PRESS BULLETIN 178
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
VELVET BEAN SEED
By John M. Scott
The farmers of Florida control nearly the whole supply of velvet bean
seed. Velvet beans are grown in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Missis-
sippi, Louisiana, Texas, and California, but only in limited areas of some of
these States do they mature seed. Florida farmers .should therefore give
more attention to producing velvet bean seed.
Early this season the prospects were good for a heavy crop of seed,
but the ravages of the caterpillar was keenly felt in nearly all sections of
the State. As a result, over a large area of the State, the yield of velv-et
bean seed has been reduced from fifty to seventy-five per cent. In some
localities the crop has been completely destroyed. This means that the
supply of seed for planting in the coming spring will be far short of the
Short Crop, High Prices!
The shortness of the crop of seed, due to the attack of caterpillars, means
high prices for seed in the coming year. During the past five years there
has been no time when velvet bean seed brought less than $1.50 per bushel,.
and it has ranged above $3.00 per bushel. The price generally obtained for
seed is sufficient to give a good profit on the investment. The demand for
seed usually far exceeds the supply. It is too early to say just what the
price of velvet bean seed will be this season. From present indications the
supply of seed will be less than at any time during the past five years, which
means that the price is likely to range high.
Since the crop in many places has been cut short, farmers should make
every effort possible to harvest all available beans so as to supply the de-
mand for seed next spring. At the price that seed is likely to be, farmers
cannot afford to use velvet beans for feeding live stock. Feeding experi-
ments conducted here at the Experiment Station indicate that about two
pounds of velvet beans in the pod are equal to one pound of bright cotton-
Novemberp 25, 1911
seed meal for milk production. When velvet bean seed will bring $2.00 per
bushels, its price would be $66.66 per ton (33.3 bushels to the ton). Should it
reach $3.00 per bushel, it would be equivalent to $100 per ton for the seed.
Aside from the value of the seed, the hulls would be saved. The hulls are
equal to or better than cottonseed hulls for feeding. At present prices, they
should be worth from $10.00 to $15.00 per ton. This should receive careful
consideration from every farmer who may have velvet beans. It would be
well for him to think twice before allowing cattle or hogs to harvest the
crop. It will be more profitable to sell the beans for seed and buy a cheaper
feed, such as cottonseed meal, for feeding live stock.
Cost of Growing
The cost of growing the crop -will vary from five to eight dollars per
acre. This is from twenty-five to fifty cents per bushel of seed, including
the preparation of the land, the cost of seed, of planting, and of cultivation.
The cost of gathering the crop will be from fifteen to twenty-five cents per
barrel. (One barrel of beans in the pod will shell out about one bushel of
The cost of threshing and sacking will depend upon the machine used,
whether a power machine or hand machine. With a good power machine,
and if the beans are dry, from ten to twenty bushels an hour can be run
through the machine and cleaned up in good shape. With a hand machine,
two men will do well if they thresh out ten to fifteen bushels a day.
One item of expense which increases the cost of production more than
any other is the cost of picking. So far, we have not found any machine
that will harvest the ciop. Therefore the pods are picked by hand, which
is at best a slow and expensive proposition. If the crop is grown for seed
only, and the vines are not required as a fertilizer, the entire crop can be
raked up with a good sulky rake and run through a threshing machine. This
method will reduce the cost of harvesting, but the fertilizing value of the
vines will be lost to the field.
State papers please copy.