Experiment Station, What is it doing for the farmer? 1914

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Experiment Station, What is it doing for the farmer? 1914
Series Title:
Writings and Speeches 1891-1920
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Rolfs, Peter Henry
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Articles, Speeches and Other Writings
48. Experiment Station, What is it doing for the farmer? 1914


Subjects / Keywords:
Agriculture -- Florida -- Experimentation.
University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station.
University of Florida. Herbarium.
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Florida Growers Association


An address, "Florida Experiment Station: What It is Doing for the Farmer," by P. H. Rolfs discussing the work of the University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and how it assists the farmer.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida Archives
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Copyright Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
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UFDC Membership

Peter Henry Rolfs
University Archives


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What It Is Poing For
The Farmer.

The discussion In the following paper appJ] es to what the Ex-

periment Station is doing for the farmer of Florida. as distinct

from the trucker and fruit grower. It would take several pages
of the Grower to give In brief outline all the Experiment Station

is- l doing for a3l of these Interests. Such an outline would be

of value to experts In agriculture only.
There is only one Florida. The Experiment Station, therefore,

has ivr opportunity of drawing on the work that Is being done by
:4 other Experiment Stations. So long as the Florida farmer depend-

ed upon the methodalaopted. in other States for crop production

he met'with unsurmountable difficulties. .The attempt of the Flo-
rida farmer to produce the crops grown in the Northern States has

resulted In endless disappointment. Man can adapt himself very

readily to almost any climate and to all the varying conditions.
Plants, however, are mucl more dependent upon climate and also

largely dependent upon the character of the soil.

Live Stock the Basis of Permanent Prosperity

Live stock was introduced into Florida many decades ago arid

for the most part It has maintained Itself in a half wild condi-

tion. Even horses and hogs have become so naturalized that they

can maintain themselves without the help of man. Both of these'
have been found living wild In parts of Florida.

b ending Experiment s

The half wild anilmaas, no matter whether grown in Texas or

Selaewhere,cannot oompete with well fed animals for beef production.

The forage crops In the new Florida have beer, so recently intro-

duced that nearly all of tnese had to be tested out as to their
palue for feediLg purposes. Professor Sdott, who received his -

"t-, taliing in the Kansas Agricultural College, has conducted-a series
of experiments that are of highest Importance to the systematic

feeder of took.
Sixteen head of grade shorthorn native cattle were taken and
divided into lots, dividing these as evenly as was possible ac-

cording to weight.

the first lot was fed on corn, cottonseed meal and crabgrass

hay, giving these in a balanced ration and feeding as much as the

animals could digest. Lot No. 2 was fed an corn, cottonseed meal,

sorghum silage and cottonseed hulls. Lot No. 3 was fed on corn,

velvet bean hull a and velvet beans in pod. Lot No. 4 was fed on
cottonseed meal and cottonseed hulls, this latter being the feed

used by a considerable number of cattle feeders in Florid a. At

the end of the feeding period, which lasted 84 days, Lot No. 2


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showed a gain of 868 lbs..; LOt No. 2 snowed a gain of 891 Jbs.;

Lot No. 3 shumd a gain of 982 lbs. ;af Lot No. 4 showed a gain
of 623 lbs.

The average daily gain per head on Lot.No. I was 2.6 lbs.;

In Lot So. 2, 2.7 lbs.; In Lot No. 3, 2.9 Ibs.; and in Lot No. 4

1.9 lbs. This shows that Lot No. 3, which was fed on corn, cotton-
seed hulls and velvet beans in pod, produced the largest average

daily gain. The feeds used tfth this lot are all such as are pro-"

duced by the farmers In the State.

The conclusions reached by the feeding experiments -show that
the farmers of Florida can produce fine bed' on Florida grown stuff

as cheaply as any elsewhere. It also shows that the time required

for fattening cattle In Florida Is shorter than In the Northern

States, and the average dal3y gain was greater than can be expect-
ed in the Northwest.
Native and Grade Cattle

Another extremely interesting experiment was one in which a

herd of native cows was bred to Hereford, Shorthorn and Naytue

bulls. The herd was divided Into three equal lots, as nearly
comparable as they could be made. The sires of the different lots

were as good as could be obtained for each breed. the birth

weight of the calves was recorded, as well as the weight at reg-

ilar-&utervals" until they attained the age of about three years.
These animals were then fattened, all being fed in the same pen.

The results (f this experiment show that, contrary to our expecta-

tions, the native animals were not small due to' Inherited quali-

ties, but due to the periodic stunting through which the average

native .animal has to go.

, 4

These animals were given only a moderately good range In the

summertime, and in the wintertime were given a range of Japanese

cane and velvet beans. At no time during their growing period

.could they have been considered as fat cattle. The Grade Here-

fords at the time of slaughtering weighed from 780 to 800 lbs.;

the Grade Shorthorns from 800 to 830 lbs.; while the natives

ranged from 830 to 850 lbs. From this it will be seen that

there was practically no difference in the size of the animal s at.

slaughtering time. The weights of these animals when dressed ran
essentially the same as when on foot. A great difference, how-

ever, came in that the Shorthorn and reform grades produced a

larger percentage of the desirable cuts. Two very important

points were brought out In this experiment, the first one being

thai our native cattle make a very desirable foundation to use in

grading up. The second.point ls that if our native cattle are

given raasonabty good pasture during the winter, such as any farm-

er can provide, they will make handsome antmals for slaughtering

at the proper age.

W. ith the absolute data and exact figures obtained by these r- a

experiments the Florida stock grower will have no difCficulty in

choosing his feed' and in proBe tg with the beef producing



Dairying in Florida (full caps)
The Experiment Station has a dairy herd now nutbering over
thirty head of thoroughbred Jersey and grade cattle. A great

dal of attention has been paid to the production of milk from
Florida raised products to compare. with the ordinary commercial

materials. All of this work has consumed a large amount of time
and required endless patience to OXM accurate data. It has been

proven by a large series of experiments that milk can be produced

more cheaply when velvet beans in pod are fed than whn cottonseed.

meal is bought; Aside from the fact that the milk is produced

cheaper, the growing of the velvet beans increases the fertillAy

of the soil on which they are grown. 7When velvet beans were

used as the source of protein, the feed cost ot milk was 13.3 cents

per gal3on. and when cottonseed meal was used the cost was 13.7

cents per gaJlon, when being fed unOer identical conditions. These

experiments brought out the fact also that it requires about 2j

pounds of velvet beand In pod to caune as large flow a1 milk as

1 pound of cottonseed meal. The cost of 1 pound of cottonseed

meal of course is very much higher than that of the velvet beans.

In all of the experiments It is brought out very sharply that the

cheapest form of protein food is that which can be produced on the
farm, such as velvet beans, cowpeas, beggarweed and other legume

0, crops.

Cost Per GallOn of Milk (i.e. )

The importance of keeping accurate records as to the perform-

ance of different animals cannot be over estimated. Very few

dairymen have any adequate idea as to the cost, in terms of feed,
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of the production of milk of different animals. In keeping a

close record of these'it was found that in the Experiment Station
herd, *for a six months period,) Cow No. 4 produced malk at a cost

of 4.7 cents per gallon, when the cost of feed alone was considered.
Cow No. 3 consumed 11.8 cents worth of feed to produce a gallon

of milk. At another period similar tests were made and It was
found that the average cost per gallon was 11.3 cents while the

best four cows"produced milk at a cost of 8.9 cents and the poor-
est three cows cost 14.6 cents. These figures do not-include
the labor of caring for the herd or of caring for the milk, since

this would be quite variable, a9oord4ingto different farms. It

would vary also according to different seasons; during the summer-

tme wnen an abundance of nutritious grasses may be had in the
pastures the cost for feed will be much less since the normal

rental that one would have to 1y for cows grazing in a pasture

would be quite small. When, however, one relies entirely on
commercial feed the cost per gallon for the entire herd frequently

goes as high as 18 cents.
The Dairy Herd Saves Pertility .A c.)
It is a notable fact that every country that has gone into

the dairyMng business has improved the fertility of its land to
a marked extent, Even in those countries where the Sat! Ts ex-
tremely sterile and sandy the crop production 4e greatly increased
dfter a decade of dalrying..

This increase In fertility of soil is readily understood when
one remembers that by selling $300 worth of leguminous hay. such

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as beggarweed and cowpeas. there goes with It $92 worth farm

fertility; for every $100 worth of crabgrasa hay we remove $40

worth or fertility from the farm. But With every'$300 worth of

beef we sel. on3y $14 worth of fertility taumbft if we go one

step further and sell only llfl from the farm, for every $100

wor h of milk sold only $2.82 worth of fertility is sold, and by

going. till further and selling only the cream we remove only 83

centa worth of DArtlitr. Finally if we sel3 only butter, fur

every $100 worth we remaoe only 10 cents worth of fertility from

the farm.


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Pork Production oa
Tests have been mace of different breeds and also of differ-

ent kinds of feed for particular breeds. These are most interest-

ing and most profitable to those who are intendAng, to take pp pork

production In Florida. me principal breeds now used in Florida

are Bertshre, Poland China, Duroc Jersey and Essex.

It has been clearly demonstrated that it is unprofitable to

confine hogs in a small penarid bring the food to them. The best

way to handle hogs in Florida is to grow the crops and Jet them

do the harvesting MaaeM Awv A certain amount of corn can al-

ways be profitably used in feeding hogsj green or dry crops which

they are harvesting.

Continuous Production (
It has been fully demonstrated by the Experiment Station that

It is possible to have crops for hog feeding twelve months in the

year. A definite plan for this purpose must be decided upon

before hand. It is always' important to have an abundance of any

crop in which the hogs are to be pastured.

Dwarf Essex Rape makes an extremely fine crop for forage from

December to 'March. Japanese cane will be at its best from Nov.em-

ber until March. Rye, oats and barley may be sown as forage for

hogs and can be grazed off from November till *ardX. Sorghum

Spanted early an 'used in rotation plots will be useful from May

until November. Chufas will last from August to December, sweet

potatoes from October to Decemberi cowpeas and soy beans from July

till November; peanuts, one of the best fattening crops for bogs,
will last from September until December. For a permanent pas-

....... I.--


ture nothing will be found superior to Bermuda or Iohnson grass.
These can, be defended upon during the winter months but will furn-
ish excellent pasture froL early spring until 3 ate fall.
Gains Made on Feeds 'f",,c.j
In Experiment No. 5 the hogs were fed corn and green sorghum,
using ten hogs In this experiment. They consumed 2210. pounds of
corn and 2580 pounds of green sorghum. The weight of the ten
hogs at the beginning (Ju2y 18th) was 990 pounds. Their weight
at the close of the experiment (August 29th) was 1329 pounds, a
total gain in 43 days of 339 pounds, or almost 34 pounds per head.
Corn and velvet Bean Rations ('.c._)
In .the later experiment$ a test was made as to the value of
velvet beans in connection with hog feeding. The first lot was
fed on corn only. The second lot was fed on three parts of corn
and one part cracked velvet beans. The third lot received corn
and cracked velvet beans in equal parts. The hogs'were given all
of tnis feed that they wou3d consume. As a result of this test
the data showed that lot I which was fed on -corn alone made the
smallest gain. Lot II wnich was fed on corn three parts and
cracked velvet beans one part, mawe the largest gain. But when
the cost of the feed was taken into consideration, Lot III pro-
duced the gain at a cheaper price than did Lot II.
Growth of Pigs ( ,o.)
In Experiment 4 the attempt was made to get accurate data
as to the rapidity with which pigs increase in size under favora-
ble conditions and surroundings. seventeen pigs were used in

this test. The experiment was begun on June Ist, when the pigs

weighed 590 pounds. The test was closed on September 22nd, when
the total weight of the pigs was 2461 pounds, making a tota2 gain

in 234 days of 1871 pounds. The average gain of these pigs in
114 days was 210 pounds. The pigs were taken from the sows at

weaning time and kept growing as rapidly as possible. The
feed used was varied somewhat from the beginning of the experi-

ment to the close, b1ut consisted of corn, sOrts, milk and green


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Porage Prodaction /i b
In the foregoing paragraphs I have discussed briefly some
of the work that the Experiment Station is doing in the line of

experiments with stock. Stock, however, could not maintain it-

self unless abundance of nutritious forage is at hand.
L 2tNatal: Grass '/-,1e-

MTe earliest published data we are able to find is in the

Experiment Station Bulletin No. 18, which was published In 1893.

Seed of this grass was obtained from the Cape of Good Hope, and a

small plot planted on the Experiment Station grounds at Lake City.

It was ,considered an extremely favorable grass for dry sandy re-

gions. Since that time It has become established in quite a
number" of different places in the State and is no* pretty well

distributed over about a half dozen Counties in Central Florida.

It grows especially well on the drier, looser soils and maintains

itself from year to year remarkably weJ]. We bave been growing it

on the Expeuiment Station grounds for a long number of years to

test It out as a meadow grass It does not adapt itself particu-
3arly well for a field in which It is grown continuously. It seems

to need frequent stirring of the soil and adapts itself better to

ou3tivated areas being especially suited for a catch crop in cit-

rus groves and with truck crops. Two or three tons of nutritious

hay may be expected per acrp annually. In feeding value it is

equal to Timothy. Care should be taken not to allow it to become
ripe and woody before cutting for hay, otherwise the fibrous mater-

ial will be too oughh for the animals to digest.


R- Rhodes Grass ,C.)
A smai] packet of this seed was obtained through PrOf. C. V.
Piper in 1909. The earliest planting Is still living on the
Experiment Station grounds. This is an excellent grass for the

lower, moister Lands such as are especially adapted to the growing
of Irish potatoes and other truck crops. On the drained lands
of Central and South Florida enormous yields Ire maue annually.
The farmer who wishes to use it on a large area for hay racing pur-
poses should be satlafied with a yold of two or three tons per
acre manually. A considerable area in the State jidght .ve3l be
set aside for seed growing. Home grown seed selos readily for
$3.25 to J .50 per pound, and from 30 to -00 pounds of seai can
be expected under careful management. '-L ..' /

In addltlonqto being an excellent hay grass it is also ex-
ce3lent for grazing purposes. It keeps green untib cut bac: by

severe frost and then starts to growing aR-aln as soon as warm

weather re-urns. It is webl adapted to occupying land perma-


Dwarf Essex Rape ( c.C)
This plant has long b'!en a favorite with European animal
husbandrymen. We hav.. raised as high as 24 tons to ,the acre' in'
a single year at the Florida Experiment Station. 35 Ao 20

tohs of green matter can be expected almost every year. It is
especially adapted to feeding to hogs, sheep and cattle. .Itcormeiin

during the latter part of November and continues green until the

warm spring weather occurs, when it is likely to shoot into

bloom. Its special value lies In the fact that we can have an

enormous amount of succulent green matter all winter long. It

will produce a good crop for grazing in 8 to 10 weeks from time

.0..' seeding. c..o a -- -
S. .

The Velvet Bean Family 4 cc/yt

Seven years ago there was only one variety of velvet bean

known to Florida. At that time It was not realized that there

was a large family of this plant that'could be adapted to Florida
conditions. The velvet bean-fadmiy means more for the upbuilding

and welfare of the State of Florida than does alfalfa for any

State in the union. It is not only the cheapest- of our protein

feedsejbut is also the most aggressive soil builder that we have

In the State.
The Florida Velvet Bean 2

This bean is sometimes called the speckled velvet bean. It

was introduced into Florida about thirty years ago and at that

time was used as an arbor plant. Since then we have had to work
our way graduaJly, step by step, trv introduce it as a field crop,

until now it has reached the very high-level of the Important

farm crops, standing fifth from the tdp.
Up to the time that the Florida velvet bean was introduced

as a farm crop it had been nowhere used as a forage plant. Little

or nothing was known as to whether it'was poisonous to stock: or

not. Nothing was known as to its capacity for soil building, in
fact the earlier reports were so depressing that it would seem to
be a very poisonous plant. As soon as it was discovered by the

Experiment Sta ion that it was an important soil builder the ques-

tion.of using it for a forage crop was taken up immediately. The
knowledge we now bave as to its value as a feed and as a soil

builder shows that It compares very favorably with alfalfa and the


covers. In a former paragraph I have already al)uded to the

use of velvet beans for milk production, beef production and as

a crop for hogs.

lyon Velvet Bean (<6 c)
As noted above, up to within seven years ago on3y one velvet
bean was known to be An cultivation, and that was the Florida vel-

vet bean. In 1908 Professor Connor sent ud a few seeds from the

Phi ippine- Is] hands of a bean that was used to s me extent there

as a cover crop and for forage. During the amie year Professor

C. V. Piper sent us seed of the iame bean. Al3 of these seeds

were planted on the Experiment Station grounds and given careful

attexition. Before the end of the soar:o', it was seen that the plants

from the two sources were identical. Tiley prov-,d to be vr, at was
known as the lyon velvet b- an. In Its genera] behavior it is so

similar to the velvet bean that therc seemed to be no special

. ,reason for introducing It into F]oria on a.large scale, How-
ever," when. It Vas placed among the most advanced farmers for test-
ing out. it was found that some of them prefered4,At very greatly

to the Florida velvet bean.

Yokohama Velvet Bean C
As we had found that there were at least two velvet beans
and neither one of these proved to have any particular qualities

that were greatly superior to the other, it seemed advisable to

look further for members of the velvet bean family. What was

specially desired was to get an early .ripening velvet bean. By
searching through Japan our agricultural explorers found that there


occurred In this country a velvet bean that ripened In much less

time than the Florida velvet bean. In 1909 a few seeds of this
were obtained and grown in the plant introduction garden. To our

surprise this plant matured seed in 120 to 130 days. This import-
ant discovery placed In our hands a bean ripening in sufficiently

short time to seed In any part of the State. it can also
be used to fo)low vegetables and Leave the ground ready for the

next prop in much less time than any of the other velvet beans.
It is not so vigorous a grower nnd for this reason is objected to

by many planters. It, however, fills a very. Important niche in

the economy of Florida agricAilture, since it is now posa.ib3e to
have a velvet bean to r.pen early in the season in order that a

large quantity of protein food may be had for hogs and cattle.

STis can be obtained at tw.o i.ontns earlier than by using the

F)orida velvet bean.

Chinese Velvet Bean (rt .

On May 30, 3930, a single seed of a bean was received from
Professor C. V. Piper, who had obtained it in South China. It

was reputed to be an unusually good velvet bean. 1'Articular
carewp therefore taken of this single seed, to grow it to .maturity.

,It was planted in a flower pot in the greenhouse, tlen transplanted

to the nursery and protected against the possible ravages of rabbits
and insects. A very large crop .of seeds was harvested from it
that fal3. Nearly all of this seed was-sown in 1931, and it again

proved itself an extremely vigorous grower and early ripener. In

3912 enough seed was obtained to have It tested in various parts of


North Florida. It was also tested again on the Experiment Sta-
tion grounds. ,3' ,-i .
In short, this one has proven to be the most valuable of our

velvet bean introductions, for North Florida at least. It is a
heavier cropper than either of the other velvet* beans and ripenis

usually about a month earlier than either the FJorida YAeaet or

the Lyon beS.c It consequ ntly gets out of the way of frosts.
It a3so has the extremely good habit of growing vigorously at the
start. Enough seed was obtained in 3933 to distribute to all
the people in Florida requesting it, and In addition we sold over
80 bushefk of the seed to the Department of Agricu3ture. In short,

this one bean proved to be wofrLh many thousands of dollars to the

State of FZorida.
Velvet Bean Hybrids (t c .)

It was recognized by the agriculturists and others who had

charge of the velvet bean production, that the Florica velvet bean
did not contain all the desirable qualities that might be produced
in a crop of this kind. Every effort has been made to secure a
non-vining velvet bean. It has, however,. so far baffled our at-
tempts. In 1908 we received seed of the lyon bean and immiaediate-

ly set about to secure hybrids between the Lyon velvet bean and
the Florida velvet bean. Mr. R. Y. Winters was successful in
producing this cross after many discouraging attempts. From this

cross and subsequent crosses many different varieties of velvet
beans xkve been secured. The tota3 number that we might have se-
cured could be considered to be almost unlimited, however, any


varieties that did not have in themselves some qua]i,* superior

to the varieties we already had, was discarded. From thofe k-y.brlds

-at least four varieties have originated that are now constant and

have some qualities of superiority. In prosecuting this work Mr.
Belling has discovered a great many valuable and interesting under-

lying l4-nf in connection with lJrbrids of the velvet beans. The
illustrations given horefith. and the explanations under tfe figures

show some of the ranges of possibility in this t.-bridizatton work.
As soon as the hybrids have been tested out tl'orougnly and we have

established the fact that they are superior to the velvet beans we

already have, the seed wi3] oe.distributed to the farmers of the

State. ,
Plant IntrodUction Ci/-J/ o

In the foregoing discussion of velvet beans and other forage

crops x.antiorn has been nmae of new introductions. We have now

tested out over thirteen hundred different kinds of plants in our
introduction grounds. The i3 ustration giverL herewith shows a

view of the plant introduction grounds. The soil conditions on

this particular piece of land are the finest we have on the Univer-
sity, and plants are given every poseirbe opportunity of doing their

best. Those kinds which appear to have superior qualities are
then propagated on a larger scale and when sufficient seed is on

hand to try them on the farm scale, this Is done. If after three

or four years of careful testing on the Experiment Station grounds

these varieties still show superior qualities they are sent out

to the farmers for further testing.

NatuEally a 3arge T.ercentage of the seed obtained proves to

be worthless, fmm one cause or another. This is only what we ex-

pectod when the work was undertaken. we have fatSfound tV tt a

larger number of promising kinds are coming from Central Africa

t tan was expected. Southorri China seercs to be another region

v.where plant conditions are such is to give. us va)uatbe varieties.

Europe an.d Westr-.rni Asia rhave been rather dlsa*-rointing in, the few

goo kinds that have cone from there.

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