PRESS BULLETIN 129
Florida Agrlcultural Experiment Slallon
JAPANESE SUGAIl-CANE FOR FORAGE
By John M. Scott
The Japanese sugar-cane is one of the best forage crops for the farmers
of Florida to grow. It is easy to propagate, requires only a minimum
amount of cultivation, and the yield that can be secured is very large. A
good crop will yield from 20 to 30 tons of feed per acre. This yield, under
ordinary conditions, is two to three times as much as we can expect'from
sorghum or corn. Not only is the yield in tons more than from almost
any other crop, but Japanese cane is much richer in carbohydrates than corn
or sorghum, and for that reason is a more valuable forage crop. It does not
produce its maximum yield until about the third year after planting.
The chief feeding value of Japanes, cane lies in the large amount of
carbohydrates that it contains. In combination with velvet beans, it gives
an almost ideal ration for either beef or milk production. It furnishes the
necesssary carbohydrates (fat-producing material), while the velvet beans
supply a large amount of protein (bone and muscle-producing material).
By growing these two crops, Florida farmers can have an abundance of
good winter feed, for fattening cattle or feeding dairy cows. In the steer-
feeding experiment, conducted during the winter of 1908-9, it was found that
when Japanese cane was fed with a light ration of corn, velvet beans, and
sweet potatoes, an average daily gain of 3.12 pounds was obtained. Hogs
are also fond of Japanese cane. They readily eat the hard canes rejected
by cattle and horses. A number of farmers are now using Japanese cane
for fattening their hogs.
Silage, Pasture, and Hay
Japanese sugar-cane may be used as pasture or for soiling, during No-
vember, December, and January. Or it may be cut and cured as hay, to be
used during the winter and spring seasons. Perhaps the best method of
preparing this crop for feed is to prt it. in the silo. Silage is undoubtedly
the cheapest form of roughage that we can provide for our cattle and horses.
Because Japanese sugar-cane gives us such a heavy yield of forage per acre,
it is without doubt one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, of the crops
we can grow for silage. When used for winter pasture it will not be advis-
able to pasture it later than March 1. If pastured after growth begins in
October 30, 1909
the spring, the canes are likely to be killed or at least weakened in vi-
tality, and the result will be a poor stard and a small unsatisfactory yield.
If cut and cured for dry forage it will be found advisable to run it through
a feed-cutter before feeding. This incurs additional expense, but the in-
creased feeding value obtained will mcre than pay for it.
The cost of planting is only a small item of expense, when we consider
that one planting will continue to produce good yields for fifteen or twenty
years, if properly handled. The ground should be thoroughly plowed to a
cepth of six inches. Then harrow with tooth harrow, and mark off the
iows with a marker. The rows should be not less than six feet apart.
When planted at this distance it will be only eight or ten years until the
entire ground will be covered, as the canes rattoon very rapidly. After the
ground is plowed and harrowed the rows can be thrown out with a disc culti-
vator. The canes are then dropped bJ hand in a double line. The disc
cultivator can again be used to good advantage in covering the canes, the
discs being reversed and set as wide apart as possible. If the discs are
not set wide apart they will throw a large percentage of the canes out on
top of the ground. It will be found advisable to cut the canes into short
pieces containing about four eyes. The top immature parts of the canes
should be discarded, as they will not produce strong plants. If care
is taken in selecting only good healthy seed canes, 4000 to 5000 whole
canes will be sufficient to plant an acre of ground. The canes can be
planted at any time from November to April 1. Spring planting is advised
for north and west Florida. If planting is postponed until late in the season
the seed canes must be protected from cold by banking, as a heavy frost
will kill the buds.
We know very little as to the best fertilizer for this crop. However,
good results have been secured by the use of the same formula as for corn,
applying from 400 to 600 pounds per acre.
State papers please copy.