PRESS BULLETIN 208 April 19, 1913
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
By John M. Scott
This grass (Tricholaena rosea) is an annual grass from South Africa,
which is now commonly grown in many tropical and semi-tropical countries.
Sometimes it is called "Australian Redtop," or "Hawaiian Redtop," but it
is not related to the true redtop. It was introduced into Florida some
twenty years ago. It is now grown abundantly in Marion, Lake, Sumteir,
Orange, and Polk Counties, and to some extent in all parts of South
Natal grass is sometimes confused with Rhodes grass. However, there
is no likeness between the two, except that they are both of African origin.
In the Natal grass the seeds are borne in loose pink downy branching sprays,
the color of which fades to almost white when the seed is matured.
Natal grass makes its best growth on any good vegetable land. It will
grow on quite sandy soil; but will not produce as :good yields as it will
on the better soils.
The preparation of the seed bed for Natal grass is similar to that
for any other cultivated crop. 'It is not necessary to prepare a deep
seed bed, but it is essential to see that the surface is well pulverized.
Plow the land "broadcast" to a depth of four to six inches. Then pre-
pare the seed bed by the use of the harrow. If the surface is rough,
it may be necessary to harrow the field several times. The tooth harrow
or the Acme harrow are two good implements that can be used to advant-
age for this work.
The seed may be sown broadcast, or it can be planted in rows eight
or ten inches apart. The seed is very light and fluffy and .it is difficult
to scatter it uniformly over the surface of the soil. This, however, can
be overcome to a considerable extent if the seed is mixed with moist
sand. If the sand is made too wet it will not be possible to get an even
distribution. It will require ten to fourteen pounds of seed to plant an acre.
When the crossed grains have been planted and the first year's crop
has grown, if the cross has been made between a flinty corn like the
Cuban and one of the Florida dent corns, then the ears will be more flinty
than the dent corn. If the cross has been made between a sweet corn
and a field corn, then one-quarter of the grains will be sweet and wrinkled.
If .the cross was between a yellow and a white corn, only one-quarter of
the grains, on the average, will be white (and sometimes many of these
apparently white grains are seen, on careful examination in a good light, to
be a very light yellow).
In this first year we make our selections of grains rather than of
ears. We select the wrinkled grains if we are raising a sweet corn from
a cross between field and sweet. We select the pure white grains if we
have crossed yellow with white, and desire to raise a white variety. If
we have crossed dark yellow with white, and desire to raise a yellow
strain, we should save only the darkest yellow grains for the second year.
Any red or reddish ears that may come in this first year's crop should
be rejected. If white cobs are desired, and the cross has been between a
white and a red cob, all the cobs may be red, or some white ones may
appear, and be selected, if the red was not fixed in the parent strain.
In the second year, the ears and plants vary greatly. All the weak
plants should be cut out of the plot before their tassels are ripe, or their
pollen will contaminate the other ears. Now is the time to select for earlier
corn if this is wanted. In order to have a wide choice, a fairly large quantity
of second-year corn should be grown, not less than half an acre.
This second year is the best time to make a selection for plants and
ears. If a flint and a dent strain have been crossed, then all grades of
ears from dent to flint will be found. If the cross has been between a
white-cobbed strain and a strain pure for red cob, then one-quarter of the
plants, on the average, will have white cobs. If only wrinkled grains from
the first year's crop of a cross of field corn with sweet have been planted,
then all the second-generation ears will be pure sweet (unless pollen comes
from neighboring field-corn). If pure white grains have been sown from
a cross between yellow and white, then all the ears will be pure white
(unless there is yellow corn in the neighborhood from which pollen blows).
State papers pleas copy.