PRESS BULLETIN 188
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
By J. M. Scott
If the ground has been given proper preparation there should be no diffi-
culty in cultivating. Cultivation should begin as soon as small weeds start.
In some cases it may be necessary to begin cultivating soon after planting.
If it should so happen that we have a heavy rainfall just after planting, it
would be advisable to begin cultivating so as to break up the crust that will
form on the surface of the soil. This hard crust will interfere greatly with
the young plants coming up, and if it is not broken the result may be a
poor stand or no stand at all. This early cultivation can best be done with
the weeder or a light tooth harrow. The weeder and harrow may not only
be used before the crop comes up, but the crop may also be cultivated with
the harrow until it is a foot or more in height.
Just when and how often corn should be cultivated will depend upon cir-
cumstances. However, under ordinary conditions, it should be cultivated not
less than ten days or every two weeks from the time it is above the ground
until it has reached the stage of good roasting ears.
Depth of Cultivation
If the ground has been well prepared, it will not be necessary to culti-
vate more than three inches deep. At the time of first cultivation the small
corn plants have only a few roots; hence the first cultivation can be deeper
than later ones, when there would be the danger of pruning the roots of the
Root Pruning Detrimental
When the roots of a plant are cut off, the feeding power of the plant is
lessened just to the extent of the reduction of the root system. It is through
the roots that the plants take up moisture, and it is through the moisture
that the plants take up food from the soil. Plant food must be in solution
April 13, 1912
before it can be taken up; hence it is necessary to maintain a good root
system. A large percentage of the feeding roots of the corn plant are found
near the surface of the ground. Therefore, if deep cultivation is practiced,
we are sure to destroy a large number of the feeding roots, and in this way
not only retard the growth of the plants, but also their power to produce a
good crop of corn.
Implements to Use
The best implements to use in the cultivation of the corn crop are the
weeder, harrow, and the two-horse cultivator. The style and make of the
cultivator matter little, except that it should be equipped with small shovels,
and so arranged that it can be adjusted to cultivate very shallow. Whether
it should be a riding or walking cultivator is at the option of the man who
uses it. Some prefer the riding cultivator, while others prefer to walk. The
advantages of the two-horse implements are that more and better work can
be done in a day, and in this way the cost of cultivation is reduced.
Frequent Cultivation Necessary
Frequent cultivation is necessary for the purpose of conserving as much
moisture as possible and at the same time keeping the surface of the soil
loose, so as to let in abundance of air.
Many seem to think that the cultivation of the crop is only to keep down
objectionable weeds and grass. This should be the last reason given for
the necessity of cultivation. The cultivation of the crop should be to keep
the surface soil in a good mechanical condition so as to make available as
much fertility as possible, conserve the moisture for the use of the growing
crop, and aerate the soil to supply the growing roots with air.
State papers please copy.