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Historic, Archive Document 

Do not assume content reflects current 
scientific knowledge, policies, or practices. 

United States Department of Agriculture, 


New and Rare Seed Distribution, 



Velvet beans are rampant-growing leguminous annuals, making vines 20 to 75 
feet in length, according to variety and conditions. They grow well on soils 
too iight and sandy for most other legumes and produce an immense yield of 
torage, which is excellent feed for cattle and hogs. ‘They also make.a very 
good hay if cut soon after the first flowers appear, but the vines are so long 
and tangled that they are difficult to harvest. Velvet beans are excellent for 
newly cleared lands, as the growth is so rapid and dense that it smothers out 
the grass and brings the soil into a cultivable condition better than any other 
crop. They also have great value for green manuring and as a restorative for 
soils needing nitrogen and humus. Like other legumes, velvet beans draw 
nitrogen from the air, the proportion of nitrogen contained in the plants being 
about the same as in cowpeas, and as the total. yield is much greater the 
total amount of nitrogen and humus added to the soil is correspondingly 
larger. A crop of 3 tons will add as much nitrogen to the soil as will a ton of 
cottonseed meal, while the amount of humus will be three times as great. 


Planting should not be done too early, but at about the same time as cotton, 
as the beans do not make a thrifty growth until the soil has become well 
warmed. One bushel of seed will plant 8 to 6 acres, according to variety and 
conditions. The vines should be given some sort of support to keep them up 
from the ground; otherwise, they will not fruit heavily or make the most 
vigorous growth. Poles may be used for the purpose, but are troublesome and 
expensive. Cornstalks are more commonly used. Some strong-growing va- 
riety, like the Mexican June corn, will give all the needed support. The corn 
should be planted early and when about 2 feet high the beans are planted be- 
tween the hills. After planting, the crop should be cultivated until the vines 
shade the ground. The vines make such a heavy growth that little corn can be 
gathered from the field, but when grazed little of the corn or beans will be lost. 
The only expense for growing the corn is the planting, and that will be more 
than repaid in the increased yield of the beans. 


The principal value of the velvet bean is for winter grazing, and for that pur- 
pose it is one of the best crops which can be grown on the light soils and in 
the long season of the immediate Gulf coast. It is usual to allow the crop to 
grow until killed by frost, after which it is grazed through the winter, as the 
vines and leaves decay so slowly that they retain their palatability a long 
time. The matured beans are quite hard when dry, but are eaten well in the 

OBJECT OF THE DISTRIBUTION.—The distribution of new and rare seeds has for its 
object the dissemination of new and rare crops, improved strains of staple crops, and 
high-grade seed of crops new to sections where the data of the department indicate such 
crops to be of considerable promise. Each package contains a sufficient quantity for a 
preliminary trial, and where it is at all practicable the recipient is urged to use the seed 
for the production of stocks for future plantings. It is believed that if this practice is 
followed consistently it will result in a material improvement in the crops of the 
country. Please make a full report on the inclosed blank regarding the results you 
obtain with the seed. 


3 if nie i 8 
fa fall, or whenever one become slightly antienert either 

damp soil. The yield of seed from a fair growth of vines is ys oe rc 
380 bushels per acre, and much heavier yields are often secured. One h 
pounds of the pods will shell about 60 pounds, or 1 bushel of seed. They 
not need to be shelled for feeding cattle and make an excellent grain feed fo 
winter use. Experiments made at the Agricultural Experiment Station of 
Florida indicate that for feeding 3 pounds of the beans in the pods are worth i 
more than 1 pound of cottonseed meal. 


Florida velvet bean.—The Florida velvet bean is the best known and oldest 
cultivated variety. A late, vigorous grower, seldom maturing pods north of 
Atlanta. Flowers purple, pods black, hairy, 2 to 24 inches long. Seeds nearly 
round, gray and brown marbled. One bushel will plant 4 to 6 acres. Plant 
about 5 feet apart. 

Lyon velvet bean.—In growth and date of maturing, much like the Florida 

velvet bean. Flowers white, pods 4 to 6 inches long, nearly smooth. Seeds 
large, flattened, white; yield 25 to 40 bushels per acre. One bushel will seed 
about 4 acres. Plant about 5 feet apart. 
- Chinese velvet bean.—Just like the Lyon bean, but about six weeks earlier. 
Vines not so large. Yield of beans very heavy. One bushel will seed 4 acres. 
Plant about 4 feet apart. This is the best early velvet bean known. Will 
mature in Tennessee and North Carolina. 

Yokohama velvet bean.—The earliest variety maturing as far north as Wash- 
ington, D. Cc, ripening in about 100 days. Pods 4 to 6 inches long, with close 
gray hairs. Seeds large, flattened, gray. Yield of seed often 35 to 50° bushels | 
an acre, One bushel will plant 3 acres. Plant about 3 feet apart. 

: C. V. Pipeer, Agrostologist, and 
S. M. Tracy, Agronomist, | 
Forage- -Crop Investigations. 


DECEMBER 18, 1914. 

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