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The Culture of Alfalfa.
T. L. Lyon of the Nebraska Experi ment Station gives some valuable in formation relative to the culture of alfalfa which is suited to the Western States, and as there are many sugges tions in the article which are applicable to all countries, we reproduce the sug gestions in full so that our readers may be benefitted by whatever is found therein suited to their wants: During the winter of 1901-2 a list of between 600 and 700 successful alfalfa raisers in this State was collected, and to each was sent a report blank calling for a definite statement re garding a number of the processes he employed in obtaining his stand of alfalfa, and also regarding his sub sequent care of the crop. More than five hundred satisfactory replies were received, representing eighty counties in the State. A study of this large number of reports from successful alfalfa raisers gives some valuable in formation respecting alfalfa culture. There were 288 stand reported upon upland, and 278 upon bottom land. Even in the western portion of the State the amount of alfalfa on the upland is shown to be consider able, and very satisfactory results are evidently obtained, although naturally the yields of hay are smaller than on the bottom lands of that region. In the eastern part of the State somewhat heavier yields appear to be obtained from bottom land, but loss from win ter-killing or other cause is greater. Twenty-three reports state that up land is more satisfactory than bottom land. These come principally from the eastern portion of the State or the irrigated land of the western por tion. An astonishing feature of the re plies is the large amount of alfalfa that they show to be growing on land with a clay subsoil. Sandy clay, clay loam, clay and lime, etc., were not counted as clay. In spite of this im itation, 245 clay or gumbo subsoils are reported. A clay or even a gumbo subsoil does not appear to be a barrier to successful alfalfa culture. The seed bed was prepared by plowing and further working in 373 cases, and by disking or cultivating in 75. Among the latter is one method that appears to be popular and satis factory. This consists in thoroughly disking corn land after all trash has been removed from the field. In the western part of the State there are a number of good stands of alfalfa ob tained by breaking prairie sod, disking it, and harrowing in the seed; also by disking the unbroken sod, and harrowing in the seed. The latter commends itself as an easy way of supplementing the native grasses in pastures. The tendency to dispense with plowing on unirrlgated land mu creases with the distance westward from the Missouri. A study of the dates of sowing al falfa seed in the spring shows a range from early March to late June, although where advice was volun teered it was practically unanimous in favor of early sowing. There were only eight reports of summer or fall sowing, of which one was sown in July, four in August, and three in September. In 108 cases a nurse crop was used, while in 393 cases the alfalfa seed was sown without that of any other crop. The use of the nurse crop was largely confined to extreme eastern Nebraska and the irrigated land of the West. Many persons who used a nurse crop say that they would not do so again. It has been recommended to use a light seeding of small grain, sown earlier or with the alfalfa, to prevent damage by severe winds. When sown in this way the nurse crop is mown when eight or ten inches high, to prevent it smothering the alfalfa. In 55 cases the seed was put in with a drill, and in 447 cases it was. sown broadcast. This is at least an indica tion that if a drill is not available a satisfactory stand can be obtained by broadcasting and harrowing in, pro viding the other conditions are favor able. There were 138 reports of less than twenty pounds of seed per acre being THR TYPICAL JERSEY COW— IMPERIAL sed, and 336 reports of twenty pounds or more being sown. The evidence seems to be in favor of the use of at least twenty pounds of seed per acre. Of the persons replying to the in quiries, 221 have stands of alfalfa that yield more than four tons of cured hay per acre each season, while 157 do not get as much as four tons of hay per acre. Of persons having practiced disking alfalfa in the spring or at other times, 166 report that beneficial results have been obtained, while seven report that disking has been ineffective or injur ious. By disking alfalfa is meant going over it in the spring with a disk harrow before growth starts, or during summer immediately after cut ting for hay. v It is customary to set the disks at a slight angle. This cuts the crown roots and stirs the soil. Some of the correspondents pre fer harrowing to disking. Where positive objection was made to disk ing it was based on the claim that it caused the crowns to become diseased. The great bulk of the evidence was, however, In favor of disking. Of the persons who have manured alfalfa, either by plowing in the ma nure immediately before seeding or by spreading it on the field after a stand had been obtained, 110 obtained bene ficial results, and 13 found it to be ineffective or injurious. Objections are based on the claim that plowing in manure causes the soil to dry out, but IMPERIAL PRESS objections to spreading manure on alfalfa are rather indefinite in their nature, except that on low land it makes the growth too rank, and the alfalfa falls down. Many of those who advocate its use specify that the manure should be rotted and fine. One man suggests harrowing after spteading, to fine it. The reports of beneficial results from plowing under maiture come largely from the east ern portion of the State, but the use of fine manure applied as a top dress ing has proven beneficial in all parts. Fresh From Imperial. The Los Angeles Times presents some valuable information relative to this country in its agricultural de partment of a recent issue as follows under the above heading: " From a farmer of the New River country I learn several ieliable thing 3 concerning the progress of agricultu ral affairs at Imperial. About 5000 acres of growing barley are soon to be harvested for hay. Of these, about 3000 were sown in December and Jan uary, the balance being of later seed ing. The early-sown hay is very heavy, running from two and one-half to four tons per acre — an average of about thiee tons. Contrary to the re port of the Agricultural Department, the alkali in its heavier proportions ha,s not been detrimental to these crops, the land about Imperial bearing some of the heaviest oi all. The greatest portion of the barley has been planted in the regions near the lakes. • "Of the 2000 acres of late sowing the yield will be much lighter. My informant says the only serious trouble has been in the washing out of the gates of the distributing ditches. Where the grade is heavy the gates will not hold against the pressure. Contrary to expectation, no difficulty has been experienced with the main canal from near Yuma to the lands, and when the question of water control upon the lands is solved there seems to be nothing to fear in the economy of this gigantic enterprise. "Already a health resort is in con templation. A townsite has been laid out upon the north and east side of beautiful Blue Lake, and preparations are going forward to make this an at tractive town. A boulevard will en circle the lake for pleasure driving; In fact, nature has made it almost complete, and boating facilities will be established. Calexico is a village of several substantial houses, and Im perial is growing at a fair rate. The farmers will plant thousands of acres of summer crops, sorghum, millet and Kafflr corn predominating. This will be followed by the introduction of stock upon a large scale. Alfalfa planting is a prominent matter so far, on account of the tendency of the ground surface to bake, but once es tablished, there is no question of its success. Sub-irrigation or furrow ir rigation may have to be adopted in starting alfalfa, but whatever difficul ties are encountered the certainty of heavy crops upon established flo'da will make the work of first planting extensive, and in time entirely feasi ble. This is the toughest problem the farmers have met, but there are half a dozen methods of overcoming the difficulties already in vogue. At present the outlook is bright for the Imperial lands, and unless the alkali 'comes up' the New River country will eclipse the greatest farming sec tions of the State." Imperial Lands. An Imperial correspondent of the Hemet News writes to that paper as follows: "It is true that there is a small area around Imperial that was condemned as worthless by the Government ex pert. Splendid crops are now grow ing on this same land — crops good enough to pay for the land and water right clear of all expense, so if the owners never got another thing to grow on the land they would still be money ahead. "It is also true that all land irri gated last summer has done much bet ter than the new land brought under cultivation this winter. "It is also true that the standing water is always 50 feet or more from the surface, even on the lands annu ally flooded for years past. "Did anyone ever hear of alkali ris ing until the subsoil was filled with water and standing water level came to within six or eight feet from the surface? If ages of annual overflow will not fill it up, how long will It take irrigators to do so? Will not the quality of soil improve until seepage is checked by the standing water? "There are thousands of acres that were not condemned by the Govern ment expert, which anyone can get if he prefers. When carefully read in full, the report is not unfavorable to the ultimate success of the main part of the valley. "Those who know the Imperial val ley are not scared, and I don't know of anyone offering land for sal© be cause of the.alkalt. There is no larger proportion of property for sale there than in Riverside or any other place." People who crowd the rear pews of the churches will find that there are no back seats in Hades. 9