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United States Department of Agriculture,
BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY,
New and Rare Seed Distribution,
WASHINGTON, D. C.
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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