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HOW TO GET A START WITH ALFALFA.
1’nelcss to Sow It Except on Fertile Land in Good Condition_ Begin Now to Prepare for Fall Seeding—Liming and Inocu lation. By T. B. Parker. ALFALFA is, in many sections, quite difficult to grow, but it is Buch a valuable crop that it is worth while for any farmer to see if he can grow it, provided his soil conditions are all right. It is a waste of time to undertake to grow It on any but a well drained, fer tile soil free from acidity and con taining humus; also the necessary bacteria must be T n PARK,tR in the soil, natur ally, or be added. Lime -is another essential in growing alfalfa. Possib ly none of our crops require as much lime as alfalfa. I have known four tons of slaked lime to be applied to one acre of land for alfalfa. It is al ways safe to apply lime to any land Intended for alfalfa. 'V nere airalra succeeds there Is probably no forage crop grown that will equal It In value. Wherever suc cessfully grown In the United States It will give from three cuttings In the North, to seven or eight In Texas where the seasons are longer, with a probable average of one ton of cur ed hay per acre at each cutting, the feeding value of which Is nearly that of wheat bran. Owing to Its deep rooting proclivities It will stand more dry weather than any other of our forage crops, and at the same time Is very much helped by timely rains. flood Soil, flood Seed nnd Inoculation A gentleman who has learned to grow alfnlfa successfully, stated that his success is due to the thor ough preparation of the soil before seeding the alfalfa. Half prepara tion will not suffice. The land must be well drained, deeply broken, a perfect seed bed n.ade, vegetable mat ter. preferably stable manure, incor porated with the soil, nnd heavy ap plications of lime made. Then, with the ndditlon of the bacteria peculiar to alfnlfa and good seed, one may confidently expect t« grow It suc cessfully. There Is probably nothing thnt is more essential to iilfnlfn-prou-lm* than to have the soil well inoculated with the bacteria. The best way to obtain this Is to procure soil from a field that has been growing alfalfa successfully for some years. While 200 pounds will give partial inocula tion, many times that quantity per acre Is better. I have applied a ton of soil to an acre with very gratify ing success. This soil should be ap plied either late in the afternoon or on a cloudy day and immediately har rowed in. Sunshine Is death to bac teria. therefore the less they are ex posed to It the better for them. Soil may be brought from any distance, but when It arrives It will be best to put It In a dark place where It will not dry out too much before using It. It is always beBt to get it on the land and harrowed in as quickly as posslblo after getting it. I have found the fertilizer attachment to a grain drill a very convenient way to put the soil out. This distributes it evenly In any quantity desired, and It Is Immediately covered, thus pro tecting the bacteria from the direct rays of the sun. Good seed, free from obnoxious weeds, is another essential In grow ing alfulfa. It is well to procure a sample of the seed you Intend to sow and submit them to the botanist of your State Department of Agricul ture, or to the Department of Agrl culture at Washington, D. C., and have them tested for vitality and for purity. Do not use seed containing dodder or other objectionable seeds. Better pay two prices for pure seed of strong germinating quailities than to have poor seeds given to you. (lei Lund Heady Now. Those who contemplate sowing al falfa this fall should begin the pre paration of the land now unless they have commenced before this. Break the land deeply, manure and lime well and sow to cowpeas or soy beans. Both of these are fine crops to precede alfalfa. Cut them off for hay in August or September, and prepare the best seed bed possible with a disk harrow for the alfalfa. This will be better than to plow the land again, provided it was well plowed in the spring. In August, September or October, according to locality, sow 25 to 30 pounds of seed per acre and lightly harrow' them in. a weeaer is nne to pui me seea in with. It is well to divide the seed and sow half of them going over the land one way, and the other half going over the land at right angles to the first sowing. This will insure a more even stand than if the seed are all sown one way. Sow soon after a rain when the land is moist enough to germinate the seeds quickly. It will be well for persons contem plating putting in alfalfa to write to the Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., and get bulletins relating to the crop. J. E. Wing & Bros., Mechanlcsburg, Ohio, also send out a free treatise o# alfalfa. This little book contains much valuable information, and is well worth send ing for. Do Xot Out Too Close the First Year. The tlrst year’s management of al falfa may have an important bearing on the crop in after years. Unless it becomes necessary to cut it to kill out weed growth, do not cut it until it begins to come in bloom, and then not until a new growth, suckers or sprouts, start out from about the top of the grounds and are about one or two Inches high. This new growth starting is an indication that it is then time to cut the crop of hay. Do not cut too close. Set tha mower bar so as to leave a stubble two or three incnes mgn so as 10 not cui on any of rhe now growth that has started. I believe many alfalfa fleldB have been ruined by cutting the alfalfa too early and too close to the ground. For the best hay, alfalfa should not be exposed too much to the sun after It is cut. Let It wilt for a day, and put in tall but slim cocks for some two days, If the weather is good, and then haul to the barn and store away in a loft with slatted floor, so as to let the air pass up through it. All hay is cured by the escape of the water from the plant. If a current of air can pass up through it, the water is carried off much faster than when the air can not easily pass through it. It is well in the very early spring of each year to give the alfalfa field a thorough disking with a harrow, so as to work the land and also destroy any young grass or weeds that may be ready to make a start. Before disking apply broadcast 800 pounds of bone meal and 400 pounds of mu riate of potash per acre. If the bone mcHil can not be had, substitute for it 1,000 pounds 16 per cent acid phosphate, or twice that quantity of ground phosphate rock. The appli cation of the fertilizer and the disk ing may be given immediately after the alfalfa is cut the first time in the spring. I have also disked it after the third cutting, in mid-sum mer with good results. Do not set the harrow with too much angle, but somewhat straight and put addition al weight on if necessary to get it in the land. The splitting of the crowns of the alfalfa seems to help rather than injure the plant. THE CULTIVATION TO HO NOW. If the corn fields are free of grass and weeds, do not run the cultivators when the soil is too wet. In a wet spell, when the weeds and grass are getting too large a start, it may pay to run the plows or cultivators when the ground is a little too wet, if necessary to kill these weeds and grass; but if the crops are reason ably clean, keep out of them until the soil is sufficiently dry. In dry weather keep any crust which may form at the surface well broken by stirring the soil to a depth of two Inches. The need for cultivation does not stop until the corn is made, if either grass or dry weather are present. It will do the crop more harm than good to plow it deep at tasselllng time, but If there be grass and weeds or if there be a crust on the surface of the ground, it will pay to cultivate shallow as long as the crop is growing or mak ing. THE COTTON CROP OP 1909. The final figures of the Govern ment place the cotton crop of 1909 at 10,315,382 500-pound bales and the value of the crop at $812,089, 833. This is 3,271,924 bales or 2 4.1 per cent less cotton than was iroduced in 1908, but the value of he 1909 crop was $130,858,877 or 19.2 per cent more than that of L908. The cotton crop of the United States in 1909, although grown In only a part of the Southern States, was about half that of the corn crop, which is grown everywhere, and $100,000,000 more than that of the wheat crop and about double the value of the oat crop. During the last five years the price of cotton has averaged about 11 cents a pound. The average price of cottonseed in 1909 was $27.73 a ton as compared with $13.76 in 1906. The value of a 500-pound bale of cotton, including the seed, was $84.31 in 1909, as compared with $50.37 in 1904 and $30.32 in 1898. While the crop has more than dou bled in the last 30 years, this in crease has been due to an increased acreage rather than to any marked increase in yield per acre. The uncertainty of cotton produc tion is shown by the facts that the crop of 1909 as compared with that of 1908 was 45.6 less in Louisiana, 34.3 per cent less in Mississippi and 33.4 per cent less in Texas; while in the Carolinas and Georgia the crop of 1909 was only 6.3 p§r cent less than that of 1908. The loss in production for the whole United States was 24.1 per cent. Louisiana has suffered most in her cotton pro duction in recent years, from the boll weevil and other unfavorable conditions. 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