PRESS BULLETIN 204 4- Nouevember 9, 1912
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
SAVING JAPANESE CANE FOR WINTER FEED
BY C. K. MCQUARRIE
It is generally conceded by the stockmen of Florida that Japanese cane
stands at the top of the list of forage crops. Considerable loss, however, oc-
curs every winter from faulty methods of harvesting the crop. Japanese
cane is subject to injury from frost, but not to such an extent as other sugar-
canes, because it does not shed the boot that protects the seed-bud as it ma-
tures. In ordinary cold weather this boot or sheath is ample protection, but
when a freeze occurs, it is not sufficient. The joints that are immature when
cold weather stops the crop's growth are certain to get frozen and become
sour and unfit for feeding.
In a mild winter, Japanese cane can be safely left standing in the field
to be cut or grazed as wanted. But as we cannot foretell the future weather
conditions we must prepare for contingencies. \Some leave the crop standing
in the field all winter and turn the stock on it. This is a wasteful method, be-
cause a large percentage of cane is broken down and trampled under foot,
and also at every recurrence of frost the damage from sour sap is increased.
STORING UNDER COVER
Where plenty of barn room is available, a good plan is to cut the crop
when the first cold weather threatens and set the cane standing against par-
titions in the barn made for the purpose, taking care not to have too much
bulk in any one place, and allowing for enough ventilation to prevent mold-
Farmers with tobacco barns find the sections used for pole-curing tobacco
very useful, and report excellent results from the method, thus using the
barns for summer and winter crops.
It is desirable to cut the cane as close to the ground as possible, as'a long
stubble is apt to be much injured by frost, causing a poor stand next season.
It will always be found best to use a liberal quantity of seed, so as to get
a good stand.
Care should be taken not to cover the seed too deeply. If the seed is
covered too deeply a poor stand is likely to be the result. The seed is very
small, and it is not possible for it to come up through a heavy covering
Natal grass seed Is widely distributed by the wind, and it may come
up from seed in cultivated fields or elsewhere like crab grass. It is
more or less winter-killed in Central Florida, but farther south, or in
warm winters it may live over from one season to the next. There should
be no fear of it becoming a pest in cultivated fields, for it can be eradicated
without difficulty. It ripens seed uniformly, so if it is made into hay just
before it blooms, no seeds will be scattered, and next year there will be
little or no Natal grass in that field.
If the seed is sown about May jl, the first crop of hay will be ready
for harvesting about July 15. Natal grass requires about eighty to eighty-
five days from seeding to maturity under favorable conditions.
The yield of hay per acre varies greatly, depending upon the soil and
climatic conditions. The heavier yields will, of course, be obtained from
the better soils.
Natal grass was first planted by the Experiment Station in 1892, and
on the Station farm at Gainesville in May, 1908, where it has been growing
each year since.
The average yield of hay per acre during the past four years has been
about one and a quarter tons. The heaviest yield of hay during one season
was 2.6 tons per acre; this being the yield of two cuttings. The soil upon
which it was grown is what is classed as high pine land, such as would
produce 15 to 20 bushels of corn per acre.
The following figures give some idea of the feeding value of Natal grass
hay when compared with timothy:
Moisture ........................ 9.75 per cent ........... 13.2 per cent
Fiber ......................... 36.75 ............ 29.0 "
Ash ............................ 5.02 .......... 4.4 "
Protein ........................ 7.45 ............ 5.9 "
Starch, sugar, etc ............... 39.23 ......... 45.0
Fats, etc ........................ 1.80 ...... ..... 2.5
Large quantities of hay of various kinds are shipped into Florida each
year. When hay was cheap, the buying of a few tons each winter did not
require the expenditure of much cash. But now when we have to pay as
much or more than $1.00 or $1.50 per hundred for hay, the expenditure
for this feed alone soon amounts to several hundred dollars. Thus a
large sum of money is sent out of the State each year for a product that
we can and should produce at home. Every ton of hay produced on the farm
means that much extra profit for the season's work.
State papers please copy.