to the great demand for plants, which
has required our entire acreage to be devoted to plant
production, but we, as well as others, have tried it suffi-
ciently to know that it is entirely successful if not over-
pastured. Our plan is to have a succession of three or


four fields, and when one is pretty well eaten down, say
in two orthree weeks, turn into the next, etc.
Most people think that because Kudzu is a vine and.
makes such a tremendous growth in a season that it
must be practically impossible to cut and handle it as a
hay crop. Our repeated experience has been that it is
no more trouble to cut or handle than a like heavy crop
of red clover, Mexican clover or pursley, crabgrass or
any other hay that makes a matted growth, and it is far
less trouble to handle than either cow pea or velvet bean
hay. Unlike the velvet beans or cow peas, Kuqzu is
anchored to the ground every few inches, so that the
vites cannot drag ahead of the mower blade, as do the
cowpeas and beans.
We do not look for the dividing line in cutting, but
watch the left mower wheel instead and see that it fol-
lows in the track of the right wheel of the previous round.
We straighten out the guard, rod on the inner shoe of
the cutter bar and set forward and just as high as will
allow, the doubletrees to pass over it without hanging,
and the trick is done. Every vine is thus forced down
by the traces and under this rod and cut in two, leaving
no cross vines longer than the width of the swath.
We turn the hay with forks immediately after cutting,
and in doing this it is an easy matter to separate it into
fork fulls and handle it the same way throughout the '
process of curing, loading and housing, and when thus
handled in bunches it will come out of the mow the same
way in feeding and is easier taken out of the mow than
any other loose hay I have evei handled.
On a heavy crop of three or three and a half tons per
acre there is little need of a rake, as it is not the trouble
to gather up that short hay is, and when in the cock it
covers about 1-4 the ground. The teeth stand straight
down and do not catch on the ground vines, yet serves
the purpose perfectly.

I believe the side delivery rake would work in Kudzu,
all right, though I'have not tried it.
Some writers and farm papers, in describing pnd com-
mhenting on Kudzu, make-the mistake of saying that the
vine is coarse and grows very large. This is in a sense
true, when the vines are allowed to grow for years with-
out cutting or pasturing, but-as a field crop, the state-
ment is misleading, for when allowed to stand the entire
season the vines are no coarser than velvet beans, and
they become woody when cut as hay. Under field condi-
tions the vines rarely liver over winter and usually die
back between the plants. But even if they did live over
it would be an easy matter to go over the fields with a
disc or cut away harrow and remedy that during winter.
Even that will be unnecessary when pasturing, for the
stock will tramp these runners so that they will never
make trouble.
After years of experimenting with the various methods
of propagating Kudzu we have discarded all except the
self-rooted plants. The seed germinate very poorly if at
all and must be grown in beds for a year before trans-
planting, and the resulting plants usually have but one
root, a tap root, that cannot be taken out whole. True,
the self-rooted plants cannot be taken out whole, but they
have many branches usually, which is far better than
only one piece.
The cutting method of propagating we discarded after
several unsuccessful attempts. We could get perhaps
one per cent to live, but they never made vigorous plants
and had the same fault as the seedlings-they were not
inoculated. I
Our self-rooted plants are all inoculated; in fact, it
would be impossible to find one that does not carry the
bacteria with it when handled in the usual manner. Thus
soil inoculation is unnecessary.
For planting, I prefer old ground, or at least second-
year new ground, and if possible, land that had velvet


beans on it the year previous! I break the ground "broad-
cast" and prepare it as for seed bed by using the drag
last. Then I lay it off in five-foot rows and set the plants
about every five feet in the row. This will require about
1,600 plants per acre. One ran and a boy can set several
acres in a day. The man carries a shovel and opens up
the holes by sticking it iAl the ground and pressing the
handle forward, while the b by, carrying the plants, sticks
them in back of the shovel, with the crowns about an
inch below the surface. The shovel is removed and the
man steps on each side of the plant to press the earth
firmly after it falls back on the plant.
The proper time for planting Kudzu is' two to three
weeks in advance of corn planting time or a little earlier
if one can get the ground ready. A full crop of corn
may be grown o nthe same land, the first year, by drop-
ping the grains between the plants. Neither will inter-
fere wit hthe other and both need about the same atten-
tion, only the ground shall bbe left smooth- and level at
the last cultivation to permit easy rooting of the vines or
runners and subsequent mowing for hay. Plants cannot
root as well on a rough surface.
The advantages of Kudzu over other hay crops are
almost legion and one cannot realize them until he has
fully tried it out. Some get the idea that it will become
a pest, once they get it on their farms. I have had it for
ten years and have not found it so in any particular. If
it gets into the fence rows let it go and you will soon
have some most valuable feed in the place of the worth-
less weeds andobriars. When your crops are off, turn the
stock in and they will clear your fence corners out. If
you ever do wish to get rid of it (and I would not ad-
vise it, as it is the most valuable crop one can raise),
put enough stock on it to keep it grazed close for about
two months in the spring and the work is done. Or it
may be thoroughly broken, preferably wit ha disc plow,
.after cutting, during the hottest, dryest season, or after

killing frosts in the fall, and rarely ever a plant will
At the nominal price of hay, which is about $20.00
per ton in the South, and at the low estimate of five tons
per acre, think what a few acres of Kudzu would mean.
I have yet to see any other crop that will yield such a
revenue with so little labor and expense, and at the same
time build up the soil.
It has taken the velvet bean fifteen or more years to
reach its present state of popularity and usefulness, and
there are now thousands of head of cattle and hogs fat-
tened pn it annually, and I venture the assertion that in
fifteen years there will be ten times as many fattened on
Kudzu and Japanese Cane.
The South is waking up to the fact that it can grow
feed stuff cheaper than the North can, and the North is
beginning to realize the same thing, and it will be only
a few short years till this section will be teeming with
Northern stock raisers and farmers to supply the North-
ern markets. Now is the time for the Southern farmers
to get busy and be on the ground floor.
To kive an idea of what is already being done, I might
add that over fifty thousand plants were set out the past
season in West Florida alone, that I know of, and prob-
ably twice as many in other States.
Parties who only had a small area last year have in-
creased it many times over the past winter one man
putting out forty acres, another ten, and so on, while our
own acreage is only limited by amount of cleared land
on bur farms. Another year we expect to at least double
our acreage, and those who are in a position to know
what Kudzu is actually doing have only the highest
praise for it. Same may be said of the Japanese Cane,
for the two should go together.
To get an idea of one successful grower's estimate of
Kudzu, I wrote him to know the lowest figures that would
buy his acreage, either entire or on a five or ten-year
lease, and he refused to set any price.

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