Title: Some Florida grasses
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026362/00001
 Material Information
Title: Some Florida grasses
Alternate Title: Bulletin 28 ; Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Thompson, John B.
Publisher: Division of Agricultural Extension, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: April, 1921
Copyright Date: 1921
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026362
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aab7760 - LTQF
amt6375 - LTUF
47285643 - OCLC
002570069 - AlephBibNum


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The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Bulletin 28 April, 1921

(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)


Table showing average chemical composition of the grasses in this
bulletin as far as they are available:

Kind of grass

Bermuda grass ....
Brown Top millet................
Carpet grass ......--........
Colorado grass ............
Corn fodder ........... .....
Crab grass hay..................
Crow-foot grass ................
Dallis grass .......................
Foxtail millet, common-....
Foxtail millet, golden........
Guinea grass hay..............
Japanese cane--dry fodder
Japanese millet hay.........
Johnson grass hay ..........
Natal grass hay ................
Napier grass hay........-.......
Para grass hay....................
Pearl millet fodder-..........
Rescue grass hay-...............
Rhodes grass hay............
Sorghum fodder ................
Sudan grass hay................
Teosinte dried fodder.......



Ash Protein

7.6 7.1
15.2 9.9
10.2 7.0
18.6 9.4
5.0 6.7
8.5 8.0
9.7 11.6
9.8 1 8.0
6.3 8.3
6.9 8.0
15.4 6.2
2.0 1.4
8.2 8.3
7.5 6.6
5.0 7.4
9.9 11.3
6.6 4.6
9.0 6.7
5.6 8.9
7.6 7.3
7.8 7.4
6.4 6.1
10.3 9.1









Florida contains large areas of comparatively cheap un-
developed lands suitable for the growing of feed and forage crops
of many kinds for stock. Her cheap lands, mild climate, and a
long growing season offer advantages enjoyed by few other sec-
tions. _
A constantly adequate source of good, cheap, nutritious for-
age is essential to the livestock business. With a growing in-
terest in stock raising, there comes an urgent demand for
information dealing with the various phases of our feed and
forage problems.
On the following pages a number of our most important
grasses are briefly discussed. In addition to those known to suc-
ceed in Florida, we list a few that have not been thoroly tried,
and a few that have not proved especially promising, but concern-
ing which there seems to be a general desire for information.

There are various grasses sometimes advocated as hay crops
for Florida. Those most frequently grown and commonly recog-
nized as successful within the scope of their varying require-
ments are: Rhodes grass, Natal grass, Para grass and Carib
grass, among the cultivated ones, and Crab grass, Crow-foot
grass, etc., among the wild ones. Para grass and Carib grass are
of more general use as pasturage than as hay, and are, therefore,
dealt with as such. For the purpose of supplying information
frequently called for, various other grasses of more or less limited
value are included herein.
This grass is a native of Central and South Africa. It was
first introduced into the United States in 1903 by the United
States Department of Agriculture, but it was not tested at the
Florida Experiment Station until 1909. It is a perennial, makes
erect growth, three to five feet in height, and bears numerous
long narrow leaves. Isolated plants, or plants where the stand is
thin, will often throw out creeping surface runners which root
*Chloris gayana.

Florida Cooperative. Extension

and form new plants at nodes coming in contact with the ground.
During a cropping season these horizontal runners may make a

Fig. 1.-Rhodes grass, showing habits of growth

growth of from five to six feet; and this habit often improves the
growth where the original stand is too thin.
On suitable land Rhodes grass is a valuable crop for either
hay or forage. It succeeds on a variety of soils, but does best on
rich soil that does not become too dry. It has not proved entirely
satisfactory on light sandy ridges. On the other hand, it will
not thrive on poorly drained, water-logged lands. Good hammock
lands, well-drained flatwoods and, above all, the better grades of

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

muck are the types upon which it makes its best and most con-
sistent growth.
Planted on highly productive muck land this grass has been
known to produce three or four cuttings in a season, yielding a
total weight of more than six tons of cured hay to the acre. On
the same type of land it has been reported to have maintained in
good condition more than two adult animals to the acre thruout
the summer grazing period. Such heavy yields are, however, ex-
ceptional; and when planted on less fertile land the number of
cuttings will be reduced while the annual yields may not exceed
one or two tons of cured hay to the acre.
It is not generally recommended for poor lands or for soils
deficient in moisture. Being of tropical origin, Rhodes grass can-
not withstand low temperatures. It is seldom affected by cold in
Florida, not having been injured at Gainesville during the last
four winters.
As far as its control on cultivated lands is concerned, this
grass may be established with the utmost impunity anywhere.
It can be completely destroyed by plowing the field when the soil
is dry.
Land intended for this grass should always be given thoro
preparation. The seed is small and the seedlings are weak and
frail at germination. They succeed best where a well-pulverized,
fine, but rather firm, seedbed is provided. Where the land is left
in lumps after the plow, the lumps should be pulverized well be-
fore being harrowed to a fine seedbed.
Like most perennial grasses it is more or less permanent
when once established and should occupy the ground for a num-
ber of years. For this reason a good stand of grass and a smooth
even surface subsequent to seeding are especially important con-
In that portion of the state where killing frosts rarely occur,
the seed may be sown any month of the year, if there is sufficient
moisture to insure germination. Elsewhere they should be sown
in spring or early summer at the rate of from five to eight pounds
to the acre.
The seed is sown broadcast and a light harrowing provides
ample covering. The dangers of covering the seed too deeply
should be strongly emphasized. The lightest covering possible
is sufficient. Any deeper covering is too much.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Rhodes grass should be cut for hay soon after the flower
heads form and before the seed itself matures. This rule must
be observed in order to insure the best quality of hay consistent
with heavy yields. The hay, when cut at this stage of maturity
and properly cured, is an excellent feed for livestock, comparing
about equally in composition with a similar grade of timothy.
This South African grass is said to have been brought to
Florida as early as 1875. It is a tender perennial, frequently

Fig. 2.-Natal grass on pine land

injured by cold, even in the mild climate of Florida. However, if
a portion of the crop is permitted to mature its seed, it acts as an
annual, reseeding the ground and, on land that is occasionally
stirred, provides for volunteer crops from year to year. The
grass grows to a height of from two to four feet, producing an
abundance of leaves and slender stems. The seedhead, which is

*Tricholaena rose.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

strikingly ornamental, is an open panicle, at first pink or red
in color, depending upon the variety, but fading to a lighter shade
and becoming downy at maturity.
Seeding may be done from April to July. In the southern
part of the state where destructive frosts rarely occur, fall plant-
ings made in September or October are usually successful. These
fall seedings make early growth and produce comparatively
heavy yields during the following season.
The seed should be sown broadcast on prepared land at the
rate of ten or twelve pounds to the acre. Cover lightly with a
plank drag, a roller, or a light harrow. The hairy appendages of
Natal grass seed cause the seeds to stick together, rendering
machine seeding almost impossible and that by hand difficult.
To facilitate hand sowing and permit a more even distribution,
it has been recommended that the seed be moistened and rolled
in soil or wood ashes just prior to sowing.
The principal advantage of Natal grass is its ability to grow
on light sandy land where few other grasses will succeed. It is
primarily a hay crop, and when cut in the early period of bloom
and cured well it makes valuable forage.
If it is neglected, however, until the leaves begin to dry and
the stems have become woody, the resulting feed will be of poor
Natal grass is grown to a limited extent for pasturing, but it
is not a first class grass for this purpose and should not be se-
lected for lands on which either Carpet grass or Bermuda grass
will make satisfactory growth. The grass is not extremely pala-
table at first, but when cattle are kept on it constantly they ac-
quire a liking for it and graze on it with relish.
The light hairy seeds of this grass are easily carried by the
wind, and consequently the grass tends to spread freely to ad-
joining fields. It does not grow from detached joints or root-
stocks. Any ordinary system of cultivation that will prevent
the production of mature seed will be found effective in its con-

Florida Cooperative Extension

Botanically, Sudan grass is closely related to Johnson grass
and the cultivated sorghums, and it will cross or mix with any of
them where they are grown in close enough proximity. It comes
from Sudan, tropical North Africa, and was first introduced into

/A Lip....

Fig. 3.-Sudan grass in Florida

this country in 1909 by the United States Department of Agri-
As compared with Johnson grass, its leaves are larger and
more numerous, its growth is more vigorous, it is more inclined
to stool or grow in bunches and its seed panicle is a little larger.
Sudan grass is especially valuable for its drought resistant
qualities, and it has met with favor in the semi-arid sections of
the central and northern part of the cotton belt. But it is not
recommended for general planting in Florida.
Good crops of Sudan grass are sometimes seen but it is sub-
ject to a serious disease known as red spot, or sorghum blight,
which is prevalent in our humid climate. This disease first be-
comes manifest by the presence of red spots on the leaves and
leaf sheaths and as it develops it spreads to all parts of the leaf
surface, often turning it almost black and arresting the develop-
ment of the crop.

*Holcus sorghum sudanensis.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

For the benefit of those who may wish to test this grass, it
may be said that seedings may be made on prepared land at any
time from April to June. It may be seeded with a grain drill or
broadcasted and harrowed in at the rate of 25 to 30 pounds of
seed to the acre. Another good method, where weeds are trouble-
some or where the crop is to be used for soiling purposes, is to
drill the seed into cultivated, three- or four-foot rows, using
about four pounds of seed to
the acre. It is utilized vari-
ously as a soiling crop, for hay
or for grazing. In its soil re-
quirements it is similar to
sorghum and can be grown on
almost any well-drained land.

Johnson grass is an erect
growing perennial and, as
most commonly seen, is from
three to five feet in height. It
is a native of the Mediterran-
ean region of Europe, Asia
and Africa. It was intro-
duced into South Carolina
from Turkey about 1830. The
seedhead is of a loose spread-
ing character and bears a re-
semblance to some of the sor-
ghum varieties to which it is
Fig. 4.-Johnson grass, showing closely related. Johnson grass
grows from strong fleshy
rootstocks and, under favorable conditions, becomes very per-'
sistent. The hay crop, which is its chief utility, furnishes a
valuable feed, if cut when the seedheads first appear. Because
of the danger of spreading it to lands where its growth is not
wanted, by means of mature seed in the hay, it is important that
it be cut before any. of the seeds ripen.
In some sections of the South Johnson grass has taken full
*Holcus halepensis.

Florida Cooperative Extension

possession of large areas of very rich lands and, under con-
ditions most favorable to its growth, it defies all efforts towards
eradication. In Florida it has not in many cases proved a seri-
ous pest or an important forage crop. There have been a few
instances where it has found its way into good rich fields and
proven itself persistent, but fortunately these cases have been
few and isolated.
As a rule, it is believed, the planting of this grass should be
discouraged. Where it will be successful as a forage crop, it will be
found usually a persistent grower, difficult to kill out and a pest
among cultivated crops. It is not a good pasture grass. Close
grazing weakens the growth without killing it; hence, this
method can not be used successfully as a means of control.
The species to which the foxtail millets belong is thought
to have had its origin in southern Asia. Its cultivation and use
in China is recorded in ancient history, and it was introduced
into the United States at least as early as 1849. There are several
varieties of this group, of which the German or Golden millet,
Hungarian millet, Siberian millet and the Common millet, are the
most important. Among these varieties the Common millet is
the earliest maturing. It makes the finest and most slender
growth and the best quality of hay. The German or Golden mil-
let is the rankest growing variety. It requires a longer growing
season than Common millet, and makes a poorer quality of hay.
Millet requires a good rich soil, and does best on land having
a reasonably high content of humus. It requires fairly good
drainage; but it has a shallow root system and is not a drought
resistant crop. After the ground has been put in good condition
by plowing and harrowing, the seed may either be put in with a
grain drill or sown broadcast and harrowed in at the rate of 25
to 30 pounds to the acre.
The use of foxtail millets is restricted almost exclusively
to the production of hay. Their main advantage lies in the short
growing period and the possibility of seeding them as a catch
crop late in the season after other crops have failed or have been
removed from the ground. The best hay is obtained by cutting
them when the seedheads begin to show. Millet that is left
*Chaetochloa italica.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

standing until most of the seeds have matured, makes an inferior
quality of hay.
Where millet is grown in the South, German or Golden and
Hungarian varieties are most commonly planted.

Japanese millet is known in a number of forms, one of which
is the common Barnyard grass found on low, fertile, moist lands
in Florida and thruout the greater part of the United States. In
addition to the name given above other common names that have
been applied to it are, Barnyard millet, Japanese Barnyard millet,
Sanwa millet, and Billion Dollar grass. This grass has been cul-
tivated more or less extensively in different parts of the United
States for soiling and hay, and even silage crops. It requires a
rich soil and plenty of moisture.
Before planting the seed the ground should be well prepared,
as for oats or rye, and the seeding made at any time from April
to mid-summer. Where a grain drill is available for the seeding,
12 to 15 pounds of seed to the acre will be sufficient. Where the
seeds are broadcasted the amount should be increased to from
20 to 25 pounds.
For hay this crop should be cut as soon as it begins to make
good seedheads, as late cutting results in inferior hay.
The value of this crop for Florida is questionable. Under
specially favorable conditions and for the dairyman it may some-
times be of value as an emergency crop to supplement pastures
in late summer and fall. For this purpose it should be grown on
very rich lowland, if possible.
This is a leafy, branching annual with stems two to five feet
in height. It is known by various other names, among which
are Texas millet, Bottom grass, River grass and Austin grass.
It is a native of Texas and adjacent western states, and grows
with great luxuriance in some of the river valleys of that region.
The name Colorado grass is given it because of its prevalence
along the course of the Colorado River.
Colorado grass succeeds best on low, moist, alluvial soils,
coming up on cultivated lands and in corn fields after the last

*Echinochloa frumentacea.
**Panicum texanum.

Florida Cooperative Extension

cultivation and furnishing a hay of good quality. As far back
as 20 or 30 years ago this grass attracted considerable interest
[among investigators and others interested in the improvement
of southern forage conditions; but the fond hopes of its enthu-
siasts were never fulfilled, and the limits of its profitable culti-
vation never spread much beyond the alluvial river bottoms of
Texas; Louisiana and adjacent states, and a few other limited
Colorado grass is an annual and, like Crab grass, it grows
on cultivated grounds, reseeding the fields and producing volun-
teer crops from year to year. The seed, occasionally listed by
seedsmen, should be sown in spring or early summer at the rate
of 35 or 40 pounds to the acre. It is easy to control and does
not become a serious pest.
This grass is not adapted to light sandy soils. It is doubtful
whether it has any special value for planting in Florida, and an
interest, indicated by frequent inquiries, alone leads us to discuss
it here.
This grass is often called German Hay grass and, according
to the Georgia Experiment Station, it is known in different sec-
tions of Georgia as Key grass, and as sprouting Crab grass. The
latter name, however, has previously been applied to a wild grass,
Panicum proliferum, a closely related species. This is a grass
comparatively new to southern agriculture, altho it has long been
known as an introduced species in South Florida where it grows
wild. In Arizona and the Southwest it is said often to produce
heavy aftermaths of good hay in grain fields and in waste, ir-
rigated sections. In Georgia it has been tested rather extensively
during the last four or five years. It is said to have considerable
value in the central part of that state, but in some other parts of
the state it has not been a pronounced success.
Little is known concerning the value of this new grass for
Florida and, until more is learned of it, only small, experimental
plantings should be made.
Brown Top millet is an annual grass, two to four feet in
height with extensive stooling habits, often producing 20 or more
stems from a single seed. It resembles Colorado grass more

*Panicum fasciculatum.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

Fig. 5.-Wild hay grasses. Upper left, Crab grass; upper right, low (left)
and high (right) sandspurs; lower left, Crow-foot grass (Eleusine
indica); lower right, Crow-foot grass (Dactyloctenium aegyptium)

Florida Cooperative Extension

nearly than any other common grass, and is closely related to it
botanically. As in the case of the latter grass there is an abun-
dant production of seeds which are said to be a good attraction
for birds and a splendid feed for poultry. The crop is commonly
used for hay but may be utilized either for soiling or for grazing.
It thrives best on good, rich soil which contains a reasonable
supply of moisture.
The seeds should be sown on land put in good tilth by plowing
and harrowing, and they may be sown from April to June. Using
a press drill, from six to seven pounds of seed to the acre will be
sufficient, but when broadcasted from ten to twelve pounds
should be used to insure a good stand.
Each year there is a considerable quantity of hay made in
Florida from uncultivated, volunteer grasses. Data obtained
from the Bureau of Crop Estimates indicate that there were
20,000 tons of such hay produced in the state during each of the
years 1919 and 1920, or, if figured on the basis of the total pro-
duction for the state, a quantity equivalent to 12.4 percent and
13.15 percent for the two years respectively.
As practically all this hay is obtained from waste land or
fields from which farm or truck crops have been removed or on
which cultivation has ceased early in the season, its production
does not in any way involve the use of the land to the exclusion
of the main money crop. The bulk of "wild hay" made in Flor-
ida comes from Crab grass, Beggarweed, Crow-foot grass, Mex-
ican clover and similar plants. Properly handled, these volunteer
crops produce valuable hay. Frugality and economy demand
that they be carefully preserved.
Probably no other grass is better or more widely known in
Florida than Crab grass. Only a brief discussion of its habits is
necessary. Its habit of taking root again at the joints and re-
fusing to be killed when cut off, especially during wet periods,
makes a lasting impression on every farmer. But regardless of
its weedy, persistent nature, it possesses valuable qualities as a
volunteer hay crop that should not be disregarded. It appears on
cultivated lands after cultivation has been suspended and fur-
*Syntherisma sanguinalis.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

nishes, without extra charge, a crop that is highly valuable
either as hay or autumn pasture. Crab grass is a strictly volun-
teer crop, growing on almost any soil. The leafy, slender stems
provide a hay that in feeding quality is superior to timothy. It
must, however, be cut soon after the seedheads appear and before
the first'seeds have ripened.
There are two uncultivated grasses, illustrated in figure 5
of this bulletin, that are known in Florida by the name Crow-
foot grass. Both are annuals, growing volunteerly on culti-
vated lands or in fields recently plowed. They are usually found
growing with such varieties as Crab grass and rarely occupying
the ground to the exclusion of other grasses. Their chief value
arises from the fact that they often grow volunteerly with other
plants, increasing the tonnage of wild hay where it would other-
wise be light. The hay made from either of these species is a
little inferior to that from Crab grass, but it makes a useful feed,
if cut when the first seedheads appear. They are both uncul-
tivated grasses and the seeds are not obtainable on the market.
On every farm where hay is made or used the wild hay crop
should be anticipated at the last cultivation. The land should be
left with a smooth, even surface so as to permit the use of modern
hay making implements. This is a general rule that applies to
all uncultivated grasses.
The well known sand-bur, so common on waste and cultivated
sandy lands thruout the state, is usually regarded as a trouble-
some and noxious weed rather than a forage plant. The group
broadly known as Sand-bur grass comprises a number of distinct
The name "Tall Sand-bur" is a little more specific and is re-
stricted to species of rather erect, leafy growth. These grasses
often attain a height of from one to two feet and are valuable for
hay, if cut before the burss" have hardened. A species of
this group is illustrated in the largest and most leafy speci-
men in figure 5. It grows on sandy lands and in combination
*One species, Eleusine indica; other species, Dactyloctenium aegyp-
**(High) Cenchrus echinatus and others.
**(Low) Cenchrus pauciflorus, possibly others.

Florida Cooperative Extension

with other volunteer grasses. There is some hay made from it in
Florida every year.

One of the most economical means of furnishing roughage
when pastures are dry is by planting some suitable soiling crop
early enough that it will be ready to cut at about this period.
The most important crops of this class are sorghum, corn,

Fig. 6.-A good crop of sorghum
and Japanese cane. Napier grass, tho a comparatively new crop
to Florida, is meeting with favor as such a crop. A few other
crops of limited value are also included in the discussions on
the following pages, merely as a means of supplying information
that seems to be demanded.
Sorghum is of African origin, and was introduced into the
United States at least as early as 1857. The saccharine, or sweet
sorghum group, including many varieties, is important as a for-
age crop and for the manufacture of molasses thruout a large
section of the United States. The sorghums are more drought
*Holcus sorghwm.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

resistant than corn, and are especially valuable for growing in
sections deficient in rainfall or for light soils that do not retain
adequate supplies of moisture for corn production. In Florida
they are grown chiefly for soiling purposes and for silage. Under
like conditions on poor soil sorghum will probably yield a ton-
nage 40 to 50 percent greater than corn. Furthermore, it is more
successful when planted late in the season, and it can be counted
upon with a greater degree of certainty to yield a good crop when
too late in the season for planting corn.
The soil requirements of this crop are similar to those of
corn, but the former will often prove more satisfactory than the
latter on light sandy soils, owing to better drought enduring
qualities. Sorghum is not unlike other heavy producing crops
in that the richer soils usually produce the heavier yields. Badly
depleted soils should be improved by the addition of fertilizers,
if good yields are to be expected.
In the selection of a variety for planting in Florida, it is to
be remembered that the question of early maturity is of much
less importance than in sections of a short growing season. Far-
ther north some of the early maturing varieties, such as Early
Amber, Red Amber, Dakota Amber, and Minnesota Amber, are
the more popular kinds. But these varieties produce relatively
small yields, and some of the later maturing kinds are preferable
for Florida. Varieties listed in southern seed catalogs under such
names as Sumac or Red Top, Japanese Honey, Sugar Drip, or
Texas Seeded Ribbon will be found satisfactory.
The planting season in Florida varies somewhat with the
location. At Gainesville and farther north plantings may be
made any time from April 1 to June 15. The season opens earlier
farther south. Plantings made in early July sometimes succeed,
but it is not advisable, especially in North Florida, to delay the
planting later than the last of June, as after this time results
are uncertain. Young plants are weak and are slow to start
growing; but after becoming six or eight inches high, they grow
rapidly. It is well to have the crop past this initial period of
slow growth before the excessive rains start. During an ex-
tremely wet period weeds may grow and choke the young plants
while they are too small to cultivate.

Florida Cooperative Extension

The seeds should be drilled in rows about four feet apart and
an effort should be made to get a stand of plants from two to six
inches apart in the rows. Such a stand can be secured by use of
an ordinary corn planter, equipped with a special plate, and by
using from six to eight pounds of seed to the acre.
For silage the crop should be harvested when the grain is
about mature, insuring not only the maximum acre yield of dry
matter, but also silage of the highest quality. Silage from im-
mature sorghum shows a high degree of acidity and is of inferior
quality. On the other hand, when the crop is cut at the proper
time and properly preserved, it is sweet and palatable. It has
been shown by results of many careful feeding tests that there
is but little difference in the feeding value of corn and sorghum
silage, pound for pound, when used either for milk or for beef
The habits and culture of corn are so well understood that
but little discussion is necessary here.
Chiefly a grain crop, corn is one of Florida's most important
farm products. The Bureau of Crop Estimates reports that in
1920 the area planted to this crop in Florida was 781,000 acres,
an acreage almost as large as that devoted to all other farm
crops combined during the same period.
The original introduction of this cane is said to have been
made from Japan under the direction of Commissioner W. G.
Le Duc of the Federal Department of Agriculture. This was
sometime during Commissioner Le Due's administration, from
1877 to 1881. Sometime about 1885 or 1886 this old variety was
brought into Florida from Louisiana.
In 1910 the Department of Agriculture received, also from
Japan, four other varieties which are noted, in Bureau of Plant
Industry Bulletin 227, under the following names and numbers:
SPI No. 29106, "Chikusho. Early variety."
SPI No. 29107, "Early variety from Kagawa Ken."

*Zea mays.
**Saccharum officinarum.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

SPI No. 29108, "Kikaigashima. Early variety from Kago-
shima Ken."
SPI No. 29109, "Oshima. Early variety from Kagoshima
These latter introductions have been tested at the Florida
Experiment Station for several years. They have also been
grown by many farmers thruout the state. They seem to show
a marked similarity, but the consensus of opinion seems to give
them a distinct superiority over the variety originally intro-

Fig. 7.-A heavy growth of Japanese cane

duced. The varieties of this late introduction are frequently
designated as "Improved Japanese cane."

Japanese cane can be grown on a wide range of soils but,
like most other heavy producing crops, the largest yields usually
come from the better grades of land. On good soils, kept highly
productive, it will continue to give good returns for many years,
and frequently the harvest will tend to increase for two or three
years after planting. But on lighter and poorer soils, profit-
able crops will not continue so long, each succeeding crop being
lighter than the preceding one. The great advantage of this
cane is in its remarkably heavy yields. First crops on good pine

Florida Cooperative Extension

land should yield from 15 to 25 tons to the acre, while on rich
hammock land, or on the better types of muck, the yields may run
as high as 30 or 40 or even more tons.

Propagation, as of other varieties of sugar cane, is by means
of mature canes. The canes may be cut and banked before frost
in the fall and planted to the field in March, or they may be
planted direct to the field when harvested in the fall. Spring
planting has the advantage of permitting the elimination of poor
canes and dead eyes that have not lived thru the winter. If
planted direct to the field in the fall, these canes that fail to come
thru the winter will leave gaps in the stand.
In planting, the canes are dropped horizontally in six-foot
parallel furrows and covered with five or six inches of soil. In
order to insure a good stand, it is advisable, where enough seed
are available, to drop the canes in a double row, making two con-
tinuous lines of canes in each furrow. This method, with rows
six feet apart and seed canes averaging four feet in length, will
require from 1800 to 2000 canes for each acre of land. The canes
are usually cut into lengths of three or four joints before planting,
as inner joints on long uncut canes sometimes fail to grow.

There has been considerable diversity of opinion concerning
the value of Japanese cane silage. There are many stockmen in
the state, however, who have fed it and value it highly. At the
Florida Experiment Station, where it has been fed annually for
several years, it has given satisfaction. It carries no grain and
is, of course, not equal in feeding value to good corn or sorghum
silage. It is advisable to feed in conjunction with silage a more
liberal ration of concentrates. Sugar, the important food nu-
trient of Japanese cane, develops rapidly as the crop matures,
and it is necessary that harvest be deferred as long as it is safe
without endangering the crop to frost.
At the Experiment Station the crop is cut about November
10. The leafy nature of this crop demands that it be thoroly
wet when it goes into the silo and that special care be taken in
trampling or packing it. Where running water is available, a
small stream, run thru a hose and trained on the cutting knives,

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

will thoroly wet the fodder and let not too much free water reach
the silo.
Japanese cane silage is not as palatable as that from corn
or sorghum but, if fully matured, abundantly moistened on enter-
ing the silo, and thoroly packed, it makes a good succulent and
valuable feed. Some growers object to the silage but find cutting
and storing it in large banks for winter feeding a profitable prac-
tice. Most of the leaves are lost by this method but the canes
remain fresh and succulent as long as the weather is cool.
Japanese cane is a perennial, and is adapted to a wide range
of soil conditions, including types on which corn or sorghum do
not always thrive.
This species is native of Tropical Africa and was first intro-
duced into the United States in 1913 by the Federal Depart-
ment of Agriculture. It is a rank growing, cane-like, non-
saccharine perennial, developing clumps with many coarse, leafy
On good land and where the plants have plenty of room, 100
or more canes may be produced by a single plant, but on average
soil and under ordinary methods of field planting it tillers less
extensively. As the plants approach maturity, they branch
from the upper joints, sending up a fine, erect stem which bears a
terminal seedspike. This seedspike is yellow when mature and
resembles, in a general way, that of Pearl millet, to which it is
closely related.
The young rapid growing fodder from this plant is succu-
lent and eagerly eaten by stock. In this stage it compares favor-
ably with green corn in feeding value, but contains a much larger
percentage of protein. The principal use of this grass is as a
soiling crop, for which it should be cut when four or five feet
high and while still succulent and tender. After the joints begin
to form it soon becomes tough and woody and there is much waste
in feeding. A considerable portion of this waste may be saved
by the use of a feed cutter. The crop has also been used to a
limited extent for silage and, while its value has not been fully
demonstrated for this purpose, the results have been promising.
*Pennisetum purpureum.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Where it is to be put in the silo it should not be cut as early as
if intended for a soiling crop.
The cheapest and most practical method of propagating
Napier grass is by means of the canes or mature joints, tho
either the seeds or root divisions may be successfully used. Cane
cuttings of three or four joints may be dropped 18 to 24 inches
apart in six-foot furrows. These cuttings should lie horizontally
and be covered by a single shovel plow to a depth of five or six
Any soil that will grow good crops of corn or Japanese cane
will be found suitable for Napier grass. The best yields will be
from the most fertile soils. On rich soils the yield of fodder is
heavy. It should be given about the same cultivation as Japanese
Merker grass, like Napier grass, is from Tropical Africa and
was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture

Fig. 8.-Merker grass
in 1916. At the time of its introduction this grass was supposed
to belong to a species distinct from Napier grass, but it developed

*Pennisetum purpureum.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

later that the two are of the same species. They are similar in
appearances and habits, and are propagated and used in the same
general ways. Merker is distinguishable from Napier grass in
having smaller canes, narrower and more erect leaves and a little
more of the white, waxy bloom on the canes. Merker also shows
more tendency to branch, and it seeds earlier and more freely
than does Napier. Under some conditions there is a marked
difference in the vigor of these two grasses, Napier being the
more robust. At Gainesville this difference is not easily no-
Guinea grass is a native of Tropical Africa, but it has been
introduced more or less extensively into the agriculture of nearly
all tropical countries. It was brought into Florida at least as

Fig. 9.-Guinea grass in full bloom
early as 1870, but has not in 50 years won a place among the im-
portant forage crops of the state. Guinea grass is a vigorous
growing, leafy perennial that develops dense clumps from five to
eight feet or more in height and bears large open-spreading pan-
It thrives best on well-drained, moist soils rich in humus and
plant food. There are few other grasses that respond more
quickly to liberal applications of stable manure. Being a native

*Panicum maximum.

Florida Cooperative Extension

of the Tropics, it delights in a warm climate and production falls
off sharply with the advent of cool weather.
As regards the methods of planting, either seeds or divisions
of the root clump may be used. But it succeeds best when grown
in cultivated rows. Good stands and proper intervals are most
easily secured by hand planting. Seedlings, when from six to
eight inches high, may be pinched back and set in rows four or
five feet apart, leaving intervals of about 18 inches between
Under optimum conditions, where growth is rapid and the
leaves and stems are succulent and tender, this grass makes a
valuable green feed. Successive cuttings may be made, under
these conditions, as often as every five or six weeks during the
warm growing season. One objection to it is that it is very ex-
acting in its demands and does not thrive where these demands
are not fully met. On dry or poor light lands, it makes a rel-
atively slow, stunted, woody growth; and on good land, if cut-
ting is neglected until the grass begins to form seeds, it becomes
woody and loses its succulence and palatability.
Teosinte, introduced into the United States many years ago,
is a native of Mexico and a section southward thru Central Amer-
ica and a portion of northern South America. It is an annual
grass, remarkably leafy and robust in growth, and under favor-
able conditions it attains a height of from 10 to 14 feet. It
stools or suckers extensively, frequently developing as many as
25 stalks from a single seed. The stalks, tho large and coarse,
are tender and succulent and eaten with relish by all classes of
livestock, if cut before the seeds form. For feeding it is especially
valuable because of its extreme succulence and palatability.
Teosinte makes its best growth on good, rich soil, requiring
an abundance of soil moisture and a long, warm growing period.
It is a prodigious grower, there being authentic records of its
yielding 50 tons green feed to the acre in one season. Under
favorable conditions two or three cuttings can be had in a year
and the fodder, when green, is relished by cattle and other farm
animals. It should be cut when about five feet high, since the
stalks are hard and woody later.

*Euchlaena mexicana.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

This crop is grown from the seed which should be planted in
hills four or five feet apart. The preparation and subsequent
cultivation of the land is similar to that of the corn crop. From
one to one and a half pounds of seeds are required to plant an
acre. The plant has been grown to a limited extent in Florida for
many years, but its cultivation has not become general.

Pearl, or Cat-tail millet is related to Napier and Merker
grasses and, like them, had its origin in Tropical Africa. It was
introduced into the South before the War Between the States
and has been cultivated to a limited extent since that time.
In general appearance it resembles sorghum, but bears a large
cylindrical seedspike. The plants stool freely and on good land
grow to a height of from eight to fifteen feet. Under very
favorable conditions Pearl millet will sometimes produce re-
markably heavy yields. Founded largely on some of these ex-
ceptional instances, varied and extravagant claims have some-
times been made for it. Several years ago it was exploited by cer-
tain seedsmen under such names as Mand's Wonder forage crop
and Penicillaria. Authentic records of as much as 40 tons of
green leed to the acre have been made. The crop has been
grown in the South for more than 60 years, yet in no section
has it established itself in any permanent system of farming.

Grasses are like most other farm crops in that they do best
on good, rich soil, tho in practice this fact is often overlooked.
The waste lands of the farm, which are unproductive or for some
other reason are not suitable for farm crops, are often fenced
as the farm pasture. With constant grazing, the manure being
left in the field, the land tends to become richer, but only rich
soils, to which the grass is adapted, insure first class growth.
By the wise selection of a grass it is sometimes possible to utilize
lands not perfectly drained, or which, for some other reason, are
not suitable for growing general farm crops. Under such circum-
stances it is good economy to turn them to this use. But in live-
stock farming a good pasture is worthy of the best land on the
farm, if it cannot be grown elsewhere.

*Pennisetum glaucum.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Bermuda grass is supposed to have come from Southern Asia
but, while it has been an important grass in the South for more
than 100 years, the exact date of its introduction into the United
States is not known. As a southern pasture grass for those soils
to which it is suited, it has no superior. But on the other hand,
where it finds its way into cultivated fields, it becomes an ag-
gressive and tenacious weed that resists almost every effort to-
ward its eradication. It is this persistent habit which renders it
difficult to cope with among cultivated crops, and which enables
it to withstand the trampling and abuse incident to the heavy
grazing of stock. It will grow on any well-drained, good farm
lands except the high pine lands and light sandy ridges that tend
to become very dry. Loamy hammock soils, well-drained sandy
loams, rolling clay lands, and much of the muck soils furnish
suitable conditions for its growth.
There are several varieties of Bermuda grass that differ
in vigor of growth, relative abundance of rootstocks, and a few
other minor characteristics. The common or ordinary variety
does not usually exceed six to twelve inches in upright growth
under Florida conditions, and its use is restricted to grazing pur-
poses. It is abundantly supplied with fleshy rootstalks and is
correspondingly difficult to suppress where it becomes desirable
to convert the land to cultivated crops.
Giant Bermuda is an exceedingly robust grass, which, on good
land, may attain a height of 24 inches or more, and which, under
favorable conditions, has considerable merit for hay. It has
comparatively few rootstalks. In fact, the United States Depart-
ment of Agriculture has studied strains which were found en-
tirely devoid of these under-ground stems. Giant Bermuda is a
little more tolerant to wet lands than is the ordinary variety; yet,
if the best results are to be expected, fair drainage should be pro-
vided. The fact that it has not as many rootstalks as the com-
mon variety, makes it somewhat less difficult to eradicate, and, for
the same reason, it is probably a little less persistent under the
adverse conditions of heavy trampling and close grazing. The
grass erroneously known as St. Lucie grass along the southern
East Coast is in reality a form of Giant Bermuda.

*Capriola dactylon.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

On wet lands and along ditches and water courses there is a
creeping grass, the stems of which are tinged with red and leaves
of which are short and pointed. This is Ft. Thompson grass.*
It is readily distinguished from Bermuda grass, however, by its

Fig. 10.-Grasses confused with Bermuda. Left, Ft. Thompson grass;
right, Sea-side Rush grass
seedhead which has consistently two seedspikes shorter and less
slender than those of Bermuda. Ft. Thompson grass, showing
several seedheads, is illustrated in figure 10. Another grass
sometimes called Salt Water Bermuda is the Sea-side Rush
grass**, illustrated in figure 10. This grass occurs along the
sandy beach, growing almost to the water's edge. Altho of a
sort of harsh, weedy nature, it is apparently relished by stock.

*Paspalum distichum.
**Sporobolus virginicus.

Florida Cooperative Extension

It is not closely related to Bermuda and is easily distinguished
by the spike-like seedhead.
The quickest and most certain method of establishing a Ber-
muda grass pasture is by means of sod cuttings which are merely
small portions of the sod. The land should be plowed and har-
rowed until a smooth surface has been established and the small
fragments of sod can be thrust into the ground at intervals of
two to four feet. Where the soil has been put in good tilth, a
blunt pointed stick, something like a hammer handle, may be used
for pushing the sod particles under the surface. Another method
of planting is to plow the land broadcast and harrow to a smooth
surface. A Georgia stock, equipped with a narrow shovel or bull-
tongue, is then used to open parallel furrows, three or four inches
deep and from two to four feet apart. The cuttings are dropped
in these furrows at distances of one to two feet. A sweep run
just close enough to fill the furrow may be used to cover the sod;
and a light harrow, with teeth set at an angle to prevent pulling
up the sod, should follow to leave a smooth surface.
Altho seeds are less certain than sod they are sometimes
used successfully. The seeds are small and demand a well-
pulverized, smooth seedbed. They are sown broadcast when the
land is moist any time from April to July. One operation with
a light plank drag or a roller will suffice to cover the seeds which
must not be covered too deeply.
Bermuda grass land should be plowed or disced deeply about
once each year. This cultivation breaks up the sod-bound con-
dition and loosens the turf to the great benefit of the pasture.
On account of its persistent habits Bermuda grass should not be
planted or permitted to spread to land soon to be devoted to cul-
tivated crops.
Carpet grass is native to the West Indies, Southern Mexico,
Central America, and the northern part of South America. It
was collected at New Orleans as early as 1832, but the exact time
and manner of its introduction into this country is not definitely

*Axonopus compressus.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

This grass is a low, creeping, carpet-like perennial. It re-
produces readily from seed, and spreads by means of surface
runners which take root at the joints. Having no system of
underground stems or rootstocks, it is unlike Bermuda grass in
that it can be controlled or eradicated with comparative ease. It

Fig. 11.-A Carpet grass pasture

is essentially a pasture grass, and rarely, if ever, becomes large
enough to cut. The stems and leaf sheaths are compressed and
two-edged. The leaves are smooth and narrow and terminate in
a rather abrupt, blunt point. The small, delicate seedstem
which usually bears two slender seedspikes, is well illustrated in
figure 14.

Florida Cooperative Extension

A closely related species is called Giant Crapet grass*, and
is distinguished from the common Carpet grass by its coarser
and more robust growth. Like the true Carpet grass the stems
and leaf sheaths of this species are also compressed. A photo-
graphic reproduction of a plant of this grass is shown in figure
Carpet grass requires considerable moisture but succeeds on
various types of soil. It grows well on low sandy loams and
thrives thruout a large area of the flatwoods sections. It is also
found on hammock lands and clay soils, and in low depressions
where its demands for moisture are well supplied. This grass
requires considerable sunlight. It does not withstand burning
well, but shows remarkable ability to resist heavy trampling. It
is, as a matter of fact, most common on compact lands, and the
opinion is held by some that this condition is essential to its
best success. Constant, close grazing and heavy trampling aids
in the suppression of many other grasses and undoubtedly gives
Carpet grass better and less hampered opportunities to develop.
The most important characteristic of this grass, and one
that renders it particularly fitted to Florida conditions, is its
ability to establish itself on untilled lands. The Bureau of Plant
Industry, United States Department of Agriculture, suggests
the following methods of converting native grass areas into
Carpet grass pastures: (1) Native grasses are to be burned off
during winter months. (2) The number of animals on the area
is to be so controlled as to keep the grass closely grazed contin-
uously. (3) Seeds should be sown at the rate of five pounds to
the acre when moisture is abundant and during spring or early
summer. It will be apparent that this method requires no special
preparation of the land, and that it is applicable to lands on which
the presence of roots and stumps would render cultivation im-
possible. But it must be remembered that these suggestions
apply only to such lands as are suited to the growing of this
This grass is undoubtedly one of our most valuable grasses
for grazing. It is highly palatable and eagerly grazed by stock.
As compared with most other grasses, the tendency to become

*Axonopus furcatus.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

woody is less pronounced. Furthermore, the carrying capacity
of Carpet grass land is much greater than that of the average
native pasture. In some places where Carpet grass and Giant
Carpet grass grow together on lowlands, it has been observed
that the latter appears to predominate. However, Giant Carpet
grass probably is as valuable where it thrives as is common
Carpet grass. It is an important species on some of the best
ranges of the state, and is especially prevalent on pasture lands
near LaBelle.
This species also claims Brazil and the adjacent region of
South America as its birth place. As early as 1880 it had become
established in the United States, probably being introduced some-
what 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

Fig. 12.-A field of Para grass

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

*Panicum barbinode.

Florida Cooperative Extension

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 abundance of moisture.
The habit of growing on moist, wet lands is a peculiarly valu-
able characteristic. Even lands with relatively poor drainage or
those occasionally submerged for short temporary intervals,
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 different
methods of planting are used. A good method is to distribute
the canes on the surface of a plowed and well prepared soil, and
then cover by running a disc harrow over the ground. An even
distribution of the canes is facilitated by first running them thru
a feed cutter or old style cutting box, making the cuttings several
inches in length. These may be scattered from a wagon with a'
fork or they may be mixed with stable manure and spread with
a manure spreader. Sometimes the cuttings, two or three joints
in length, are simply thrust into the soil by hand at intervals of
from four to eight feet if either direction. If a plant is estab-
lished every eight or ten feet in both directions, growth will
eventually cover the ground; but planted at closer intervals, a
good stand will be hastened.
Under optimum conditions Para grass supplies an abundance
of good, leafy herbage that can be variously used for grazing, as a
soiling crop or hay. Under good conditions the carrying capacity
of the pasture is high, it frequently being possible to maintain
from one to two adult animals to the acre on it for several months.
As far south as Dade County good pasture for six or seven
months out of the year, and fair pasture for an additional three
or four months, may be expected. In mild winters some pastur-
age may be available thruout the entire year.
Hay made from Para grass is rather coarse in texture, but
it is sweet and palatable and readily eaten by stock. It should
be cut before getting woody. Under favorable conditions suc-
cessive cuttings at intervals of six or eight weeks are often ob-
tained. During the period of rapid growth when a surplus above

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

the needs of the herd is available, it is sometimes possible and
advisable to convert a portion of the pasture into a temporary
hay meadow. After one or two cuttings have been made for hay
the area can again be devoted to pasture purposes.
Sooner or later Para grass will show a tendency to choke
itself out and become sod-bound. The yield will be reduced and
the deep green color characteristic of vigor will have changed to
a lighter hue. As a means of improving this condition and re-
storing the yield, the field should be plowed once a year as
frequently as need is indicated. Para grass is essentially a grass
for cultivated lands, and plantings made on unplowed lands around
ponds or on the margins of swamps will seldom pay for the ex-
pense of planting.
The United States Department of Agriculture first intro-
duced Carib grass into the United States in 1914 from Brazil. In
appearance, as well as in its soil and climatic requirements, Carib
grass bears a close resemblance to Para grass, tho the two have
been placed by botanists in separate genera. They look almost
alike, are propagated in like manner, and are used on the farm
in the same general way.
In comparing the two, Carib grass seeds more freely, altho
the seedheads are not easily distinguished from those of Para
grass by the untrained observer. Carib makes a more nearly
upright growth when first planted, has rather less vigorous
habits, and is a little more leafy. It also has finer stems, and
should make a better grade of hay.
At the Florida Experiment Station the roots of this grass
were badly winter-killed during the winter of 1917-18, while Para
grass, planted in an adjacent plot, was uninjured. Some com-
plaint has been made that, since the initial growth of this grass
is more erect than of Para grass, it does not spread over the
ground or produce a thick stand as quickly as the latter.
Dallis grass is native of Argentina, and was introduced into
Florida and other Southern States many years ago. It is a smooth
leafy perennial, that grows in bunches, showing preference for

*Eriochloa subglabra.
**Paspalum dilatatum.

Florida Cooperative Extension

low, moist lands. It makes good growth in warm weather, with-
stands close grazing remarkably well, and is not injured by mod-
erate frosts. It will be realized that, if it can be successfully
grown, this characteristic of winter-hardiness should render it
most valuable as a pasture grass for Florida, since the improve-
ment of our winter pasture is one of our most urgent needs.
In certain sections of New South Wales and other parts of
Australia and New Zealand, the introduction of this grass, under
the name of paspalum, or Paspalum dilatatum, has revolution-
ized the agriculture of that country. It has transformed large
areas, previously occupied by a more or less struggling farm
population, into a prosperous and modern, specialized dairy
region. In the United States it is most important in northern
and central Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
Dallis grass thrives best on a; rather heavy soil, and is partial
to moist lands, but, on the other hand, it is able to live thru pro-
longed periods of drought. When subject to drought, however,
it yields but little feed. It comes on quickly after the drought is
A disadvantage that operates to retard the spread of Dallis
grass is the difficulty of getting high grade seed. The seeds do
not ripen evenly and many immature ones are unavoidably har-
vested with the good. A black smut-like fungous growth also at-
tacks the seeds and is responsible for much of the poor quality of
the seeds found on the market. This poor quality of seed often
results in disappointment to planters. But once established on
a well-suited location, it makes persistent growth; while an in-
different stand will slowly improve the production of seeds which
fall to the ground and help increase the growth.
The field selected for this grass should be plowed and har-
rowed to a smooth surface. The seeds should then be sown at the
rate of eight to twelve pounds an acre, preferably during a warm
summer period when there is an abundance of moisture in the
soil. The seeds may be covered by running a disc or drag harrow
over the ground.
Dallis grass does not spread from surface runners or root-
stocks and no apprehension need be felt as to its becoming a pest.
Those who have suitable soil and who feel the need of winter

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

pasturage should plant a little of this seed in a small, experi-
mental way.
Vasey grass is a near relative of Dallis and, like it, is native
Sof South America. It was brought into the United States many
years ago and has become well established on many low, moist
areas thruout Florida. It is an erect bunchy perennial, three to
six feet high, with many long, narrow blades and seed panicles
bearing from 10 to 25 spikes.
Like Dallis, Vasey grass thrives best on low, wet land. It
forms large clumps and furnishes feed that is grazed readily
while young, but which becomes woody and unpalatable with
age. The growth remains green well into winter, tho it is said
to be a little more susceptible to cold than Dallis grass. On rather
light land at the Florida Experiment Station this statement has
not always been borne out.
In certain sections of the South this grass is recognized for
its value as a hay crop. It is said to return.large yields of hay
which finds ready sale on markets where it is known. When used
for grazing, heavy stocking is advisable to keep the grass eaten
closely, and to provide against accumulations on the ground to
become harsh and unpalatable.
The seeds of this grass are not yet handled by seedsmen.
But as good seeds are produced freely in Florida, these may be
collected by hand from natural growth. Usually some seeds may
be obtained as early as June in the latitude of Gainesville. If
seeds are scattered on plowed land not later than July, they ger-
minate quickly and develop good strong plants which may be
pastured some the first winter. Root clumps taken up about
June may be divided and reset at distinct intervals where its
growth is to be encouraged. In a few weeks these plants will
begin to seed and, if conditions are favorable, the stand will
quickly thicken thru volunteers from its own seed. This grass has
not been handled as a cultivated crop in this country, but owing to
its vigorous growth and resistance to cold it holds some promise,
and on low, wet, waste lands its growth should be encouraged.
This grass is related botanically to Dallis and Vasey grasses
*Paspalum larranagai.
**Paspalum notatum.

Florida Cooperative Extension

and is a native to Brazil. It was first introduced into this coun-
try by the United States Department of Agriculture in March,
1913, thru a German seed house at Erfurt. In 1914 the Depart-
ment made another importation of the seed, this time obtaining
it from Pirapora, Minas Geraes, Brazil. It is regarded as a valu-
able pasture grass in parts of South America, Western Cuba
and other sections of the West Indies.
Bahia grass is essentially a pasture grass, growing low on the
ground and spreading slowly by means of thick, scaly, rooting
stems that grow on or just under the surface of the soil. From
these stems a remarkably dense, matted, rooting system is de-
veloped and the upper stratum of soil is permeated to a depth
of several inches by innumerable, small, fibrous roots. This re-
markable root system enables it to withstand much heavy graz-
ing. Its persistent, perennial habits make it a permanent pasture
where it is once established, tho its green growth is very sus-
ceptible to injury from cold. Among the new grasses tried out
in Florida during the past 10 or 15 years, there are none more
promising than Bahia grass for pasture purposes.
Bahia grass propagates from the seed as readily as from
small portions of the root. For the initial planting, small por-
tions of the rooted plant are probably preferable, especially as
the seeds are available only in limited quantities.
Its growth at the Florida Experiment Station, indicates
persistent habits, and a tendency to spread slowly but con-
stantly after it once gets a start. Cattle are fond of it and
graze it close to the ground. It grows with vigor on moist soils,
while it makes relatively good growth on land of a rather dry
sandy nature; and here, where there are few other grasses found
to thrive, it promises to have special value.

This grass is said to be a native of Argentina. It is essen-
tially a cool weather grass and makes its growth in Florida during
the winter, disappearing early with the advent of hot weather.
The plants grow to a height of from one to four feet and bear
loose, drooping panicles, which in a general way resemble those of
oats. A good, rich soil is required and it should be prepared
*Bromus unioloides.

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

as for oats. Seeding should be done in late September or in
October at the rate of 30 or 40 pounds of seed to the acre.
It can be grazed during late winter and early spring, and, if
the animals are removed in time to permit seeding, it will reseed
the ground and provide for another crop the following season.
Annual plowing is essential to its continued success. It is
advisable to follow Rescue grass with some summer crop, such as
cowpeas which may be grown and removed from the ground be-
tween the ripening of the seeds in spring and the germination of
the seeds in fall. In preparing for the summer crop the ground
is plowed about four or five inches deep, turning the seeds under.
The seeds lie dormant during summer but sprout with the coming
of cool weather.
Rescue grass occupies the same general role on the farm as
does oats, but, even where it thrives best, it is questionable
whether it will ever be able to compete with oats. In some few
instances it has, however, proved quite successful on good clay
lands in the northern and western sections of Florida.
One of the most urgent needs of the range cattle business
is a more nearly adequate supply of grazing material during
winter. There is, as a rule, a large supply of feed in summer
and a serious shortage thruout fall, winter and spring. Under
these conditions it is almost impossible to maintain an equilib-
rium between the food supply and the size of the herd.
The most important range plants include the wire grasses,
broom sedge grasses, blanket grasses, Maiden cane, Carpet
grass, Giant Carpet grass, Joint grass, and Blue Maiden cane,
and many others of relatively less importance. Most of these
provide good grazing for a few weeks during their early growth,
but soon become fibrous and unpalatable and greatly reduced in
feeding value. The accumulated surplus from the rapid growing
summer period becomes woody and does not afford good winter
grazing. As a result, much of it is burned during winter. The
burning of grass lands is often condemned, but in practical range
management it frequently seems to be a necessary measure. It
is best, however, to avoid burning whenever possible. Aside
from the injury to the soil, it discourages the growth of Carpet

Florida Cooperative Extension

Fig. 13-Species of broom sedge, important range grasses. Upper left,
Andropogon virginicus; upper right, A. glomeratus; lower left, A. sco-
parius; lower right, A. cabansii

Bulletin 28, Some Florida Grasses

grass where it might otherwise grow. It also tends to perpetuate
the wire grasses and other fibrous species.
The handling of range lands is a complex problem. Large
areas of these lands are used by cattlemen who in turn do not
own the land. As long as the land and cattle are held under
separate ownership, the general fencing of range lands cannot
be expected. For this reason the conversion of suitable lands
from wire grasses to Carpet grass, as mentioned on another page
of this bulletin*, will not apply generally to range conditions;
since that method demands for its success control of the number
of animals and implies fencing of the lands. The average area
of range land in Florida required to support an adult animal is
estimated at ten acres.

Fig. 14.-Other important range grasses. Left, Carpet grass; center, Blue
Maiden grass; right, Giant Carpet grass

*See under Carpet grass, page 28.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Fig. 15.-Blanket grasses. Left, Paspalum ciliatifolium; right, P. supinum

Acknowledgments, 44
Austin grass, 11

Bahia grass, 35
Bermuda grass, 26
composition of, 2
Billion Dollar grass, 11
Blue. Maiden cane, 37
Bottom grass, 11
Brown Top millet, 12
composition of, 2

Carpet grass, 28
composition of, 2
Carpet grass, Giant, 30
Carib grass, 33
Colorado grass, 11
composition of, 2
Corn, 18
fodder, composition of, 2
Crab grass, 14
composition of, 2
Crops, hay, 3, 14
pasture, 25
silage, 16
soiling, 16
Crow-foot grass, 15
composition of, 2

Dallis grass, 33
composition of, 2

Fort Thompson grass, 27
Foxtail millets, 10

German Hay grass, 12
German millet, 10
Giant Bermuda grass, 26
Giant Carpet grass, 30
Guinea grass, 23
composition of, 2

Hay, Crab grass, 14
Crow-foot, 15
from wild grasses, 14
grasses, 3
Johnson grass, 9
millets, 10


Natal grass, 6
Rhodes grass, 3
Sand-bur grass, 15

Japanese millet, 11
Johnson grass, 9
Joint grass, 37

Key grass, 12

Mand's Wonder forage plant, 25
Merker grass, 22
Millet, Barnyard, 11
Brown Top, 12
Cat-tail, 25
Foxtail, common, 10
composition of, 2
Foxtail, golden, 10
composition of, 2
German, 10
Hungarian. 10
Japanese, 11
composition of, 2
Pearl, 25
Sanwa, 11
Siberian, 10

Napier grass, 21
composition of, 2
Natal grass, 6
composition of, 2
Native range grasses, 37

Para grass, 31
composition of, 2
Paspalum, 34
Pasture grasses, 25
Pearl millet, 25
composition of, 2
Penicillaria, 25
Piper, Professor C. V., 44

Range improvement, 39
Range problems, 39
Range grasses, native, 37
Rescue grass, 36
composition of, 2
SRiver grass, 11

Florida Cooperative Extension

Rhodes grass, 3
composition of, 2

Sand-bur grass, 15
Sea-side Rush grass, 27
Silage crops, 16
Soiling crops, 16
Sorghum, 16
composition of, 2
Sprouting Crab grass, 12

SSudan grass, 8
composition of, 2

Teosinte, 24
composition of, 2
Texas millet, 11

Vasey grass, 35

Wild grasses, 14

44 Florida Cooperative Extension


In preparing the material for this bulletin, the writer has
drawn copiously upon published literature for information con-
cerning the various subjects treated, and, in so doing, has be-
come indebted to authors too numerous to mention. Special
credit is due Professor C. V. Piper of the United States De-
partment of Agriculture. In addition to securing Federal finan-
cial support of the work, seeds of rare and valuable grasses
from many foreign lands have been supplied by Professor
Piper. These things could not have been obtained in any other

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