PRESS BULLETIN No. 81.
florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
BY JOHN M. SCOTT.
It has only been within the last few years, perhaps not over fifteen
years, that we have considered the velvet bean of any economic value.
Since that time we have found it to be one of the best soil renovators, a
weed eradicator (when used as a cover crop), and also an excellent feed
for beef and pork production. The velvet bean belongs to the group of
plants known as legumes. A plant of this group has the power to ex-
tract the nitrogen from the atmosphere and may deposit it in the soil.
In this way it builds up or improves the soil upon which it grows. When
any feed stuff that is rich in ammonia is- fed to animals, only
a part of the ammonia is retained in the animal body (ammonia
in feed stuffs is called protein); hence the manure produced
is rich in ammonia. It should be remembered that ammonia is the
most costly of the fertilizer elements that we have to buy. Therefore
if we can produce it on the farm and at the same time grow a good crop
of feed, it serves us a double purpose.
Numerous reports have been received at the-Station regarding the
yield of velvet beans, varying from eight to forty bushels per acre.
This fall we picked four measured acres. On three of these the yield
averaged 2,258 pounds of beans in the pod, or 22.5 bushels of shelled
beans per acre. These had been drilled in rows four feet apart. On
the fourth acre, which was planted with corn in alternate rows (that is,
the rows of beans were eight feet apart, with a row of corn between),
the yield was 2,035 pounds of beans in the pod, or 20.3 bushels of
shelled beans per acre.
The yield of 22.5 bushels per acre was obtained on very light
sandy land. It is probable that if these had been planted on good land
the yield would have been greater. At the present time we have no
data as to the yield of hay from this crop, but it is likely to be from
two to four tons per acre.
February 10, 1908.
We have collected the following data:
A common flour barrel full of dry beans in the pod weighs 90
pounds, which will thresh out 54 pounds of clean beans, or 60 per
cent. of the gross weight. One bushel of good clean beans weighs 60
Comparing the feeding value of cottonseed meal and velvet beans
in the pod, we find that good bright cottonseed meal (7.5 per cent.
ammonia) is 2.4 times as rich in digestible protein (muscle and bone-
producing material), and three times as rich in fat; while the velvet
bean in the pod is three times as rich in digestible carbohydrates (fat-
producing material). In other words, it cottonseed meal is worth $30
per ton, velvet beans in the pod are worth $20 per ton. There is an
important point that we should remember, and that is that velvet beans
do not have to be harvested. Cattle, hogs and horses can be turned
into the field to pasture, and in this way the expense of harvesting,
which means about $5 per acre, is saved.
VALUE AS A GENERAL CROP.
Every farmer and stock-raiser ought to grow a few acres of velvet
beans each year. They are undoubtedly the cheapest-if not the
best-feed for cattle, hogs and horses, and they are a very easy crop to
raise. At the same time that the crop is growing on the land it is im-
proving the soil, and for this reason it is an excellent crop to use in a
rotation. Velvet beans grown on foul land (that is, land badly infested
with noxious weeds) will in a year or two free the ground from weeds.
This is due to the rank growth of the vines (which often attain 20 to
30 feet in length), and to the great mass of leaves covering them.
The leaves shade the ground so completely as to choke out all weeds.
The velvet bean is a rapid grower and does well on all kinds of
land, except on wet or boggy ground.
State papers please copy.