Legumes





Often land which was once thought excellent is left to grow up in weeds.

The owner says that the land is worn out, and that it will not pay to

plant it. What does "worn out" mean? Simply that constant cropping has

used up the plant food in the land. Therefore, plants on worn-out land

are too nearly starved to yield bountifully. Such wearing out is so

easily prevented that no owner ought ever to allow his land to become

poverty-stricken. But in case this misfortune has happened, how can the

land be again made fertile?



On page 24 you learned that phosphoric acid, potash, and nitrogen are

the foods most needed by plants. "Worn out," then, to put it in

another way, usually means that a soil has been robbed of one of these

plant necessities, or of two or of all three. To make the land once more

fruitful it is necessary to restore the missing food or foods. How can

this be done? Two of these plant foods, namely, phosphoric acid and

potash, are minerals. If either of these is lacking, it can be supplied

only by putting on the land some fertilizer containing the missing food.

Fortunately, however, nitrogen, the most costly of the plant foods, can

be readily and cheaply returned to poor land.






As explained on page 32 the leguminous crops have the power of drawing

nitrogen from the air and, by means of their root-tubercles, of storing

it in the soil. Hence by growing these crops on poor land the expensive

nitrogen is quickly restored to the soil, and only the two cheaper plant

foods need be bought. How important it is then to grow these leguminous

plants! Every farmer should so rotate his planting that at least once

every two or three years a crop of legumes may add to the fruitfulness

of his fields.



Moreover these crops help land in another way. They send a multitude of

roots deep into the ground. These roots loosen and pulverize the soil,

and their decay, at the end of the growing season, leaves much humus in

the soil. Land will rarely become worn out if legumes are regularly and

wisely grown.



From the fact that they do well in so many different sections and in so

many different climates, the following are the most useful legumes:

alfalfa, clovers, cowpeas, vetches, and soy beans.



=Alfalfa.= Alfalfa is primarily a hay crop. It thrives in the Far West,

in the Middle West, in the North, and in the South. In fact, it will do

well wherever the soil is rich, moist, deep, and underlaid by an open

subsoil. The vast areas given to this valuable crop are yearly

increasing in every section of the United States. Alfalfa, however,

unlike the cowpea, does not take to poor land. For its cultivation,

therefore, good fertile land that is moist but not water-soaked should

be selected.



Good farmers are partial to alfalfa for three reasons. First, it yields

a heavy crop of forage or hay. Second, being a legume, it improves the

soil. Third, one seeding lasts a long time. This length of life may,

however, be destroyed by pasturing or abusing the alfalfa.






Alfalfa is different from most plants in this respect: the soil in which

it grows must have certain kinds of bacteria in it. These cause the

growth of tubercles on the roots. These bacteria, however, are not

always present in land that has not been planted in alfalfa. Hence if

this plant is to be grown successfully these helpful bacteria must

sometimes be supplied artificially.



There are two very easy ways of supplying the germs. First, fine soil

from an alfalfa field may be scattered broadcast over the fields to be

seeded. Second, a small mass of alfalfa tubercle germs may be put into a

liquid containing proper food to make these germs multiply and grow;

then the seeds to be planted are soaked in this liquid in order that

the germs may fasten on the seeds.



Before the seeds are sowed the soil should be mellowed. Over this

well-prepared land about twenty pounds of seed to the acre should be

scattered. The seed may be scattered by hand or by a seed-sower. Cover

with a light harrow. The time of planting varies somewhat with the

climate. Except where the winters are too severe the seed may be sowed

either in the spring or in the fall. In the South sow only in the fall.






During the first season one mowing, perhaps more, is necessary to insure

a good stand and also to keep down the weeds. When the first blossoms

appear in the early summer, it is time to start the mower. After this

the alfalfa should be cut every two, three, or four weeks. The number of

times depends on the rapidity of growth.



This crop rarely makes a good yield the first year, but if a good stand

be secured, the yield steadily increases. After a good stand has been

secured, a top-dressing of either commercial fertilizer or stable manure

will be very helpful. An occasional cutting-up of the sod with a disk

harrow does much good.



=Clovers.= The different kinds of clovers will sometimes grow on hard or

poor soil, but they do far better if the soil is enriched and properly

prepared before the seed is sowed. In many parts of our country it has

been the practice for generations to sow clover seed with some of the

grain crops. Barley, wheat, oats, and rye are the crops with which

clover is usually planted, but many good farmers now prefer to sow the

seed only with other grass seed. Circumstances must largely determine

the manner of seeding.



Crimson clover, which is a winter legume, usually does best when seeded

alone, although rye or some other grain often seems helpful to it. This

kind of clover is an excellent crop with which to follow cotton or corn.

It is most conveniently sowed at the last cultivation of these crops.



Common red clover, which is the standard clover over most of the

country, is usually seeded with timothy or with orchard grass or with

some other of the grasses. In sowing both crimson and red clover, about

ten to fifteen pounds of seed for each acre are generally used.



To make good pastures, white and Japan clover are favorites. White

clover does well in most parts of America, and Japan clover is

especially valuable in warm Southern climates. Both will do well even

when the soil is partly shaded, but they do best in land fully open to

the sun.



Careful attention is required to cure clover hay well. The clover should

always be cut before it forms seed. The best time to cut is when the

plants are in full bloom.






Let the mower be started in the morning. Then a few hours later run over

the field with the tedder. This will loosen the hay and let in air and

sunshine. If the weather be fair let the hay lie until the next day, and

then rake it into rows for further drying. After being raked, the hay

may either be left in the rows for final curing or it may be put in

cocks. If the weather be unsettled, it is best to cock the hay. Many

farmers have cloth covers to protect the cocks and these often aid

greatly in saving the hay crop in a rainy season. In case the hay is put

in cocks, it should be opened for a final drying before it is housed.



=Cowpeas.= The cowpea is an excellent soil-enricher. It supplies more

fertilizing material to turn into the soil, in a short time and at small

cost, than any other crop. Moreover, by good tillage and by the use of a

very small amount of fertilizer, the cowpea can be grown on land too

poor to produce any other crop. Its roots go deep into the soil. Hence

they gather plant food and moisture that shallow-rooted plants fail to

reach. These qualities make it an invaluable help in bringing worn-out

lands back to fertility.



The cowpea is a warm-weather legume. In the United States it succeeds

best in the south and southwest. It has, however, in recent years been

grown as far north as Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Michigan, and

Minnesota, but in these cold climates other legumes are more useful.

Cowpeas should never be planted until all danger of frost is past. Some

varieties make their full growth in two months; others need four months.



There are about two hundred varieties of cowpeas. These varieties differ

in form, in the size of seed and of pod, in the color of seed and of

pod, and in the time of ripening. They differ, too, in the manner of

growth. Some grow erect; others sprawl on the ground. In selecting

varieties it is well to choose those that grow straight up, those that

are hardy, those that fruit early and abundantly, and those that hold

their leaves. The variety selected for seed should also suit the land

and the climate.



The cowpea will grow in almost any soil. It thrives best and yields most

bountifully on well-drained sandy loams. The plant also does well on

clay soils. On light, sandy soils a fairly good crop may be made, but on

such soils, wilt and root-knot are dangerous foes. A warm, moist,

well-pulverized seed-bed should always be provided. Few plants equal the

cowpea in repaying careful preparation.






If this crop is grown for hay, the method of seeding and cultivating

will differ somewhat from the method used when a seed crop is desired.

When cowpeas are planted for hay the seeds should be drilled or

broadcasted. If the seeds are small and the land somewhat rich, about

four pecks should be sowed on each acre. If the seeds are comparatively

large and the soil not so fertile, about six pecks should be sowed to

the acre. It is safer to disk in the seeds when they are sowed broadcast

than it is to rely on a harrow to cover them. In sowing merely for a

hay crop, it is a good practice to mix sorghum, corn, soy beans, or

millet with the cowpeas. The mixed hay is more easily harvested and more

easily cured than unmixed cowpea hay. Shortly after seeding, it pays to

run over the land lightly with a harrow or a weeder in order to break

any crust that may form.



Mowing should begin as soon as the stalks and the pods have finished

growing and some of the lower leaves have begun to turn yellow. An

ordinary mower is perhaps the best machine for cutting the vines. If

possible, select only a bright day for mowing and do not start the

machine until the dew on the vines is dried. Allow the vines to remain

as they fell from the mower till they are wilted; then rake them into

windrows. The vines should generally stay in the windrows for two or

three days and be turned on the last day. They should then be put in

small, airy piles or piled around a stake that has crosspieces nailed to

it. The drying vines should never be packed; air must circulate freely

if good hay is to be made. As piling the vines around stakes is somewhat

laborious, some growers watch the curing carefully and succeed in

getting the vines dry enough to haul directly from the windrows to the

barns. Never allow the vines to stay exposed to too much sunshine when

they are first cut. If the sun strikes them too strongly, the leaves

will become brittle and shatter when they are moved.



When cowpeas are grown for their pods to ripen, the seeds should be

planted in rows about a yard apart. From two to three pecks of seeds to

an acre should be sufficient. The growing plants should be cultivated

two or three times with a good cultivator. Cowpeas were formerly

gathered by hand, but such a method is of course slow and expensive.

Pickers are now commonly used.



Some farmers use the cowpea crop only as a soil-enricher. Hence they

neither gather the seeds nor cut the hay, but plow the whole crop into

the soil. There is an average of about forty-seven pounds of nitrogen in

each ton of cowpea vines. Most of this valuable nitrogen is drawn by the

plants from the air. This amount of nitrogen is equal to that contained

in 9500 pounds of stable manure. In addition each ton of cowpea vines

contains ten pounds of phosphoric acid and twenty-nine pounds of potash.



There is danger in plowing into the soil at one time any bountiful green

crop like cowpeas. As already explained on page 10, a process

called capillarity enables moisture to rise in the soil as plants need

it. Now if a heavy cowpea crop or any other similar crop be at one

plowing turned into the soil, the soil particles will be so separated as

to destroy capillarity. Too much vegetation turned under at once may

also, if the weather be warm, cause fermentation to set in and "sour the

land." Both of these troubles may be avoided by cutting up the vines

with a disk harrow or other implement before covering them.



The custom of planting cowpeas between the rows at the last working of

corn is a good one, and wherever the climate permits this custom should

be followed.



=Vetches.= The vetches have been rapidly growing in favor for some

years. Stock eat vetch hay greedily, and this hay increases the flow of

milk in dairy animals and helps to keep animals fat and sleek. Only two

species of vetch are widely grown. These are the tare, or spring vetch,

and the winter, or hairy, vetch. Spring vetch is grown in comparatively

few sections of our country. It is, however, grown widely in England and

northern continental Europe. What we say here will be confined to hairy

vetch.



After a soil has been supplied with the germs needed by this plant, the

hairy vetch is productive on many different kinds of soil. The plant is

most vigorous on fertile loams. By good tillage and proper fertilization

it may be forced to grow rather bountifully on poor sandy and clay

loams. Acid or wet soils are not suited to vetch. Lands that are too

poor to produce clovers will frequently yield fair crops of vetch. If

this is borne in mind, many poor soils may be wonderfully improved by

growing on them this valuable legume.






Vetch needs a fine well-compacted seed-bed, but it is often sowed with

good results on stubble lands and between cotton and corn rows, where it

is covered by a cultivator or a weeder.



The seeds of the vetch are costly and are brought chiefly from Germany,

where this crop is much prized. The pods ripen so irregularly that they

have to be picked by hand.



In northern climates early spring sowing is found most satisfactory. In

southern climates the seeding is best done in the late summer or early

fall. As the vetch vines have a tendency to trail on the ground, it is

wisest to plant with the vetch some crop like oats, barley, rye, or

wheat. These plants will support the vetch and keep its vines from being

injured by falling on the ground. Do not use rye with vetch in the

South. It ripens too early to be of much assistance. If sowed with oats

the seeding should be at the rate of about twenty or thirty pounds of

vetch and about one and a half or two bushels of oats to the acre. Vetch

is covered in the same way as wheat and rye.



Few crops enrich soil more rapidly than vetch if the whole plant is

turned in. It of course adds nitrogen to the soil and at the same time

supplies the soil with a large amount of organic matter to decay and

change to humus. As the crop grows during the winter, it makes an

excellent cover to prevent washing. Many orchard-growers of the

Northwest find vetch the best winter crop for the orchards as well as

for the fields.



=Soy, or Soja, Bean.= In China and Japan the soy bean is grown largely

as food for man. In the United States it is used as a forage plant and

as a soil-improver. It bids fair to become one of the most popular of

the legumes. Like the cowpea, this bean is at home only in a warm

climate. Some of the early-ripening varieties have, however, been

planted with fair success in cold climates.



While there are a large number of varieties of the soy bean, only about

a dozen are commonly grown. They differ mainly in the color, size, and

shape of the seeds, and in the time needed for ripening. Some of the

varieties are more hairy than others.



Soy beans may take many places in good crop-rotations, but they are

unusually valuable in short rotations with small grains. The grains can

be cut in time for the beans to follow them, and in turn the beans can

be harvested in the early fall and make way for another grain crop.



It should always be remembered that soy beans will not thrive unless the

land on which they are to grow is already supplied, or is supplied at

the time of sowing, with bean bacteria.






The plant will grow on many different kinds of soil, but it needs a

richer soil than the cowpea does. As the crop can gather most of its own

nitrogen, it generally requires only the addition of phosphoric acid and

potash for its growth on poor land. When the first crop is seeded, apply

to each acre four hundred pounds of a fertilizing mixture which contains

about ten per cent of phosphoric acid, four per cent of potash, and from

one to two per cent of nitrogen.



If the crop is planted for hay or for grazing, mellow the ground well,

and then broadcast or drill in closely about one and a half bushels of

seed to each acre. Cover from one to two inches deep, but never allow a

crust to form over the seed, for the plant cannot break through a crust

well. When the beans are planted for seeds, a half bushel of seed to the

acre is usually sufficient. The plants should stand in the rows from

four to six inches apart, and the rows should be from thirty to forty

inches from one another. Never plant until the sun has thoroughly warmed

the land. The bean may be sowed, however, earlier than cowpeas. A most

convenient time is just after corn is planted. The rows should be

cultivated often enough to keep out weeds and grass and to keep a good

dust mulch, but the cultivation must be shallow.






As soy beans are grown for hay and also for seed, the harvesting will,

as with the other legumes, be controlled by the purpose for which the

crop was planted. In harvesting for a hay crop it is desirable to cut

the beans after the pods are well formed but before they are fully

grown. If the cutting is delayed until the pods are ripe, the fruit will

shatter badly. There is a loss, too, in the food value of the stems if

the cutting is late. The ordinary mowing-machine with a rake attached is

generally the machine used for cutting the stalks. The leaves should be

most carefully preserved, for they contain much nourishment for stock.






Whenever the beans are grown for seeds, harvesting should begin when

three fourths of the leaves have fallen and most of the pods are ripe.

Do not wait, however, until the pods are so dry that they have begun to

split and drop their seeds. A slight amount of dampness on the plants

aids the cutting. The threshing may be done with a flail, with

pea-hullers, or with a grain-threshing machine.



The beans produce more seed to the acre than cowpeas do. Forty bushels

is a high yield. The average yield is between twenty and thirty bushels.



DESCRIPTIVE TABLE



ADAPTATION AS

Crop FOOD FOR ANIMALS LIFE REMARKS



Alfalfa Hay Perennial All animals like it; hogs

eat it even when it is dry.

Red clover Hay and pasture Perennial Best of the clovers for hay.

Alsike clover Hay and pasture Perennial Seeds itself for twenty

years. This clover is a

great favorite with bees.

Mammoth clover Hay and pasture Perennial Best for green manure.

White clover Pasture Perennial Excellent for lawns and

bees.

Japan clover Pasture Perennial Excellent for forest and

old soils.

Cowpea Hay and grain Annual Used for hay, green

manure, and pastures.

Soy bean Hay and grain Annual Often put in silo with corn.

Vetches Hay and soiling Annual Pasture for sheep and

swine. With cereals

it makes excellent hay

and soiling-food.














The progress that a nation is making can with reasonable accuracy be

measured by the kind of live stock it raises. The general rule is, poor

stock, poor people. All the prosperous nations of the globe, especially

the grain-growing nations, get a large share of their wealth from

raising improved stock. The stock bred by these nations is now, however,

very different from the stock raised by the same nations years ago. As

soon as man began to progress in the art of agriculture he became

dissatisfied with inferior stock. He therefore bent his energies to

raise the standard of excellence in domestic animals.



By slow stages of animal improvement the ugly, thin-flanked wild boar of

early times has been transformed into the sleek Berkshire or the

well-rounded Poland-China. In the same manner the wild sheep of the Old

World have been developed into wool and mutton breeds of the finest

excellence. By constant care, attention, and selection the thin,

long-legged wild ox has been bred into the bounteous milk-producing

Jerseys and Holsteins or into the Shorthorn mountains of flesh. From the

small, bony, coarse, and shaggy horse of ancient times have descended

the heavy Norman, or Percheron, draft horse and the fleet Arab courser.



The matter of meat-production is one of vital importance to the human

race, for animal food must always supply a large part of man's ration.



Live stock of various kinds consume the coarser foods, like the grasses,

hays, and grains, which man cannot use. As a result of this consumption

they store in their bodies the exact substances required for building up

the tissues of man's body.



When the animal is used by man for food, one class of foods stored away

in the animal's body produces muscle; another produces fat, heat, and

energy. The food furnished by the slaughter of animals seems necessary

to the full development of man. It is true that the flesh of an animal

will not support human life so long as would the grain that the animal

ate while growing, but it is also true that animal food does not require

so much of man's force to digest it. Hence the use of meat forces a part

of man's life-struggle on the lower animal.



When men feed grain to stock, the animals receive in return power and

food in their most available forms. Men strengthen the animal that they

themselves may be strengthened. One of the great questions, then, for

the stock-grower's consideration is how to make the least amount of food

fed to animals produce the most power and flesh.





Laying Off A Farm Pasturing Life In The Country facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback