BULLETIN No. 95.
DWARF ESSEX RAPE FOR WINTER FORAGE.
JOHN M. SCOTT.
The Bulletins of this Station will be sent free to any address in Florida upon
application to the Director of the Experiment Station, Gainesville, Fla.
The Record Co., St. Auristine, Fla.
Introduction. .................. ......... ............ 21
A W inter Crop .......................... .. ............ 21
The Soil for Rape .................. ...................... 21
Fertilizers .............. ............... .................. 22
Preparation of Soil ....................................... 22
How to Plant ........................................... 22
How to Feed Rape..................................... 24
Yield.per Acre ................................... ........ 24
Rape Test, 1907-8 ........................................ 24
1. Rape is a good winter forage crop.
2. The Dwarf Essex is a suitable variety for Florida.
3. It will stand several degrees of frost.
4. It may be cut and fed after ten weeks.
5. A heavy second crop may be secured.
6. Sixteen tons per acre have been grown here.
7, With proper care difficulties in feeding rape can be avoided.
DWARF ESSEX RAPE FOR WINTER FORAGE.
BY JOHN M. SCOTT.
Dwarf Essex rape is a crop well suited to Florida conditions. It
is excellent for feeding hogs. dairy cows, and sheep; as it will pro-
duce many tons of good nutritious feed per acre, at a time of the year
when green feeds are scarce. Throughout a large portion of the
State, farmers and stockmen could, with advantage, grow more of the
succulent forage crops for feeding stock during the autumn and winter
months, when the supply of grass and other green forage is often
limited. Such crops may usually be grown on land that has already
produced an early maturing crop. One of the best of these succulent
crops is perhaps dwarf Essex rape-a plant closely related to the cab-
bage, turnip, and mustard.
A WINTER CROP.
Rape is a forage crop that does not flourish in hot, dry weather;
but in most parts of the State, especially in the centre and south, rape
grows well throughout the winter, and suffers very little from the cold.
Last winter the rape grown at the Experiment Station was injured
only very slightly by the lowest temperatures. It is considered that
rape will stand as much as six to eight degrees of frost, with little or
no injury. This, of course, depends upon the stage of growth; the
young tender growth' being more readily harmed than the more mature
leaves and stalks. It is not at all likely that the weather will become
cold enough to kill the roots, even if the tops should be frozen down.
In the latter case, the plants will soon shoot up again and produce
a good crop.
THE SOIL FOR RAPE.
Rape does well on nearly all kinds of soil: but, like many other
crops, the better the soil the larger the yield. An old vegetable field
would be a remarkably good location, and would require the addition
of only a small amount of fertilizer. For the best results, rape should
be planted on a rich, moist, loamy soil. It will usually do well on any
but light sandy soils or stiff clays, such soils being deficient in vegetable
matter. Any soils that will produce good crops of vegetables, will also
give good yields of rape. It is reported by several writers that rape
will produce heavy yields on newly reclaimed swamp land, and that
it is also well adapted to newly cleared woodland.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
Practically nothing has been done at this Station to ascertain what
fertilizers, or combinations of fertilizers, give the best returns; but
almost any good vegetable fertilizer, containing about six per cent. of
ammonia, seven per cent. of phosphoric acid, and eight per cent. of
potash, applied at the rate of from 200 tqs 700 pounds per acre, will be
found to give good results. The larger amount would be applied on
poorer lands, and the lesser amount on the richer soils.
PREPARATION OF SOIL.
Too much attention cannot be given to the preparation of the field
for this crop. Thorough preparation of the field is the secret of suc-
cessful farming, whether in Florida or elsewhere. Such preparation
of the field will not only reduce the after cultivation by half; but it
will also conserve a large amount of soil water, which would otherwise
be lost bv running off or by evaporation. A good fourteen- or sixteen-
inch two-horse plow is the best implement to use in preparing the field
for seeding. With the plow, all trash and litter can be buried; for
the more vegetable matter we can get into the soil, the more fertility
we add to it, and the more its water-holding capacity is increased.
The plowing should be fairly deep-about four to six inches. If the
land is rough after plowing, the disc harrow is needed. In using the
disc harrow, it is best to lap half the width of the harrow each time.
since the surface of the soil will then be kept level, which otherwise
would be ridged. It is well to harrow with a toothed harrow after
using the disc, so as to get the surface in the best of tilth.
HOW TO PLANT.
Rape may be planted in drills or sown broadcast. If the ground
is badly infested with seeds of noxious weeds, it will be better to plant
in drills and give some cultivation. Rape is rather a slow grower at
first; but after reaching the height of three or four inches, it grows
rapidly. If planted in drills, the drills should not be more than two
feet or two and a half feet apart. It is the writer's opinion that more
satisfactory results will be obtained if it is planted in drills, for the
following reasons: First, there is less waste when pastured, as stock
naturally walk between the rows, and so do not trample as many plants
or leaves under foot. Second. less seed is required. Third, drilling
permits cultivation, insuring larger yields. The amount of seed re-
quired per acre will vary from three to five pounds, according as it is
planted in drills or sown broadcast.
The seed may be sown at any time from the fifteenth of September
to the fifteenth of December. The farmers of West Florida will find
Bulletin No. 95.
it best to plant during the latter part of September, while those of
Central and South Florida can plant later in the season. If any local
dealer cannot supply the seed, it may be obtained from most seed
houses, such as:
Cameron Seed Store, Jacksonville, Fla.
Evans Seed Co., Gainesville, Fla.
J. Steckler Seed Co., 512 to 516 Gravier street, New Orleans, La.
Fig. 1. Rape: six weeks' growth.
Fig, 2. Rape; ten weeks' growth.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
HOW TO FEED RAPE.
Stock may be turned into the field and allowed to pasture on the
rape, or it may be cut and fed to them. With the latter method much
larger yields will be secured, if care is taken in cutting. If cut so as
to leave the stubs five or six inches high, a second-and under favora-
ble conditions, a third-crop may be secured. If pastured, some care
must be exercised at first, until the stock become accustomed to it.
When cattle are first allowed to pasture on rape, there is danger of
bloating; but this can be easily avoided by feeding the animals a little
hay or grain, just before turning them on the rape. In other words.
do not turn the stock on the rape to pasture when they are hungry.
When first turned on to pasture, let them graze for only a few minutes
the first day-say ten or fifteen minutes; the second day allow them
a few minutes more, and so on, until they become accustomed to rape.
Another difficulty found in pasturing cows on rape is that it may
cause a disagreeable taint in the milk. This may be overcome by
using a little care and judgment in feeding. If the cows are allowed
to pasture on the rape for about an hour just before and after milking,
and at no other time, very little, if any, difficulty will be found.
YIELD PER ACRE.
The experience of this Station in growing rape has shown yields of
from 27,200 to 33,296 pounds per acre. These results are based on the
crops of two years. Many of the Northern States report yields of
thirty to fifty tons of green forage per acre. No doubt there is plenty
of land in Florida capable of giving equally good returns.
RAPE TEST, 1907-8.
Three plots of dwarf Essex rape were sown in drills, the rows
being thirty inches apart. Plots 1 and 2 were sown on September 25,
1907. The ground was thoroughly plowed, and a good seed-bed pre-
pared, before sowing the seed. The soil on which the rape was grown
was a very light sandy loam. On December 21, 1907, plot 3 was sown.
The character of the soil was the same as for plots 1 and 2. The
ground had been in sweet potatoes during the previous season. The
potatoes were taken up in November, at which time the ground was
well plowed, and then harrowed. Nothing more was done to the
ground until just before planting, when it was again harrowed. Each
plot was given one cultivation for each cutting made.
Oh better soil the yield could be increased from 25 to 50 per cent.
without additional cost. Even with the yield of 16.59 tons from plot
2, the cost per ton was less than $1.50; and if we increase -the-yield,
we will at the same time reduce the cost per ton.
Bulletin No. 95.
The tables which follow give the date of planting, the date of har-
vesting, and the yield of green forage per acre for each cutting, and
also the kind and amount of fertilizer used.
AMOUNTS OF FERTILIZER USED IN POUNDS PER ACRE.
Plot Muriate of Acid Total for Date When Fertilizer
No. Dried Blood Potash Phosphate Season Was Applied
1 150 64 175 389 September 25, 1907
2 300 12S 350 778 September 25, 1907
150 64 175 389 February 10, 1908
3 200 115 300 615 1 December 21, 1907
YIELDS OF GREEN FORAGE IN TONS PER ACRE.
Plot First Second Total for
No. Date of Planting Date of Harvesting Cutting Cutting Season
1 September 25, 1907 December 6, 1907 3. 9 ...... 3. 9
2 September 25, 1907 December 6, 1907 8. 9 ...... 16.59
...... ............................. M arch 27, 1908 ...... 7.69
3 December 21, 1907 March 28, 1908 3.24 ...... 3.24
Plot 2, which had at first twice as much fertilizer as plot 1, gave
more than twice the yield at the first cutting; and totalled more than
four times the yield, when it had received altogether three times as
much fertilizer as plot 1. Plot 3, planted nearly three months later,
showed no increase over plot 1 for the increased fertilizer.