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22   FODDER AND PASTURE PLANTS.

Orchard Grass, Western Rye Grass, early Red Clover, Alsike or Alfalfa are little known, and, with the exception of certain strains of Alfalfa, are not commercially available. Such varieties are of recent production, but the difference in point of earliness, yield or general quality is quite remarkable. As soon as reliable seed of the best varieties is available, farmers will find it profitable to use it instead of the ordinary seed of commerce.

Percentage vitality in grass and clover seeds is an important consideration and should receive special attention in the case of the finer grasses. Fully ninety-five per cent. of the fodder crop seeds used in Canada consist of Timothy, Orchard Grass, Brome Grass, Western Rye Grass, Red Clover, Alsike and Alfalfa, and, with the exception of Brome Grass, commercial seeds of these kinds are seldom deficient in vitality. Good seed of Brome Grass, the Blue Grasses, Fescues and others of the finer grasses should germinate eighty per cent. or better; but commercial samples often contain less than fifty per cent. of vital seeds. Seed that will germinate eighty per cent. or better is really cheaper at thirty cents per pound than seed at half the cost, if the percentage vitality is commensurately low. Reliable seedsmen know what the vitality of their seeds is, but purchasers of the finer grass seeds should buy at least a month before planting time and test their seeds. Sow two hundred average seeds of each kind in light soil in a flower pot and keep them slightly moist in a living room temperature in a sunny window for about three weeks.

Purity : The value of grass and clover seeds is affected most by the nature and amount of their impurities. Unfortunately it is difficult to obtain these seeds free from weeds. One hundred weed seeds in an ounce of grass or clover may not be detected, but the weeds are very evident in the resultant crop. The folly of purchasing the inferior qualities is not always clear from an examination of the seed itself ; and although the weeds may be quite evident in the meadow their bad effect on the stock is seldom fully appreciated. The best available seed is always the cheapest in the end.

The suppression of noxious weeds in meadows is most effectively and economically accomplished by clean cultivation before fodder crop seeds are sown. Perennial weeds, such as Daisy, Thistle, Campion and Couch Grass, tend to increase in meadows. In a moist climate such annual and biennial weeds as Wild Oats and Blue Weed can be prevented from seeding and thus effectively suppressed by leaving the land in meadow for five years or more.


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