Forage and Pasture
Commissioner of Agriculture
Carpet Grass --
Southern Pasture Grasses
Sudan Grass -----
Napier Grass ---- --
Rhodes Grass ----------
Para Grass ------------
Velvet Bean ---------
Lawn Grasses ---
The Chinch Bug on St. Augustine Grass Lawns ____
Permanent Pastures for Florida ______
Dwarf Essex Rape as a Winter Forage in Florida ___
Next in importance to the divine profusion of water, light,
and air, those three great physical facts which render ex-
istence possible, may be reckoned the universal beneficence
of grass. Grass is the most widely distributed of all vege-
table beings, and is at once the type of our life and the
emblem of our mortality. Lying in the sunshine among the
buttercups and dandelions of May, scarcely higher in in-
telligence than the minute tenants of that mimic wilderness,
our earliest recollections are of grass; and when the fitful
fever is ended, and the foolish wrangle of the market and
forum is closed, grass heals over the scar which our descent
into the bosom of the earth has made, and the carpet of the
infant becomes the blanket of the dead.
As he reflected upon the brevity of human life, grass has
been the favorite symbol of the moralist, the chosen theme
of philosopher. "All flesh is grass," says the prophet;
"My days are as the grass," sighed the troubled patriarch;
and the pensive Nebuchadnezzar, in his penitential mood,
exceeded even these, and, as the sacred historian informs
us, did eat grass like an ox.
Grass is the forgiveness of Nature-her constant bene-
diction. Fields trampled with battle, saturated with blood,
torn with the ruts of cannon, grow green again with grass,
and carnage is forgotten. Streets abandoned by traffic
become like rural lanes, and are obliterated. Forests decay,
harvests perish, flowers vanish, but grass is immortal.
Beleaguered by the sullen hosts of winter, it withdraws into
the impregnable fortress of its subterranean vitality, and
embarks upon the first solicitation of spring. Sown by
winds, by wandering birds, propagated by the subtle horti-
culture of the elements which are its ministers and servants,
it softens the rude outline of the world. Its tenacious fibres
hold the earth in its place, and prevent its soluble compon-
ents from washing into the wasting sea. It invades the
solitude of deserts, climbs the inaccessible slopes and for-
bidding pinnacles of mountains, modifies climates, and
determines the history, character, and destiny of nations.
Unobtrusive and patient, it has immortal vigor and aggres-
4 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
sion. Banished from the thoroughfare and the field, it
abides its time to return, and when vigilance is relaxed, or
the dynasty has perished, it silently resumes the throne
from which it has been expelled, but which it never abdi-
cates. It bears no blazonry of bloom to charm the senses
with fragrance or splendor, but its homely hue is more
enchanting than the lily or the rose. It yields no fruit in
earth or air, and yet should its harvests fail for a single
year, famine would depopulate the world.
Extract-JOHN J. INGALLS.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 5
Reproduction of Farmers' Bulletin No. 1130, U. S. D. A.
Carpet Grass, also known as Louisiana grass and by the
French inhabitants of the state as petit gazon, is the most
valuable grass known for permanent pastures on the sandy
soils of the southern Coastal Plain region of the United
States. Although long since introduced into the country,
its high value has been unappreciated. The reasons for this
are not clear, but may be ascribed partly at least to the fact
that until very recent years improved pastures in the South
were not properly appreciated. Furthermore, carpet grass
has been confused with several more or less similar grasses,
and in the belief that it was a native grass has been left like
the others to shift for itself.
Extensive observations on carpet grass and the data
derived from careful farmers who had learned from ex-
perience the value of this grass lead to the conclusion that
under conditions suitable for its growth it is at least equal
to Bermuda grass in carrying capacity and feeding value
and will thrive on soils where Bermuda grass can be made
to succeed only by the use of fertilizers.
It is estimated that at least one-third of the Coastal Plain
area of the Southern States will grow excellent carpet
grass. Furthermore, by the use of this grass most of this
area can be developed into admirable permanent pastures
without removing the stumps from the land. Land thus
improved will support many times the live stock that now
exist on the native ranges.
The natural grasses of the Coastal Plain do not furnish
good pasturage. They are mainly broom sedge (various
species of Andropogon) and wire-grass (a name indiscrim-
inately applied to several wiry, slender-leafed, tough
grasses) the most widespread of which is Aristida gracilis.
These grasses are burned off nearly every winter when dry.
From early spring to midsummer the young growth fur-
nishes very good pasturage, from midsummer till frost, the
animals gain slowly if at all, but from frost until the follow-
ing spring they become greatly emaciated. Much of this
very poor natural pasturage can be replaced cheaply by
excellent high grade pastures with carpet grass as a basis.
For this purpose carpet grass is of outstanding importance.
Probably carpet grass has not invaded the open ranges of
the Coastal Plain to a greater extent mainly because of
6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
light grazing and annual fires. Light grazing permits a
large growth of tall native grasses which by shading pre-
vent any vigorous growth of carpet grass, and when
burned, make so strong a fire that all carpet grass plants
Carpet grass is a perennial pale-green grass, spreading
by creeping stems which root at every joint, thus forming a
close, compact turf. The stems and sheaths are compressed
and thus two edged, and this character taken with the blunt
leaf tips will distinguish carpet grass from most others.
The seed stems are very slender, two or three jointed, and
12 to 24 inches high. Very often two flowering branches
arise from the sheath of each stem leaf. Each stem bears
two or three, rarely four or five, slender spikes of flowers,
which later form very small seeds. Flowering stems are
produced almost continuously from early spring until frost
in the fall.
Young plants begin their growth in a more or less cir-
cular small patch and quickly send out runners in all direc-
tions. Under favorable conditions, when without compe-
tition from other plants, a single plant in a single season
will spread so as to form a circle 2 or 3 feet in diameter and
produce abundant flowering stems.
Carpet grass never becomes troublesome as a weed, and
when its eradication is desirable it is very easily destroyed
by plowing it under.
Carpet grass was probably first recorded from Jamaica
by Sloane in 1696. Previous to 1830 it is recorded from
Peru, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, San Domingo, and Porto Rico.
More recent collections show it to be native throughout the
West Indies and from Mexico southward to Argentina and
Chile. In the United States its present distribution is in the
southern states. The oldest specimen from the United
States is apparently one collected by Drummond at New
Orleans, 1832. An earlier record by Rafinesque is clearly
based on misidentification, as his grass was 6 feet tall. The
*This carpet grass was first named by Swartz in 1788 from Jamaica as Milium com-
pressum; from South America in 1791 by Lamarck as Papsalum tristachyon; from
Porto Rico by Poiret in 1804 as Papsalum platycaule; and from Tropical America
by Flugge in 1810. These three plants are indistinguishable. In the older literature
it appears commonly as Pausalum compressum (Swartz) Nees. The name now used
by most botanists is Axonopus compressus (Swartz) Schlechtendahl, but some au-
thorities use Anastrophus compressus (Swartz) Beauvois. All of these refer to one
and the same grass.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 7
next older specimen was not collected until 1869. It was
not found by Elliott around Charleston, S. C., in 1821, nor
by Michaux in North Carolina in 1803. A careful study of
carpet grass and its behavior indicates clearly that it is not
a native of the United States. The plant is never found re-
mote from civilized habitations even in favorable places
where annual fires can not be the explanation for its
absence. Furthermore, like other introduced plants, such
as Bermuda grass and Lespedeza (Japan clover), its ability
to spread aggressively is a phenomenon rarely found in a
Carpet grass also occurs in Java, Sierra Leone, and Sing-
apore. It seems safe to say that carpet grass was intro-
duced in the United States at New Orleans about 1830 and
by 1880 was widespread in the Southern States, occurring
at that date in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida.
Previous to 1890 carpet grass was known as Louisiana
grass, but since then the name carpet grass has become
general. Among the Creoles the name petit gazcn is in
frequent use. Unfortunately, the name carpet grass is also
applied, especially in Florida, to any broad-leafed grass,
such as various native species of Paspalum, but the true
carpet grass can readily be distinguished by the blunt leaf
tips and compressed stems.
SOILS AND MOISTURE RELATIONS
Carpet grass will thrive on any type of soil if the moisture
conditions be favorable, but, like other plants, it grows
better on rich than on poor soils. It is remarkable, how-
ever, for its ability to grow on poor sandy soils, thriving
under such conditions far better than does Bermuda grass.
Even on many alluvial soils, as in the lower Mississippi
Valley, carpet grass will gradually crowd out Bermuda
grass. The latter, however, will grow under more drought
conditions than will carpet grass. Where the ground-water
level is only a few inches from the surface carpet grass
grows luxuriantly, but it is equally good on well drained
hilly lands with clay subsoil that prevents it becoming too
dry. The ideal condition for carpet grass is a water table
only 1 or 2 feet below the surface. Large areas of such
lands make up the so-called flatwoods. Carpet grass is not
injured by ordinary floods, but quickly renews growth when
the water subsides. Thorough compaction of the soil seems
very important for carpet grass, and it is rarely found
growing where the soil is loose.
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Carpet grass seems entirely indifferent to lime, growing
equally as well on "acid" soils as it does along the borders
of shell roads. Actual field tests have shown no noticeable
result from the use of lime.
Carpet grass is of tropical origin. Its northern limits
indicate that it can rarely survive a winter temperature
lower than about 10F. It certainly will not withstand
conditions so far north as does Bermuda grass, probably
because all of its stems are above ground, and Bermuda
grass possesses underground stems that are protected. On
the other hand, the leaves of carpet grass are not injured
by frosts that completely kill leaves of Bermuda grass, and
furthermore carpet grass greens up in mild winter weather
much more than does Bermuda grass. For these reasons
carpet grass may be grazed considerably later in the fall
and earlier in the spring.
ESTABLISHING CARPET-GRASS PASTURES
On cultivated land, carpet grass succeeds best on a well-
firmed seed bed. The seed may be sown at any time from
early spring till after midsummer when the moisture con-
ditions are favorable. To secure a full stand of the grass
promptly, seed should be sown at the rate of 10 pounds per
acre. A method of seeding that has often been used is to
cut the grass with mature seed and scatter the hay over the
land where it was desired to establish carpet-grass pasture.
Many writers have advocated planting the grass vegeta-
tively as Bermuda grass is propagated, but the expense of
this method has discouraged its employment.
It is frequently desirable to establish carpet-grass pas-
ture in open forests or on cut-over land, without going to
the expense of clearing. To do this all the standing trees
should be deadened by girdling. The land to be seeded
should be burned over in winter in order to remove all the
tall straw of broom sedge, wire-grass, and other bunch
grasses. Plowing or discing is not necessary, and the avail-
able evidence does not indicate that it is desirable. As soon
as the native grasses begin to grow, animals should be put
on the area in sufficient numbers to keep the grass eaten
short. Carpet grass at the rate of 5 pounds per acre may
then be sown at any time after the weather becomes warm,
but preferably when there is ample moisture. Under close
grazing most of the native bunch grasses will occupy the
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 9
land. It is not advisable to seed carpet grass indiscrim-
inately on cut-over land. To get good carpet grass pasture
on such lands the rate of grazing must be under control, so
that it will be heavy enough to destroy the broom sedge
and wire-grass while the carpet grass is getting established.
Practically all bunch grasses may be destroyed by continu-
cus heavy grazing, but creeping grasses are not materially
injured by such treatment. The trampling incidental to
heavy grazing seems to be an important element in securing
good carpet-grass pasture. If lespedeza (Japan clover) is
not already on the land it should be sown, as it succeeds
well if mixed with carpet grass. The general plan of con-
verting broom-sedge and wire-grass lands to carpet-grass
pastures may thus be summarized:
(1) All brush should be cut and all trees not valuable
for timber deadened by girdling.
(2) Burn over the area as cleanly as possible when con-
ditions are favorable. Discing or plowing is not necessary
and apparently not desirable. In lieu of burning, close
mowing may be used, but this is more expensive.
(3) Limit the area, preferably by fencing, to the acre-
age that can be kept heavily grazed.
(4) Seed to carpet grass at the rate of 5 to 10 pounds
per acre any time after spring weather has begun and
moisture conditions are favorable. If not already present,
lespedeza should be seeded at the rate of 5 pounds per
(5) Drain by open ditches all areas where water is likely
to stand for a considerable time.
(6) Heavy grazing will destroy all bunch grasses in one
or at most two seasons, and solid carpet-grass sod will
cover the land.
(7) On "flatwoods" and other soils well suited to carpet
grass, gallberry* and bayberry** often occupy much land.
These shrubs may be eradicated by cutting with a brush
hook or other device two or three times. Gallberry and
bayberry are both so bitter that animals refuse to eat them.
Two native weeds in particular, namely bitterweed (Hel-
enium tenuifolium) and fennel or Yankee weed (Eupatorium
capillifolium), are very likely to invade carpet-grass pas-
tures. These weeds should be mowed at least once a sea-
son, before they have formed seeds. This is sometimes
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
difficult to accomplish on stump land, and therefore the
removal of stumps as promptly as possible is desirable.
Goats will keep down fennel to a considerable extent.
After two or three seasons further mowing will be un-
Good carpet-grass pasture on the evidence available
seems little, if any, inferior in value to bluegrass pasture.
The experience of careful farmers indicates that the best
carpet-grass pasture will furnish grazing for one cow to the
acre for about five months each season and for one cow to
two acres for three or four months longer.
Close grazing is very essential to maintain the grass in
good condition. The trampling by the stock keeps the soil
compacted, favoring the spread of carpet grass, and close
grazing keeps down the taller growing plants which would
injure it by shading.
If a field of carpet grass be left ungrazed after October 1
it will grow quite tall. In the protection thus afforded
green leaves will appear through much of the winter and
furnish winter pasture. The cattle in eating the green
leaves consume incidentally many of the dry leaves which
otherwise they would avoid. Such a field must never be
burned over, as fire is very destructive to carpet grass.
OTHER GRASSES TO GROW IN MIXTURE WITH
Carpet grass and Bermuda grass rarely grow together
for any length of time. As a rule Bermuda grass prevails
on clay soils, while carpet grass dominates on sandy soils.
On soils that will grow both grasses it is often economy to
seed the two in mixture, but eventually one or the other
will occupy the land almost exclusively. Dallis Grass
(Paspalum dilatatum) usually grows well in carpet grass
soil, and it is a good plan to sow seed of this, especially on
the better soils, after the carpet grass is well established.
Plowing furrows 10 feet apart and sowing the rather ex-
pensive Dallis grass seed in the furrows is a good plan.
North of Florida lespedeza, if not already present, should
always be added to carpet grass. It succeeds admirably and
adds a desirable constituent to the field.*
*McNair, A. D., and Mercier, W. B. Lespedeza, or Japan clover. U. S. Dept. Agr.
Farmers' Bul. 441. 1911.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 11
Carolina clover (a native species), yellow hop clover, and
rabbitfoot clover (the last two introduced) are desirable
legumes. The first comes naturally and the other two if
introduced spread year by year. Commercial seed of these
clovers is not on the market.
Bur clover, perhaps black medic, are exceedingly desir-
able legumes to establish in carpet-grass pasture, where the
former often succeeds splendidly and results in a 12-months
pasture. Success with bur clover is nearly always con-
ditional on securing abundant inoculation.** Black medic
on some soil types may be expected to succeed at least as
well as bur clover. Augusta vetch is another exceedingly
desirable winter legume for carpet grass pastures. All of
the above legumes seed themselves naturally.
White clover is also a very desirable constituent in carpet-
grass pastures, particularly on moist or rich soils. It will
make much feed in the cool season, but becomes dormant or
semi-dormant in summer.
Italian rye-grass sown on carpet grass about October 1
under favorable moisture conditions will make much winter
grazing. With this grass, however, it is necessary to seed
it every season.
Carpet-grass pasture supplemented by the plants men-
tioned will make an ideal pasture that can be grazed nearly,
if not quite, the entire 12 months.
On low or moist soils, particularly near the northern
limits of carpet grass, the first seeding of a pasture either
on plowed or unplowed land may well be to redtop. The ad-
vantages are that the seed is much cheaper and the 1-year-
old pasture is an excellent foundation on which to sow car-
pet-grass seed. Redtop seed in the area referred to must
be sown in the fall or early winter. Pure redtop pastures
may be expected to persist two or three years. For perman-
ent pastures the addition of carpet grass is imperative.
Carpet seed is in much larger demand than supply at
present. Unfortunately there has never been sufficient
seed on the market to allow any extensive sowing of the
grass. There is no apparent reason why ample seed to sup-
ply all needs should not be harvested. Lack of knowledge
on the part of those who have the grass in abundance as to
the market demand for the seed seems largely responsible
**Piper, C. V., and McKee, Roland. Bur clover. U. S. Dept. Agr. Farmers' Bul.
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
for the deficient supply. Those who have open areas of
carpet grass of sufficient area to justify harvesting the seed
never have to sow it. On the other hand, in the localities
where the seed is most needed the grass does not exist
except in small areas.
Perhaps the most promising location for developing the
carpet grass seed industry is on the alluvial lands of the
lower Mississippi Valley. In that region cotton growing
has been curtailed to some extent because of the boll weevil,
and cattle raising has been substituted. Many of these old
cotton fields are now thickly set with carpet grass and an
abundant seed crop goes to waste every year.
Carpet grass will form a seed crop in spite of pasturing.
The stock graze the basal leaves, while the seed stalks are
rarely eaten. Perhaps a larger crop of seed may result if
all stock is kept off the field for a few weeks while it is
going to seed. This is a point on which there are no data
and which needs investigation. Meantime the crop of seed
which is produced in addition to the pasturing will pay good
returns if harvested. An ample supply of carpet grass is
at present a great need in southern agriculture.
Carpet grass begins to mature seed in June, but con-
tinues to bloom throughout the summer. The main crop
of seed and the only one that will usually pay to harvest is
ripe early in September. There is a period of a month or
six weeks in the fall when seed may be gathered, but there
is considerable loss from shattering if the crop is gathered
when it first becomes ripe.
HARVESTING THE SEED
Carpet grass seed shatters easily when ripe. The seeds
are small and light, being about the size of timothy seed,
and not so heavy. The grass should be cut with a mower
and handled as little as possible in order to avoid loss from
shattering. The straw should be allowed to become thor-
oughly dry before attempting to separate the seed.
Much seed can be obtained by beating it out of the straw
with a flail on a tight floor or on a large canvas. Where there
is a considerable area to be harvested a thrashing machine
is desirable. Almost any kind of a thrasher will do this
work if equipped with proper screens. An ordinary grain
thrashing outfit will answer, but it will require more work
to clean the seed from the chaff. The chief danger in
thrashing will be from too heavy blast of air, which will
blow the seeds out with the straw. The air intakes of the
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 13
fan should be reduced to the minimum or the fan cut out
entirely. Another source of loss is shaking the separating
apparatus of the thrashing machine too rapidly. If this
action is very violent the seeds, being light in weight, may
not fall through the screens, but pass out with the straw.
CLEANING THE SEED
Good screening will clean carpet grass seed very satis-
factorily. A sieve with mesh one-twentieth of an inch in
size will let the carpet grass seed through and take out the
large weed seeds and coarse material. One with a mesh
of one thirty-eighth of an inch will hold the carpet grass
seed and separate the finer material. Hand sieves are
sometimes used, but the process is slow and laborious. If
much seed is to be cleaned a fanning mill is needed. Manu-
facturers will gladly advise as to the best combination of
screens for cleaning carpet grass seed with their particular
machine if a sample of seed is sent to them. In fanning, the
air blasts must be light in order to avoid loss of seed.
Carpet grass seed well cleaned weighs about 18 pounds
to the bushel.
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
SOUTHERN PASTURE GRASSES
BULLETIN NO. 194-A PASTURE HANDBOOK.
U. S. Department of Agriculture.
The southern grasses that contribute most to pastures are
Bermuda, carpet, and Dallis grasses. Those less commonly
found in pastures are Johnson, centipede, Rhodes, Napier,
rescue, and Vasey grasses. Para, Bahia, Guinea, and
molasses grasses are hardy only in the subtropical belt
along the Gulf coast, indicated on the map as section 2-b.
They can also be grown on irrigated lands along the Mexi-
can border in sections 3-b and 4-b.
Carpet grass is persistent and aggressive on moist sandy
soils and often appears spontaneously in region 2 when the
land has been cleared and grazed heavily. It endures close
grazing very well, but is not very productive, is only fairly
nutritious, and makes such a close turf that it is very diffi-
cult to keep legumes in it.
Bermuda grass has spread naturally on loam, clay, and
silt soils over most of the Cotton Belt, and even a little north
of 60 isotherm. It is late in starting in the spring and
ceases growth at the first light frost in the fall. In the irri-
gated sections of 4-b and 5-b Bermuda grass produces
viable seed and spreads out into the cultivated fields, where
it is a nuisance. In region 2 it is propagated mostly by
planting pieces of sod.
Dallis grass, a long-lixed perennial, while less abundant
that carpet and Bermuda grass, is becoming increasingly
important as a grazing plant in region 2. It is a bunch
grass, and the turf is more open than that of the other two.
The growth of basal leaves is luxuriant, and Dallis-grass
pastures are both productive and nutritious. The chief
drawback is the difficulty of obtaining a good stand. The
presence of a fungus (Claviceps paspali) in the seed heads,
which if eaten in any quantity by cattle causes a disease,
characterized by nervous symptoms, may be controlled by
preventing the production of seed heads by heavy grazing
or mowing the pasture. It is best adapted to clay, loam,
and silt soils.
Johnson grass is best known as a pest in cultivated fields,
but is also found in pure stands, where it is utilized as a hay
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 15
crop and to a lesser extent as pasture. When grazed closely
and continuously it gradually becomes unproductive and is
not very desirable in pastures.
Centipede grass, a rather recent introduction from China,
is an aggressive stoloniferous grass much like carpet grass
in its tendency to form a very compact turf, which gradual-
ly excludes other grasses and legumes, leaving pure stands
of centipede grass. Such centipede-grass pastures are low
in productivity, and their nutritive qualities are question-
able. Centipede grass will grow on most soil types but ap-
pears to best advantage on sandy soils of the Norfolk series.
It is propagated by scattering pieces of sod or stolons and
for this reason is rather expensive to establish.
Rhodes grass has been tested in most parts of region 2
and sections 3-b and 4-b but has achieved importance only
on some of the large ranches in southern Texas, where a
drought-resistant plant is required. It will grow on mod-
erately alkali soils but is less palatable under such condi-
tions. Seed is expensive and difficult to obtain in quantity.
Vasey grass resembles Dallis grass very much but has
fewer basal leaves and is less valuable for pastures. It
comes in spontaneously on the rice and sugarcane lands of
Rescue or arctic grass is a winter annual which often re-
seeds naturally in southern Texas. It appears usually at
the end of the dry summer season and provides grazing
after Bermuda grass has become dormant.
Para grass is characterized by its long trailing stems and
very rapid growth under favorable conditions. It is very
sensitive to low temperatures and is of most value on wet
lands. No seed is available, therefore it must be propa-
Bahia grass is not grown to any extent except in Florida.
It is of most value on poor sandy soils. Seed is expensive
and usually of low germination.
Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) is a large, coarse
bunch grass which is very drought resistant and one of the
most dependable pasture grasses of the West Indies. In
the United States it has never become popular, but it should
be valuable in southern Texas where Rhodes grass has
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora) is one of the most
productive pasture grasses in Brazil and Colombia, South
America, where it is known as Gordura. It has fine stems
and makes a very dense leafy growth about 2 feet deep
over the ground. The leaves and stems exude a sticky
sweetish fluid which gives the grass an odor. Cattle dislike
the grass at first, but later appear to relish it and thrive on
it to a remarkable degree. It can be grown only in prac-
tically frost-free localities, such as the southern half of
Natal grass (Tricholaena rosea), introduced from South
Africa, has become naturalized in southern Florida and has
spread to citrus groves and uncultivated land including the
roadsides. It appears well adapted to the climate and the
sandy soil of this part of Florida, but it is not relished by
livestock and contributes little to the pasturage resources
of the United States.
LEGUMES DESIRABLE IN PERMANENT PASTURES
The legumes which alone or in mixture with the grasses
previously described contribute most to the productiveness
of our permanent pastures are listed in Table I and are
discussed in the text that follows. The table supplies
information respecting the climatic and soil adaptations of
these legumes, their palatability, the time and rate of seed-
ing, the season of the year when they are available for
grazing, and other facts affecting their grazing value. No
attempt has been made to include the native legumes the
seed of which is not available commercially, nor introduced
species that are of only minor importance in pastures.
CHARACTERISTICS OF VARIOUS LEGUMES
Alfalfa.-While alfalfa has been used extensively for
grazing in California, it has not been much used in the
Eastern States because of frequent losses of livestock by
bloating and because of the injurious effect of grazing on
the stand. If the crop is allowed to become quite mature
before being grazed, both troubles are avoided to a large
extent, but the full feed value of the crop is not realized by
such a practice. The most profitable practice appears to
be to cut the first crop for hay and to graze during the rest
of the season. Apparently the stand of alfalfa may be
maintained if not grazed too severely and if the animals
are removed sufficiently early in the fall to allow the alfalfa
to restore the exhausted food reserves in the root system.
TABLE I.-INFORMATION REGARDING LEGUMES FOR PERMANENT PASTURES
Altalfa (Medicago sativa).
Alsike clover (Trifolium hy-
Red clover (Trifoliumn pra-
Mammoth red clover (Tri-
foliumn pratense var).
White clover (Trifolium re-
Ladino clover (Trifoliunt
Least hop clover (Trifoliumn
Low hop clover (Trifolium
Strawberry clover (Trifo-
liuum fragiferun ).
Sour clover or annual meli-
lot (Melilotus indica).
Yellow trefoil or black medic
California bur-clover (Medi-
Southern bur-clover Medi-
Common lespedeza (Les-
Korean lespedeza (Lespe-
1 Region and section nun
Climatic adaptation (1) Degree of
All regions where moisture is
sufficient, but only locally
in region 2.
Chiefly region 1 and section
5-a. In sections 3-a and 4-a
if moisture is sufficient.
Winter crop in region 2.
....... d o ........... . .. .
Region 1, chiefly section 1-a
All regions where moisture
Sections 4-a, 5-a, and 5-b.
Sections 2-a and 5-a and
parts of section 1-b.
Section 2-a and southern par:
of section 1-b.
Locally in sections 3-a, 4-a
Region 2 and sections 3-b
4-b, and 5-b.
Region 2 and section 1-b.
Sections 3-b, 4-b, and 5-b, if
sufficient moisture, also east-
ern Texas and Oklahoma.
Region 2 and section 3-b
Region 2 and section 1-h1.....
Section 1-b ... .... ......
.... d o .....
Season for grazing
Spring to early fall.
Winter grazing in
Early spring and
Early spring to fall.
S d o .. .........
Early spring and
Spring to fall.....
Spring to fall....
Winter and early
Early spring to late
Fall to spring.......
Early summer to
fa ll. ....................
d o .........
Time and rate of
seeding per acre
Depends on location: Practically any fertile Good pasture, but dan-
consult State Ex- soil not wet or acid. ger of bloat. Use lo-
periment Station. cally adapted seed.
Early Spring, S to 10
Early spring, 10 to 15
Early spring, 10 to 12
Very early spring,
5 to 10 pounds.
Early spring, 5 to 10
Late summer, 4 to 5
. do. .
Early spring, 5 to 10
Late summer ......
Very early spring,
8 to'12 pounds.
Late summer, 15 to 20
pounds hulled seed
-ate summer, 10 to 15
pounds hulled seed
Early spring, 20 to 25
Practically any soil type
except sands. Will
stand slight acidity;
also will tolerate some
Practically any well-
drained soil if not acid.
Practically any well-
drained soil not more
than slightly acid.
Practically any soil type.
Practically any well-
Practically any well-
Wet alkali soil.
Sweet well-drained soils
... d o .... ....
Well drained-soil ol
practically any type.
Well-drained soil .
,. do . .. ...
........ do. ................ Practically any
Especially suited for
Use locally adapted seed.
Will endure slightly more
soil acidity than com-
Everywhere in the
North. In section 2,
winter and spring crop.
Injured by heavy con-
annual: disappears in
Annual; usually disap-
pears in June but
Grown only locally; do-
mestic seed produced
Annual; volunteers; no
value north of region 2.
Not prominent, except on
black land in Alabama
A winter annual; volun-
Annual, but reseeds.
annual, but is usually
permanent in pastures
because of volunteer
Annual, but volunteers.
2 Kobe and Tennessee 76 are heavy-yielding strains of common lespedezi which should be used in region 2 and the southern part of section 1-b.
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Alsike, red, and white clovers are too well known and
commonly used for grazing to need discussion. The first
two are included in the majority of pasture mixtures recom-
mended in those sections where adapted, but generally they
do not last more than 2 years. White clover seldom pro-
vides much grazing until the second season, but if the
pastures are kept fairly well grazed it is quite permanent,
although it is much more prevalent some years than others.
All are very responsive to phosphatic fertilizers, and red
clover in particular requires neutral or only slightly acid
soils. On strongly acid soils red clover should be omitted
from seed mixtures for pastures, and from central Indiana
south lespedeza should be substituted for the clovers on
such soils. Ladino is a large, highly productive variety of
white clover which has proved its value under irrigation
but has so far not shown permanence under grazing in
regions 1 and 2.
Bur-clover is used mostly for winter pasture in the South
and the far West. In Arizona and California the burs and
dry herbage are eaten in summer. In the South it succeeds
very well with Bermuda grass or Dallis grass, as it furnishes
grazing in the fall, winter and spring, while Bermuda grass
furnishes summer grazing. It is advisable to graze bur-
clover lightly in May in order to allow it to reseed. New
seedings of bur-clover should be inoculated if hulled seed is
used, but generally sufficient soil adheres to the burs to
carry inoculation if seeded in the bur.
The low and least hop clovers are important in some
parts of the South and the northern Pacific slope. They
furnish early grazing but disappear in June. They combine
well with carpet, Dallis, and Bermuda grasses, and with
lespedeza in the South; also with bluegrass and redtop in
section 1-b. Seed of Trifolium dubium is available in quan-
tity and that of T. procumbens in limited amounts in Ten-
Cluster clover (Trifolium glomeratum) is a winter annual
which has done well at McNeill, Miss., where it is called
McNeill clover. The seeds germinate in the fall, and the
plants grow rapidly in early spring so that grazing can
begin in late February and lasts till June. Cluster clover
fits in well, therefore, with Bermuda and carpet grasses and
materially lengthens the grazing season.
While experimental data are incomplete, there is reason
to believe that cluster clover is not reliably hardy much
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 19
further north than the cut-over pine area in the Coastal
Plains and that its chief place will be on such lands in the
southern half of region 2.
Persian clover (Trifolium resupinatum) is a winter an-
nual suited to moist rich land wherever winters are mild.
Its value is still much in doubt, since where it thrives best
white clover also does well as a winter and early-spring
grazing crop, and Persian clover has not shown any superi-
ority over white clover. Persian clover makes its greatest
growth about May, at which time it is high enough to cut
for hay; soon after that it matures seed and dies.
Ladino clover is a giant strain of white clover which has
achieved its greatest success in the irrigated sections of the
Northwestern States. Where soil moisture is abundant
Ladino clover is one of the most productive pastures known,
but it should not be grazed continuously, and there is con-
siderable danger of bloating. It prefers a rich soil and on
the poorer soils responds markedly to applications of phos-
Sour clover or annual melilot is an annual legume which,
like lespedeza, reseeds in pastures each year and thus be-
comes more or less permanent. It is very sensitive to soil
acidity and therefore is found growing only on soils of lime-
stone origin or those but slightly acid. Its distribution is
confined to the southernmost States, and it is of no value
in the North.
Strawberry clover is a perennial legume with about the
same habit of growth as white Dutch clover. It is reported
to be grown as a regular farm crop in Australia and New
Zealand, where it apparently thrives on excessively wet
soils and yet is able to resist drought. In the United States
it is grown only locally in sections 3-a, 4-a, and 5-a, and so
far has not proved useful in the humid Eastern States. Its
chief recommendation is its ability to grow on alkali soils.
Yellow trefoil or black medic is a winter annual like the
hop clovers but more widely distributed and usually making
a larger growth. It is most abundant on the black prairie
soils of Alabama and Mississippi, where, it occasionally
furnishes a considerable part of the pasturage in early
spring. Its abundance varies greatly from year to year,
and it cannot therefore be depended upon for grazing.
Common or Japanese lespedeza, a self-seeding annual, is
the most widely distributed of all lespedezas, being na-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
turalized as far north as southern Iowa. Because of its
ability to reseed under most conditions, it is useful in pas-
tures from southern Indiana and Illinois south to the Gulf
of Mexico. It is a standard hay and pasture plant every-
where in section 1-b and region 2 except on very sandy
lands, and even on sands it does fairly well unless they are
Kobe lespedeza is a variety similar to Common lespe-
deza, but it makes a larger growth of stems and leaves than
Common and has larger seed. It has about the same range
of distribution as Common, but sometimes fails to reseed in
the northern part of section 1-b. It is preferable to the
Common in region 2 on account of its higher yields of hay
and pasture. Like Common, its growth is low and spread-
ing except in thick stands.
Tennessee 76 lespedeza is a selected strain of Common
lespedeza originated by the Tennessee Agricultural Experi-
ment Station. It is characterized by an erect growth, heavy
yields of hay, and rather late maturity. It is most popular
in western Tennessee and parts of North Carolina. It
should succeed throughout region 2 also, but authentic seed
of Tennessee 76 is rather difficult to obtain in quantity.
The seed is not distinguishable from that of Common les-
Korean lespedeza is an annual also, but belongs to a
different species from the Common. It is earlier, coarser,
and usually a heavier producer than Common, but its pro-
duction is ordinarily less than that of Kobe or Tennessee 76
in localities where these two varieties are grown success-
fully. Korean is of most value in section 1-b but has prom-
ise in some parts of 1-a as far north as southern Michigan.
In the southern part of section 1-b its early maturity is of
some disadvantage, as there are usually 30 days or more of
grazing weather after Korean matures. An early strain of
Korean advertised under the name Harbin lespedeza may
have value still farther north than the original Korean, but
this has not yet been determined.
All the annual lespedezas are valuable in permanent
pastures because they reseed each year. They may also be
used as supplemental pasture. They begin growth late in
the spring, and it is usually May 1 to June 1, depending
upon the latitude, before they are ready to graze. The
season for grazing ends for Korean about August 30, but
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 21
that of Common, Kobe, and Tennessee 76 may last until
Inoculation is not necessary in the South, but in the
northern part of section 1-b and in 1-a inoculation is advis-
able unless lespedeza has been grown on the land previ-
ously. Except on poor soils the application of lime and
fertilizer is seldom profitable. Applications of phosphate
are the most profitable.
The prospective planter should consult State authorities
in regard to source of seed. This is especially important
in the case of alfalfa and red clover.
There are other possible permanent legumes, such as Les-
pedeza sericea, but their value has not been sufficiently es-
lished to warrant general recommendation.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
SUDAN GRASS AS A FORAGE CROP*
Sorghum sorghum var. sudanense
"The discovery of this new hay grass (Sudan grass) came
about as the result of a search for forms of wild andropogons
which do not have rootstocks. It is acknowledged by agri-
culturists 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 lack-
ing these rootstocks was begun under the direction of Prof.
C. V. Piper, in charge of the Office of Forage-Crop Investi-
gations, with the assistance of the Office of Foreign Seed
and Plant Introduction. As a result of this effort a grass
was obtained 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 received, and a portion of this small quantity was
planted at the Forage-Crop Field Station, Chillicothe,
Texas, that spring. The grass looked very promising there
and plans were immediately laid for extending the plant-
ings to other points. In order to give it distinctiveness and
assist in its distribution, the name Sudan grass was ap-
plied 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 in-
stances 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
*Farmers' Bulletin 605, U. S. D. A.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 23
height of 6 to 9 feet, and the stems are larger than usual,
being about one-fourth of an inch in diameter. The panicle
is loose and open, very much like that of Johnson grass, but
a 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 com-
mercial 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 aggres-
sive underground stems, or rootstocks, with which Johnson
grass is equipped, are entirely absent in Sudan grass. Sudan
grass, like the cultivated sorghums, never develops any-
thing but fibrous roots, therefore it can not become an
obnoxious weed comparable to the perennial Johnson grass.
Furthermore, it has shown no tendency to persist in fields
as an annual weed thru volunteer seedings. When given
plenty of room, the grass stools very freely. It is not un-
common 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
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 importance throughout Texas, in western
Oklahoma, western Kansas, 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 an-
other 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 re-
24 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
place the millets. At Brookings, S. D., it has done well for
two years, making hay yields much in excess of those pro-
duced by millet and maturing abundant crops of seed. In
the southern part of the United States, the climatic condi-
tions are also favorable to the production of this grass, but
there are several 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 principal hay crop. In the south-
western part of the United States, Sudan grass will no doubt
be extensively grown under irrigation, 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 Moun-
tains, 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 development of the red-top
disease (sorghum blight) and thus reduce the yield. This
is true to some extent also on the Atlantic coast of the
"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 Washing-
ton. 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, Corvallis, 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,
although alfalfa is usually slow in starting. At Laramie,
Wyo., with an altitude of 7,188 feet, it made only six inches
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 25
"Sudan grass is not at all exacting in its soil require-
ments. 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, thp
yield may be expected to be light. To do well, the ground
must be fairly well drained.
"The value of Sudan grass under conditions of extreme
drought 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 comparison with millets and sorghums. Farther north
most of the reports indicate that, grown under extreme
drought 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. Max-
well, 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 through the dry weather.'
"A photograph accompanying Mr. Maxwell's letter shows
the grass to have reached a height of over 5 feet. Con-
firming this report are the experiences of F. J. McCarthy,
Boerne, Tex., J. R. Stegall, Detroit, Tex., and others record-
ed on pages 17 to 20 of Circular 125 of the Bureau of Plant
"It is possible that Sudan grass may not produce as much
hay per acre as the millets under exceptionally unfavorable
conditions, but in ordinary years it will yield two cuttings
26 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
and will, like other sorghums, stand semi-dormant through
a period of drouth, and if rain comes before the end of the
growing season it will immediately renew its growth. In
very few instances have millets been known to do this. It
is believed, therefore, that during a term of 12 or 15 years,
even considering the whole Great Plains region, Sudan
grass will out-yield millet.
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 cool soil delays the germination of the seed; hence, spring
plowing 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 prob-
ably 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 advantage 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
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
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 27
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 con-
sidered, 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., 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 cul-
tivators 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 practicable, 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 culti-
vated-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 stands,
owing to the finer stems. The grass grown in cultivated
rows is apt to be coarse and therefore not so desirable
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.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 charac-
teristic 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, although 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 yield obtained from such a mixture in 1913 varied
from 1 to 31 tons per acre. The best showing was made at
the Maryland Experiment Station, where the yields aver-
aged about 3j 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 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
millet, and removed from these cocks to the barn or stacks
after it has thoroughly 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
"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.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 29
The time for cutting 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 somewhat later
than the main stem and there is little loss from shattering.
"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 characteristic makes it possible,
where necessary, to extend the haying 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 often comes
when he is rushed with other work, or his haying may be
interfered 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 through nodules on the roots. It will,
however, furnish hay and afford a change in crop, which
usually benefits the soil.
"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 cuttings have been secured. From seeding to
30 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 cuttings. 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 cut-
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 cut-
tings, as this would have given time for each cutting to
reach the proper stage of maturity. In 1913, when con-
ditions 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, 114 to 2 tons; eastern
South Dakota and southern Minnesota, 4:% to 5 tons; east-
ern Colorado and northern Texas, 11/ to 21/1 tons; in the
eastern United States (Maryland and Virginia), 21/4 to 3:
tons; and farther south (Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana,
and Florida), 2 to 51/ tons.
"These yields were all made without irrigation. When
irrigated, the yields compared favorably with those of
alfalfa, as shown in the following pages. In a few locali-
ties millet has given a slightly larger crop than Sudan grass,
but comparisons 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.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 31
"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 digesti-
bility. Nearly all immature forage is inclined to be laxative
and probably does not remain in the digestive tract suffi-
ciently long to permit the complete assimilation of the food
VALUE IN IRRIGATED SECTIONS
"In many of the irrigated sections of the West where
alfalfa is the principal crop and dairying the chief industry
of the people, alfalfa has been made the constant and the
almost complete diet of the cows. The continuous use of
this high-protein hay has caused digestive troubles, and
this derangement of the digestive functions seems to dis-
appear promptly when the feed is changed. In some sec-
tions 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
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 favorable 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 almost 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 the season.
"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.
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"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 normal.
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 method.
"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 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 pas-
ture: 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 same cases,
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 33
be a carrier of prussic acid, which is quickly fatal to cattle
when occurring in considerable quantity.
"Diseases.-The worst disease that so far has developed
is the so-called sorghum blight, more appropriately desig-
nated as red-spot. This disease is characterized by the
appearance of distinct reddish spots or blotches on the
leaves, these spots gradually 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 more 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 weakness by the production of
"Another disease which is apt to be slightly troublesome
in the South is the grain smut of sorghum. This will not
become 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. Grass-
hoppers are very fond of this grass, and when abundant
will do immense damage. Chinch bugs also like it, and
little can be done to prevent 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 de-
stroyed in their winter quarters through 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 pre-
vented 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 grass much, because it is resown annually, and
this places such animals at a disadvantage.
"Weeds.-No serious weed pests interfere with the pro-
duction 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.
34 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"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 second 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 promis-
ing 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 character-
istics 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 Arlington 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
atmosphere of the Gulf coast will be obtained.
"(1) Sudan grass is closely related to the cultivated
sorghums and is thought by some to be the progenitor of
"(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
"(7) Its seed habits are good, and large returns are now
being secured from the seed produced.
"(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.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 35
"(10) It does not do well in sections having a high alti-
tude, 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 Sta-
tion Bulletin 172 gives a good idea of the feeding value of
Sudan grass hay in comparison with a number of other
TABLE III.-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 12.00 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.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
DISTRIBUTION AND HISTORY
"Napier grass is a native of tropical Africa. The Rho-
desian Department of Agriculture has the distinction 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, including the
entire State of Florida, and a strip extending through 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 import-
ant 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 through the enterprise of Col.
Napier of South Africa that its agricultural value has been
"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, form-
ing clumps with many coarse, leafy stalks. Under favor-
*Flcrida Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 153.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 37
able 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 from one to two dozen stalks
from each plant is not uncommon. The stalks or canes are
erect growing and leafy. When nearing maturity these
canes produce yellow, millet-like 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 Experi-
ment Station the seed: heads have usually appeared during
the latter part of October, the first seed maturing in the
early part of November.
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 winter after
the method commonly practiced in handling Japanese cane
or sugarcane. The factors entering into the preservation
of Napier grass canes are not well known. A lot of Jap-
anese cane, Napier grass, and Merker grass canes were
'banked' in November, 1918, at the 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 preservation, while
many of the 'eyes' of both the Napier and Merker 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 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 planting, 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 plant-
ing is practiced top and root growth will both proceed from
38 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 cir-
cumstances single eye cuttings may be successfully used.
These are prepared by severing the canes with a slanting
cut about an inch above each joint. The ground intended
for planting should be plowed and thoroughly harrowed to
eliminate air spaces and prevent the cuttings from drying
out too 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
"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 practicable, at least while there are
not enough seed canes available to meet the demand. A
germination test started at the Experiment Station on Janu-
ary 16, 1919, with seed collected on November 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
germinate 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 transplanting to the field when about 6 inches
high. Under favorable conditions seedlings of this size can
easily be grown in 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
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 39
taken as are usually observed in transplanting tender, suc-
culent 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 suc-
cessfully 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, though it responds 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 weather.
"The grass is also said to possess drouth resistant quali-
ties 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:
'It occurs along watercourses and in marshy depres-
sions, but also enters the bush and forest where open spaces
40 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
afford sufficient light. . In rich marsh land it attains a
height of 21 feet, while in drier soils it only grows 6 feet
"During the past year Napier grass has received con-
siderable advertisement through 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 misapprehension. 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 thorough cultivation will be required as is necessary
to produce a good crop of Japanese cane. The Experiment
Station conducted a series of co-operative tests among farm-
ers during the summer of 1918 in which this and various
other grasses were planted on a small scale. These plant-
ings 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 makes remarkably vigorous growth.
YIELDS OF FEED
"We have comparatively little definite information on
the yield of feed from this crop in Florida. However,
where conditions 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 dif-
ferent conditions gave a crop weighing at the rate of 39.1
tons of greed 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 expected if the usual prac-
tice of cutting two or three crops had been followed. Two
tests made under government auspices in New South Wales
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 41
resulted in yields of sixteen and twenty-five tons, respec-
tively, after a period of four months from the time of
planting. Many other reports of large yields have been
received from various sources. In actual practice, how-
ever, 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 exception 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 men-
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 palatability 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 throughout 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 producing ration.
"As a soiling crop Napier grass should be cut while
young and succulent. This is not only important in en-
couraging subsequent ration 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 through 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
42 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 problems must, however, be solved by experiment.
It has been suggested that with a multiple lot arrangement,
light rotation grazing might be satisfactory. Napier grass
is unusually high in feeding value, though, as has been
pointed out above, the mature growth shows a compara-
tively high content of fiber. In Table IV the composition
of green Napier grass is compared with that of green corn,
sorghum, Japanese cane and Para grass.
TABLE IV.-COMPARING COMPOSITION OF GREEN NAPIER
GRASS WITH OTHER FORAGE CROPS
Green Fodder From
(1) (1) (2) (1) (3) (4)
Water _---- 78.1 75.1 70.40 72.8 61.81 65.84
a_ Sw ww+
Ash __-- 1.2 .4 I .60 2.4 2.92 2.68
Protein .-- | 1.9 1.5 .45 1.7 2.92 3.58
Carbohydrates 13.0 14.0 21.40 13.4 17.29 14.13
Fat -------- .6 1.0 .60 .5 .29 .53
Fiber ------ 5.2 7.0 6.55 9.2 14.77 13.24
(1) Taken from Henry and Morrison's "Feeds and Feeding."
(2) From Florida Experiment Station Bulletin No. 105 and con-
verted to terms of green feed containing about normal percent of
(3) From Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, Vol. XXVIII,
(4) From Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, Vol. XXVIII,
"The analyses in Table IV show that Napier grass com-
pares very favorably in feeding constituents with any of our
common non-leguminous forage plants. The only objec-
tionable feature brought out in this comparison is the rather
high percentage of fiber in Napier grass. These figures
indicating the composition of Napier grass represent the
results of two separate analyses. Another analysis of a
Florida grown sample of the cured Napier grass was made
in the laboratories of the State Chemist at Tallahassee and
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 43
published in the Tampa Tribune on November 25, 1917.
This analysis is used in Table V 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."
TABLE V.-COMPARING COMPOSITION OF NAPIER WITH
Cured Hay, percent
(1) (1) (1) (1) (2) (3)
Timothy. Alfalfa Crab Natal Rhodes Napier
Grass Grass Grass Grass
Water _.. 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.
44 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"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 nu-
merous prostrate runners, 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 pro-
ductive than those which are older. Although the grass
seeds freely and also spreads by runners, it is easily con-
trolled 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 princi-
pally 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 acreage in this country at the present time
is in Texas, from Houston 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 sometimes grown as an
annual in regions of colder winters, as it will then give two
or three cuttings of about one ton each during the summer
and fall, but at the present price of seed that is seldom
"Rhodes grass does best on a soil which is fairly moist,
although 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
Louisiana, on the heavy irrigated lands of southern Texas,
*Farmers Bulletin 1125.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 45
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 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 thorough prepa-
ration. 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 with-
holding a little work in preparing the field. The most suc-
cessful growers in Texas recommend that the ground be
prepared by irrigating, plowing, double disking, harrowing,
seeding, rolling, and then another irrigation. Florida grow-
ers, who are not obliged to irrigate, recommend plowing,
harrowing, smoothing with a plant drag, seeding, and then
rolling the heavier soils or using a weighted plank drag on
those which are more sandy. The important point in seed-
ing anywhere is to have the soil sufficiently moist to ger-
minate the seed quickly and then to maintain this moisture
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
condition 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 interfere with an even distribution.
"After the seed is sown it should be covered very lightly.
In regions of abundant rainfall a light harrowing or cover-
ing with a plank drag is usually sufficient, although if that
is followed by a rolling, it will be better. In Texas and
other dry regions the use of the roller is much more im-
portant, 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
"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, though the first cutting
is likely to be somewhat weedy.
46 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"The yield of Rhodes grass hay varies greatly with the
character 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 im-
mediately by an irrigation, so as to secure a new growth as
quickly as possible. Little new growth is made after cut-
ting until the soil is well moistened. 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 contains 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."
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 47
"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 somewhat earlier than that time.
"It is a rank-growing, leafy perennial with strong surface
runners that sometimes measure as much as 20 to 30 feet
in length. These runners take root at the joints and form
new plant centers from which upright plant growth pro-
ceeds. When first planted on plowed surface, these run-
ners 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 essen-
tially a warm weather grass and thrives best upon reason-
ably rich soils that contain an abundance of moisture.
SUITED TO WET LANDS
"The habit of growing on moist, wet lands is a peculiarly
valuable characteristic. Even lands with relatively poor
drainage or those occasionally submerged for short tem-
porary intervals, sometimes yield good crops of this grass.
"Para grass is propagated from cuttings of the stem.
Plantings 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 through 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 in either direction. If
a plant is established every eight or ten feet in both direc-
tions, growth will eventually cover the ground; but planted
at closer intervals, a good stand will be hastened.
Bulletin 28, Florida Agricultural Extension Division.
48 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"Under optimum conditions, Para grass supplies an abun-
dance 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 pasturage may be
available throughout 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 con-
ditions successive cuttings at intervals of six or eight weeks
are often obtained. During the period of rapid growth
when a surplus above 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 restoring the yield, the field should be plowed
once a year or as frequently as need is indicated. Para
grass is essentially a grass for cultivated lands, and plant-
ings made on unplowed lands around ponds or on the
margins of swamps will seldom pay for the expense of
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 49
Mr. C. E. Pleas, of Chipley, Fla., who first introduced
Kudzu vine to America as a forage plant, knows more per-
haps than any one else of the adaptability of Kudzu to
Florida's climate, and of the various uses to which it can be
put, and his writings on the matter are the main sources
from which I draw for further reply to the many queries
that have come to us.
The best time for planting Kudzu is "two to three weeks
in advance of corn planting time." This is a safe guide in
any section of the State, but the earlier it can be planted,
as soon as all danger from frost is over, the better. In
South Florida it can be planted as early as December; in
Central Florida during January and February, according
to local conditions, and in North and Western Florida up to
the end of March. In from 40 to 60 days it will be ready
for pasture, and could be cut for hay a month later. It
comes again quickly after cutting, and in from two to three
weeks the ground is again covered by the new growth.
For planting, Mr. Pleas prefers old ground, or if on new
ground this should be at least in its second year. It is best
if possible to proceed Kudzu with a crop of velvet beans,
the year previous. Mr. Pleas also plants closer than what
I recommended in my article which was eight feet apart
each way. He sets his plants five feet apart each way, re-
quiring 1,742 plants per acre. This makes a thicker stand,
with a corresponding increase in the yield of hay.
The only safe way of propagating Kudzu is by means of
self-rooted plants. After many experiments covering a
number of years all other methods of propagation have
been discarded. Seed germinates very poorly, if at all, and
even then must be grown in beds for a year before being
transplanted, and also the resulting plants have but one
root, a tap-root, which cannot be taken out whole. Self-
rooted plants have many branches, which is obviously bet-
ter than one piece. Cuttings were discarded promptly as
not one percent would live and those that did survive never
made vigorous plants, and moreover had the same fault as
seedlings in that they were not "inoculated." "Self-rooted
plants are all inoculated, in fact it would be impossible to
find one that does not carry the bacteria with it when
handled in the usual manner. Thus soil inoculation is un-
50 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
No fertilizer is required, nor does Kudzu require lime, as
is the case with Alfalfa and some other legumes. In fact
experiments have proven that not only is fertilizing un-
necessary but it is unprofitable. The poorest soil will pro-
duce without any fertilizer as much as six tons of dry hay
in season when the plants are matured and on ordinary
medium soil the yield is often as high as ten tons. Very
naturally in poor soils the young plants do not start off as
rapidly as would be the case on richer ground, but there
would be little difference between the two growths at the
end of a second season.
Now with regard to hay making. Kudzu is far easier to
cut and handle than either Velvet Beans or Cowpeas. Un-
like these two crops Kudzu is "well anchored to the ground
every few inches so that the vines do not drag ahead of the
mower blade." There is no more trouble in cutting and
handling Kudzu for hay as there would be in a heavy crop
of red clover or any other crop that makes a matted growth.
As to Kudzu's adaptability for cutting or pasturing at
any time during the season, Mr. Pleas points out "that hay
taken May 1st analyzed 17.60 percent protein; that taken
on July 30th (a third cutting) analyzed 14.80 percent pro-
tein, while that which had stood all the season without cut-
ting or pasturing, analyzed 16.59 percent protein, and an
exceptionally well cured sample analyzed as high as 19.82
percent protein and about 35 percent carbohydrates."
In Japan, its native habitat, Kudzu is grown on rough
rocky land or steep hill-sides impossible for cultivation, and
in this country it could be raised on lands too poor for
otherwise profitable cultivation.
If the raising of Kudzu is taken up seriously (as it should
be) by the farmers of Florida, it is going to aid materially
in the building up of one of the greatest industries in store
for this State, that of high-grade beef cattle raising and of
dairy farming. Poor pine lands, apparently at present
available for nothing, can be brought in to use and made
profitable in more cases than one, especially as hay fields
and pasture lands. Kudzu furnishes more forage and at
less expense than Florida's own pet, the Velvet Bean, and is
moreover adaptable to an infinitely greater variety of soils.
With Kudzu as a main crop coupled with the many other
forage crops which can be grown in this State, year in and
year out, and Florida's other climatic advantages, it cannot
be but a few short years now within which northern stock
raisers and farmers will swarm to this, the fairest State in
the Union. It behooves therefore those who are here now
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 51
to "get busy" and, by anticipating the future and what is
certain to come about, get in "right now" on the ground
52 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Peanuts, as a crop, besides being a special feed for hogs,
is a great soil renovator, and is therefore of double utility
and value to the farmers of Florida. As such the peanut,
like other leguminous plants, is rich in nitrogen, and con-
tains, in addition, a considerable amount of phosphoric
acid and potash. The kernels are as rich in these con-
stituents as the kernels of cotton seed and the vines are
nearly as valuable as those of cowpeas for a fertilizer.
Treating the peanut purely as a forage crop and not
taking into account its market value as a confection, there
is not a single part of the plant that cannot in some form or
another be utilized as feed. The kernels, the vines with
leaves as green fodder, the vines cured as hay, the roots,
the hulls ground as peanut meal, are all found constituents
of more than ordinary value.
Peanut kernels average 29 percent of protein, 49 of fat,
and 14 of carbohydrates, thus ranking in the same class as
such concentrated foods like soja beans, cotton seed, etc.
The vines are shown to be superior to timothy hay as a
feeding stuff, and but slightly inferior to clover hay. As
our friends from the north have a habit of comparing most
hay crops in Florida with timothy, the following authentic
analysis of comparison taken from Bulletin Vol. 4, No. 2,
of the Tennessee Experiment Station, may be of interest:
TABLE VI.-AUTHENTIC ANALYSIS OF COMPARISON OF HAY
CROPS WITH TIMOTHY.
Peanut hay _I 7.83 11.75 1.84 46.95 22.11 17.04
Timothy ____ 13.50 I 7.17 1.97 52.94 33.41 4.51
Clover hay__- 14.30 12.84 1 2.11 48.31 29.27 7.47
When some of the nuts are cured and fed with the hay
the feeding value is greatly increased.
The hulls have considerable value as a feed, being richer
in fat, protein and carbohydrates than cotton hulls. The
ground hulls are used to a considerable extent as a coarse
fodder in many European countries.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 53
Peanut meal ranks with cotton-seed meal, linseed meal,
etc., as a concentrated feeding stuff, and is far more ex-
tensively used in foreign countries than in this. It contains
about 52 percent of protein, 8 of fat, and 27 percent of
But as a food for hogs it is one of the greatest and best of
forage crops. If grown for that purpose, which so far as
Florida is concerned, is the right one, there is no more
trouble once the crop is planted. This therefore renders it
a very cheap one to raise. When the crop is ready, just
turn the hogs in and they will do the harvesting for you.
There are many varieties of the peanut amongst which
are the Virginia, North Carolina or African, two varieties in
Tennessee, the white and the red, the Georgia red nut, and
the Spanish variety. This latter is the best for Florida,
especially for the purpose under consideration. It has a
relatively small upright vine, and the pea-pods are formed
near the tap-root, hence this variety can be planted much
closer than any of the others and a heavier crop produced
to the acre.
Peanuts do well on almost any soil in Florida, provided
it is not too low or wet. A sandy loam, neither too dry nor
too sandy, but light and porous, is the best, but any soil,
provided it can be put into a friable condition and kept so
by cultivation, will produce peanuts, provided it contains a
sufficient quantity of lime, and herein lays the secret of
successful peanut culture.
It is not necessary that the soil on which peanuts are to
be grown should be naturally calcareous, but if it is not so
it must be limed. Lime is necessary to the peanut, both for
the proper fruiting of the plant and to aid in its mechanical
effect on the soil. Any kind of lime may be used, provided
it is finely commuted by burning before application. Ground
limestone or marl will answer the purpose as well. The
quantity of lime or marl to use at one application depends
very much on the nature of the soil, and the amount of
humus it contains. Generally 30 bushels of lime to the
acre, or of marl from 10 to 150 bushels, are safe applica-
tions. Less than this amount would be sufficient if the soil
is thin with little vegetable mold. Land will bear large
quantities of marl with perfect safety if kept well stocked
with some vegetable matter to subdue its caustic effects,
but most of the soils in Florida are deficient in humus, and
the planter should commence cautiously, using small quan-
tities of lime. Besides this addition of lime on soils where
it is not naturally found, the peanut needs a dressing of
54 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
phosphoric acid and potash. The latter is best supplied in
the form of kainit, and the former by fine ground phos-
phoric slag. If the soil is heavy, instead of the slag a
dressing of superphosphate may be used.
Peanuts should never be planted on the same land in suc-
cession, and only in rotation with some other crops. A good
rotation is cowpeas, peanuts, sweet potatoes, or peanuts,
winter rye or oats, beggarweed. The advantage of this
latter is an increasing forage crop for the farmer, the land
is covered almost the whole year with a growing crop, and
the rotation of a cereal with a leguminous crop.
About June is the right time for planting generally in
Florida, except in the southern portion of the State, when
May is preferable. About twenty pounds of shelled peanuts
are required to plant an acre. Plant in rows slightly ridged
up two feet six inches apart, dropping the seed (two at a
time) about eight inches apart and two inches deep and
cover lightly. Good seed is of paramount importance.
If the land has been thoroughly prepared before planting
and it is porous, in good tilth and free from weeds, very
little cultivation is needed, just sufficient to keep down
weed growth and to keep the soil from packing. Keep the
soil loose and open so that there may be no resistance to the
podbearing "spikes" in penetrating the ground.
Once more let us return to our pigs. Pork production
in Florida is not receiving anything like the attention it
deserves, more than 50 percent of the consumption in the
State being imported from the north. With the facilities
for raising suitable forage at all seasons of the year, Florida
farmers should certainly produce pork more cheaply and of
a better quality than the cost of production elsewhere, plus
"To make the largest profits from hogs they should be
put on the market at the youngest possible age. Many of
the Florida hogs are from one year to a year and a half
old before they are ready for market. The Florida market
demands a hog that will weigh from 125 to 160 pounds."
-Bulletin 113, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.
With peanuts and Cassava as ground crops animals of
such weight could be produced in from five to seven months.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 55
THE VELVET BEAN
C. V. PIPER, Astrostologist in Charge, and W. J. MORSE,
Agronomist, Office of Forage-Crop Investigations,
Bureau of Plant Industry.
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Farmers' Bulletin No. 1276
(This is not a complete copy of the Bulletin)
Velvet Beans have become a most important factor in de-
veloping the live-stock industry in the South and as a rota-
tion crop which helps the succeeding crops. The Velvet
Bean is a summer-growing annual legume which produces
a large quantity of seed, and because the feeding value of
the leaves and seed is not seriously injured by exposure in
the field during winter, the crop is of great value for graz-
ing from late fall until early spring. The beans have high
feeding value and so are of importance as a concentrated
feed. Silage made by mixing the Velvet Bean with corn is
a much better feed than silage made from corn alone. For
fertilizing crop the Velvet Bean is of greater value than
the Cowpea, as it makes a much heavier growth and is less
The Velvet Bean first came into notice as a forage and
fertilizing crop about 1890, at which time its cultivation
was confined, on account of its lateness, almost wholly to
Florida. With the introduction and development of earlier
ripening varieties its culture has now been extended north-
ward to Virginia and Tennessee.
The Velvet Bean is the most vigorous-growing annual
legume cultivated in the United States, the vines often
reaching a length of more than 50 feet. The leaves are
tripoliolate. The membranous leaflets, which are shorter
than the petiole, are from 3 to 10 inches long and about
two-thirds as broad, the terminal one being rhomboid-
ovate and the lateral ones obliquely so. The flowers of the
different varieties, which vary in color from white to dark
purple, are 1 to 1 '2 inches long and are borne singly or in
twos or threes in long pendent clusters.
56 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Velvet-bean pods are of two distinct types, one being cov-
ered with a dense, black, velvet pubescence, as in the Flori-
da and Alabama varieties, while in the other type the
pubescence consists mostly of short white or grayish hairs,
as in the Lyon and Chinese varieties. In all kinds the pods
are covered with more or less numerous short bristles which
cause a slight irritation of the skin. Much of this pubes-
cence falls off soon after maturity. The pods of some
varieties are only 2 to 3 inches long, while those of others
may reach a length of 5 or 6 inches. The seeds vary from
nearly white to marbled brown, and black. Varieties which
commonly produce marbled seeds may produce occasional-
ly an entirely white or an entirely colored seed.
Velvet Beans have numerous rather fleshy surface roots,
which are often 20 to 30 feet long and abundantly supplied
with nodules varying from one-fourth to 11/2 inches in
diameter. The plants are rarely attacked by root-knot and
are immune to wilt.
While the Florida Velvet Bean has been grown for more
than 40 years as an ornamental vine for porches and trel-
lises, its value as a soil-improving crop or as a forage crop
was not recognized until rather recently. As early as 1890
this plant was used to some extent for green manure in
citrus orchards in Florida. From that time until the pres-
ent the acreage has increased rapidly, and the crop now
occupies an important place in southern farming systems.
The Florida Velvet Bean was the only one grown for
forage in the United States until about 1906, but during
recent years the Department of Agriculture has introduced
about 20 other species, including the Chinese, Lyon, and
Yokohama varieties, which have become more or less ex-
According to present information the first early-maturing
variety of Velvet Beans was discovered in August, 1906, on
a farm operated by Clyde Chapman, at Sumner, Ga. At
this time several mature plants were found in a field plant-
ed to corn and Florida Velvet Beans. The seeds of these
plants were saved and planted in corn the following year.
The plants produced were similar in every respect to those
found the previous year. In 1908 seed of this variety was
distributed to some of Mr. Chapman's neighbors, but only
a small quantity of it was sent out of his immediate
neighborhood prior to 1912.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 57
An early-maturing variety which resembled in every re-
spect the one discovered by Mr. Chapman was found in
August, 1908, in a field planted to corn and Florida Velvet
Beans on a farm operated by R. W. Miller, at Broxton, Ga.
The early-maturing plants found by Mr. Chapman and Mr.
Miller have been named the Georgia Velvet Bean.
Another early-maturing Velvet Bean was discovered in
1911 by H. L. Blount, of Flomaton, Ala. This variety, now
known as the Alabama, was found in a field planted to corn
and Florida Velvet Beans. It is a more vigorous and later
variety than the Georgia, but it matures considerably
earlier than the original variety. The Georgia Velvet Bean
was also called Hundred-Day Speckled, Ninety-Day Speck-
led, and Early Speckled, but the same names were later
transferred to the Alabama variety.
It is very probable that early-maturing Velvet Beans
were also found by other people and that they were present
but unobserved in other fields. There is no doubt that the
Georgia, Alabama, and many early-ripening varieties are
simply early-ripening kinds of the Florida Velvet Bean.
There are now many varieties of the Velvet Bean grown
in the United States. These differ from each other princi-
pally in growth of vine; color of flowers; size, shape, and
pubescence of the pods; size, shape and color of the seeds;
and in length of time required to mature. While these
varieties vary greatly in many ways, the common name
Velvet Bean is applied to all.
THE FLORIDA VELVET BEAN
The Florida Velvet Bean makes a very rank growth of
vine and requires a season of eight or nine months without
frost to mature. The purple flowers are borne in clusters
usually 3 to 8 inches long, and the pods, which are 2 to 3
inches in length, are nearly straight, blunt at each end, and
covered with a black velvety pubescence. The seeds are
nearly spherical, about three-eighths of an inch in diameter,
and usually grayish, marbled with brown. White seeds are
produced occasionally, and a white-seeded variety has been
isolated, but this variety has shown no special superiority
over the one with mottled seeds.
58 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
THE GEORGIA VELVET BEAN
The Georgia Velvet Bean is a very early sport of the
Florida Velvet Bean. It makes a much less vigorous growth
and yields somewhat less seed to the acre than the original
Florida variety, but otherwise it is practically the same.
The plant matures in 110 to 130 days and is adapted to all
parts of the Cotton Belt.
This variety was much grown for a few years, but proved
inferior to the somewhat later Alabama.
THE ALABAMA VELVET BEAN
The Alabama Velvet Bean is very similar to the Georgia
variety, except that it makes a more vigorous growth and
matures about six weeks later. It is best adapted to the
country south of Central Georgia, Central Alabama, and
The Alabama is now the principal variety cultivated,
having replaced the Georgia almost entirely, but often
under the names Early Speckled or Hundred-Day Speckled.
THE OSCEOLA VELVET BEAN
The Osceola Velvet Bean is a hybrid between the Florida
and the Lyon varieties developed at the Florida Agricul-
tural Experiment Station. The white or rarely purple
flowers of this vigorous-growing plant are borne in rather
short racemes. The pods are 4 to 5 inches in length, flat,
ridged lengthwise, covered with a black velvety pubes-
cence, and bear from four to six, usually five, seeds. The
seeds are slightly larger than those of the Lyon or Yoko-
hama varieties and usually are marbled with brown,
although occasionally white seeds are produced. The pods
are nearly free from stinging hairs. This plant matures in
150 to 160 days and is therefore earlier than the Florida
and later than the Alabama and Yokohama sorts. It is
adapted to the country south of a line running through the
center of the States of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
This midseason-maturing variety yields heavily, but the
pods are more woody than those of the Alabama.
THE LYON VELVET BEAN
The Lyon Velvet Bean was introduced in 1907, the first
specimens being obtained from Pampanga Province, Luzon,
Philippine Islands. This plant makes a vigorous growth of
vine and requires a long season to mature seldom ripening
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 59
more than 10 days earlier than the Florida bean. The white
flowers are borne in pendent racemes which often reach a
length of 2 to 3 feet. The woody pods are 5 to 6 inches
long, compressed, ridged lengthwise, and covered with a
fine grayish pubescence. They have a tendency to split
open and shatter the seeds when still in the field. The ash-
colored seeds are similar in size and shape to seeds of the
THE CHINESE VELVET BEAN
The Chinese Velvet Bean was introduced from Tehwa,
China, in 1909. In nearly all respects this variety is like
Lyon, but does not make as vigorous a growth. It ripens
about six weeks earlier than either the Lyon or the Florida
variety. For this reason it will mature much farther north.
It usually ripens before frost south of Central Georgia, Cen-
tral Alabama, and Central Mississippi.
THE YOKOHAMA VELVET BEAN
The Yokohama Velvet Bean was obtained from Yoko-
hama, Japan, in 1909. This plant produces a smaller vine
growth than any of the other species and is not a heavy
yielder. It is an early-maturing species, requiring 110 to
120 days to ripen. It will ripen before frost in the Atlantic
Coast States south of Washington, D. C. The purple flow-
ers are borne in short racemes. The pods are 4 to 6 inches
long, flat, quite pointed at each end, and covered with a
rather long gray pubescence. The seeds are ash colored,
oblong, compressed, and about two-thirds of an inch long.
This species has several undesirable characteristics. Many
of the pods form so close to the ground that they become
water-soaked with each heavy rain, causing many to decay;
also the pods split readily and shatter the seed in hot, dry
THE BUSH OR BUNCH VELVET BEAN
This is a non-twining variety of velvet bean, a sport of the
Florida, which first developed as a single plant on the farm
of Roan Beasley at Kite, Ga. The seeds were saved and the
sport was found to breed true to type. An individual plant
is about 3 feet high, branched near the base, most of the
branches short, but an occasional one 5 to 7 feet long.
These long branches show no tendency to twine. The pod
clusters are formed in a dense mass near the base. The
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
variety matures at about the same time as the Alabama,
but the yield is less.
The bunch variety has become very popular as a green-
manure crop in orchards. It is also grown quite largely in
corn, as the plants do not vine and weight down the corn as
do the twining sorts. The main objections to this variety
are that the pods can not be gathered as rapidly as those of
the twining varieties, and they lie so close to the ground
that they become water-soaked in wet weather, causing
many of them to decay.
Many hybrid Velvet Beans have been developed by the
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and by the Office
of Forage-Crop Investigations of the Bureau of Plant In-
dustry. Some of these were named and distributed, but
none have been grown to any considerable extent with the
exception of the Osceola, which became rather popular.
All of the species except the Florida have rather woody
pods and shatter very readily, characters which are not
considered desirable. These same traits appear in most of
the hybrids and have prevented their becoming popular.
The Florida Velvet Bean seldom matures more than a
few pods if grown north of the extreme southern portions
of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, but with the intro-
duction or development of early-maturing types the area to
which this crop is adapted has been gradually extended
northward until it now comprises nearly the entire Cotton
Belt. Most of the varieties, and especially the Alabama
and Yokohama, will make considerable growth as far north
as the Ohio River, but when the Velvet Bean is planted
north of the southern boundary of Tennessee in the Pied-
mont section and north of southeastern Virginia in the
Coastal Plain area it should be planted primarily as a
green-manure crop, for only in years with favorable grow-
ing seasons and late fall frosts will many pods mature. As
the Florida variety has been grown for a long time in the
southern portion of the Gulf States as a grazing and green-
manure crop, it was only natural that the farmers in sec-
tions where it failed to mature fully should be the first to
take advantage of newly introduced and early-maturing
varieties which promised to give better results. There are
other reasons which contributed to the rapidly increased
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 61
acreage of Velvet Beans in the Gulf States, the most import-
ant of which was the serious damage done by the cotton-
boll weevil in recent years, making it necessary to change
the methods of farming.
EXTENT OF CULTURE
The extent of culture of Velvet Beans and the rapidity
with which it increased are shown in Table VII. Until the
early varieties were obtained, the crop was grown mainly
TABLE VII.-AREA AND PRODUCTION OF VELVET BEANS, 1919
TO 1921, INCLUSIVE
State 1919 1920 1921
North Carolina .. 55,000 44,000 60,000 51,000 74,000 55,500
South Carolina .. 90,000 45,000 150,000 75,000 250,000 125,000
Georgia ........ .. 750,000 153,965 750,000 155,053 780,000 436,000
Florida .. ... ..! 250,000 160,000 240,000 184,000 252,000 150,000
Alabama .. ........ 750,000 485,000 750,000 676,000 838,000 1,085,000
Mississippi . 180,000 150,000 290,000 203,000 300,000 120,000
Louisiana 125,000 178,848 173,000 179,820 254,000 182,250
Texas ................. 4,000 ....... .... 4,000 ........ .. 4,000 .....
Arkansas 4,000 5,000 .. 6,000
Total ...... 2,217,000 1.216,813 2,422,000 1,523,8731 2,758,0001 2,153,750
These figures were compiled by the Bureau of Markets and Crop
Estimates, United States Department of Agriculture, and represent
tentative estimates submitted in December, 1921.
in Florida and probably never exceeded 700,000 acres in
any one year. The whole story of the Velvet Bean is one
of the most striking romances of American agriculture.
Velvet Beans are especially adapted to the well-drained
portions of the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain areas. The
soils of this area are in general sandy in texture, and the
quantity of fertilizers used per acre is greater than in other
parts of the United States. In this section, where the great-
est acreage is to be found, the Velvet Bean will make a
profitable growth on newly cleared land and also on soil
that has been under cultivation for a long time. In many
places it is used extensively on cut-over pineland and on
sandy soils as a green-manure crop, as it has been found
that it will produce more vegetable matter under such con-
ditions than any other annual legume grown at the present
62 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Velvet Beans also make a good growth on the clay soils
in the northern portion of the Cotton Belt, but on the poorer
soils in this area it is questionable whether they will do bet-
ter than Cowpeas. Velvet Beans will not succeed on cold,
wet soil and should never be planted before the soil has
Even though Velvet Beans make a fair growth on poor
soils, some farmers in some sections make a small applica-
tion of fertilizer at the time of seeding. Where it is used,
the mixture and quantity are about the same as for corn.
Velvet Beans, through the nodules on their roots, are able
to obtain nitrogen from the atmosphere, and most of this
nitrogen is returned to the land when only the pods are
picked or when the crop is pastured and the roots and un-
eaten portions of the plants decay.
At the Agricultural Experiment Station at McNeill, Miss.,
Phosphatic fertilizers are necessary to obtain good yields,
and 100 to 200 pounds per acre are recommended on the
basis of experimental results. Cottonseed meal at the rate
of 200 pounds per acre gave an added yield of 280 pounds
of beans per acre as compared with the use of 200 pounds
per acre of acid phosphate alone. The further addition of
200 pounds of kainit gave no increased yield. At the Flori-
da Agricultural Experiment Station no increased yield was
obtained from fertilizers applied singly or in various
Apparently all of the Velvet-bean area is provided with
organisms that form nodules on Velvet Bean roots. No
lack of root nodules seems to occur when Velvet Beans are
planted on land for the first time, but instances have been
noted where growths of the vines has been materially in-
creased by inoculation.
Experiments conducted by the Office of Soil-Bacteriology
Investigations of the Bureau of Plant Industry prove that
the same strain of organism that inoculates Lima Beans,
Cowpeas, and Lespedeza (or Japan Clover) also inoculates
Velvet Beans. As Lespedeza grows abundantly over most
of the South and as Cowpeas have been planted widely for
many years in all Velvet Bean regions, it is easy to under-
stand why the Velvet Bean has succeeded so well without
artificial inoculation. The large acreage of Velvet Beans
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 63
planted during recent years has served also to increase its
TIME OF PLANTING
Velvet Beans will not germinate well in cold or wet soil,
and the young plants are very susceptible to injury by frost.
On this account they should not be planted until all danger
of frost is past, or about cotton-planting time. However,
when late-maturing varieties are used it is necessary to
plant the seed as soon as the soil is in good condition, so
that the plants will have as much time as possible to mature
before frost. With early-maturing varieties the date of
planting may extend over a period of six weeks or two
months in the southern portion of the Gulf States. When
early varieties are used in the northern part of the Cotton
Belt it is necessary to plant the seed early, or at corn-
planting time. In the Coastal Plain section of the Gulf
States the early planting of early-maturing varieties has
been found undesirable by some farmers, as the beans ma-
ture so early that the pods will split and shatter the seed to
a certain extent, and the foliage will shed before the corn
is gathered or the animals can be turned into the field.
When the crop is to be pastured, many farmers prefer to
have the beans frosted before all of the pods are matured
rather than to have them mature too early. As most of the
beans are grown with corn, it is better in many cases to
grow varieties which can be planted with the corn and
which will mature at the desired time.
Growers cf Velvet Beans do not agree as to the best time
to plant the beans in the corn. In some sections it is the
common practice to plant the corn and beans at the same
time, while in other sections the beans are planted some
weeks later than the corn. The method cf planting the two
crops, the variety of beans used, and the labor available
should determine this matter. When late-maturing var.e-
ties are to be grown, it is necessary to plant them at the
same time as the corn, but when early-maturing varieties
are used, and especially in the southern portion of the Cot-
ton Belt, it is best to plant the corn some time before the
beans. Where sufficient labor is available, the beans may
be planted at a later date by hand in the rows of corn. On
richer soils the method of planting two rows of corn and
one row of beans is used extensively, and when an early
variety of Velvet Bean is used in this way it may be planted
later with no extra expense. However, on the poorer soils,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
where Velvet Beans should be planted in every row of corn,
it is a saving of labor to use a planter which will place both
kinds of seeds in the same row and at the same operation.
The length of the growing season for an average year can
be approximately determined from the frost lines, and this,
together with the time required for the different types to
mature, should give an idea as to the best time of planting.
The length of time required for the ripening of any
variety will vary greatly according to the time of planting.
Velvet Beans grow well only when the weather is warm,
and they make little progress when the soil and air are cold
or even moderately cool. The warmer the weather when
the seed is planted the more rapid will be the growth of
Velvet Beans contain high percentages of protein and
carbohydrates, thus making them a source of these valu-
able constituents needed for growing stock and milk pro-
The feeding experiments thus far conducted indicate
that Velvet Beans and Velvet-Bean meal are excellent feed
as part of the ration for beef cattle and dairy cows. The
Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station finds that as a
partial ration Velvet-Bean meal is a good feed for work
horses, brood mares, and mules. For swine the reports of
results of feeding this meal are conflicting, many of them
being unfavorable. In most cases, however, Velvet-Bean
pasturage is very economical as a part feed for pigs and
hogs. There are some indications that these beans cause
abortion in brood sows, and while the evidence is not con-
clusive it is well to be cautious in such cases.
FEED FOR BEEF CATTLE
The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station found Vel-
vet Beans in the pod a very satisfactory feed for steers as
part of the ration. The daily gains were higher and the
cost of the gains much less than with any other rations com-
pared with them, including one composed of corn, cotton-
seed meal, and hay.
In a later experiment 220 head of cattle were pastured
on Velvet Beans for 28 days and then fed a ration consist-
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 65
ing of sorghum silage, Velvet Beans in the pods, and cot-
tonseed meal. The results were considered highly satis-
At the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station Cotton-
seed meal was compared with Velvet Beans in the pod,
each being fed with corn silage. In the two feeding tests
it was found that from 2.05 to 2.46 pounds of Velvet Beans
equaled 1 pound of high-grade Cottonseed meal, measured
both by gains and by quality of meat.
In a later trial 3.07 pounds of dry beans in the pods, 2.7
pounds of beans in the pods soaked in water, and 2.16
pounds of pods and beans ground into meal were each
equal in feeding value to 1 pound of cottonseed meal.
In several tests carried on by the Animal Husbandry
Division of the United States Department of Agriculture
both dry and soaked Velvet Beans have given satisfactory
FEED FOR DAIRY COWS
At the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station 816
pounds of Velvet Beans in the pods fed with wheat bran
and Japanese cane silage produced 348.7 gallons of milk at
a cost of 13.3 cents per gallon, while 576 pounds of cotton-
seed meal fed with wheat bran and more silage produced
352.5 gallons of milk at a cost of 16.5 cents per gallon. On
this basis Velvet Beans in the pod are worth $2.37 when
cottonseed meal is worth $2.40 per 100 pounds. In another
test it was found that 267.75 pounds of Velvet Beans in the
pods fed with bran and silage produced 934.6 pounds of
milk, while 94.5 pounds of cottonseed meal fed with bran
and less silage produced 937.1 pounds of milk.
From still later experiments it was concluded that when
fed with bran and silage 2 pounds of Velvet-Bean meal
were equal to 1 pound of cottonseed meal.
According to Prof. M. P. Jarnagin, the Georgia Agricul-
tural Experiment Station found that 2,035 pounds of
Velvet-Bean meal were equal to 2,000 pounds of cotton-
seed meal for milk production, and that 51/. pounds of
Velvet Beans produced 1 pound of milk as against 5 pounds
of cottonseed meal to produce the same quantity.
At the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, during
an experiment cf 56 days, 4 cows consumed 1,370.9 pounds
of Velvet Beans, 913.9 pounds of corn, and 6,720 pounds of
silage and produced 3,252.4 pounds of milk at a cost of
$1.47 per 100 pounds; while 4 other cows consumed 678
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
pounds of cottonseed meal, 894 pounds of corn, and 6,700
pounds of silage and produced 3,418.1 pounds of milk at a
cost of $1.33 per 100 pounds.
At the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station equal
quantities of cottonseed meal and velvet-bean meal fed in no
greater amount than 10 pounds a day proved good feed for
dairy cattle. Of the velvet-bean meal 9 pounds were hard-
ly equal in value to 6 pounds of the cottonseed meal.
The Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station made
two experiments with groups of 6 and 4 cows, in which the
ration consisted of hay and a grain ration of 20 percent
cottonseed meal, 40 percent corn-fed meal, and 40 percent
velvet-bean feed or wheat bran. The results showed that
the cows while receiving the velvet-bean ration produced 2.7
and 9 percent with an average of 5 percent more milk than
while on the wheat-bran ration. It was concluded that the
velvet-bean feed is somewhat superior to wheat bran for
dairy purposes and that it may constitute as high as 40 per-
cent of a dairy ration, together with quantity of corn or
hominy meal or ground oats and some 20 percent of cotton-
seed or linseed meal or other high-grade protein con-
FEED FOR SWINE
At the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, corn and
cracked velvet beans in various proportions were compared
with corn alone as feed for pigs. In all cases the pigs made
more rapid and cheaper gains en the corn and velvet-bean
mixture than on corn alone.
In another test at this station shelled corn and soaked
velvet-bean feed were fed to three hogs, gradually increas-
ing the proportion of velvet-bean feed one-fourth to two-
thirds by weight. The hogs made very satisfactory gains,
and it was found that the feed produced a hard pork.
At the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station a
ration composed by weight of 20 parts velvet-bean feed, 20
parts of high-grade peanut meal, 40 parts of corn meal, and
10 parts of corn meal, and 10 parts of alfalfa meal gave as
satisfactory results as one composed of 80 parts corn meal
and 10 parts each of digester tankage and 10 percent al-
falfa meal. The addition of 10 percent of ground alfalfa to
the grain ration for growing pigs, in order to supply the
necessary vitamins, did not seem to exert any marked
,effect in promoting growth.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 67
At the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station various
feeding experiments with swine have been conducted. In
one test 5 pigs, averaging 62 pounds weight, were pastured
on Velvet Beans for 72 days, receiving in addition a half
ration of corn 4 parts and tankage 1 part. They gained
1.23 pounds a day, each requiring two-fifths of an acre of
velvet beans and 170 pounds of corn and tankage to gain
In another test pigs fed on corn meal alone gained 100
pounds at a cost of $8.64, while those fed on equal parts of
corn meal and ground velvet beans gained 100 pounds at a
cost of $9.37.
In a third test it was concluded that velvet-bean pasture
reduced by one-third the costs of gains in comparison with
corn 10 parts and dried blood 1 part.
In a test made by the United States Department of Agri-
culture at the Experiment Farm at Beltsville, Md., in 1918,
pigs fed soaked whole velvet beans and shelled corn made
an average daily gain of 0.586 pound. Pigs fed soaked
ground velvet beans alone made an average daily gain of
0.417 pound, and pigs fed soaked ground velvet beans, shell-
ed corn, and fish meal made an average gain of 1.15 pounds.
With corn costing $1.92 a bushel, fish meal $100 a ton,
and velvet beans $36 a ton, the feed cost per pound of gain
was 18.323, and 14.3 cents, respectively. Observations
during the test indicated that hogs did not like the taste of
At the Kentucky, Michigan, and Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Stations the results from the use of velvet-bean
meal as a part ration did not compare favorably with the
other rations tested.
FEED FOR HORSES
The Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station reports
that velvet-bean meal mixed with corn or other grain is a
satisfactory feed for horses.
In feeding tests at the Massachusetts Agricultural Experi-
ment Station it was found that velvet-bean feed, if suffi-
ciently dry to prevent decomposition, may comprise some
20 percent of the grain ration, mixed together with 30 per-
cent of oats, 40 percent of cracked corn, and 10 percent of
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The only insect which causes serious injury to the Velvet
Bean is the larva of the velvet-bean caterpillar, which
feeds on the leaves. The moth of this caterpillar does not
winter in Northern or Central Florida, but flies northward
each summer from the southern end of the peninsula, or
perhaps from Cuba. This insect seldom appears farther
north than Southern Georgia. At times the damage is very
severe, and often all of the plants in large fields are entire-
ly defoliated. The moths usually make their first appear-
ance in July in Southern Florida, during August in Central
Florida, and during the last part of August or first part of
September in the northern part of that State and in South-
As little damage is done for the first 10 days or two weeks
after the appearance of the moth, this insect should give no
trouble when the early-maturing varieties of Velvet Beans
are planted, as they will usually mature by the middle of
September in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia.
The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station has been
successful in combating the pest by dusting the vines with
arsenate of lead or zinc arsenate 10 or 12 days after the
first appearance of the moth. For this purpose 3 pounds of
powdered arsenate of lead or zinc arsenate mixed with 12
pounds of air-slaked lime is sufficient for an acre. When
this quantity is used there is no danger from poisoning the
stock when pastured in the field, especially after one or
According to the Bureau of Entomology this insect is
generally distributed throughout tropical America and has
also been recorded as appearing in Mexico, Costa Rica,
Panama, and Cuba.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 69
Centipede grass (Eremochloa aphiuroides) was intro-
duced from China by the Office of Foreign Plant Introduc-
tion, United States Department of Agriculture, in 1918 and
1919. This grass was at first called "Hunan grass," as it
was obtained from the province of Hunan, China. The
name "centipede" has since been applied to it, and it is now
better known as centipede grass than by any other name.
It is a perennial, forming a dense, close sod, and seldom
grows more than three or four inches high. The surface
runners, however, may make a growth of six to eight feet
in length during one season. The grass will grow under a
moderate amount of shade as well as in exposed areas.
So far centipede grass has been grown to only a limited
extent as a pasture grass in Florida, although considerable
attention has been given to it as a lawn grass. Wherever it
has been used as a pasture grass, it has given very satisfac-
tory results, as it stands grazing well and stock seem to
PROPAGATION.-Centipede grass may be propagated
by root cuttings, stem cuttings, and seed. At the present
time no seed are produced in the United States, which
makes it necessary to propagate by root and stem cuttings.
The growth obtained from root and stem cuttings has
been found quite satisfactory if plantings are made when
there is sufficient moisture in the ground to insure growth.
Best results will generally be obtained if new growth is
used for planting material.
The material may be prepared in two ways for planting.
The stems may be cut in pieces from four to six inches in
length; these are then set in the ground, leaving from one-
fourth to one-third of the stem to remain above ground. If
the soil is moist, roots and new growth will start in a very
Another method of preparing the planting material is to
cut the stems into short pieces about one inch in length and
scatter the cuttings broadcast over the surface of the soil,
after which they are covered from a quarter to a half inch
deep with soil. The surface soil should be kept moist until
new growth has become well established.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The few trials that have been made with gathering and
planting the seed have been fairly satisfactory. Tests at
the Florida Experiment Station showed about 65 percent
It is a very satisfactory lawn grass as it will stand a lot of
tramping and considerable shade.
Almost every farmer in the Southeastern States knows
Bermuda Grass (Capriola dactylon) by sight. In fact, a
great many farmers know it so well that they despise the
land upon which it grows. Bermuda grass, it is true, is a
problem in many cultivated fields; nevertheless, it is one of
the important pasture grasses in the southeastern part of
the United States.
This is not a native grass of the United States, but prob-
ably came from India, although it is now found in all trop-
ical and sub-tropical parts of the world. The exact date of
its first appearance in this country is not known, although it
is known to have been here for at least 125 years.
PROPAGATION.-Bermuda grass is a perennial which
spreads by runners on the surface of the ground, making
roots at every joint. It also produces underground root-
stocks that form new plants at every joint. The surface
runners under favorable conditions often make a growth of
from 20 to 25 feet in length during one season. Seed are
also produced, although there has been some question in
certain localities as to whether the seed produced would
germinate. In the majority of cases, however, a fair amount
of seed will usually germinate and grow.
When seed cannot be obtained for starting a pasture,
Bermuda grass sod may be taken up and cut into small
pieces and scattered over the surface of the ground, after
which it is plowed under. It is necessary for enough mois-
ture to be in the ground to insure growth of the plants if
cuttings are used.
If seed are sown, it is best to have a well-prepared seed-
bed, using from 20 to 25 pounds of seed to the acre. The
seed are covered with a light tooth harrow. When Ber-
muda grass is mixed with other grasses, an equal amount
of seed of each of the grasses should be used so as to make
the total amount of seed equal from 25 to 30 pounds per
SOILS.-Bermuda grass will grow on almost any well
drained land, but more grazing is secured when planted
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 71
on a fertile soil that contains a fair amount of humus. On
light, sandy land, however, it makes an unsatisfactory
growth and produces but a small amount of grazing.
As a lawn grass it is all right if a large lawn is con-
templated where it can be grazed. It keeps land from
washing. It is tough and very hard to cut with a lawn
ST. AUGUSTINE GRASS
One of the favorite lawn grasses in Florida is St. Aug-
ustine. It makes a pretty lawn and is easily cut by lawn
mower. It grows rapidly when on good soil and plenti-
fully watered. It is easily started by getting sod of it,
separating it in small sprigs and setting them out a few
inches apart. A perfect sod will result in a few weeks.
It is susceptible to a weevil which is difficult to eliminate.
Dr. J. R. Watson, Entomologist, University of Florida,
Gainesville, has suggestions on the subject which are given
72 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
THE CHINCH BUG ON ST. AUGUSTINE GRASS
By DR. J. R. WATSON,
Entomologist, University of Florida, Gainesville.
St. Augustine grass is one of the most popular grasses for
lawns in Florida, as it grows well in both sun and shade and
by making a heavy mat which crowds out weeds, is a cheap
lawn to maintain. With the exception of chinch bugs it is
very free from insect depredations. But chinch bugs are a
very severe pest and if not checked will often kill out a
This insect is a small bug about an eighth of an inch long.
The adults are black; the young are a reddish brown color.
The grass on an infested lawn turns brown in patches and if
it is not promptly treated may die out completely. Around
the dead brown spots will be a circle of grass which has
turned yellow. It is in this circle rather than in the dead
center that the bugs are working.
An infested lawn should not be mowed too closely. It
should be kept well watered. Chinch bugs are subject to a
fungous disease which thrives better where moisture con-
ditions are best.
Like all true bugs the insect does its damage by sucking
the juices from the plant and therefore cannot be killed by
stomach poisons, but only by contact insecticides. Among
the strongest of these is calcium cyanide, a black dust. It
is a very strong insecticide and in using it certain precau-
tions must be employed or the grass may be burned. The
most important of these is that the grass must be perfectly
dry. It must be put on in the middle of the day after the
dew has evaporated and with a bright, clear sky, so that
there will be little danger of rain wetting the grass before
the cyanide has dissipated its strength. The cyanide must
be applied very evenly to the grass and it is best to take an
old broom and sweep the grass immediately after applica-
tion. This brushes most of the cyanide off of the green
leaves down into the mat of dead leaves and stems near the
ground. This serves a double purpose of preventing burn-
ing of the green leaves and getting the cyanide down where
the bugs are.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 73
Cyanide is a violent poison and one working with it
should keep to the windward of the dust. Cans containing
the material should be opened only where there is good
Other good insecticides are the nicotine sulphate-lime
dusts. These can be purchased already mixed or one can
make his own by thoroughly mixing 93 pounds of hydrated
lime with 71/. pounds of nicotine sulphate. This dust should
be applied evenly over the lawn, but no burning will ensue
if one happens to get it stronger in some spots than others.
This should be put on thick enough so that the grass looks
A fairly good dust may be made by mixing finely ground
tobacco dust with an equal weight of hydrated lime.
The lawn may also be treated with a solution of nicotine
sulphate, using for this purpose one pint of nicotine sul-
phate to 100 gallons of water. To make the material
spread better it is best to put into the water five or six
pounds of whale oil or laundry soap or a pound of calcium
One of the most satisfactory and economical insecticides
is finely ground tobacco dust such as "Snuff No. 2." This
sells for about four cents per pound and is also a good
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
PERMANENT PASTURES FOR FLORIDA
VALUE OF IMPROVED PASTURES
The average pasture of wire grass, which is the grass
generally found on the cut-over pine lands, furnishes good
grazing for only about two to two and a half months dur-
ing the spring and early summer. This is entirely too short
a grazing season for Florida conditions.
From five to eight acres of ordinary wire grass pasture
are required to graze one cow a year. This is far too large
an area to have a cow graze over to get her feed; and in
addition, this makes the investment so large that one can-
not expect a reasonable return from his land.
It is necessary, therefore, to in some way increase the
length of the grazing season from two and a half months
to nearer nine or ten months, and at the same time reduce
the area over which a cow must graze in order to secure her
food during the year. Land values and taxes are much
higher today than they were a few years ago, which makes
it urgent that the land owner secure larger returns per acre.
The most practical way to increase the returns from
much of the Florida land is to improve the quality of graz-
ing so as to get more pounds of beef or mutton and more
gallons of milk per acre. This is possible on large areas of
the cut-over pine lands, especially the flatwoods, although
at this time the black jack ridges offer very little oppor-
tunity for improvement.
LOCATING THE PASTURE
The location determines to a large extent whether or not
a permanent pasture can be maintained successfully.
Grasses, like most other crops, grow better and produce
more grazing when on fertile land. In a great many cases
in the past, not only in Florida but in many other States,
little attention was given to the character of the soil on
which pastures were located. Very often the land utilized
for pastures was too poor to produce satisfactory cultivated
crops, and the results obtained from pastures on such land
were not satisfactory enough to warrant seeding the land
to good permanent pasture grasses.
Wherever permanent pastures have been established on
the better types of land in Florida, grazing results have
been satisfactory and it has been possible to maintain a
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 75
permanent pasture over a series of years. A pasture that
will maintain a cow on two acres of land from April 1 to
November 1 each year can generally be considered a good
pasture. There are, however, a number of instances re-
ported in this bulletin where the owners of pastures in vari-
ous parts of Florida state that on each ten acres of their
permanent pasture anywhere from seven to ten head of
mature cattle can be maintained from April to November
each year, and in a few instances an even larger number.
The chief reason such excellent results have been obtained
is that the pastures are all located on fertile soils-soils
that are capable of producing a good crop of grass.
PUTTING THE LAND IN CULTIVATION?
Some may say, "Why not put the land in cultivation and
in this way grow profitable crops?" There are thousands
of acres of cut-over pine land in Florida that are not suit-
able for cropping purposes, but which will furnish an
abundance of grazing for producing beef, milk and mutton
when seeded to permanent pasture grasses.
These lands will generally produce better crops of grass
than any other crop, unless it might be another crop of tim-
ber. It is often possible, however, to grow both grass and
timber on the same land for several years before the trees
produce enough shade to retard the growth of the grass.
In the spring of 1924 the Florida Agricultural Extension
Division, the Seaboard Air Line Railway Co., and the
Florida East Coast Railway, co-operating, established a
number of demonstration pastures in some twelve or fifteen
counties in Florida. The counties were well distributed
over the State, some being in the extreme western part,
some in the central and some in the southern part. The
results of these pasture demonstrations indicate very
strongly the possibilities of improved pastures on good land
in all sections of Florida.
The grass seed mixture used in these demonstration pas-
tures was composed of carpet grass 6 pounds, Dallis grass 4
pounds, Bahia grass 2 pounds, and lespedeza 3 pounds per
acre, or a total of 15 pounds of grass seed to the acre.
The demonstration pasture in Bay County is located on
typical pine land very similar to thousands of acres of cut-
over pine land in West Florida. The owner of this pasture
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
estimates that a ten-acre pasture such as his will graze
seven head of cattle per year.
A pasture in Leon County, located near Tallahassee on a
typical clay hill of that section, has an estimated carrying
capacity of two cows per acre for eight months out of each
Another demonstration pasture is located on a sandy
loam soil with a clay subsoil in Suwannee County. This
pasture is grazed the year 'round by dairy cows and calves.
Although no grazing records have been kept, it has been
estimated that it will carry one cow per acre from April to
The owner of the pasture in Jefferson County, located on
a sandy loam soil similar to much of the land in that section
of the State, was so well pleased with the results from the
demonstration pasture that he has seeded an additional
seventy-five acres to permanent pasture grasses. He esti-
mates his pasture will carry a cow to two acres from April
The pasture in Duval County is located some six or seven
miles northwest of Jacksonville. The soil is similar to
thousands of acres of land in Duval, Nassau, Baker, Colum-
bia, Hamilton and many other counties in North Florida.
It has been estimated by the owner that the pasture will
graze two cows to the acre from April to November.
About five miles northeast of Ocala, in Marion County, a
demonstration pasture was established on soil that is
typical of a large part of the better farming land in that
county. The owner of this pasture estimates that it will
carry one cow per acre from April to November.
One of the best demonstration pastures in the State is in
Hernando County, about three miles southeast of Brooks-
ville. This pasture will carry two cows to the acre from
March 1 to November 15, and in addition it will carry one
cow to the acre from November 15 to March. In other
words, this pasture is grazed the year round.
Another good demonstration pasture is on drained land
in St. Lucie county, about four and a half miles northwest
of Ft. Pierce. No grazing records have been kept on this
pasture, but it is estimated that it will carry two cows to
the acre for nearly the entire year.
A demonstration pasture in Palm Beach County, located
on flatwoods soil typical of that section of the State, is
grazed the year round.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 77
HEAVIER SEEDING NECESSARY
Although good results were obtained with the demon-
stration pastures when only 15 pounds of grass seed were
used per acre, it is evident that in many cases much better
results would have been secured if more seed per acre had
The chief reason for advocating a heavier rate of seeding
is that a better stand of grass will thus be obtained, and a
much shorter length of time required to get a complete sod
of grass over the entire area. The shorter length of time
required to get a complete sod means that much more graz-
ing can be obtained from a given area.
The quicker covering of sod also tends to keep down
weed growth, for a thin stand of grass means more weed
growth. Weeds make poor pasture, and there is the added
expense of mowing once or twice during the summer.
To get best results, one should seed at the rate of 10
pounds carpet grass, 10 pounds Dallis grass, and 5 pounds
lespedeza seed per acre. If Bahia and Bermuda grass are
to be included in the mixture, the carpet grass, Dallis grass,
Bahia grass and lespedeza seed may be mixed in equal
amounts by weight, and 25 pounds of the mixture seeded
GOOD PASTURES AND BEEF CATTLE IN FLORIDA*
The results of one year's grazing work at the Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station show that beef cattle
make good gains when grazed on improved permanent
"That good pastures well fertilized return excellent
profits when grazed by average Florida range beef cattle
has been demonstrated in a test carried on at the Florida
Experiment Station. Seven acres of such pasture grazed
by seven steers for 199 days gave a net profit per steer of
"The pasture consisted of two plots of 31,i acres each.
All seven steers were grazed on first one plot and then the
other. Both plots were seeded to pasture grasses in 1926,
the first plot having a mixture of carpet, Bahia, Bermuda
and Dallis grasses and the second plot having only Bahia
*Progressive Farmer, December 22, 1928.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
"The pasture is located on rolling hammock land con-
sisting mostly of sandy soils belonging to several different
series. It is fairly moist.
"On February 28, 1928, both plots were given an appli-
cation of a complete fertilizer consisting of 25 pounds ni-
trate of soda, an equal amount of nitrogen in cottonseed
meal, 100 pounds superphosphate, and 25 pounds muriate
of potash per acre. A top dressing of 100 pounds nitrate
of soda was applied in May and a second one in June and
July. The top dressings were made after each plot had
been grazed down and the steers moved to the other plot.
"The steers received no supplemental feeding except a
mineral mixture and salt, which were kept where the steers
had access to them at all times. The seven steers were
grazing a total of only seven acres, or one acre to a steer,
yet they were not able to keep the grass grazed sufficiently
close, and it was necessary to mow the pasture four times
during the summer.
"The steers were placed on the pasture on April 20, 1928.
At that time the total weight for the seven steers was 3,680
pounds, and they were valued at 5 cents a pound, giving a
total value of $184. The steers were weighed at intervals
ranging from 14 to 26 days and transferred from one plot
to the other. On November 5 the seven steers weighed
5,440 pounds and were valued at 6 cents a pound, giving a
total value of $326.40. Thus the total gain in weight dur-
ing the 199 days was 1,760 pounds, or 251.4 pounds per
steer. This gave a gross profit of $142.40 on the seven
"The expenses to be deducted from that are $3.53 per
acre for the complete fertilizer, $6 per acre for the top
dressing, and pasturage at 50 cents per head per month.
This gives a total expense of $89.46, leaving a net profit of
$52.94 on the seven steers, or $7.56 per head or per acre as
the case may be.
"According to workers in the Agronomy Department of
the station, who conducted the tests in co-operation with
the Animal Husbandry Department, the plots gave promise
of carrying the steers until well toward the end of Novem-
ber, or until a heavy frost, without any supplemental feed-
ing. The steers seemed to prefer the grass mixture, par-
ticularly the carpet grass, over the Bahia alone. On the
mixed plot there is nearly a full stand, while on the Bahia
plot the stand is probably about three-fourths perfect."
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 79
Dallis grass (Paspalum dilatatum) is now found growing
in many sections of Florida. Locally it is known by several
different names. In some sections it is known as Large
Water Grass. This name no doubt has been applied to it
because it grows and thrives well on low, moist land that is
too wet to grow cultivated crops.
This is one of the hardiest grasses now growing in Flori-
da. It will stand more cold than carpet, Bahia, Bermuda,
or centipede. Under ordinary conditions a temperature of
25 degrees F. seldom kills the green growth. After the
grass is well established, it will withstand dry weather to a
wonderful degree, although during dry weather it will
make very little or no new growth. On dry, sandy land, it
is very difficult to establish a stand of this grass, and it is
not advisable to make any extended effort to establish a
Dallis grass pasture on land of this type.
PROPAGATION.-Dallis grass is best propagated by
sowing the seed. Large quantities of seed are produced in
several of the Southern States where the grass has been
grown for a number of years and is now well established.
Seed can be purchased from almost any reliable seed dealer.
Propagation may also be by division of the root clumps.
Should this method be used, the material ought to be set
when there is sufficient moisture in the ground to insure
The seed are generally sown broadcast at the rate of
about 20 pounds of seed to the acre on a well-prepared
seedbed. After sowing, a light spike tooth harrow may be
used for covering. Any time from March until June or
July is satisfactory for sowing the seed.
ERADICATION.-Dallis grass, like many of the other
desirable pasture grasses, is very easy to eradicate if it is no
longer wanted as a pasture grass. One plowing will kill
out nearly all of the grass. Best results will be obtained if
plowing is done when the ground is dry.
Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) is an introduced grass,
coming from South America. It was introduced by the
Bureau of Plant Industry, United States Department of
Agriculture, in 1913, and a second introduction was made
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
This grass was first planted in Florida at the Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station in May, 1913. The Ex-
periment Station has continued to grow this grass, and
today several acres are growing on the Experiment Station
farm and considerable amounts of seed and roots have been
distributed to farmers in various parts of the State.
Bahia grass has proven to be a very satisfactory pasture
grass under many conditions in Florida. It will grow on a
variety of soils, stands grazing well, and cattle seem to
relish it as well as other grasses, but it spreads rather slowly
when compared with carpet or centipede grass. This grass
is not much more sensitive to cold than other grasses. A
temperature much below 34 degrees F. will nearly always
kill all green growth, the extent of the damage depending
somewhat upon the state of growth of the grass at the time.
The roots, however, are not injured unless the temperature
goes considerably below freezing. When moisture con-
ditions are favorable, growth starts in the spring about the
same time as other perennial grasses.
PROPAGATION.-The grass seeds freely in Florida
when not pastured too closely. The seed produced in the
State seem to germinate as well as the introduced seed.
Propagation may be by either seed or by root cuttings. If
seed are used, 20 pounds are needed to sow an acre.
Japan clover (Lespedeza striata) is one of the hardiest
members of the clover family, and is found growing in
nearly all of the Southern States. Being a legume, it is par-
ticularly desirable in a pasture grass mixture since it in-
creases the feeding value of the pasturage.
Japan clover, however, is of more value for grazing when
seeded with one or more of the better permanent pasture
grasses, as it does not furnish grazing at all seasons of the
year. It is an annual, but reseeds well each year even
when grazed closely. This habit of reseeding causes some
people to think it is a perennial.
When soil conditions are suitable, this legume is quite
aggressive and will make a good growth during late spring
and summer. During the fall and winter months very little
growth will be noticeable, and those not familiar with its
habit of growth may think it was killed out by the summer
grazing. When the ground has become warmed up in the
spring, however, and there is sufficient moisture to induce
germination, the legume will come back as vigorous as the
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 81
SOILS.-Japan clover will not grow on the dry, sandy
ridges or on land that is subject to overflow. It makes its
best growth on a fertile, well drained soil that retains
SEEDING.-It is best to seed Japan clover with one or
more permanent pasture grasses. When seeded in a grass
mixture, from five to ten pounds of Japan clover seed are
required to the acre. Seeding may be done any time from
March 1 to July 1.
CARE OF PASTURES
A pasture must be given considerable attention the first
year or two after planting if it is to furnish the maximum
amount of grazing. After the land has been properly pre-
pared and the grass once started, the real care of the pas-
All of the grasses discussed in this bulletin are sun-loving
grasses-in other words, they make better growth and fur-
nish more pasturage when grown in the open rather than
under shade or part shade. This is particularly true of the
young seedlings, for only a little shade will retard the
growth of the young grass. It is therefore important to
keep all weed growth mowed so that the grass will not be
shaded. It may be necessary to mow the pasture two or
three times during the first year. If a good stand of grass
is secured the first year, very little mowing will be required
after the second year. Mowing should always be done
before any weeds mature a crop of seed.
The annual burning of pastures in Florida does a great
deal more harm than good. It not only burns up the grass
and weeds not grazed by cattle the previous year, but it
destroys the nutritious pasture grasses and kills the pine
trees that are being established. The ordinary wire grass
is all that is left after the pasture has been burned, thus
reducing the grazing value of the land very considerably.
If one hopes to maintain a first-class, permanent pasture, it
is absolutely necessary that fire be kept out.
When a pasture has been grazed fairly closely, there will
be no surplus of dead grass and weeds on the land. But, on
the other hand, the old grass and weeds do the land more
good when left on the pasture than by being removed.
First, the grass and weeds left on the land increase the
humus and nitrogen content of the soil through the decom-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
position of the vegetative material, such as leaves, stems,
and dead roots. Second, the humus added to the soil in-
creases the water-holding capacity so that there is more
soil moisture available for the new crop of grass each suc-
ceeding year. Third, all old grass and weeds remaining on
the pasture act as a mulch in decreasing evaporation, which
also means more soil moisture is available for the new crop
of grass each year.
Grazing improves a permanent pasture. In the first
place, grazing causes the grasses to form a complete sod
over the surface of the ground more quickly than when not
grazed. Of course, it is possible to over-graze a pasture,
even to the extent of killing out the grass. Nevertheless,
the pasture should be grazed down close enough so that the
livestock will be grazing off new growth every two or three
days. The new growth is more tender and nutritious than
old or mature grass. After most grasses become four to
six inches high, they become more or less dry and fibrous,
and a large part of the material is indigestible.
No definite statement can be made as to how many ani-
mals an acre will graze. This depends entirely upon the
character of the land and the amount of growth the grass
produces. However, the pasture should be observed every
few days and if there is any evidence of the grass growing
faster than it is being grazed down, more animals should be
added to the pasture. On the other hand, if a drought pre-
vails and the grass is being grazed too closely, enough ani-
mals ought to be removed to give the grass a chance to
make as much new growth as the livestock need each day.
In other words, it is necessary to watch the growth of
the grass and keep the grass grazed just close enough so
that all grass in the pasture will be grazed down at least
every ten days or two weeks.
The amount and kind of fertilizer to apply to a pasture
depends largely upon the character of the soil on which the
pasture is located. A sufficient amount of fertilizer work
has not been done, however, to enable one to give very
On some of the flatwoods soils, 200 to 300 pounds of
superphosphate per acre as the first application has shown
results that were noticeable for several years. It is advis-
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 83
able, however, to apply on most of the Florida soils from
250 to 300 pounds per acre of a complete fertilizer analyz-
ing 3 per cent ammonia, 8 per cent superphosphate, and 4
per cent potash as the first application. The best time to
apply this application is soon after the grass has been
Fertilizing after the pasture has been established should
be as follows: Apply nitrate of soda or sulphate of am-
monia, or some other quickly available form of ammonia,
at the rate of 50 to 60 pounds per acre about three times a
year, or a total of 150 to 180 pounds of fertilizer a year.
The first application should be applied the latter part of
March, the second application the latter part of June or
early in July, and the third application about September 15.
The reason for putting the fertilizer on in three applica-
tions instead of one is to reduce leaching of the fertilizer to
Some people may question the advisability of fertilizing
pasture grasses. However, sufficient evidence is available
at this time to show that not only is more grass produced
per acre when given a liberal application of fertilizer, but
that the grass produced contains a much larger amount of
WHAT IS A GOOD PASTURE?
While people may not agree on the definition of a good
pasture, it must be admitted that a pasture is generally
good when it will produce beef, mutton, and milk in profit-
able amounts during the grazing season. Some pastures
may produce 75 or 100 pounds of beef per acre during one
grazing season. Another pasture may produce 250 to 300
pounds to the acre. At the same time it may appear that
there was more grass on the acre of land that produced
only 75 to 100 pounds of beef than on the land that pro-
duced 300 pounds. Hence, quality is often as important in
a pasture as quantity. Wire grass and broom sedge may be
anywhere from knee to waist high all over the pasture and
yet the cattle grazing on it may lose in weight instead of
A second factor that one should strive for is to have
the stand of grass as near perfect as possible, for the more
perfect the stand the better the pasture will be from the
standpoint of furnishing the most grazing.
Another important point in a good pasture is the perm-
anency of the grass. A perennial is of more value than a
biennial or annual grass.
84 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Still another factor to consider is whether or not there is
an abundant supply of pure, fresh water available to the
livestock on the pasture. When livestock are compelled to
go long distances for water, the pasture will not produce
the most satisfactory results.
To sum up, then, a good pasture is one well-sodded with
a perennial grass of the best quality, and with an abundant
supply of pure water readily available to the stock.
OBTAINING GRASS SEED
Seed of carpet grass, Dallis grass, Bermuda grass and les-
pedeza can be purchased from any of the larger seed deal-
ers in the South. Bahia and centipede grass seed are not
on the market in this country at the present time. Bahia
grass seed can be obtained only by importing from Cuba,
Central America or South America, while centipede grass
seed can be obtained only by importing from China. An
effort is now being made to get some reliable seed dealer to
handle these last two mentioned grasses.
Para grass roots may be obtained from almost any one in
South Florida who grows this grass.
Anyone having trouble locating a supply of grass seed
should get in touch with his county agent, or write to the
Experiment Station, Gainesville, Fla., or the State Market-
ing Bureau, Jacksonville, Fla.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 85
DWARF ESSEX RAPE AS A WINTER FORAGE
By JOHN M. SCOTT
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of Agriculture,
University of Florida, Gainesville.
One of Florida's greatest needs in livestock production
is more acres of good winter pasture. There is little diffi-
culty in growing an abundance of green forage crops dur-
ing the summer, but as a rule an insufficient amount of
green winter forage is grown to supply the needs of the
livestock. Rape either as a winter pasture or forage crop
seems to answer this need, for it grows well in all parts of
the State when planted on good fertile soil. This crop is
seldom checked in its growth by cold weather in Florida.
Under ordinary conditions, rape will stand as much as six
to eight degrees F. of frost with little or no injury, although
this depends somewhat upon the stage of growth. The
young tender growth is much more easily harmed by cold
than the mature leaves and stalks. It is not likely that the
weather will get cold enough in Florida to kill the roots
even if the tops should be nipped by frost. When only the
top is injured by the cold, new growth will soon sprout
again and produce a good crop.
Dwarf Essex rape is the most satisfactory variety of rape
for Florida conditions. This is a crop closely related to
cabbage and collards and may be grown on land that has
already produced a late summer or early fall crop. It
seems to grow best in Florida during the fall, winter and
early spring months and will produce many tons of nutri-
tious feed per acre at a time of year when green feeds are
scarce. Farmers and stockmen throughout a large portion
of the State will find this crop desirable for feeding hogs,
dairy cows, poultry and sheep during the autumn and win-
ter months when the supply of grass and other green forage
is often limited.
The cost of seed for an acre of rape under average con-
ditions is less than 75 cents. There is no other crop that
will supply so much nutritious winter feed on good land at
as small cost as will Dwarf Essex rape. The better the
land, the more feed it will produce per acre.
86 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 is a remarkably good location, and generally
requires the addition of only a small amount of fertilizer.
For the best results, rape should be planted on a rich, moist,
loamy soil. Sandy soils and stiff clays which are deficient
in vegetable matter are about the only types of soil that
will not grow rape satisfactorily. All soils that will pro-
duce good crops of vegetables generally make good yields
of rape. Several writers have reported that rape is well
adapted to newly cleared woodland.
Fig. 1.-A good crop of rape ready to graze.-Courtesy Fla. Exp. Sta.
Almost any good vegetable fertilizer containing about
five percent ammonia, seven percent phosphoric acid, and
five percent potash, applied at the rate of 300 to 700 pounds
per acre, will be found to give satisfactory results. A larger
amount should be applied on poor land than on the richer
Barnyard manure is a desirable fertilizer, and it should
be used whenever available. An application of ten to
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 87
fifteen two-horse loads to the acre will increase the yield
PREPARATION OF SOIL
Too much attention cannot be given to the preparation
of the land for this crop. Thorough preparation of the
field is one of the secrets of successful 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 other-
wise be lost by running off or by evaporation. A fourteen
Fig. 2.-Rape showing effects of drought.
or sixteen-inch two-horse plow is the best implement to use
in preparing the field. All trash and litter should be buried,
as this adds vegetable matter to the soil. The plowing
should be fairly deep, at least four to six inches. The disk
harrow should be used if the land is rough after plowing. In
using the disk 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 rather than being left ridged. It is well to har-
row with a toothed harrow after using the disk so as to get
the surface in good tilth.
88 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
HOW TO PLANT
Rape may be planted in drills or sown broadcast. If the
ground is badly infested with seeds or 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 a height
of three to four inches, it grows rapidly. If planted in
drills, the drills should not be more than two or two and a
half feet apart. The following reasons are often given in
favor of drill planting. First, there is less waste when
pastured, as stock naturally walk between the rows and do
not trample down as many plants and leaves. Second, less
seed is required. Third, drilling permits cultivation, in-
suring larger yields.
WHEN TO PLANT
The amount of seed required per acre will vary from four
to eight pounds, less seed being required for drilling. The
seed may be planted any time from the 15th of September
to the 15th of December. The farmers of West Florida
will find it best to plant during the latter part of September,
while those of Central and South Florida can plant later in
the season. Seed may be obtained from most seed houses.
Fig. 3.-A field of rape just about the right size to begin grazing.
-Courtesy Fla. Exp. Station.
FORAGE AND PASTURE CROPS IN FLORIDA 89
HOW TO FEED RAPE
Stock may be turned into the field and allowed to pasture
on rape, or it may be cut and fed to them. If cut so as to
leave the stubs five or six inches high, a second-and
under favorable conditions, third-crop may be secured.
When the crop is to be pastured, the stock should be fed
a little grain just before they are turned on the rape. When
cattle are first allowed to pasture on rape, there is danger
of bloating. In other words, one should not turn stock on
the rape to pasture when they are hungry.
The first day the stock are on the rape, they should be al-
lowed to graze only ten or fifteen minutes; the second day
they may be allowed 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 disagree-
able taint in the milk. This may be overcome by using a
little care and judgment in feeding. If the cows are allow-
ed to pasture on the rape for about an hour just before and
just after milking, but at no other time, there is little
danger of the milk becoming tainted.
A longer grazing season can be had if two pastures are
maintained. By having two pastures, the livestock can be
rotated from one pasture to the other, thus making it un-
necessary to graze either pasture too closely. Under these
conditions both pastures will furnish much more grazing
than if they were grazed down close.
YIELD PER ACRE
Many farmers have found that a yield of twelve to fifteen
tons of green material per acre may be expected in Florida
on good land that has been well prepared and liberally
fertilized. Many of the northern states report yields of
thirty to fifty tons of green forage per acre, but such yields
can seldom be secured in Florida except on the muck and
ACREAGE TO PLANT
"How many acres of rape should be planted this fall?"
is a question many farmers have asked. This will depend
upon a number of factors: (1) The number of brood sows
and litters to be pastured; (2) The kind of soil-whether
a rich, moist fertile soil or a poor, light, sandy soil with
very little moisture; (3) Whether or not the crop is to be
fertilized. Data from a number of experiment stations
90 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 4-This rape 70 days after planting seed gave a yield of 8.9 ton's
of green material an acre.-Courtesy Fla. Exp. Station.
and successful hog raisers indicate that one acre of good
rape will furnish grazing for 600 pounds live weight of
hogs for from four to five months, depending upon weather
Hogs pastured on rape should be given a half grain
ration, generally about two pounds of grain for each 100
pounds live weight of hogs. If the rape pasture is depend-
ed upon to furnish all of the feed necessary to keep the hogs
growing in good shape, the results are apt to be disap-
pointing to the farmer.
Suwannee Democrat Print
Live Oak, Florida