Bulletin No. 30
JOHN M. SCOTT
State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION
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Department of Agriculture
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture....... Tallahassee
T. J. Brooks, Director, Bureau of Immigration ..... Tallahassee
Phil S. Taylor, Supervising Inspector ............. Tallahassee
John M. Scott, Agricultural Editor ............... Gainesville
The need for information on growing feed crops here in
'Florida is apparent from the large number of requests that are
received from week to week. These requests come from prospec-
tive farmers as well as from those who are now operating farms
The need for such information is due to the fact that there is
much more interest being taken in the growing of livestock
today than there has been heretofore.
The climate of Florida as a whole is warmer than that of
any other State. This makes the growing season much longer
and it means that the planting dates and harvesting dates differ
from those in many other States.
The average rainfall for Florida is about 50 inches. This
is fairly well distributed from December to September 15 with
the largest amount falling from June 15 to September 1.
The soil conditions of the State differ from those of many
other States. In fact, in some respects, conditions are so en-
tirely different that the methods used in producing certain crops
do not apply in other areas.
The growing of feed crops is always an important phase of
livestock production. If there were no feed and forage crops
there would be but little livestock produced.
The purpose of this bulletin is to give some information re-
garding the forage and feed crops grown in Florida. Along
with this are given planting, cultivating and harvesting direc-
tions as well as the best methods for using these crops. It is
hoped that these will be of interest to readers whether they are
actual producers or not.
1 o0 5
Non-Legume Feed Crops Grown in
By JOHN M. SCOTT
THE opinion seems to be rather widespread that corn does
not produce a good yield inFlorida. One learns from his-
tory, however, that corn originated in the far south. The
far south without doubt means farther south than any part of
Florida. In other words, corn is a crop which produces best in
those sections of the world that have 150 or more warm days and
a goodly number of warm nights.
The Indians were the first to plant corn in Florida, but the
corn grown by the Indians in Florida would not compare favor-
ably with corn grown today.
The corn plant has responded to environment and selection
by man. Man has materially helped in adapting corn to the
various climatic conditions under which it is now grown. A
good example of this is that corn today is being grown success-
fully much farther north in the United States than it was
a few years ago. Research workers at the Illinois Agricultural
Experiment Station have materially changed the height of the
ears on the stalk. Ears from the original stalk were borne at a
height of 46.6 inches from the ground. After some twenty
years of selection and breeding, the height of the ear was raised
to 99.8 inches from the ground for the high ears and lowered
to 9.7 inches from the ground for low ears. Likewise, the oil
content was increased from 4.7 per cent to 10.21 per cent.
The yield of corn per acre has been increased very materially
by breeding and selection of varieties adapted to various
For the past ten or fifteen years Florida's average total pro-
duction of corn has been around 7,000,000 to 8,000,000 bushels,
with an average yield of 13 bushels per acre. The acre yield is
far below that of any other states, but there is every reason to
believe that it can be greatly increased by corn growers if they
will select varieties adapted to their conditions, practice seed
selection, adopt the best methods of planting, spacing, and crop
rotation system, and also intelligent fertilizing of the crop.
No doubt one of the chief causes of the low acre yield of corn
in Florida is due to the quite general method of planting in
rows six to seven feet apart. Unless there is a sufficient
66 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 1-Corn of good height and plenty of ears to make a yield of 85 bushels
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
number of stalks per acre, it is impossible to produce a maxi-
mum yield per acre. In order to obtain the maximum yield, it
will be necessary to space closer than has been the practice in
Other important considerations are the question of seed
selection and the choice of varieties best adapted to the locality
in which the corn is grown.
Some of the characters desirable for corn in Florida are as
1. Increased yield.
2. More uniformity of ears and kernels.
3. Less space between kernels on cob.
4. Lowering of the ear on the stalk.
5. Tips of ears should have better covering of shucks.
6. Ears should hang down rather than point up when nearly
7. The growing of a smaller stalk than many varieties now
8. A corn that is somewhat flinty should be grown.
9. Grow a variety that is as free from disease as possible.
It is hardly necessary to say much about the desirability of
increasing the yield per acre or growing a variety that will
produce a satisfactory yield. As the yield per acre is increased
the cost of growing a bushel of corn should be reduced. If the
yield per acre is increased from 13 to 26 bushels the cost
per bushel would be reduced almost one-half.
Uniformity of ears and kernels may not increase the feeding
value of the corn but it will increase the market value of the
corn very materially. It makes little difference whether you
are selling chickens, hogs, cattle or corn, if the offering is uni-
form in the main characters, it will sell to better advantage.
Less space between the kernels on the cob means that a bushel
of ear corn will weigh more. It also means that when a bushel
of ear corn with very small spaces between the kernels is shelled
it will yield more pounds of shelled corn that one with large
spaces between the kernels.
Lowering of the ear on the stalk offers at least two advantages.
First, if the ear is produced at a height of about three feet
from the ground it will be much easier to harvest than when
it is five feet above the ground. Second, when the ear is lower
on the stalk less corn will be blown down by wind.
Having the tips of the ears well covered by the husk pro-
tects the corn from weevil damage. It will be noticed that
the ears of corn first damaged by weevils are those whose tips
stick out beyond the husk.
S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
The Alabama Experiment Station has found that weevil in-
jury may be reduced very materially by having a few rows of
an early maturing variety of corn scattered over the field. This
early variety should mature two to three weeks in advance of
the main crop. As soon as the weevils have become numerous
on this early corn, it should be harvested and fed to livestock.
Ears of corn that hang down are usually larger and heavier
than those that do not hang down. However, that is not the
only reason for choosing this character. Here in Florida there
is usually a considerable amount of rainfall during July and
August and it may continue into September. It is during this
season of the year that the corn crop is maturing. The ears
of corn that stand upright on the stalks are sure to catch
and hold much more of the rainfall than do the ears that hang
down. This means that with the ears that hang down there
will be less loss from decay and mold. This is an important
factor when we take into consideration our climatic conditions.
It is not necessary to have an overly-large stalk. All that
is necessary is to have a stalk with plenty of leaf surface and
large enough to carry the weight of the one or two ears of
corn that it produces. A stalk of medium size will answer
this purpose just as well as will an extra large stalk. With
the extra large stalk some of the growth that should have
gone into the ear may have been used to produce the extra
growth of stalk.
The need for a flinty corn is not so well understood. The
presence of the corn weevil in Florida makes it necessary to
grow a variety that is not easly injured by weevils. It is
well known that the starchy varieties are injured to a greater
extent than the flinty varieties. Then, there is the more or
less general belief among corn growers in Florida that the
tips of the ears which are well covered with husk are injured
much less by weevils than are those which protrude thru
Last but not least in importance is the necessity of growing
a variety that is disease resistant. Disease resistance may be
the determining factor between a good crop and a poor crop.
SOME GOOD VARIETIES
In a radio talk a short time ago Prof. Fred H. Hull, Assistant
Agronomist of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
gave some good suggestions on corn growing. In this talk he
suggested the names of five varieties of corn that have produced
good yields in the tests conducted by the Agronomy Depart-
ment. The five varieties are Whatley Prolific, Hastings Prolific,
Kilgores Red Cobb Prolific, Tisdale and Smith. These varieties
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 11
have proven to be good yielders, producing from two and a
half to more than three times the average yield of corn for the
In Florida there is a wide range of dates for planting corn,
depending very largely on the location in the State. Planting
in the extreme southern part of Florida may be made sixty days
earlier than in the northern part of the State. Therefore, plant-
ing dates in Florida may be from January to April. In the
central and northern part of the State the planting date for
corn may be given as March 1 to April 10.
Planting should not begin until the soil has become warm
enough to insure a rather prompt germination. Corn that has
been slow in germinating and young plants which have made
slow growth, due to unfavorable weather and soil conditions,
seldom produce satisfactory crops.
The Ohio Experiment Station, after several years of observa-
tion, found that corn came up in varying lengths of time at
different mean temperatures as follows:
5 days at 71 degrees F.
6 days at 67 degrees F.
7 days at 66 degrees F.
8 days at 61 degrees F.
9 days at 60 degrees F.
10 days at 55 degrees F.
10 to 12 days at 49 degrees F.
A good recommendation would be to plant corn when the
normal daily temperature is around 60 degrees F. or higher. In
addition to the above, there is another factor to take into con-
sideration-that is, spring and summer rainfall. It would not
be wise to plant so early in the spring that the crop would ma-
ture before the middle of June. During April and May it
frequently happens that the rainfall is not sufficient to insure
a maximum corn yield. The rainfall is ordinarily sufficient
to keep the crop growing to the stage of what is generally
spoken of as "laying by."
Under average conditions for central and north Florida,
plantings made from March 10 to 20 have been found to give
The planting distance for corn in Florida will vary consider-
ably, depending on the character of the soil upon which it is
grown. On the better types of soil spacing can be closer than
on the poorer soils.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
On the better types, of soil, which is the only kind of soil
corn should be planted on, the rows should be made about four
feet apart with corn two feet apart in the row. The rows may
be placed from five to seven feet apart and the stalks two and
a half feet apart in the row on the poorer class of land. When
the rows are as much as five feet apart, it would be advisable
to plant some legume coverecrop between the rows. This will
have a tendency to increase the productive power of your
soil for a crop the next year, as well as produce more feed on
a given area.
DISTANCE TO PLANT
Width Distance apart No. of plants
of rows in rows per acre
7 feet 3 feet 2,074
6 feet 3 feet 2,420
5 feet 3 feet 2,904
4 feet 3 feet 3,630
5 feet 2 feet 4,356
4 feet 2 feet 5,445
The yield per acre will depend to a considerable extent on the
distance of planting. It could not be expected that an acre
of land with only 2.074 stalks of corn would produce as much
corn as an acre with 5,445 stalks. On the other hand, it is pps-
sible, and it often happens in practice, that corn is planted too
thick, or in other words, too many stalks are planted on an
acre. The result is that very little or no corn is produced.
Moisture is often the limiting factor in producing a crop of
corn. Of course, fertility must always be given consideration
in the production of a corn crop. In many instances the low
acre yield of corn has been due to the fact that the corn has
been planted on land too low in fertility to produce a good
crop of corn. A crop of corn yielding thirty bushels to the
acre takes from the soil the following amounts of plant food:
Nitrogen, 45.0 pounds; potash, 22.0 pounds, and phosphorus,
Some may think that all that is necessary is to apply the above
amounts of plant food in the form of commercial fertilizer to
an acre and produce thirty bushels of corn. However, it does
not work out that way. To produce a good crop of corn the
land must be fairly fertile, that is, it must contain a certain
amount of natural fertility. Commercial fertilizer is a neces-
sity on much of our land and with many crops. However,
it cannot take the place of the natural fertility of the soil.
The average yield of corn in Florida could be increased from
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 13
fifty to one hundred per cent if the acreage on the poor light
sandy soils that are only capable of producing from five to
eight bushels per acre, were planted to some other crop.
IMPORTANCE OF SOIL IMPROVING CROPS
Soil improving crops in crop production is without question
one of the important factors in economical corn production in
Florida. There is a long list of soil improving crops that can
be grown which fit well into any good rotation system. The
reader is referred to Bulletin No. 18, New Series, "Soil Improv-
ing Crops for Florida," State Department of Agriculture, Talla-
hassee, Florida, for a discussion of the various soil improving
crops as to when and how to plant.
The experience of some of the most successful corn growers in
the State has been that the yield per acre of corn can be in-
creased more economically by the use of soil improving crops
than by the use of commercial fertilizer.
The question of soil preparation before planting corn is still
unsettled. There are those who contend that thoro prepara-
tion of the soil is best, but there are others who believe that
good crops can be produced even tho the preparation is not
so thoro. Both advocates are probably right, as it will depend
very largely on conditions at planting time. If the land is
covered with a heavy growth of weeds, etc., it will be found
necessary to either plow them under or disk them down before
planting to corn.
When the land has been seeded to some winter cover crop,
which should be done whenever possible, the cover crop should
be allowed to grow until about two weeks before corn planting
time. The cover crop may then be disked under and the corn
planted two weeks afterward.
There is also the question of whether to plant on beds, on
the level, or in the water furrow. If drainage is poor, it
may be found necessary to plant on beds. If, however, it is
possible to secure thoro drainage by ditching or other means,
planting may be done on the level or in the water furrows.
It is generally preferable to plant in the water furrow on lands
that are well drained. By planting in the water furrow, it
will not require as much cultivation to keep the crop free
of weeds as when planted on beds. This also tends to produce a
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
-I 0 .
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 15
Corn is planted in many ways and in combination with a num-
ber of other crops.
It is a common practice to plant corn and peanuts in alternate
rows or two rows of corn and one row of peanuts.
Another combination is to plant corn and velvet beans in
alternate rows or two rows of corn and one row of velvet
Sometimes corn and cowpeas are planted in alternate rows.
Another method is to plant corn and velvet beans in the
same row and plant peanuts between every row or every other
row of corn.
Still another common practice is to plant some legume cover
crop between the rows of corn at the last cultivation of the
corn. This legume crop may be cowpeas, soy beans, beggar-
weed or crotalaria.
When corn is grown in combination with other crops the
yield per acre is reduced very materially. This is due to the
fact that when planted in combination with other crops the
rows are spaced farther apart. This means fewer stalks are
grown on an acre. The result is fewer bushels of corn to the
Some readers may wonder why farmers follow such a practice.
The chief reason is that farmers have found from experience
that more feed can be produced on an acre when these com-
binations of crops are grown. Another important point is that
most of the soils of Florida contain a sufficient amount of
sand so that there is no danger of puddling the soils during
a wet period when the crops are being grazed by livestock.
Florida farmers have long known that it was more economical
to have livestock harvest the crops. They have also learned
corn and peanuts make a better hog feed than either one alone.
A combination of corn and velvet beans is a better combination
of feed for cattle than either alone.
Therefore when a field is planted to corn, velvet beans and
peanuts it is good evidence that it will be grazed by both cattle
and hogs. When only corn and peanuts are planted it will
be grazed by hogs. Then these two legume crops are good soil
builders. Any part of the crop not eaten by livestock goes
back to the soil.
The cultivation of the crop should be frequent enough to
keep down all weed growth until the crop is laid by. It makes
but little difference what implements are used for cultivating
. ,,; -,j._. _
Fig. 5C fllwing Irish potatoes The potato crop s usually harvested n March or April and the planting of the
corn follows at once. Photo taken in June 1929.
corn follows at once. Photo taken in June, 1929.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
the crop. This is a local question that each grower will have
to answer for himself. Those implements should be used which
will do the best work and do it in the shortest length of time.
One of the chief reasons for the low acre yield of corn in
Florida is due to the method of planting. It has been the prac-
tice for many years to plant corn in rows five to eight feet
apart and have the plants two to three feet apart. It has also
been the practice to plant peanuts or velvet beans between the
rows. This does not increase the yield of corn but it does
increase the total yield of feed that is secured from an acre
of land than when only corn is grown.
Corn is one of the best, if not the best, silage crop grown
in Florida. It is true that there are a number of other crops
grown which produce more tons of silage to the acre but
ton for ton, corn is still the best crop for silage.
A yield of silage will vary from four to five tons up to
twelve or fifteen tons an acre. The difference in yield varies
with the character of the soil on which it is planted and the
method of planting. For silage, corn should be planted in three
and a half or four-foot rows, 18 to 24 inches in the row.
The practice of pulling fodder is an old one in Florida. Years
ago when farmers began the practice of pulling fodder, it was
largely a case of necessity. In those days there were very few,
if any, hay crops, hence, the necessity of pulling fodder to
supply hay for the mule and cow during the winter season.
It did not require any great amount of fodder to feed one
mule, so the task of pulling it was not so great.
As farming became more general and as the farms increased
in size from one or two plows up to eight, ten or fifteen, the
supplying of fodder or hay for the mules became more of a
problem. Nevertheless, farmers continued to pull fodder be-
cause it was good feed. There is no question, even today, about
the feeding value of pulled fodder. It is good feed because,
in the first place, it is pulled at the stage of maturity that
will produce the best feeding value. Then, too, only the best
part of the corn stalk (the leaves) is taken. This means that
there is no waste in feeding.
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F ig. 6--A field of corn that will produce 35 to 40 bushels to the acre. This is the third crop on this field in the last
twelve months. Cabbage was planted in November, snap beans followed the cabbage and corn followed the snap
bean crop, a qood-crooDoina oracticP n fnllnw-In mnnu = ^ =., *- =----- -.....__ __
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twlve mnh. Cbae a lne n Noe br np ban olwdtecabg n onfolwdtesa
bea crp, god coo ino ora tiop tofniw r ,
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 19
During the past few years, the amount of fodder pulled
has been gradually decreasing. This has been due to at least
three causes. (1) Other hay crops have been introduced, and
are now generally grown, which produce hay much cheaper than
it can be produced from fodder. (2) The high cost of the
fodder by the time it is put in the mow or stack. (3) Farmers
are now realizing more and more the loss in yield of corn per
acre due to fodder pulling. The decrease in yield due to
fodder pulling may be anywhere from three to five bushels an
These factors have all had an influence in decreasing the prac-
tice of fodder pulling. There is still too much fodder being
pulled but it is on the wane. Ten years from now there will
be less than at present.
SOME ACRE YIELDS
Regardless of the fact that the average acre yield of corn in
Florida is very low, there have been many acres that have pro-
duced exceptionally good yields.
The following is taken from Circular 10, Florida Agricul-
tural Extension Division, page 2.
FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE YIELDS IN BOYS' CORN CLUBS
"During the past five years a total of 6,886 corn demon-
strations have been conducted by the corn club boys in Flor-
ida. Complete reports of 2,037 of these demonstrations have
been submitted and the average yield per acre was 37.9 bushels
produced at an average cost of 45 cents per bushel.
In the reports from boys' corn clubs in 35 counties each year
from 1915 to 1919, the highest yield from each county averaged
65.9 bushels in 1915; 71.8 bushels in 1916; 64.7 bushels in 1917;
.65.7 bushels in 1918, and 60 bushels in 1919. This is evidence
that creditable yields are not limited to any one portion of the
SOME HIGHER YIELDS
"During this same five-year period, there were 468 yields of
more than 50 bushels per acre; 103 yields of more than 75
bushels, and 29 of more than 90 bushels per acre. The corn
club boys have not stopped even at 100 bushels per acre. Table
No. I gives a detailed report of nine boys who have produced
more than 100 bushels per acre.
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Fig. 7-Corn in Central Florida estimated to yield 75 to 80 bushels per acre in 1929.
d 7. A
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 21
TABLE I.-SUMMARY OF 100-BUSHEL YIELDS.
I Cost Variety I Type
Year Name I of of
eI County Yield Bu. Corn Soil
I d I Sandy
1915 Wm. Fulton ............ Hernando 100.6$ .56 White Flint ............... Hammock
1916 Port Geiger ............ Nassau ...... 119.61 .26 Hastings Prolific Sandy
1916 Lawton Martin ...IMarion ...... 115.0 .13 Loam
1916 Lewis Lee .................. Hernando 100.6 .31 Marion Co. White Muck
1917 LeRoy Alderman...] Lake ............ 106.5 .39 Hastings Prolific Hammock
1917 Paul Parrish ............ Polk ............ 102.1 .27 Alexander's .................. IMuck
1917 Edgar Lock ...........Lake ............ 100.5 .27 Hastings Prolific Hammock
19171Lawton Martin ... Marion ...... 100.1 .13 Alexander's .................. Muck
19181Lawton Martin ... Marion ...... 115.0 .12 Marion Co. White |Muck
I Average .................. 106.7 .26 Marion Co. White IMuck
100 BUSHELS FOR THREE YEARS
"The most notable instance is that one club member, Lawton
Martin of Marion County (See Table I), succeeded in produc-
ing 100 bushels for three years in succession. This record is
without parallel in Florida and would be a credit to a club
member in any State. It might appear that some unusual
methods were practiced, but the statements taken from the re-
ports of each of these crops show that plain methods of intelli-
gent farming were followed."
The corn weevil takes quite a toll from southern corn grow-
ers. This applies to many of the Southern States as well as to
Prof. J. R. Watson tells in Press Bulletin No. 324 of the Flor-
ida Agricultural Experiment Station, how to control the corn
weevil as follows:
GASSING THE CORN WEEVIL
"The corn weevil is one of the farmer's most expensive guests.
Last year's corn crop was valued at $10,000,000. At least a
fifth of the crop was destroyed by weevils; the feed bill of this
one insect, therefore, costing Florida farmers $2,000,000.
"Practically all this waste could have been prevented. by
the use of carbon bisulphide at a total cost of less than $100,000.
Or, in other words, a bushel of corn invested in carbon bisul-
phide will save at least 20 bushels from weevils. Where else can
one secure such a tremendous return on an investment? A bank
pays a depositor 4 per cent on his money; carbon bisulphide
pays 2,000 per cent. How is this done?
Fig. 8-Soy beans and corn grow well together and make lots of feed. (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
BUILD A TIGHT CRIB
"Build a crib with double walls, ceiling, and floor of matched
lumber with building paper between. All doors and windows
should close as nearly air-tight as is possible.
GATHER THE CORN EARLY
"Most corn is left in the field too long. Gather it as soon as
it is thoroly mature. Delay means more weevils; and gathering
will be made more difficult, especially if velvet beans are grow-
ing in the field. Further delay also means additional loss
from mice, squirrels, raccoons, birds and molds, especially
during the rainy season.
SHUCK THE CORN
"Shuck your corn before cribbing it. Shucked corn costs to
fumigate four times less than corn in the shuck. Unshucked
corn takes up twice the space of shucked corn. The fumigant
must be doubled when the corn is not shucked.
"One pound carbon bisulphide to every hundred cubic feet of
crib space, for most cases, the proper dosage. If the crib is
tight, a smaller amount may be sufficient. The cubic content
of the crib, not the amount of corn in it, determines the dosage.
It will require as much carbon bisulphide to fumigate one
bushel of corn in a crib as it will the same crib full of corn.
Be sure to use enough of the liquid to kill the weevils, or the
amount used will be wasted.
"The liquid is usually poured into shallow dishes placed
over the corn pile. However, if the corn is perfectly dry, no
harm will result from throwing it directly onto the corn. If
this is done, there will be only a slight deposit of sulphur after
the liquid has evaporated.
"The first fumigation should be given at the first appear-
ance of weevils, usually soon after the corn is gathered. At
least one other fumigation will be required later in the fall,
and another in the spring. This is necessary because of the
hatching out of weevil eggs, which are not affected by the gas.
The crib should be tightly closed for 24 hours after the liquid
is put in. Then open the doors and windows and give the
corn a good airing.
"After all the corn has been used, thoroly clean the crib
of all refuse in which weevils may harbor, so that all those re-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
maining in the crib will starve to death or leave before the new
crop is stored.
"If the corn is perfectly dry, there will be no danger of in-
juring its germination qualities by gassing. Dry corn can be
dipped into the liquid. But if the corn is damp or is not
thoroly cured, an overdose of the gas-either too strong or too
long-may injure its germination.
"Carbon bisulphide is highly inflammable and, when mixed
with air, explosive. All fire should be kept away from a corn
crib during fumigation and the airing which follows. Explo-
sions during fumigation have been known to result from in-
sufficiently cured corn heated to a high temperature.
"A number of other substances can be used to fumigate
corn. Paradichlorobenzene is one of them. It is non-inflamma-
ble. Hydrocyanic acid gas, made by dropping sodium cyanide
into dilute sulphuric acid, is also non-inflammable, but it does
not penetrate large piles of corn as readily as does carbon bisul-
phide. The fumes of this gas are dangerous to man.
LIFE HISTORY OF CORN WEEVIL
"The weevils fly to the new corn in the field from seed of wild
plants, dead bark of trees and flower blossoms. They enter
the ear through the open tip or through holes made in the
shuck by the corn ear-worm. Eggs are laid inside the corn
kernels and here hatch and live. The entire life history may
be completed in two weeks, but ordinarily it lasts twice that
long. The weevil's growth is checked by cold weather, and in
the extreme northern part of the State it may cease entirely
during midwinter. In the greater part of the State, however,
the weevil is active all winter. It is well to give the crib a cool
location, north of a large evergreen tree, for instance.
"In choosing a variety of corn to grow, other things equal,
select one with a drooping ear and a tight, close-fitting shuck
which extends well over the tip of the ear. This will help
protect the ear from both the corn ear-worm and the weevil."
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
ORGHUM is one of the best forage and silage crops to
grow in Florida. It is well adapted to our soil and cli-
matic conditions, and for that reason is a very desirable
On the sandy soils sorghum, as a rule, will produce more
tons of forage per acre than will corn. On the more fertile
soils the yield per acre will be equal to that of corn.
Like all other non-legume forage crops, it is necessary to
apply liberal applications of commercial fertilizer. Whenever
barn yard manure is available, it will give splendid results in
increasing the yield of forage.
There are quite a few varieties of sorghum which produce
good yields in Florida. However, there are some characteristics
of some varieties that should be considered before planting.
For example, choose a variety that has a loose, open seed head.
Those with a solid, compact seed head are much more likely to
mildew or mold during a rainy period.
Amber sorghum is one of the earliest varieties. It does not
produce as heavy a yield of forage as some other varieties,
but for a hay crop to grow with cowpeas, it is one of the best.
Other varieties are Honey, Orange, Sumac, and Gooseneck, all
good producers in Florida.
Shallu is one of the best grain sorghums.
For additional information regarding planting, cultivating
and fertilizing, write State Department of Agriculture, Talla-
hassee, Florida, for a copy of Bulletin No 7, New Series,
"Sorghum for Silage and Forage in Florida."
i ~~ -
1' '''' hlil
.. :.~ ;- r
*? k )2
Fig. 9-Sorghum, one of the best silage and dry forage crops for Florida.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 27
DISTRIBUTION AND HISTORY
(' APIER grass is a native of tropical Africa. The
SRhodesian Department of Agriculture has the dis-
tinction of having first introduced it into cultivation.
This was about 1910. In 1913 the United States Department
of Agriculture first introduced it into this country. Here it
promises to be valuable for planting in the extreme South, in-
cluding the entire State of Florida, and a strip extending thru
the southern portions of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. It
also promises to be successful in southwestern Arizona and the
warmer portions of California. Work with it was first started
at the Florida Experiment Station in 1915. Since that time
it has been grown co-operatively or distributed in small lots for
planting in many widely separated sections of the State.
"Since this grass has been given recognition as an important
crop in agriculture, many common names have been suggested
for it. In South Africa it is known as Elephant grass or
Napier's fodder grass, while in the United States it is most
widely and correctly known as Napier grass. In Florida the
name 'Carter grass' has been associated with it to some
extent. The name Napier grass has, however, been generally
adopted in other sections of the United States; and as a means
of avoiding future confusion it is best to adhere to this name,
which was the one originally applied to it in this country. The
name 'Napier grass' is especially appropriate, since it was
thru the enterprise of Col. Napier of South Africa that its agri-
cultural value has been established.
"Napier grass is a rank growing cane-like perennial. It
grows to a height of from 6 to 12 feet or more, depending
upon the fertility of the soil and other general conditions under
which it is grown. The plants tiller extensively, forming clumps
with many coarse, leafy stalks. Under favorable conditions
and where the plants are not crowded, as many as seventy-five
or even one hundred or more stalks may be produced by a
single plant. Such large clumps are unusual, but an average of
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 153.
Fig. 10-Napler grass. One of Florida's best soiling crops, This crop was planted In March and photo taken July 24.
-Courtesy Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 29
from one to two dozen stalks from each plant is not uncommon.
The stalks or canes are erect growing and leafy. When near-
ing maturity these canes produce yellow, millet-like seed spikes
varying from 4 to 10 inches in length. Prior to seeding many
fine, erect growing branches are produced from the leaf axils
of the main stems. These branches, which occur singly, bear
terminal seed spikes. Hence it is possible for a single cane to
yield as many as ten or more seed heads. At the Experiment
Station the seed heads have usually appeared during the latter
part of October, the first seed maturing in the early part of
Fig. 11-Single eye Napier grass cutting. (Courtesy Florida Agricultural Ex-
PROPAGATION AND PLANTING
"This grass may be propagated from joints or cuttings of
the canes, from divisions of the root clump, or from the seed.
The mature canes should be cut in the fall before danger from
killing frosts, and banked over wifiter after the method com-
monly practiced in handling Japanese cane or sugar cane. The
factors entering into the preservation of Napier grass canes are
not well known. A lot of Japanese cane, Napier grass, and
Merker grass canes were 'banked' in November, 1918, at the
30 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
same time and under similar conditions. These were examined
in January, 1919, a little more than two months after banking.
The Japanese cane appeared to be in a perfect state of preserva-
tion, while many of the 'eyes' of both the Napier and Merker
Fig. 12-Napier grass yields from 15 to 50 tons of green material per acre.
-Courtesy Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
grasses were discolored and apparently dead. Work should be
done to 'establish the best methods of handling these canes.
In the latitude of Gainesville, it is probably best to harvest
the seed canes about the first week in November, while farther
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 31
south it may not be necessary to cut until a little later in
the season. It should be kept in mind that a killing frost
will injure the buds, rendering the seed canes inferior or even
worthless for planting. In the milder portions of the State
the practice of planting direct to the field at the time of cutting
has given satisfactory results. In preparing the canes for plant-
ing, cuttings of one or more joints should be made. Cuttings
containing more than one joint should be dropped horizontally
in shallow furrows and covered to a depth of from 4 to 6
inches. Where this method of planting is practiced top and
root growth will both proceed from each joint, whereas cuttings
set with one joint above and one below the surface will strike
root only at the lower node. At the present time it is not always
possible to obtain seed canes in quantity, and it is sometimes
desirable to adopt a system that will insure the maximum
number of plants from a limited number of canes. Under these
circumstances single eye cuttings may be successfully used
(Fig. 11). These are prepared by severing the canes with a
slanting cut about an inch above each joint. The ground in-
tended for planting should be plowed and thoroly harrowed
to eliminate air spaces and prevent the cuttings from drying
out to rapidly. Single eye cuttings are planted with very
little difficulty. The operation of preparing it provides a
sharp point at the lower end of the cutting; and this is simply
thrust obliquely into the ground to a depth of 4 or 5 inches.
With canes in good condition and other factors favorable, both
roots and sprouts will be sent out from a single joint and a
good vigorous plant soon established. If desired the large
root clump may be taken up and divided into several parts,
each of which is capable of producing an independent plant.
"Napier grass seeds freely in Florida. At Gainesville it has
produced mature seeds as early as the first week in November.
Many of these seeds will germinate if planted, and the practice
of propagating plants by this method would seem entirely prac-
ticable, at least while there are not enough seed canes available
to meet the demand. A germination test started at the Experi-
ment Station on January 16, 1919, with seed collected on No-
vember 5, 1918, resulted in 68 percent growth. The seed of this
grass is light and fluffy and should not be covered too deeply.
By merely covering them in well pulverized soil and exercising
care to insure a constant supply of moisture, they will germi-
nate in four or five days. In ordinary farm practice the seed
may be sown in 'seed flats' or shallow boxes small enough to be
convenient in handling. The seedlings will be ready for trans-
planting to the field when about 6 inches high. Under favor-
able conditions seedlings of this size can easily be grown in
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
five weeks from the time the seeds are sown. In 6-foot rows
and with 3 feet between plants, 2,420 plants will be required
to plant an acre; if spaced 4 feet apart 1,815 plants will be
needed to plant the same area. The seedlings grow readily after
transplanting and may be set as rapidly as cabbage plants. The
long blades should be pinched back severely at this time, and
such precautions taken as are usually observed in transplanting
tender, succulent plants of this type.
"Whatever method of propagation is employed, the planting
on soil of average fertility should be made in rows 6 feet
apart with spaces of 3 to 4 feet between plants in the rows.
On poor ground closer plantings may prove satisfactory, while
on highly fertile soil these distances should be increased.
SOIL, CLIMATIC AND CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS
"Napier grass is not as exacting in its soil requirements as
are many of our better known forage crops. It seems to be
about equal to Japanese cane in its ability to grow successfully
on a wide range of soil types. In general, any soil that will
produce good yields of Japanese cane may also be expected to
grow satisfactory crops of this grass. In both South Africa
and New South Wales where it is grown as a cultivated crop,
it thrives comparatively well on rather poor land, tho it re-
sponds to increased fertility. This tendency has been observed
in its behavior in Florida, where it has proved itself able to
grow on soils of only moderate fertility. But like most other
heavy yielding crops, it succeeds best on good rich ground.
It can not continue indefinitely to yield heavy crops on a light
soil without some provision for restoring the plant food re-
moved by the crop. This is, of course, a general principal,
and is equally true of most non-leguminous crops. As Napier
grass is of tropical origin it succeeds well during hot summer
weather. It also makes good growth during the cool autumn
season, but the canes will be killed back by the first frost. The
roots, however, are hardy as far north as Charleston, S. C.,
and these will send out new growth upon the advent of warm
"The grass is also said to possess drouth resistant qualities
in a marked degree, but it will thrive best where soil moisture
is not lacking. Growing under natural conditions in tropical
Africa, it shows a decided preference for soils abounding in
moisture. As having an important bearing on this subject the
following quotation from the Kew Bulletin, 1912, appearing
in the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, July 2, 1917,
is of especial interest. In a discussion of this grass as found
in a state of nature in tropical Africa the author says:
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
'It occurs along watercourses and in marshy depressions,
but also enters the bush and forest where open spaces afford
sufficient light. ... In rich marsh land it attains a
height of 21 feet, while in drier soils it only grows 6 feet high.'
"During the past year Napier grass has received considerable
advertisement thru parties who have become enthusiastic over
its possibilities in Florida. In some cases over-enthusiasm has
led to error and exaggeration and the impression has become
more or less prevalent that this grass will produce very large
crops on practically any type of land and that it requires
little or no cultivation. This belief is based upon a misappre-
hension. Plantings made in many parts of Florida during
the past year indicate that results will vary directly with the
fertility of the soil, and that as thoro cultivation will be re-
quired as is necessary to produce a good crop of Japanese cane.
The Experiment Station conducted a series of co-operative tests
among farmers during the summer of 1918 in which this and
various other grasses were planted on a small scale. These
plantings were located in twenty widely separate sections, from
Dade and De Soto counties in the south to Escambia in the
northwest. The various soil types of the State have also been
well represented in these plantings. In summarizing the results
of this work Napier grass was found to succeed in all parts of
the State when planted on a reasonably fertile soil and given
good care and cultivation. It has done well on good pine land
and flat wood soil, and on rich muck land it make remarkably
YIELDS OF FEED
"We have comparatively little definite information on the
yield of feed from this crop in Florida. However, where con-
ditions are favorable there seems to be no other crop that
will excel it in the production of green feed. One test made
at the Experiment Station within the past year yielded at
the rate of 19.5 tons to the acre. Another planting made at a
different time and under somewhat different conditions gave
a crop weighing at the rate of 39.1 tons of green feed to the
acre. These results were obtained as a first crop from newly
broke good pine land without fertilizer. In these tests the
canes were allowed to mature to be used as seed canes and
the harvest was limited to a single cutting. A considerable
increase in the total yield for the season might have been ex-
pected if the usual practice of cutting two or three crops had
been followed. Two tests made under government auspices
in New South Wales resulted in yields of sixteen and twenty-
five tons, respectively, after a period of four months from the
time of planting. Many other reports of large yields have been
34 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
received from various sources. In actual practice, however,
it will usually be found that like most other crops the yield
will vary widely, depending upon the character of the soil,
the nature of the season, and the general treatment given the
crop. Still enough has been learned to justify the belief that
Napier grass will produce more tonnage per unit area than
any other forage crop known to grow in Florida, with the ex-
ception of Merker grass. Two other exceptions, those of pearl
millet and teosinte, might possibly be made to this statement.
However, both of these are annuals and the ideal conditions
required to produce maximum yields are so rarely met with that
they need scarcely be mentioned.
UTILIZATION, PALATABILITY AND FEEDING VALUE
"This grass affords great promise as a soiling crop. It grows
very rapidly and may be cut when 4 or 5 feet high, supplying
a heavy yield of green fodder. In nutritive value and palata-
bility Napier grass is probably not excelled by any similar
non-leguminous feed. When cut at this stage of maturity the
stubble is in a tender growing condition. This tends to promote
a quick and vigorous ratoon growth and insures a maximum
number of good cuttings during the growing season. In the
extreme southern part of the State the crop will continue to
grow thruout the year. It seems especially suited as a green
feed for dairy animals, as its high content of protein and its
decidedly palatable nature render it valuable in a milk produc-
"As a soiling crop Napier grass should be cut while young
and succulent. This is not only important in encouraging sub-
sequent ratoon growth but it also insures a green feed of the
highest quality. As the stalks advance towards maturity they
tend to become hard and woody and many of them will be
refused by stock. In this stage the feed will be eaten more
readily and with less waste if cut into small pieces by running
thru a feed cutter. In New South Wales this grass is claimed
to make a splendid quality of hay if cut when 3 or 4 feet high
and properly cured. Just how valuable it may be for silage
and as a pasture crop is not yet known. The mature canes
contain a high percentage of woody fiber, and this might reduce
their value for silage. On the other hand if the canes were
cut when too young and succulent, it would seem probable that
a soft, washy silage with high acidity might result. These prob-
lems must, however, be solved by experiment. It has been sug-
gested that with a multiple lot arrangement, light rotation
grazing might be satisfactory. Napier grass is unusually high
in feeding Value, tho, as has been pointed out above, the mature
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
growth shows a comparatively high content of fiber. In Table
No. II the composition of green Napier grass is compared with
that of green corn, sorghum, Japanese cane and Para grass.
TABLE II.-COMPARING COMPOSITION OF GREEN NAPIER
GRASS WITH OTHER FORAGE CROPS.
Green Fodder From
(1) (1) (2) (1) (3) (4)
Nutrients u C
Ash .... 12 1.4 .60 2.4 2.92 2.68
Fiber ................... 5.2 75.0 6.55 9.2 14.77 13.24
Fat..6 1.0 .60 .5 .29 .53
"The analyses in Table No. II show that Napier grass com-
pares very favorably in feeding constituents with any of our
common non-leguminous forage plants. The only objectionable
feature brought out in this comparison is the rather high per-
centage of fiber in Napier grass. These figures indicating the
composition of Napier grass represent the results of two separate
analyses. Another analyses of a Florida grown sample of the
cured Napier grass was made in the laboratories of the State
Chemist at Tallahassee and published in the Tampa Tribune on
November 25, 1917. This analysis is used in Table No. III to
contrast the cured feed of Napier grass with some of the most
important Florida grown hays. Napier grass hay is here
shown to contain a greater percentage of protein than any
of the other non-leguminous hays included in this table, though
the amount of this constituent is not as great as in alfalfa hay."
(1) Taken from Henry and Morrison's "Feeds and Feeding".
(2) From Florida Experiment Station Bulletin No. 105 and converted
to terms of green feed containing about normal percent of water.
(3) From Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, Vol. XXVIII,
(4) From Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, Vol. XXVIII,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
TABLE III.-COMPARING COMPOSITION OF NAPIER.WITH
Cured Hay, Percent
Nutrients (1) () () (1) (2) (3)
Timothy Alfalfa Crab Natal Rhodes Napier
Ti y A Grass Grass Grass Grass
W ater ........... 11.6 8.6 9.5 9.8 9.9 9.35
Ash ................ 4.9 8.6 8.5 5.0 7.6 9.92
Protein ............ 6.2 14.9 8.0 7.4 7.3 11.32
Carbohydrates 45.0 37.3 42.9 39.2 44.6 41.06
Fat ...............- 2.5 2.3 2.4 1.8 1.4 2.15
Fiber .................. 29.9 28.3 28.7 36.8 29.2 26.20
(1) Taken from Henry and Morrison's "Feeds and Feeding."
(2) Annual Rpt. Hawaii Experiment Station, 1909, pages 58-59.
(3) Analysis made in laboratories of the State Chemist, Tallahassee,
and published in the Tampa Tribune, November 25, 1917.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 37
"J APANESE cane was introduced into Florida from the
Louisiana Sugar Experiment Station some thirty-five or
Sforty years ago. The Louisiana Station grew it for a
number of years for comparison with other varieties of sugar
cane as a source of sugar and syrup. It is rather probable that
the Japanese cane was imported from Japan into Louikiana
by General Le Due, U. S. Commissioner of Agriculture, 1878.
(There is, however, also a possibility that it came from Brazil.)
However, the question as to where it came from is of secondary
importance. The question of most importance is, how can
we handle the Japanese cane so as to obtain the best results
in feeding it to our livestock ?
"Its chief value to the farmers of Florida is as a forage
crop for the feeding of livestock. It may be used as silage,
winter pasture, or dry forage. When first introduced into Flor-
ida, Japanese cane was grown for the production of syrup. In
most sections of the State and under the usual conditions, the
regular sugar canes are much more satisfactory as crops for
syrup production. This is because Japanese cane is harder, and
requires more power in grinding. It is also more difficult to
strip, which increases the cost of stripping. However, as re-
gards the quality of the syrup, there is but little difference be-
tween the regular sugar canes and Japanese cane. The yield
of syrup per acre from Japanese cane will vary from 150 to 500
"The locality best suited for the growing of Japanese cane is
all of Florida, southern Georgia, southern Alabama, southern
Mississippi, Louisiana and southern Texas. Any section in
which the velvet bean will mature seed will be found a good
place to grow Japanese cane. This will be up to 200 to 250
miles north of the Gulf of Mexico.
"Japanese cane furnishes good pasture from the middle of
November to March. Cattle waste but little of it when pastured.
They first eat off the green blades, then the tender joints at the
top, and continue to eat from the top until there is nothing
left but the short stubble. It should not be pastured late in
the spring. If pastured after growth starts in the spring the
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin, 105.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
cattle or hogs will eat off the new growth and soon kill out the
plants. It is not advisable to pasture later than March 1, or
after new growth begins in the spring.
"Japanese cane makes a good silage. It keeps well, is relished
by cattle, and the yield that can be secured makes it one of the
cheapest and most economical crops that the Florida farmer
can grow for silage. It has been used in feeding experiments
with the dairy herd at the Experiment Station with quite satis-
factory results. As compared with sorghum or corn silage
the cost is about one-third less for Japanese cane silage.
"Japanese cane will be found a valuable crop for dry winter
forage. It is an easy crop to cure and the loss in storage is
small. If it is stored in a barn or shed there will be hardly
any loss. At the Experiment Station we have stored it in a
barn in November and December and kept it until the following
June and July. Six months after harvesting there was prac-
tically no loss; and when run through a feed cutter it was
relished by cattle, horses and mules. If barn or shed room is
not available, it can be stored in the barnyard and fed out
as wanted. But with this method the loss will be considerable.
It will be found profitable to put up a temporary shed under
which to store the dry forage. This need not be an expensive
shelter. It may be made of any material that will shed rain.
It will perhaps be advisable, when stacking the forage, to set
the butts of the cane on the ground. In this way the cane
absorbs some of the moisture from the soil, and will not dry
out so much.
"Japanese cane was used as roughage in one feeding experi-
ment in beef production. In this test the following feeds per
1000 pounds live weight were fed: Corn, 12.50; velvet beans in
the pod, 18.75; sweet potatoes, 20.8, and Japanese cane, 12.50
pounds. During a period of sixty days the steers made a daily
average gain per 1,000 pounds live weight of 6.5 pounds, at a
cost of four cents per pound of gain.
"Japanese cane is a crop well suited to a variety of soils.
Good hammock land will no doubt produce the heaviest yields.
But even the high pine lands will give good returns when prop-
erly fertilized. On swampy muck land Japanese cane will make
a fairly good growth. On such land the growth will be greatly
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 39
increased by an application of lime (ground limestone, or burnt
lime). The amount of this which is necessary to apply will
depend upon the amount of acid in the soil and will vary
from 2,000 to 6,000 pounds of ground limestone, or one-half
these amounts of air-slacked lime per acre. An application
at the rate of 2,000 pounds of ground limestone per acre on
high pine land on the Experiment Station farm increased the
yield to the extent of 10.37 tons per acre during the season of
"Every farmer in Florida should grow a few acres of Jap-
anese cane, whether he has the class of soil best suited to it
or not. If it is not the best soil, Japanese cane will produce as
heavy a yield as will any other crop that can be grown on the
same soil, or even a heavier yield. High pine land properly
fertilized will give a yield of from 15 to 20 tons per acre. Good
hammock land will produce yields beyond these figures.
"Japanese cane is a perennial, and one planting will last
many years if properly handled. (Larger yields will be ob-
tained if replanted every four or five years.) This in itself
causes quite a saving in the expense of growing the crop. In
fact, it reduces the annual cost of production by about 50 per
"Japanese cane is propagated by cuttings of the cane or by
divisions of the stools. The cheapest and most economical way
of propagating it is by cane cuttings., Therefore care and at-
tention must be given to the saving of the seed-canes. Poor
seed-canes, like poor seeds, result in poor stands and unsatis-
factory yields. The seed-canes should be selected and cut be-
fore there is danger of frost, so as to insure soundness. The
buds will only stand a very slight frost without injury, and it
is not safe to risk possible exposure to frost. The canes should
be cut and banked before there is any likelihood of the first
fall frost. The date for this will, of course, vary in different
sections of the State.
"Almost every farmer has his own method of banking his
seed-cane. Perhaps one method is about as good as another.
The important facts to keep in mind are: The canes should be
covered sufficiently deep to protect them against frost; the
bank should be situated so as to get perfect drainage; if there
should be standing water or abundant moisture, the canes are
likely to rot; if the soil about the beds should become dry the
canes may take the dry rot,, and a large amount of the seed
will be lost. It is, therefore, important that we get the proper
conditions as to moisture in the bank where we store our seed-
4 t .. ..
4 ... .*. ,- -
4.C.... .- .- -' r
.-3 ,w b .. -. : .
. -. .,- _.. ... .
,,-r .'. C .,
,., ,A r' ,
-ci4-. ,.a 4 ,
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
canes. It will be found better to make two or three small beds
than one large one. It would be well to bank more canes than
you expect to use for planting. There is always some possi-
bility of loss from various causes. Sometimes the loss may not
exceed 10 percent, while at other times it may be as high as
from 25 to 50 percent.
CANE FOR PLANTING
"The number of canes required to plant an acre will depend
upon the distance between the rows, the distance at which the
canes are dropped in the row, and the length which the canes
are cut. Our experience has shown that, putting the rows
eight feet apart, 3,000 whole canes are sufficient to plant an
acre; and if good seed canes are used, that is enough to give
an excellent stand. Select only healthy canes, and reject all
that are green and unripe. Plant in rows eight feet apart.
Cut the canes in pieces having three or four eyes to a piece, and
drop them in a double line. Some farmers drop the canes in
a single line from 12 to 18 inches apart in the row. By this
method of planting, it will only require from 1,000 to 1,500
canes to plant an acre. The disadvantage is, however, that a
thin stand will be obtained, which will result in a small yield
of forage. This small yield of forage will not only be for the
first year, but there will be a light yield for several years. It
is nearly impossible to fill in the missing places properly.
Where new canes are planted in the missing hills, it will be
found that they make either no growth or a very unsatisfactory
one. The old established canes have such an extensive root
system and draw so heavily upon the plant food and soil
moisture, that the canes have little chance to make any growth.
"It is very important that a good stand of canes should be
obtained at the first planting. If only a half or two-thirds of
a stand should be secured, it will follow that one-third to one-
half of the crop will be weeds. Weeds will grow up between
the canes unless the stand is thick enough to smother them out,
and it costs less to cultivate an acre that will produce 20 tons
of cane than one of half that yield. Hence we should obtain
at the start the very best possible stand.
PREPARATION OF SEED BED
"Before planting, the ground should be plowed broadcast
to a depth of six inches. Plow under all vegetable growth on
the land. As soon as the land is plowed, it should be harrowed
with the tooth harrow. Harrow it twice if necessary so as to
put the surface in good tilth. The rows can be laid off by the
Fig. 14-Japanese cane, one of the heavy producing forage crops of Florida.
-Courtesy Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
' .. .
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
use of the marker, which is made of two-by-six-inch lumber, the
runners being set on edge at the distance apart that the rows
are wanted and then braced sufficiently to keep them in place.
A tongue is attached to the cross-brace in front, and a guide
marker is attached at the side, at the proper distance to mark
the next row.
"For opening up the furrow in which to drop the seed-canes,
the disk cultivator will be found most satisfactory. The begin-
ner, however, is likely to have trouble until he learns how to
set the disks. In throwing out the row, they should be set
close together, so as to leave as narrow a ridge as possible in
the bottom of the furrow. The cultivator should be set to run
quite deep. If not, when the canes are covered the ground will
be left in ridges, instead of being level. In covering the canes
it will be found necessary to set the disks as far apart as possi-
ble, so as to give room for the canes between the disks. When
the disks are set close they will catch the canes, which, instead
of being covered, will be thrown out on top of the bed. The
use of the disk cultivator for this work will reduce the cost of
planting by 25 to 40 percent, which means much in the total
cost of production.
"Just when to plant the seed-canes in Florida depends on
the locality. Some prefer to plant in the fall at the time of
selecting the canes. This method reduces the expense by the
omission of the cost of banking. Fall planting is perhaps not
well suited to all parts of the State. In the northern and west-
ern portion of the State, where the winters are more severe
than in the southern part, there is likely to be a greater loss of
seed-canes during the winter season. Hence if fall planting
should be practiced, the result may be an unsatisfactory stand.
If the seed-canes are banked and kept till spring, then only
first-class cane-will be planted. This will insure a good stand.
Fall planting would be advisable for central and south Florida,
and spring planting for north and west Florida. For fall plant-
ing, November 10 to 20 will perhaps be the best time. For
spring planting, the month of March will be the most satisfac-
tory. All territory north of Gainesville should practice spring
planting. All south of Gainesville may find fall planting satis-
factory under ordinary conditions.
"The cultivation of Japanese cane is nearly the same as that
of corn or cotton. The important point to remember is the
thoro preparation of the seed-bed before planting the canes.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
In the succeeding years the early spring cultivation should
be somewhat as follows: About the time growth begins, give
a thoro cultivation, stirring the ground to a depth of three
or four inches. This may be done with the disk harrow going
between the rows, or with the two-horse cultivator. There is
no danger of injuring the roots at this time of the year, as
the new roots have not yet made any growth. The first appli-
cation of fertilizer should be applied just before the second
cultivation. The second cultivation should be thoro, but not
so deep as the first. As the crop continues to grow, the depth
of cultivation should be less each time. Deep cultivation will
be found to do much root pruning. If one will take time to
examine the root system when the cane is nearly mature, a mass
of fine feeding roots will be found very near the surface, many
of them not more than one-half inch deep. Deep cultivation
destroys these roots, reducing the feeding capacity of the
plants and so reducing the growth of the crop.
"There is a tendency for the farmer to be in too much of a
hurry to harvest Japanese cane. To produce the best quality
of feed all forage crops much reach a certain stage of maturity.
This is especially true of all saccharine forage crops. The chief
value of this crop as a feed is its high sugar content. The higher
the percentage of sugar, the higher its feeding value. The
formation of sugar does not take place while the crop is making
rapid growth. When the growth ceases, and the crop begins
to mature, which occurs in the fall when cool weather comes,
is the time the formation of sugar takes place most rapidly.
Harvesting, therefore, should be delayed until near danger
of frost. If it is to be used for silage, the silage will keep
better and will have a higher feeding value if it is allowed to
mature before putting it into the silo. If used for dry forage,
it will also give better results if not harvested'until well ma-
tured. However, there is the danger of allowing it to stand
in the field until injured by frost. If it is used for feed a short
time after being injured by frost, the loss will be but slight.
The feeding value after freezing deteriorates with time.
"At the present time we cannot recommend any machine
that will successfully harvest Japanese cane. The canes are too
hard and heavy for a mowing machine. After a couple of
years' growth the rows spread out too widely for a corn har-
vester to work successfully. A machete corn knife, or hoe, will
be found to do satisfactory work. No doubt as more farmers
grow Japanese cane there will be a demand created for the
necessary machinery for harvesting this crop.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 45
Analysis of Air-Dried Sample
W ater ........................... .. 6.75 percent
Protein ............................ 1.37 "
Fats .............................. 1.89
Fiber .............................. 20.60 "
Ash ............................. 2.04
Nitrogen-free extract ............... 67.35 "
"Japanese cane is rich in carbohydrates, but poor in pro-
tein. This should be remembered when feeding it. We should
not expect it to take the place of all the concentrates in the
ration. However, since it is rich in carbohydrates, it is only
necessary to supply feed rich in protein in combination with
Japanese cane, to obtain the best results. If this point be kept
in mind we will not be disappointed in the results we obtain
from feeding this to our livestock.'
46 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
N , -.
F g 1d. ,' .
Fig. 15-Sudan grass. Individual plant. (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 47
SUDAN GRASS AS A FORAGE CROP"
Sorghum sorghum var. sudanense
"rT HE discovery of this new hay grass (Sudan grass) came
About as the result of a search for forms of wild andro-
pogons which do not have rootstocks. It is acknowl-
edged by agriculturists that Johnson grass, which belongs to
this group, would be a valuable hay plant for the Southern
States if it were not supplied with aggressive underground
stems. Recognizing this fact, an organized search for forms
lacking these rootstocks was begun under the direction of Prof.
C. V. Piper, in charge of the Office of Forage-Crop Investiga-
tions, with the assistance of the Office of Foreign Seed and
Plant Introduction. As a result of this effort a grass was ob-
tained under the name garawi on March 16, 1909, from Mr.
R. Hewison, Director of Agriculture and Lands of the Sudan
Government at Khartum. One-half pound of seed was re-
ceived, and a portion of this small quantity was planted at
the Forage-Crop Field Station, Chillicothe, Tex., that spring.
The grass looked very promising there and plans were immedi-
ately laid for extending the plantings to other points. In
order to give it distinctiveness and assist in its distribution, the
name Sudan grass was applied to it.
DESCRIPTION OF SUDAN GRASS
"Under cultivation in the United States, Sudan grass has
shown itself to be distinctly an annual. In only two instances
under our observation have plants lived over the winter-at
Gainesville, Fla., and Bard, Cal., both places being practically
frost free. This grass is very closely related to the cultivated
sorghums and hybridizes with them readily The fact that it
has no rootstocks places it nearer the cultivated sorghums than
is Johnson grass, which for many years has been credited by
some botanists with being the wild prototype of the sorghums.
"Sudan grass when seeded broadcast or in drills averages
about 3 to 5 feet in height and has stems a little smaller than a
lead pencil, being about three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.
If grown in rows and cultivated, it reaches a height of 6 to 9
feet, and the stems are larger than usual, being about one-
fourth of an inch in diameter. (See Fig. 15.) The panicle is
loose and open, very much like that of Johnson grass, but a
Farmers' Bulletin 605, U. S. D. A.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 16-Sudan grass (left) and Johnson grass (right), showing rootstocks of
Johnson grass and their entire absence on Sudan grass. (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 49
little larger and a trifle more compact. The hulls, or glumes,
are awned and, when in flower, often purplish in color. This
color usually fades to a light yellow when ripe. The awns
are broken off in threshing, so that the commercial seed rarely
has awns. The leaves are broader and more numerous than
those of Johnson grass, giving the grass a much more favorable
appearance as a hay plant. The most important difference,
however, is that the aggressive underground stems, or root-
stocks, with which Johnson grass is equipped, are entirely
absent in Sudan grass. This striking difference is shown clearly
in the accompanying figure illustrating young seedling plants
of the two grasses (Fig 16). Sudan grass, like the cultivated
sorghums, never develops anything but fibrous roots, therefore
it can not become an obnoxious weed comparable to the peren-
nial Johnson grass. Furthermore, it has shown no tendency
to persist in fields as an annual weed thru volunteer seed-
ings. When given plenty of room, the grass stools very freely.
It is not uncommon to find over 100 stems arising from one
crown. This decided tendency to stool is most apparent after
the first cutting, and this characteristic makes the hay from
the second cutting usually of finer texture than that from the
CLIMATIC REQUIREMENTS OF SUDAN GRASS
"Sudan grass, like other sorghums, does best in a warm
climate. In favorable seasons, where the growing period is
long, as many as four cuttings can be obtained in one year. As
is the case with all other crops, in determining the regions of
greatest importance climatic and soil conditions are linked with
the acuteness of the need for such a crop. For example, in the
present instance Sudan grass promises to become of most im-
portance thruout Texas, in western Oklahoma, western Kan-
sas, western Nebraska, and Central South Dakota. This is
not because it makes better yields here than in other regions,
but because there has been found no other satisfactory hay
plant, generally speaking, for this region, while in other regions,
timothy, clover, and alfalfa all do well and there is no strong
demand for another hay plant. This region extends north to
the south line of North Dakota, because in the central Great
Plains the summers are sufficiently warm and long enough to
mature one cutting, and in some cases two cuttings of Sudan
grass, thus giving this region a hay of good quality to replace
the millets. At Brookings, S. D., it has done well for two
years, making hay yields much in excess of those produced by
millet and maturing abundant crops of seed. In the southern
part of the United States, the climatic conditions are also
favorable to the production of this grass, but there are several
50 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
other grasses and legumes found there which partially fill the
need for a hay crop. The results of tests in this region have
been quite favorable, but sufficient data have not been obtained
to warrant recommending the use of Sudan grass as the prin-
cipal hay crop. In the southwestern part of the United States,
Sudan grass will no doubt be extensively grown under irriga-
tion, since the yields of both hay and seed have been highly
satisfactory. Its value in alfalfa-growing communities will no
doubt depend very largely on its ability to furnish a change
of feed without loss of tonnage.
"It is likely that Sudan grass will supersede the millets as
catch crops in most of the region east of the Rocky Mountains,
south of the southern boundary of New York and north of
Tennessee. The yield from one cutting in this region is not
apt to exceed that of German millet, but if handled properly
two cuttings can be obtained in many cases, and the quality of
the hay is much superior to that of millet hay. Near the Gulf
Coast the humid atmosphere and continuous heat favor the de-
velopment of the red-spot disease (sorghum blight) and thus
reduce the yield. This is true to some extent also on the
Atlantic coast of the Southeastern states.
"Continued cool weather, such as one encounters in high
altitudes, is detrimental to the growth of Sudan grass. This
fact precludes its successful production in the intermountain
section, including most of Wyoming and Montana and con-
siderable of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Results in these States have for the most part been unfavorable.
At Burns, Ore., the yields of Sudan grass varied from 350 to
500 pounds per acre. At the State Experiment Station, Cor-
vallis, Ore., it was reported as of much less value for hay than
vetch and oats. At Moro, Ore., the yield was 1,780 pounds per
acre, but even there it was doubtful whether it would supersede
grain hay. At Adams, in Umatilla County, Oregon, it did
poorly also. At Walla Walla, Wash., when seeded at the same
time and under the same conditions as alfalfa, it made less
growth, altho alfalfa is usually slow in starting. At Lara-
mie, Wyo., with an altitude of 7,188 feet, it made only six inches
''"Sudan grass is not at all exacting in its soil requirements. It
does best on a rich loam, but it has been grown successfully on
almost every class of soil from a heavy clay to a light sand.
Where the soil is quite sandy, however, the yield may be ex-
pected to be light. To do well, the ground must be fairly well
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
"The value of Sudan grass under conditions of extreme
drouth has not been definitely established. Reports from
those testing it do not agree on this point. Reports from the
South, where lack of moisture has been combined with extreme
heat, have in general been favorable to this grass in compari-
son with millets and sorghums. Farther north most of the
reports indicate' that, grown under extreme drouth conditions,
it produces less than millet. It may be that high temperature,
which is known to be necessary to the best development of the
grass, is the deciding factor. During 1913, when the drouth
was especially severe in the central Great Plains region, direct
comparisons of Sudan grass and millet indicated that the latter
is capable of making better yields under such conditions.
"The following extract from a letter of Joseph E. Maxwell,
superintendent of the Kaibab Indian School, Moccasin, Ariz.,
is interesting, as showing the evident difference in the relative
behavior of Sudan grass farther south:
'All the sorghum planted this year was a failure on ac-
count of the extreme drouth early in the season. No moisture
fell to wet the ground from early in March until July 18, and
then the ground was wet to the depth of only about 3 inches.
. The Sudan grass was planted on May 15, while the
ground was quite dry. . The Kafir corn and other
sorghum planted in the same field dried out, but the Sudan
grass kept growing thru the dry weather.'
"A photograph accompanying Mr. Maxwell's letter shows the
grass to have reached a height of over 5 feet. Confirming this
report are the experiences of F. J. McCarthy, Boerne, Tex.,
J. R. Stegall, Detroit, Tex., and others recorded on pages 17 to
20 of Circular 125 of the Bureau of Plant Industry.
"It is possible that Sudan grass may not produce as much hay
per acre as the millets under exceptionally unfavorable con-
ditions, but in ordinary years it will yield two cuttings and
will, like other sorghums, stand semi-dormant thru a period
of drouth, and if rain comes before the end of the growing
season it will immediately renew its growth. In very few in-
stances have millets been known to do this. It is believed,
therefore, that during a term of 12 or 15 years, even consider-
ing the whole Great Plains region, Sudan grass will out-yield
CULTURE-PREPARATION OF THE SEED BED
"In seeding Sudan grass a rather firm seed bed is best.
Usually, when it is desired to drill the seed, the ground is
plowed in the spring and harrowed down well as for corn. A
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
cool soil delays the germination of the seed; hence, spring plow-
ing is preferable for the seed bed, because it assists in warming
the soil. No fertilizers are necessary in the West, where the
soil is reasonably good, but in the East it is probably advisable
to use some complete fertilizer, such as is applied for corn.
No experiments, however, have been carried out to determine
the best practice to follow.
DATE OF SEEDING
"It has been found best to seed Sudan grass after the soil
has become warm, about corn-planting time or a little earlier.
When sown in cold soil the result is usually a poor stand or
slow growth for several months, so that in the end no ad-
vantage has accrued from the early seeding.
"Widely scattered experiments have shown that in very few
cases are the earliest seedings highest in yield. The experience
so far gained by the Department of Agriculture in its tests
indicates that for the extreme South the best time for seeding
lies between April 1 and 15; farther north, in the latitude of
Oklahoma and Kansas, April 15 to May 15 is most profitable;
and north of that, in the latitude of Nebraska and South
Dakota, May 1 to June 1 has given the best results.
METHOD OF SEEDING
"In regions of abundant rainfall, for hay production the
best machine for seeding is no doubt the common grain drill.
Well-cleaned seed feeds freely from this drill, and it can be
distributed evenly and a good stand thus secured. If a press
drill is used, the ground is left level and in good condition
for the mower. The depth of seeding has but little effect on
the root system of Sudan grass. It seems to be a characteristic
of the grass that the root system begins near the surface of
the soil, regardless of the depth at which the seed is placed. The
best depth, everything considered, is from one-half to one inch,
but where the soil does not become packed the plant will force
itself to the surface even from a depth of 31/2 to 4 inches.
"In the semi-arid regions for hay, and in any locality for
seed production, better results are obtained by seeding it in
rows far enough apart to allow cultivation. This can be ac-
complished with the grain drill by stopping up a sufficient
number of the holes so that the rows seeded will be the desired
distance apart. Where only the ordinary corn cultivators are
available for the work it is best to place the rows 36 to 42 inches
apart. If a beet cultivator or some similar tool is available,
larger yields can be obtained from rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
The latter distance (24 inches) is perhaps as close as prac-
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 53
ticable, unless horses especially trained to walk between rows
are to be had. If such is not the case, much of the stand
will be destroyed by trampling. It has been found in carefully
planned experiments that the cultivated-row plantings are apt
to give larger yields under irrigation. Against this difference
in favor of the cultivated-row planting over the broadcast
field will have to be charged the cost of cultivation. There is
also in many cases a better quality of hay procured from the
broadcast stand, owing to the finer stems. The grass grown
in cultivated rows is apt to be coarse and therefore not so de-
sirable for market hay. For home feeding the coarseness will
be of little disadvantage, as the stems do not become so woody
that they are refused by stock.
RATE OF SEEDING
"When sown broadcast, 16 to 24 pounds of good clean seed
per acre is necessary. In the arid districts a light seeding is
most profitable, while in the humid sections or under irrigation
24 pounds per acre is none too heavy. If the ground is weedy
or the seed bed is poorly prepared, 30 pounds is better. For
seeding in cultivated rows 36 to 44 inches apart, 2 to 4 pounds
of seed per acre will be found sufficient, while in rows 18 to
24 inches apart, 4 to 6 pounds per acre will be required, the
less quantity being used, as in the broadcast seedings, for regions
of light rainfall. When a seed crop is desired, the rate of
seeding should ordinarily be somewhat less than for a hay crop.
SUDAN GRASS AND LEGUME MIXTURES
"The suitability of Sudan grass for growing in mixtures with
cowpeas, soy beans, and other legumes is at once apparent, for
several reasons. Sudan grass grows strictly erect, with a stem
stiff enough to support the vines characteristic of most legumes,
and it thus makes the harvesting easier by keeping the legumes
off the ground. It also allows them to cure more quickly by
preventing the leaves from matting. It is low in protein, which
is prominent in legumes, and thus a well-balanced mixture is
produced. The yields, altho they are not often as great
as that of Sudan grass alone, are so large that little forage
weight is lost by the intermixture of legumes, and the feeding
value of the hay is considerably enhanced.
"The yields obtained from such a mixture in 1913 varied
from 1 to 31/2 tons per acre. The best showing was made
at the Maryland Experiment Station, where the yields averaged
about 31/4 tons of cured hay per acre. In 1912, at Arlington
farm, Virginia, the mixture of Sudan grass and cowpeas gave
a yield of 4.6 tons of cured hay per acre, while Johnson grass
2a---.-- .' .-. :. _
Fig. 17-Soy beans and Sudan grass make a good combination as a hay crop. (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
t;r.:clre .~:~l~bppl- L*i iii
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 55
in mixture with the same varieties of cowpeas made a yield
of only 2.8 tons per acre. Sudan grass in mixture with soy
beans the same year made a yield of 4.4 tons per acre.
"The most common way of harvesting the grass for hay
is with a mower. It cures readily and can be cut in the morn-
ing and raked up that afternoon or the next day if the sun
is bright. After bunching, it is placed in cocks, similar to mil-
let, and removed from these cocks to the barn or stacks after it
has thoroly cured. The leaves are retained well, and if it has
been cut at the right stage of maturity and handled properly
it will make a bright, leafy, sweet hay of the very best quality.
Where the crop is desired for seed, it is harvested like the small
grains with an ordinary grain binder and allowed to cure in
shocks. This method can also be used in making hay in semi-
arid regions where good drying weather prevails, so that the
grass will cure in the shock.
"Where the planting is made in cultivated rows, a corn or
row binder can be used, but in a majority of cases a grain binder
is preferable. In some cases, where the growth is rank, trouble
is experienced in getting the reel over the tops of the plants
and at the same time cutting a short stubble. The time for cut-
ting is governed to some extent by the fact that several cuttings
are expected in most cases, and this makes it most profitable to
cut the first time as early as possible, so that the grass will
have more time for growth. Sudan grass makes the best quality
of hay if cut after full bloom, and when there remains a chance
for an additional cutting the hay will be improved by waiting
until this stage of maturity is reached. When cut for seed, the
first heads should be fully ripe, as the stools will ripen some-
what later than the main stem and there is little loss from
"There are very few hay grasses which are injured so little
by standing beyond the proper stage of maturity as Sudan
grass. This is due largely to the numerous stools, which, arising
from the base, mature successively later than the main stem and
always furnish immature stalks, even when the main stem has
ripened. There is, in addition, the fact that most of the
sorghums hold their leaves well and make the best quality of
fodder when the seed has reached the dough stage. This char-
acteristic makes it possible, where necessary, to extend the hay-
ing process over a long period without any material loss either
in the quantity or quality of the hay. Such a feature is of great
importance to the farmer, since the cutting time for his hay
56 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
often comes when he is rushed with other work, or his haying
may be interefered with by rains and thus prevent him from
cutting at the most favorable time.
"Sudan grass, being an annual, can be fitted into any rotation
without much trouble. Very little benefit to the soil will result
from growing it. However, as it is a rank feeder and leaves
nothing in the soil for improvement except the decaying roots,
it can perform no such office as the legumes, which are known
to benefit the soil by the addition of nitrogen thru nodules
on the roots. It will, however, furnish hay and afford a change
in crop, which usually benefits the soil.
d ,Jm .:fP r~~. . ,i. "
Fig. 18-Sudan grass, a good hay crop in all sections of Florida.
"As stated previously, the hay from Sudan grass is of first-
class quality and the yields are quite satisfactory, so that the
grass will no doubt be largely utilized as a hay crop. From
the central United States southward it will be possible to get
two cuttings, and in favorable instances as many as four cut-
tings have been secured. From seeding to the first cutting 75 to
80 days are necessary. The second cutting comes on about 45
days after the first one, and the third one is likely to take a
little longer-50 to 55 days. This means that the growing
season must extend over a period of six months to get three cut-
tings. By cutting the grass a little earlier each time four
cuttings can be obtained in the same period. This was done
at Chillicothe, Tex., in 1912. A plot was seeded April 26 and
the following cuttings obtained:
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 57
Yield per Growing
Date. acre. period.
June 22 ......................... 2,140 57
July 17 .......................... 1,810 25
August 20 ....................... 3,050 34
October 14 ....................... 1,800 55
Total .......................... 8,800 171
"It is quite probable that an equally large yield of hay of
better quality would have been obtained from three cuttings, as
this would have given time for each cutting to reach the proper
stage of maturity. In 1913, when conditions were unusually
severe in the Great Plains region, the following hay yields in
tons per acre were recorded for Sudan grass when it was sown
at the most favorable time: In western and central South
Dakota, 11/4 to 2 tons; eastern South Dakota and southern
Minnesota, 43/4 to 5 tons; eastern Colorado and northern Texas,
11/2 to 21/4 tons; in the eastern United States (Maryland and
Virginia), 21/4 to 33/4 tons; and farther south (Tennessee, Mis-
sissippi, Louisiana and Florida), 2 to 51/2 tons.
"These yields were all made without irrigation. When irri-
gated, the yields compared favorably with those of alfalfa, as
shown in the following pages. In a few localities millet has
given a slightly larger crop than Sudan grass, but compari-
sons between these two crops have been based on one cutting
only. When the very much better quality of the Sudan grass
hay and the probability of two or more cuttings are taken into
account there is little doubt that Sudan grass will eventually
replace the millets as the most widely used catch crop.
"That Sudan grass is palatable has been demonstrated on
numerous occasions, but so far no feeding experiments have been
carried out to determine its digestibility. It has been reported
by farmers, however, that cattle have done well when fed on
the hay. Numerous analyses of the grass have shown it to be
about the same in chemical composition as Johnson grass and
timothy hay. The percentage of protein decreases from the
heading period until the seed is ripe, but the value of the grass
for hay is no doubt as great about blossoming time as at any
previous stage. This comes from the increase in yield as well
as the improvement in digestibility. Nearly all immature
a,.r .t Owe
Fig. 19-A good crop of Sudan grass ready for harvesting. (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
forage is inclined to be laxative and probably does not remain
in the digestive tract sufficiently long to permit the complete
assimilation of the food elements.
VALUE IN IRRIGATED SECTIONS
"In many of the irrigated sections of the West where alfalfa
is principal crop and dairying the chief industry of the people,
alfalfa has been made the constant and the almost complete diet
15- L -S. -S4 ,
Fig. 20-Bundles of Sudan grass illustrating its rapidity of growth. From left
to right: No. 1, 71 days; No. 2, 56 days; No. 3, 42 days; No. 4, 28 days, and No.
5, 13 days from date of seeding. Sudan grass should not be cut for hay until
it has reached the stage of maturity shown by bundles 1 and 2. (Courtesy
U. S. D. A.)
of the cows. The continuous use of this high-protein hay has
caused digestive troubles, and this derangement of the digestive
functions seems to disappear promptly when the feed is changed.
In some sections south of Oregon and Wyoming, Sudan grass
would make an excellent crop to grow for mixing with the
alfalfa. Yields of cured hay obtained under irrigation the past
year in California and Arizona have been equal and in some
60 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
cases superior to those of alfalfa. At Chico, Cal., Sudan grass
when irrigated gave a yield of 9.8 tons of cured hay per acre
against a yield of 8.3 tons of alfalfa hay; at Bard, Cal., in
the extreme southern end of the State, Sudan grass on favor-
able soil gave a yield of 8 tons of hay per acre against a yield
of 7.9 tons of alfalfa. The yield of 8 tons at this place was
made notwithstanding the fact that the grass was planted al-
most a month later than it should have been. At Phoenix, Ariz.,
the yield of Sudan grass was 7.8 tons per acre, as compared
with a yield of 9.8 tons of alfalfa, and at Owens, Ariz., it
made a yield of 4.5 tons per acre with only one irrigation during
"These unusual yields of hay from an annual crop which by
its nature can be made to fit into any rotation will no doubt
mean much to the dairying industry of the Southwest.
"The percentage of moisture is apt to be somewhat greater
in Sudan grass than in the alfalfa when the weights are taken
directly from the field, but there is less labor necessary to
handle Sudan grass because the maximum yield from it will be
secured in three cuttings, while with the alfalfa five or more
cuttings will be required to produce the yields mentioned.
"This is the first grass yet found which will yield under
irrigation in the Southwest even approximately as much as
alfalfa. It can be used, therefore, in providing a change of
feed without any loss in the tonnage obtained from the land.
It has appeared just in time to solve this problem which only
in the last two or three years has become acute and for which
dairymen have just begun to clamor for a solution. Sudan
grass is not as rich in protein as alfalfa, but when mixed with
alfalfa or fed with some concentrate rich in protein the limited
experience indicates that the flow of milk will be nearly or quite
SOILING AND SILAGE
"Sudan grass is suited admirably for use as a soiling crop,
since it makes a large yield and is very palatable in the green
state as well as when cured for hay. Enormous yields are
secured under irrigation, because the growth is so rapid and the
recovery from cutting so prompt. A small area in the South,
where the rainfall is adequate or where irrigation is possible,
can be made to support a goodly number of animals by this
"No trial of Sudan grass as silage has as yet been carried
out, but judging from its palatability and its succulence it
would be excellent for this purpose, especially in mixtures with
legumes. A mixture of Sudan grass and cowpeas or soy beans
could be grown for silage as well as for hay. Its use for silage
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 61
will no doubt be very limited, owing to the ease of making it
into hay and the fact that there is little waste in feeding it.
"No pasture tests yet have been completed, but Sudan grass
seems to lack several of the essentials of a good pasture: First,
it is an annual and the ground would necessarily be soft and
considerable injury from trampling would result, since it does
not form a turf; second, livestock pasturing on it would, no
doubt, pull out quite a number of plants; and finally, being a
sorghum, it may, in some cases, be a carrier of prussic acid,
which is quickly fatal to cattle when occurring in considerable
"Diseases.-The worst disease that so far has developed is the
so-called sorghum blight, more appropriately designated as
red-spot. This disease is characterized by the appearance of
distinct reddish spots or blotches on the leaves, these spots grad-
ually spreading until the leaves turn brown and die. Its effect
on the plant is much the same as rust and, like the rust, it is
most destructive in warm, humid regions. Sorghum blight
is one of the chief drawbacks to the culture of Sudan grass on
the Gulf coast, but it seems possible to overcome this weak-
ness by the production of disease-resistant strains.
"Another disease which is apt to be slightly troublesome in
the South is the grain smut of sorghum. This will not be-
come of any great importance, however, since Sudan grass is
certain to be used almost exclusively as a hay crop.
"Insects.-Among the insects which are to be considered in
connection with the growing of Sudan grass the chinch bug
and grasshoppers are so far of most importance. Grasshoppers
are very fond of this grass, and when abundant will do immense
damage. Chinch bugs also like it, and little can be done to pre-
vent the attacks of these pests by any treatment of the crop.
The grasshoppers can best be controlled by the distribution of
poisoned bran baits around the edges of the field, while the
chinch bugs may be destroyed in their winter quarters thru
the burning of the bunch-grass and trash in which they are
usually found hiding, or their access to the Sudan grass field
may be prevented by means of dust furrows, ditches, or oil
barriers. The sorghum midge also is destructive in the South,
where it prevents the formation of seed in Sudan grass, as it
does in other sorghums.
"Animals.-Moles, squirrels, and other rodents which injure
the stand of perennial crops, like alfalfa, do not harm Sudan
62 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
grass much, because it is resown annually, and this places such
animals at a disadvantage.
"Weeds.-No serious weed pests interfere with the production
of Sudan grass, for the same reason that animals are of minor
importance, as the annual cultivation of the soil destroys all
but annual weeds and the grass grows so rapidly that such
weeds are not likely to crowd it out.
"The Sudan grass imported from Africa seemed quite free
from impurities and very uniform in growth, so that in the
original crop there was but little room for selection. The sec-
ond and third year, however, it began to show signs of having
crossed quite freely with the sorghums, and" in these hybrid
plants and their progeny there is sufficient variation to satisfy
any breeder. Some decidedly promising silage and soiling
types have appeared in the progeny, and these are being
watched and propagated with the idea of developing strains
adapted to special conditions and uses. It is doubtful whether
any improvement will be made in the original grass as a hay
type; therefore it is important that this original type should
be maintained in a pure state. Its fine stems and splendid
stooling characteristics make the quality of the hay better
than that from the sorghum-Sudan grass hybrids. One field
of improvement which looks promising is that of resistance
to disease. A number of the hybrid progeny grown at Arling-
ton farm, Virginia, in 1913, were very much more resistant
to the red-spot than others. These are being developed, in the
hope that a strain which can endure the humid and warm at-
mosphere of the Gulf coast will be obtained.
"(1) Sudan grass is closely related to the cultivated sor-
ghums and is thought by some to be the progenitor of this
"(2) It was obtained from Khartum, Sudan, in 1909.
"(3) In appearance it is similar to Johnson grass, but it is
somewhat more erect, taller and has a broader leaf.
(4) It lacks entirely the underground rootstocks which
make Johnson grass a pest.
(5) Two or three cuttings can be obtained from it under
(6) The yields vary from 1 to 8 tons of cured hay per acre.
"(7) Its seed habits are good, and large returns are now
being secured from the seed produced.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 63
"(8) The seed of Sudan grass resembles very closely that of
Johnson grass; therefore farmers should use seed only from
regions free from Johnson grass.
"(9) It promises to fill a long-felt want for a hay grass in
the South, and will likely replace millets as a catch crop in the
Central and Eastern States.
(10) It does not do well in sections having a high altitude,
because the nights are generally cool.
(11) There seems to be a place for it in irrigated regions
as a forage to mix with alfalfa hay.
"(12) Chinch bugs and grasshoppers among insects and the
red-spot disease are its greatest enemies."
The following table taken from Texas Experiment Station
Bulletin 172 gives a good idea of the feeding value of Sudan
grass hay in comparison with a number of other hay crops.
TABLE V.-AVERAGE COMPOSITION OF VARIOUS GRASS HAYS.
Name of Hay Protein Fat Fiber free Extract Ash
Sudan .................... 12.42 1.93 29.93 45.56 10.16
Johnson ................ 7.99 2.10 33.22 48.79 7.90
Oat hay ............... 8.91 3.33 32.11 48.70 6.95
Sorghum ............. 9.95 3.73 26.68 50.00 9.64
Millet .................... 8.63 2.50 31.98 48.10 8.79
Bermuda .............. 12.09 2.37 25.52 51.55 8.47
Timothy ............ 6.79 2.87 33.41 51.84 5.09
The above figures show that, on a water free basis, Sudan
grass shows a higher percentage of protein and ash than any
of the other hay crops compared. Protein and ash are two of
the important elements in any forage crop. The only other
hay in the above list that compares with Sudan grass hay is
Bermuda grass hay.
64 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
T HE recent effort on the part of certain seedsmen in
this country to revive interest in pearl millet by offer-
ing it under new and attractive names and at very high
prices renders it desirable that a statement concerning its culti-
vation and uses should be made for the information of those
who may be interested in green fodder crops. This crop has
been grown more or less in this country for thirty years. It is
known that under favorable conditions, particularly in the
Southern States, it yields a large amount of green fodder. If
utilized before the plant is mature the fodder is palatable, but
if the plant be allowed to mature it becomes so woody as to be
of little value. The most important difficulty in connection
with its cultivation lies in the fact that the seed is rather un-
reliable. Most of those who have experimented with this crop
have failed to secure a satisfactory stand. The Department of
Agriculture has grown the crop experimentally for a number
of years, and last year obtained seed from all the seedsmen in
this country from whom it could be had, not only under the
name of pearl millet but under the name of Pencilaria and
Mand's Wonder Forage Plant, and they all proved to be prac-
tically the same thing. Consequently farmers who desire to
try this crop are advised to purchase the seed under the name
of pearl millet, as under this old and well-established name it
is sold cheaper than under the new names.
Pearl millet (Penniseteum glaucum) (Pennisetum spicatum
(L.) R. & S.) is a tall, erect, succulent annual grass, 6 to 15
feet high under cultivation; stem very leafy; leaves long and
rather slender, not rough and only slightly if at all hairy;
flowers borne in a long, slender, cylindrical spike, 6 to 14 inches
long and 1 inch or less in diameter. When mature, this spike
is brownish in color and bears considerable resemblance to the
fruiting spike of the common "cat-tail" or flag of our marshes,
from which resemblance pearl millet gets the name of "cat-
tail" millet, which is so frequently used.
The plant stools freely from the basal joints and also branches
from the upper joints, producing heads on the main stem and
also on the branches. In general appearance and habit of
Farmers' Bulletin No. 168.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
growth it much resembles corn and the sorghums, though rather
more slender in stem and leaf and more branching in habit.
Botanically it is more closely related to the foxtail millets and
barnyard millet than to either corn or the sorghums.
The following common names have been applied to pearl
millet at different times and in different places. This is by no
means a complete list of the names applied to this plant in
foreign countries, but is a fairly complete list of those used in
the United States. The name "pearl millet" has been used
more commonly in the United States than all the other names
combined. The names used for it in the Nile region are also
applied to different varieties of sorghum which are likewise in
common cultivation there:
East Indian millet
East Indian pearl millet
Panizo de Daimiel
Egypt and Nile region-
Mand's wonder forage plant
Pencilaria, Pencillaria, or Peni-
Egypt and Nile region-Cont'd
66 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ORIGIN AND HISTORY
The native home of pearl millet is not known. It belongs to
a genus of grasses (Pennisetum) which is widely distributed
in tropical and subtropical regions of the Old World, and to
a lesser extent in South America and Central America. From
the number of species which occur in Africa, and the extent
to which pearl millet is cultivated there, it seems probable that
tropical Africa is its native home. In India and adjacent
regions, in Arabia, in Egypt, and in all the warmer parts of
Africa, it has been known in cultivation for more than three
hundred years as a forage and food plant. The grain is used
very largely for human food and the whole plant for forage.
It is also cultivated extensively in southern Europe. It was
probably carried by the Spaniards to Mexico and South
America at a very early date. The specimen described by
Clusius in 1601 was supposed by him to have come from Peru.
Pearl millet was very probably introduced into the United
States in the early fifties, at or about the same time that
sorghum was brought to this country. It has certainly been
cultivated in the Southern States since that time. Little atten-
ion was paid to it, however, and it was not until 1875 or later
that its cultivation became at all general in that section. In
1878 a few samples of seed were sent out from the United States
Department of Agriculture to private experimenters in several
widely separated states. Most of these experimenters returned
very favorable reports of its growth and value. Since that
time there has been a steadily increasing appreciation of its
value for green forage.
PENCILARIA, OR MAND'S WONDER FORAGE PLANT
About three years ago a few seed firms began to advertise
a wonderful new forage plant, some under the name of pen-
cilaria, others under the name of Mand's wonder forage plant.
Very exaggerated claims as to its productiveness and value
were made. The new plant was said to be imported directly
from South America, and no reference to its identity with the
old pearl millet was made. Seed was sold at a very high price
per pound, and the plant was recommended as being of the
greatest value in both northern and southern latitudes, 80 to
100 tons of green forage being claimed as the usual average
yield in five to eight cuttings per season.
The next season a strongly worded description and recom-
mendation of the plant appeared in a reputable American
horticultural journal and was soon copied abroad as far away
as Australia. At the same time a seedsman in Germany dis-
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
played an extravagant advertisement of the plant in a German
agricultural journal under the name of "Peruilaria." He
offered the seeds for sale at the rate of 1 mark for 250 (10 for
1 cent). This is at the rate of $69 per pound. The same
exaggerated claims were made for its value in Germany, with
its northern climate, as had been made in this country. The
advertisement at once called forth a very able article from a
German agriculturist stating the real facts about the plant and
warning the public.
THE CULTURE OF PEARL MILLET-SOILS
Pearl millet, in its native lands, is found in rich, moist,
alluvial soils, and it is in such soils that it gives the enormous
yields so often reported in this country. The immense tonnage
of fodder can be secured only at the expense of a very heavy
draft on the plant food in the soil, and hence only very rich
soils can stand the strain. In this respect pearl millet again
shows its resemblance to corn and the different varieties of
sorghums. Analyses made at the Georgia Experiment Station
several years ago show that in a total yield per acre at three
cuttings of 19,474 pounds, or nearly 10 tons, of cured fodder,
there was withdrawn from the soil 1,833 pounds, or nearly 1
ton, of mineral matter. A heavier yield would, of course, rep-
resent a greater draining of soil fertility and a lighter yield a
smaller draft upon it.
On poorer, clayey, or sandy soils the yield of forage will be
proportionately decreased, but may still be comparatively
valuable, since on poor soils the yield of any forage crop is
necessarily diminished. Pearl millet thrives best in a warm
soil, and a sandy loam is therefore better adapted to its needs
than a heavier soil of equal fertility.
No special preparation of the soil is necessary, but it should
be deeply plowed and well pulverized, so as to conserve mois-
ture if needed. Preparation should immediately precede the
planting, so that weed growth may be checked during the time
the young plants are starting.
As previously noted, seed of pearl millet is on sale, under
one or another of its names, by some 35 different seed firms in
this country. Reports from farmers and others who have been
trying this crop indicate that the quality of the seed is rather
poor. From no growth at all to a half stand is commonly re-
ported. To just what this is due is not yet clear. It may be
the result of sowing the seed too deeply or before the ground
N8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 21-Heads of pearl millet: a, before blooming; b, in
bloom; c, mature, showing seeds. (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 69
becomes warm enough to start germination, in which case the
seed would perhaps rot. The complaint has been so general,
however, as to make it more probable that the fault lies in the
seed itself. Pearl niillet is a native of tropical and semi-tropical
regions, but has been slowly acclimated farther north. In our
Northern States it does not always ripen seed. It may be
that considerable unripe seed has been placed on the market in
the last two or three years. No investigation of this point has
been made. The weight of good cleaned seed varies from 48
to 56 pounds per bushel.
Directions for sowing given by different seedsmen and many
experimenters vary widely. Pearl millet is usually sown in
drills from 18 inches to 3 feet or more apart, depending on the
purpose for which it is to be used. In the same way the plants
in the rows may be very close together or from 4 to 6 inches
apart. The greater distances between the rows and between
the plants in the rows are given when the crop is desired for
soiling or green feeding; the lesser distances when the crop is
to be used for hay. Where it is to be used as a soiling crop and
cut when from 2 to 4 feet high the large size of the stalks is
not objectionable. Where it is intended for hay, large stalks
are much more difficult to cure than small ones. Close planting
of both rows and stalks will result in slender plants. Thicker
sowing and therefore more seed will be required on poor soils
than on rich ones, because on a poor soil the plants will tend
to remain short and stocky in habit. For the thinner sowings
in drills on good soils, only 3 or 4 pounds of seed will be re-
quired, or perhaps even less. For poorer soils, or thicker seed-
ing, the amount of seed may be increased to 6 or 8 pounds per
Where it is intended to cure the crop into hay, the seed may
be sown broadcast. This will probably require about one-half
bushel of seed per acre to insure crowding the stalks sufficient-
ly to keep them slender. One bushel per acre has been recom-
mended by some seed dealers, but a half bushel of good seed
has been found enough for even a rather poor clay soil. When
seed is broadcast it is sometimes difficult to prevent the growth
of weeds in the crop. If the weather remains cold and the
season backward, the germination and the early growth will
be slower than usual. Weeds are then likely to get a start
which will make them troublesome and injurious in a crop
that can not be cultivated. In the case of a poor stand the
same difficulty may be experienced.
Fig. 22-German millet in foreground. Pearl millet in background.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 71
Seed should not be sown until all danger of frost is past and
the ground has become warm. This time will vary from-early
in April in the Gulf States to the last of May in the Northern
Care should be taken that the seed is not covered too deeply
when drilled, about one-half inch being sufficient. When broad-
cast, either the seed should be lightly harrowed in or the land
should be rolled after planting.
Where seed is sown broadcast, no cultivation is possible.
Where seed is drilled, it should be cultivated the same as corn
and similar crops until its size renders this both impossible and
unnecessary. If soil moisture is not abundant enough it is best
to continue surface or shallow cultivation, and thus prevent
evaporation. Similar cultivation may be given between cut-
tings, as required. Hand hoeing may be necessary to remove
weeds from the rows.
YIELD OF FORAGE
One of the striking features of many of the recent accounts
and advertisements of this plant is the glowing statement of the
enormous yields pearl millet commonly produces. Yields of
from 75 to 100 tons of green forage per acre are said to be
quite ordinary returns. As a matter of fact, when a good stand
is secured, pearl millet exceeds in productiveness the ordinary
sweet sorghum or cane and also the nonsaccharine sorghums.
Among the succulent soiling crops it is probably exceeded only
by teosinte in the number of tons of green forage produced.
In Table VI are given some of the recorded yields of green
and dry forage. It will be noted that about 40 tons is the heavi-
est yield of green fodder and 16.4 tons the largest yield of dry
or cured forage. Wonderful as are these yields, they do not at
all substantiate the extravagant and misleading claims made
for pearl millet as it is sold under high-sounding names.
TABLE VI.-RECORDED YIELDS OF PEARL MILLET IN THE UNITED STATES.
Green Forage, Per
Where Grown and Where Recorded
First Second Third
Cutting Cutting Cutting
Pounds Pounds Pounds
Alabama (Canebrake Bul 9) ........... 13,800 ............................
A rkansas (Bul. 27) ....................... ....... ............... ............ ....
Arkansas (Bul. 34) ... ................................. .... ........ ..............
California (U. S. Dept. Agr. Rpt.,
1879) ....................... ................ 63,000 ............... 6................
Delaware (Ann. Rpt. 8) ........ ......... 9,964 ................................
Georgia (Bul. 12) ............. .......... 11,960 28,288 7,800
Georgia (Bul. 17) ............................... 12,064 28,880 11,472
K entucky (Bul. 98) .............................. 41,600 38,720 ................
Louisiana (Bul. 29) ............................. 16,000 ............... ................
Louisiana (Bul. 47) ............................ 13,031 .......... ................
Massachusetts (U. S. Dept. Agr. Rpt.,
1879) .................................................. 70,000 ............... ................
New Mexico (Bul. 18) ....................... 56,600 ..........................
W ashington, D. C., 1902 ...................... ........... ... ........ .. ...........
Cured Into Hay,
First Second Third
tal Cutting Cutting Cutting
nds Pounds Pounds Pounds
,800 2,900 ...........................
....... 4,800 ................ ..... ......
......... 9,600 .................................
,000 ............. ..........
0 ------- -:------ *--------- ---------------- i
,964 ................. ................
,048 3,120 10,816 5,538
,416 2,163 3,910 2,995
,320 14,400 18,400 ................
,000 ........1 0 .. ........... .............
,6 ................ I ..............
........- 1 15,440 1 ............... ............
.. ... ...... ...............
32,800 | 16.40
---7---- .---------------- --
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 73
TABLE VII.-PEARL MILLET YIELD PER ACRE*
Date of Date of Acre (Pounds)
Planting Harvesting Green Dry
April 6 May 30 1st cutting 22,767 ..........
April 6 June 19 2nd cutting 17,277 ........
April 6 July 8 3rd cutting 14,935 .......
April 6 July 29 4th cutting 13,998 ..........
April 6 Aug. 30 5th cutting 14,727 ..........
April 6 Sept. 28 6th cutting 10,720 ....
Total for season ......-- ...........-.......... ......... 94,424 ...........
Aside from the question of economic production, the feeding
value of any forage crop depends largely on its palatability,
nutritive character, and the digestibility of its nutrients.
The palatability of pearl millet to farm animals seems to be
thoroly assured. Its nutritive value, so far as it can be esti-
mated from chemical analyses, is indicated in the following
table, where are shown several different analyses of the plant
in different stages of growth. For comparison, the averages
of a large number of analyses of green and cured corn fodder,
corn stover, and green sorghum are also given. Few, if any,
digestive experiments with pearl millet have been carried on,
so far as known.
The great succulence of pearl millet fodder in the green state
is evident from the percentage of water it contains-75 to 80
percent. The amount of water remaining in the fodder, when
cured under field conditions, is very variable, as many experi-
menters have noted. In corn the average is about 40 percent
and in pearl millet it is probably about the same, though the
range is at least from 10 to 50 percent. The nitrogen content
of these three forage crops does not appear to be very different,
but the amount of fiber in pearl millet is much larger than in
either of the others, and the nitrogen-free extract is corre-
spondingly lower. Crude fiber is itself less digestible than the
other constituents of plants, and where a large percentage of
it is present, it prevents all the others from being digested as
readily as usual. Pearl millet can not, therefore, be regarded
as quite so valuable for feeding as corn or sorghum on account
of this higher percentage of fiber. This is especially true when
it is allowed to grow to its full height before being cut, for the
amount of fiber increases as the plant grows older and makes
the mature stems very woody.
S. C. Bulletin 123.
TABLE VIII.-COMPOSITION OF PEARL MILLET AS COMPARED WITH SIMILAR FORAGE PLANTS.
Remarks Water Dry
Per Ct. Per Ct.
North Carolina Bul. 73................................- ...........- ...
Georgia Bul. 13 .......................... Cut in bloom ......................
Georgia Bul. 13 .......................... Cut in dough stage ................
Georgia Bul. 13 .......................... Stalk and ripe seed head ......
New Mexico Bul. 17 .................. Stover, field cured .................
Massachusetts Rpt., 1855 .......... Cured forage ............. ...........
Massachusetts Rpt., 1855 .......... Cured forage .......................
U. S. Dept. Agr., Office Expt.
Sta. Bul. 11 ................................ Cured stover (90 analyses)
U. S. Dept. Agr. Office Expt.
Sta. Bul. 11 .............................. Cured fodder (50 analyses)
U. S. Dept. Agr., Office Expt.
Sta. Bul. 11 .............................. Green fodder (11 analyses)
Crude Crude gen-free Ether
Protein Fiber Extract Extract
Per Ct. Per Ct. Per Ct. Per Ct.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 75
PEARL MILLET AS A SOILING CROP
Pearl millet is best known as a soiling crop, and it is prob-
ably in this capacity that it will always have its chief value.
Its rapidity of growth, palatability, quick starting when cut,
and great yield are the important features which make it so
valuable for this purpose.
The statement has long been current that from four to eight
cuttings can be secured each season from pearl millet. This
might be true in the rich alluvium of such States as Mississippi
and Louisiana if anywhere, but no authentic records of any
such forage production as would be indicated by eight cuttings
in any locality have been discovered. Six full cuttings are
probably the maximum under favorable conditions, and two or
three are more nearly the average. The number of cuttings
obtained will of course be largest in the richest soil and at the
farthest southern latitude where the growing season is longest.
The number of cuttings and the yield per cutting will be less
with poorer soil or at points farther north where the growing
season is successively shorter.
For soiling purposes it is best to cut pearl millet when it
reaches a height of from 3 to 4 feet. At this stage it is not only
very well relished by cattle and horses, but it starts again most
readily from the cut stems. It should always be cut some 4
or 5 inches above the ground, as this gives it a better oppor-
tunity for sprouting again very quickly at the lower joints.
In ordinary practice a comparatively small area will be found
sufficient for the continuous soiling of a few cows or horses.
On plantations in the Gulf States patches of one-eighth to one-
fourth acre are common.
PEARL MILLET FOR ENSILAGE
This crop was recommended for ensilage by the North Caro-
lina and Georgia experiment stations some years ago, but no
use of it for this purpose is recorded. It can be as readily
handled as corn or sorghum, and is nutritious and palatable
when cut for green forage when it is only from 2 to 4 feet high;
but as it grows taller and approaches the flowering stage,
when it would be cut for silage, it becomes woody and conse-
quently of less feeding value. This is probably the chief ob-
jection to its use in the silo. Here, too, its advantage of greater
yield over corn and the sorghums would be lost. This advan-
tage is gained through its rapid sprouting out after being cut
while young. If cut when about to flower, as it is when used
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
for silage, it is too old to sprout again readily, and hence but
one cutting is usually secured, which reduces the. otherwise
PEARL MILLET FOR HAY
The greatest obstacle in the way of using pearl millet as a
hay crop is the difficulty of properly curing so large a mass of
succulent forage. As already stated, it should be planted much
more thickly where it is intended for hay than where it is to
be used as a soiling crop, in order to keep the stalks slender.
It is said to be impossible to cure the hay from an ordinary
yield on the ground on which it has grown. But such yields
occur only under the most favorable conditions and would not
trouble the average grower of pearl millet in the North. A
greater difficulty is presented in the extreme succulence of the
plants. The analyses show three-fourths or nearly four-fifths
of the green plant to be water. The difficulty of curing this
into hay can be appreciated. Where it is grown, as is the com-
mon custom, in small areas, it can best be handled in the same
way as corn fodder, being cut either by hand or with a corn
harvester and bound into small bundles and shocked.
To make the best quality of hay it should be cut just as the
heads are appearing. As it matures it becomes more and more
woody and less valuable for forage. The stover, after seed
has matured, is of very little value. Some farmers run the
stalks through a fodder cutter, thus securing better results in
In Florida pearl millet is used more generally as a summer
pasture and soiling crop. It is excellent for feeding either
cattle, hogs, horses and mules.
Florida farmers would do well to plant more acres of pearl
millet to supply feed for livestock at any time during the sum-
mer and fall when pasturage is short. This will apply particu-
larly to dairymen and hog raisers.
Fig. 23-Oats in January.
78 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Oats are grown only to a limited extent in Florida as a grain
crop. A considerable acreage of oats is sown each year for
winter pasture for all classes of livestock. The acreage planted
is increasing each year.
Oats may be planted any time from early in October until
December. They may sown broadcast or they may be put in
with a grain drill.
When to be used for grazing purposes, a liberal amount of
seed should be sown per acre. Two and one-half bushels of
seed per acre is none too much to use.
The earlier the crop can be sown in the fall, provided weather
Fig. 24-Making oats hay in Florida. This work generally comes in April.
-Courtesy Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
conditions are suitable, the sooner grazing can be started. How-
ever, it is not advisable to Ib.gin grazing the oats crop until it
has made a good growth and.attained a height of 6 to 8 inches.
There is a long list of varieties of oats. However, there are
comparatively few that are well adapted to conditions in this
State. At the present time the Fulghum is the best variety to
plant. It makes a better turf and more growth than any other
variety now grown.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 79
When oats are used only for winter grazing, the only ferti-
lizer necessary to apply is nitrate of soda or sulphate of am-
monia at the rate of one hundred to two hundred pounds to the
acre. This should be applied in two applications of equal
amount. The first application should be made when the oats
are from 2 to 4 inches high. The second application should be
made immediately after the crop has been grazed down and the
Do not start grazing the crop until it has made a good growth
(6 to 8 inches high). As soon as the growth has been grazed
fairly close, remove the stock and give the oats a chance to
make a new growth. When this new growth has attained a
height of from 6 to 8 inches, it may be grazed again. This
practice may be continued until late in the spring.
Rye for grazing purposes may be handled exactly as given
for oats, the only difference being that one and a half to two
bushels of seed per acre will be enough to insure a good stand.
Abruzzi is perhaps the best variety to use for winter grazing.
Crab grass is an annual that is common in nearly all culti-
vated fields in Florida. The seed is never sown as the crop
reseeds itself from year to year. In fact crab grass is one of
the common weeds over a large portion of the United States,
especially in the Southern States.
Here in Florida there are two species. The larger and ranker
grower of the two is of most importance as a hay and forage
crop. Both, however, furnish pasturage during late summer
Farmers in Florida make the most use of crab grass as a hay
crop. In the past there has been more tons of crab grass hay
harvested than any other single hay crop in the State.
Crab grass and Mexican clover grow in the same field very
often and the combination makes hay of very good quality.
When cut at the proper stage of maturity crab grass alone
makes a good quality of hay, but like any other hay crop, if
allowed to mature before harvesting, the hay will be of poor
flu .: 4 4~ F
~~. 4. Jj . -
II~.. .4 4' i
aj ~ ~ -1r9.
--2 -' *'-
Fig. 25-A field of crab grass.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
The yield per acre depends almost entirely on the character
of the soil upon which it is grown. However, when it follows
a winter or spring vegetable crop which has been well ferti-
lized, a heavy yield of hay is almost certain. The yield will vary
from a half ton to two tons or more of good hay per acre.
Crab grass often grows as a mixture with cowpeas. When
any appreciable amount of crab grass is mixed with cowpea
hay, it may reduce the feeding value of the cowpea hay some-
what, but on the other hand cowpea hay with a mixture of
crab grass is much easier to cure. Crab grass should be har-
vested just as the seed heads begin to appear in order to make
the best quality of hay.
Harvesting and curing is much the same as for other hay
Johnson grass was introduced into the United States years
ago. Its native home is in the Mediterranean region. It is
now found growing in all sections of the South. Johnson grass
has many good points. However, by a great many people it is
considered one of the worst weeds found in cultivated fields,
as it spreads both by seeds and rootstocks. Once it becomes
established, it is very difficult to eradicate. On light sandy
land it is not as troublesome a weed as on the more fertile,
heavy, black soils.
Johnson grass has some merit both as a pasture and a forage
crop. In Florida, if anyone wishes to grow this crop he will
find it of more value as a hay and forage crop than as a pasture.
In feeding value, Johnson grass hay compares very favorably
with that of other hay crops.
The yield per acre varies greatly, depending entirely upon
the type of soil on which it is grown. When grown on fertile
soil, two or three cuttings of hay may be made during the year
with a yield of from one and a half to three tons of hay to the
Anyone contemplating planting Johnson grass seed should
become familiar with its habit of growth. He should also
realize that it is a difficult crop to eradicate from a cultivated
[ .... '"
.. P a
.N x i .--, .i .-, '"
_.1.. .. ... .. .
, .,, *\ ",.,- ',
Fig. 26-Johnson grass and cowpeas (left). Sudan grass and cowpeas (right). (Courtesy U. S. D. A.)
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
Mexican Clover, sometimes called "pusley" or 'purslane",
tho entirely different from the plant known by those names
in the North, is not a true clover, but belongs to the same
family as the madder, bedstraw, and a number of other common
plants. It is an annual of much the same habit of growth and
size as common red clover, but the leaves are opposite and
simple instead of alternate with three leaflets. It grows most
abundantly in cultivated fields from which early crops have
been removed and often makes a heavy growth in corn and
cotton after those crops have been laid by.
It is seldom planted, as, like crab grass and beggarweed, it
makes a volunteer growth late in the season. It is doubtful
whether the yield would be increased materially if it were sown
early and the ground given up to it thru the whole summer.
It is common in old fields near the coast of Florida westward to
Mississippi. It makes a fair growth on soils too poor for most
other crops and may be used both for hay and for grazing. Al-
tho the hay is not of the best quality, it is eaten readily
by most farm animals, and as it is usually more or less mixed
with crab grass and beggarweed, it adds largely to the bulk
and value of an inexpensive crop. When used for grazing, it
is more valuable for hogs than for other stock, tho eaten
well by mules and cattle. It can be grazed from about June
until after heavy frosts and will then reseed the ground
The seed are very small and difficult to save, tho they are
sometimes beaten out with flails or gathered from the bottom
of the mow in which the hay has been stored. From 4 to 5
pounds per acre are sufficient for seeding, but the common
method of distributing the plant is by mowing after some of the
seed is mature and scattering the hay over the field on which
the crop is wanted the following season. A planter in northern
Florida who has grown beggarweed 15 years reports that he
has kept 4 horses and 20 hogs in good condition for 8 months
on a field of 7 acres. The field had been in oats the previous
season and the growth was somewhat mixed with crab grass
and beggarweed but was mostly Mexican clover. A southern
Mississippi grower states that these plants double the yield of
his volunteer hay crop and that the mixture is worth as much
as any hay he can buy.
Farmers' Bulletin 1125.
It '* r* .
Sli .i. -~ .Ii. r
,s. mAC .- Iy~ -. r4 7. r .it,~,. ~ ~
._- /; % 3'' ___ ,~'3-* T
f r% #z'7, 'r- a1.t>~ 'r treg r ar
.~* *~ 1. '
Fig. 27-A field of Mexican clover. Often used as a hay crop.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
Altho it is not a nitrogen-gathering plant like the true
clover, the growth of Mexican clover is usually volunteer and
so costs nothing. It protects the surface of the ground from
the scorching sun in summer and washing rains in winter and
adds humus to the soil. The plant should be regarded as an
inexpensive substitute for something better rather .than one to
be sown and cultivated carefully.
Mexican clover seed is never sown in Florida as there is no
seed on the market. The crop volunteers from year to year as
there is always enough seed shattered in the field each year to
insure a good stand the following year.
Many farmers in the northern part of the State consider
Mexican clover as one of their best hay crops.
Teosinte is a forage plant which is a native of Africa. It
was introduced into the Southern States a good many years ago.
On rich fertile land it is one of the rankest growing and
heaviest yielding forage crops grown. It is grown from seed.
A plant from one seed often stools out making fifty to one hun-
Teosinte tassels out very much like corn except the tassel is
smaller. Like corn, the tassel bears staminate flowers. The
pistillate flowers are born in the axils of the leaf. When these
pistillate flowers are fertilized and mature, they form into little
shucks containing from five to seven seeds or grains.
Teosinte is perhaps of most value as a soiling crop. If allowed
to grow to maturity, the stalks become woody and fibrous.
This means that there will be considerable waste in feeding.
However, when used as a soiling crop, it may be cut two or three
times during one season's growth. When used in this way
there will be no waste in feeding.
Plant in rows four to five feet apart and two feet apart
in the row. Give the same cultivation as for corn or cotton.
Since teosinte is a rank growing crop, it means that it re-
quires a lot of plant food, therefore it should be given a liberal
application of fertilizer to produce maximum yields.
Yields obtained in different states vary considerably. This,
however, is to be expected. Soil and climatic conditions vary,
hence the yields will vary. Florida Experiment Station Bul-
letin No. 78, reports a yield of 20,000 pounds of green stuff per
Fig. 28-Teosinte. A heavy yielding forage crop in Florida when planted on good rich soil.
-Courtesy Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 87
Fig. 29-Teosinte. It may be used as a soiling crop, silage or dry forage.
Fig. 30-A field of maiden cane.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 89
acre. The Louisiana Experiment Station reports a yield of 50
tons of green material per acre.
The following yield taken from South Carolina Bulletin No.
123 shows a total yield of 43,923 pounds of green material.
TABLE IX.-TEOSINTE YIELD PER ACRE*
Date of Date of Acre (Pounds)
Planting Harvesting Green Dry
April 17 June 6 1st cutting 9,232 .......
April 17 June 17 2nd cutting 6,866 .-....
April 17 July 12 3rd cutting 13,848 .-.......
April 17 July 29 4th cutting 3,865 .........
April 17 Sept. 2 5th cutting 6,824 ....
April 17 Sept. 29 6th cutting 3,288 ..........
Total for season ............-......... .......... ... 53,923 ...
S. C. Bulletin 123.
MAIDEN CANE OR PAILLE FINNE*
The grass known as "maiden cane" in Florida and along
the South Atlantic Coast, and as "paille finne" or "pifine" in
Louisiana, is a species which is native to those regions, but is
rarely seen elsewhere. In Florida it is very abundant in the
Everglades region and northwestward to Tallahassee, and it is
also abundant on the low mucky soils of the Atlantic coast as
far north as Charleston, S. C. In Louisiana its growth is con-
fined almost entirely to the region west of the Mississippi
River and south of the Southern Pacific Railroad, where it is
most abundant on land only 2 or 3 feet above ordinary water
level in the neighboring bayous and canals. It is rare on salt
marshes or on timbered lands.
If cut when the growth is young, maiden cane makes a hay
of remarkably high feeding quality, but if allowed to stand
until the stems become woody, it has little value: Probably a
third of the land on which it is growing is sufficiently high and
dry so the grass can be cut with a mowing machine and handled
like ordinary hay, but a great part of the natural meadows
are too low and wet for the use of machinery, so the mowing
must be done by hand and the hauling by drags, which make
the hay expensive. Nearly all of the land on which the grass is
growing, however, is so high that it can be drained easily and so
be made available for permanent meadows, which will give
Farmers' Bulletin 1125.
90 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
from three to five annual cuttings averaging fully a ton each.
Lands which have been cut over annually for several years
show no decrease in yield, so the grass seems to be practically
Planters who have used maiden cane are almost unanimous in
regard to its high value for grazing. In southern Louisiana
it is extremely profitable to buy feeders from northern Louisi-
ana, the New Orleans stock yard, or other places, put them on
the paille finne pastures for feeding and fattening, and then
market them within six months without having given them a
pound of any grain feed, the pasture alone being sufficient
to put the animals in good marketable condition. In many
such cases the net profits have been from 50 to 100 percent.
As the grass rarely produces seed, it can be propagated
only by planting the slender rootstalks, which are produced
very freely. That method, however, is so slow and expensive
that it will seldom be profitable, tho the grass is one which
has great value where it grows naturally.
The following table gives the analysis of maiden cane har-
vested at three different dates during the spring and early
summer. This shows its high feeding value during the early
growth of the grass. As it matures the percentage of the
crude fiber increases and the percentage of crude protein
and fat decreases.
These analyses indicate that maiden cane, during the young
tender stages of growth, is as high in percentage of crude pro-
tein as are legumes. There are very few, if any, other grasses
that will test as high in protein as does the maiden cane.
TABLE X.-ANALYSIS OF MAIDEN CANE*
May 8 July 6 July 20
Percent Percent Percent
Moisture ...... ........__ ......-- ............ 11.62 10.21 11.57
Ash ..........-... ...... .... .........--. 5.94 3.22 2.65
Protein ......... .......--.. ........ 16.76 10.02 9.83
Crude fiber ..............-..- ..-.-..... ..... 22.27 29.95 29.30
Starch and sugar ..-.......................... 39.54 42.68 44.28
Fat ................... .......... .. .......... 3.87 2.92 2.37
In some sections of Florida maiden cane is one of the com-
mon grasses. It is seldom planted due to the fact that there
is no seed on the market. It gives excellent results as a pasture
grass when grown on suitable land. It also makes a good
quality of hay when cut and cured at the proper stage of ma-
Analysis by Florida State Chemist.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
NATAL GRASS: A SOUTHERN PERENNIAL
"Natal grass is a South African plant which has been known
in Florida for a long time. In recent years it has become popu-
lar on the sandy soils of the State, and to some extent along
the Gulf Coast westward into southern Texas. It is a perennial,
but does not survive the winter where the temperature falls
much below freezing. It is usually treated as an annual crop.
"In the United States it is now cultivated more extensively
in Florida than elsewhere. In that State estimates of its acre-
age in 1915 were secured from growers, from boards of trade,
and thru field observation by agents of the Department of Agri-
culture. These estimates indicate that Lake county has fully
10,000 acres, probably a larger acreage than any other county,
tho Marion county has nearly as much. Sumter county has
about 3,000 acres, and Pasco county probably an equal area.
Hillsborough and De Soto counties have over 2,000 acres each,
and many other counties have smaller areas. The acreage is
being extended very rapidly in many sections of the State
where the soil is suited to its growth. Farther west along the
Gulf Coast Natal grass succeeds well, but has not yet been
extensively planted. It is grown very extensively in Australia,
and it is from that country that most of the seed has been im-
"While it can be grown as a summer annual as far north
as Washington, D. C., it is not likely to become of much im-
portance as a field crop except in the extreme South.
DESCRIPTION OF NATAL GRASS
"When a single plant of Natal grass is allowed abundant
room, it will form a large tuft, sometimes 3 to 4 feet in di-
ameter. The lower branches soon become decumbent, while
the central stems are more nearly erect. When planted closely,
however, the tufts are much smaller, often making only a few
stems, and those nearly erect. The stems are slender, 3 to 4
feet high, and well covered with leaves, which are so nearly
erect that few are lost in mowing the hay.
"The seeds are produced in large clusters of about the size
and shape of a panicle of oats. In most cases the seed clusters
Farmers' Bulletin No. 726.
92 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 31-Seed head of Natal grass.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
are bright red or rosy crimson in color, and for that reason the
grass has sometimes been called redtop, Australian redtop, and
Hawaiian redtop. It is, however, very different from the com-
mon northern grass known as redtop. For this reason the
name Natal grass, which indicates the country of which it is
a native, is more appropriate and distinctive and is the one now
in most common use.
"The root system is unusually strong, the roots being numer-
ous and penetrating very deeply into the soil, so that they reach
permanent moisture in the subsoil and enable the plants to
make a continuous growth even in very dry weather. These
roots are very slender and decay quickly, so that they do not
interfere with the planting of other crops immediately after
the ground has been plowed.
"While the grass is very persistent with annual plowings,
and fairly so without plowing, it never becomes a troublesome
weed. The plants are killed by a single plowing, and by keep-
ing the land cultivated in other crops thru the whole of a
single season all the seeds in the ground will have germinated
and the young plants will be killed by the cultivation.
"Natal grass can be cultivated profitably only when used for
the production of hay or of seed or both. Its greatest value is
for making hay, for which it is the best grass yet found for the
well-drained sandy soils in Florida. The stems and leaves are
very slender and cure into hay quickly and easily. The seed
now finds a ready market at a fair price.
HISTORY AND INTRODUCTION INTO THE UNITED
"Natal grass was first described by Nees in 1835, from a
specimen collected in South Africa. Its attractive appearance
led to its being cultivated as an ornamental plant, and it was
grown in the United States for that purpose as early as 1866,
as is shown by specimens still preserved in the National Her-
barium. It was grown as a forage plant in the trial gardens of
the Department of Agriculture in 1878. A recent letter from
T. A. Carroll, now of Jacksonville, Florida, states that he found
it growing on a trash pile at Reddick, Florida, in 1875, and by
1894 it was abundant in that region. In 1884 seed was sent
by a naval officer from Brazil to an orange grower near Alta-
monte Springs, Florida, and by 1890 it had spread a few miles
in all directions from there. In 1891 it was received by the De-
partment of Agriculture from Natal, South Africa, and from
Queensland, Australia; in 1892 it was secured from India, and
in 1894 from the Hawaiian Islands. In 1892 it was grown at
the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, then located at
1P~~rrt~r~:S.Ln4.Yt3~.~li ,; ..,.
ct t ~- .~ ~i
I* ..r *" K:
rt~h b 3~ 11
azi.,-r Ir 1:;I; ;1- i..~~ ~~
Fig. 32-Natal grass sometimes Is used for hay in Florida.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 95
Lake City, from seed grown from that which the Department
of Agriculture had received the previous year, and it soon
spread in several parts of Florida. In 1906 the Department of
Agriculture obtained a large quantity of seed from Reddick,
Florida, and distributed it during the following year. At that
time the grass was very abundant there over an area of perhaps
15 miles in length and 6 to 8 miles in width. Several persons
who had lived there many years stated that it has become well
established as early as 1884. At the time this seed was gath-
ered a considerable area of the grass was being cut for hay
for local use. Within the last five years the cultivation of the
grass for hay has become very extensive, especially in the
central part of the State of Florida.
"Natal grass requires a long and warm season for its growth.
Being a perennial, it grows continuously until checked by cold
weather, so the longer the warm season the greater will be its
period of growth. It is not injured by moderately cool weather,
but its growth is always stopped by the first frost, and nearly
all the plants are killed by even a slight freezing of the ground.
Heavy freezing when the ground is damp not only kills the
plants, but it also kills many of the scattered seeds and so pre-
vents the reseeding of the ground. The cultivation of this
grass is not recommended where heavy winter freezes occur,
or even where light freezes are frequent.
"Natal grass makes its principal growth in middle and late
summer, and most of that now cultivated in Florida is grown
in rotation with some winter or early spring crop.
"Natal grass is like any other plant in that it makes its best
growth on the richest soil. Fertilizers are seldom used directly
on the grass. They are not needed for making a good crop on
land which has been newly cleared, as such soil always produces
a heavy yield. Older fields are usually well fertilized in the
fall for the growifig of some winter crop, and the residue of
that fertilizer is sufficient to make a good growth of the grass
during the following seasons. When any special fertilizer is
used on the grass it should be largely nitrogenous, cottonseed
meal or nitrate of soda being the materials most commonly
"The best soil for the grass is one which is sandy and well
drained. On such soils it makes a better growth than any other
grass and reseed itself freely. Excellent crops of Natal grass
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
have been grown on such soils in various sections of Florida,
but it is doubtful whether it will be as profitable there for either
hay or grazing as grasses which make a heavier growth, like
Para grass and Rhodes grass.
"While Natal grass grows well on clayey soils, there is yet
little experience to show whether it will reseed the ground as
thoroly on such soils as on those which are more sandy.
PREPARATION OF THE SEED BED
"No special preparation of the ground is necessary before
sowing the seed except that the surface should be made as fine,
mellow and even as possible, as for seeds of all hay grasses.
The field should be made so smooth that a mowing machine
can be used without trouble. It costs far more to run a mowing
machine over a field which is rough and uneven than it does
to harrow the same field until all bumps are leveled and all
"If the soil is heavy or cloddy the harrowing should be much
more thoro than where it is light and sandy. If the field
has been used for some crop which was grown in rows it should
be disked and harrowed until no trace of the rows can be seen.
All stumps should be removed, not only for the sake of secur-
ing additional ground on which the grass may grow, but also
to avoid injuries to the mowing machine and other implements
used in harvesting the crop. It pays well to put the ground in
the best possible condition before the seed is sown.
TIME OF SEEDING
"In central and southern Florida seeding may be done at
any time during the year, tho spring is the favorite season
and the only season in which it should be done farther north.
In southern Florida many growers prefer to sow in September
or October. Sown at that time, the seeds germinate quickly
and the young plants go thru the winter with little or no
loss and give a much earlier cutting of hay than plants from
seed sown in the spring.
"When the ground is not occupied by a winter crop it may
be plowed or disked in late winter or early spring, fertilized
if necessary, and the seed sown. Such seeding will give a good
cutting of hay in May or June, and two or three cuttings later
in the season."
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA 97
"Rhodes grass is a perennial with very leafy, slender, erect
stems, three to five feet tall, and very long and narrow leaves.
It seeds freely at the tops of the stem in clusters of from ten
to twenty spikes, three to four inches long. In addition to the
erect seed-bearing stems, it produces numerous prostrate run-
ners, which are often from six to eight feet in length and take
root at every joint where they rest on the ground, so that even
where the original stand is thin these runners soon cover vacant
spaces of considerable size. They serve not only to spread the
grass, but also to establish a constant succession of new plants,
more vigorous and productive than those which are older. Al-
tho the grass seeds freely and also spreads by runners, it is
easily controlled and rarely becomes as troublesome as a weed.
"Owing to its inability to withstand severe cold, Rhodes grass
is not grown north of Florida, the immediate Gulf Coast, and
southern -Texas. In Florida it is grown principally from St.
Augustine southward along the East Coast, from Brooksville
southward along the West Coast, and in a good part of the
Everglades region. Probably more than half of the total acre-
age in this country at the present time is in Texas, from Hous-
ton and San Antonio southward to the Rio Grande, and there
it has become the practice to have one or more acres of it for a
feed and pasture lot near the stable on every farm and ranch.
It rarely survives the winter where the temperature falls below
15 degrees or 18 degrees F., and on that account it is some-
times grown as an annual in regions of colder winters, as it
will then give two or three cuttings of about one ton each dur-
ing the summer and fall, but at the present price of seed that
is seldom profitable.
"Rhodes grass does best on a soil which is fairly moist, al-
tho it will live and make some growth during several
months' drouth. A deep, rich loam is best suited to it, and
it is likely to be unsatisfactory on dry, hard clay, or on dry,
sandy soils. It grows vigorously on the well drained peaty
soils of Florida, on the reclaimed muck soils of southern Louisi-
ana, on the heavy irrigated lands of southern Texas, and on
the black-wax soils wherever there is a moderate amount of
rainfall or where irrigation is available.
"Early in the spring, when the soil is in a proper condition
and there is no further danger from late frosts, or in the late
Farmers Bulletin 1125.
98 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
summer, the ground should be well plowed and then harrowed
until the surface is fine and even. Too much stress can not be
put on the importance of thoro preparation. As the seed
is often low in germination and the young plants are weak
until they become well rooted, it is poor economy to risk the
securing of a full stand by withholding a little work in pre-
paring the field. The most successful growers in Texas recom-
mend that the ground be prepared by irrigating, plowing,
double disking, harrowing, seeding, rolling, and then another
irrigation. Florida growers, who are not obliged to irrigate,
recommend plowing, harrowing, smoothing with a plank drag,
seeding, and then rolling the heavier soils or using a weighted
plank drag on those which are more sandy. The important
point in seeding anywhere is to have the soil sufficiently moist
to germinate the seed quickly and then to maintain this mois-
ture until the young plants become well established.
"The quantity of seed needed varies with its quality and
with the condition of the land. When the land is in good con-
dition and well-cleaned seed is used, from seven to eight pounds
per acre are sufficient, and some planters use much less. From
two to three pounds are sufficient where a press drill is used
on well-prepared soil. The seed is usually sown broadcast, the
work being done on a still day, so that the wind will not inter-
fere with an even distribution.
"After the seed is sown it should be covered very lightly.
In regions of abundant rainfall a light harrowing or covering
with a plank drag is usually sufficient, altho if that is fol-
lowed by a rolling, it will be better. In Texas and other dry
regions the use of the roller is much more important, as it is
necessary to compact the surface of the soil so as to conserve
all the moisture possible. If the soil is not fairly moist when
the seed is sown, it should be irrigated immediately. The seeds
germinate rather slowly, and as young plants are weak they
should not be allowed to suffer from lack of moisture before
they have become well established.
"Under favorable conditions the crop is often grazed within
a month after seeding, and frequently it will give a fair cutting
for hay in two months, tho the first cutting is likely to be
"The yield of Rhodes grass hay varies greatly with the char-
acter of the soil and the length of the growing season, and still
more with the amount of moisture in the soil. Cuttings should
be made as soon as the seed begins to ripen, and in arid regions
each cutting should be followed immediately by an irrigation,
so as to secure a new growth as quickly as possible. Little new
growth is made after cutting until the soil is well moistened.
NON-LEGUME FEED CROPS IN FLORIDA
From three to six cuttings usually can be made during a year,
about five weeks being sufficient for the growth of a hay crop
when all conditions are favorable. When Rhodes grass is
grown on thin, sandy or clay soil, with only a moderate amount
of rainfall or with insufficient irrigation, the yield may be only
one or two tons per acre, while on the soils best suited to its
growth and well supplied with moisture, the yields are often
eight tons or more.
"The quality of the hay made from Rhodes grass is superior
to that of hay made from most other grasses, in that it con-
tains a larger proportion of leaves, while the stems are slender,
tender and sweet, so that the hay is eaten with very little
waste. Horses, mules and cattle eat it with great relish. It
retains its color well in drying, therefore making an attractive-
looking bale for the market."
"This species also claims Brazil and the adjacent region of
South America as its birth place. As early as 1880 it had be-
come established in the United States, probably being intro-
duced somewhat earlier than that time.
"It is a rank-growing, leafy perennial with strong surface
runners that sometimes measure as much as 20 or 30 feet in
length. These runners take root at the joints and form new
plant centers from which upright plant growth proceeds. When
first planted on plowed surface, these runners are sent out in
all directions until the ground is well covered. An erect leafy
growth is then started which soon attains a height of four or
five feet. Para grass is essentially a warm weather grass and
thrives best upon reasonably rich soils that contain an abun-
dance of moisture.
SUITED TO WET LANDS
"The habit of growing on moist, wet lands is a peculiarly
valuable characteristic. Even lands with relatively poor drain-
age or those occasionally submerged for short temporary inter-
vals, sometimes yield good crops of this grass.
"Para grass is propagated from cuttings of the stem. Plant-
ings should be made on plowed land during the warm, growing
season when the ground holds plenty of moisture. Many differ-
Bulletin 28, Florida Agricultural Extension Division.
Fig. 33-Para grass. A good hay and forage crop for South Florida.
-Courtesy Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.