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24   FODDER AND PASTURE PLANTS.

made not later than the third week in August. After such autumn cutting the young meadow should not be pastured. Early the following spring, if the land is sufficiently well drained, the use of a heavy roller is often beneficial.

On the dryer prairie soils, where a nurse crop may not be used, two or three cuttings with a mowing machine will suppress the weeds and conserve the moisture, but the crop should not be cut after the middle of August.

The lack of winter protection for young meadows is the most common cause of reduced yields and inferior quality of hay. During dry seasons, when natural pastures and fodder crops are short, the use of newly seeded meadows immediately the nurse crop is removed sometimes seems unavoidable, even when the seedling plants are struggling for existence and much reduced in vigour by their competition with a nurse crop that has robbed them of moisture rather than protected them. It is under just such conditions that pasturing is most disastrous. For every pound of forage taken from the young plants more than ten pounds are lost in the hay crop; the stand will be thinner and the quality of the hay poorer. The young plants should completely hide the ground and show a growth of six inches or more before the autumn season is past. Only when there is danger of smothering the crop from a rank growth of clover, which rarely occurs, is there any advantage in pasturing a young meadow the first year.

Grasses and other fodder plants should be cut when the crop has reached its maximum value, in yield and quality, for cured hay; the effect on the aftermath or succeeding crops should also be considered. The main natural function of the plant is to repro-duce itself. Until its seed-bearing organs have been fertilized, it collects nutriment and stores it up in its tissues for the development and maturing of seeds. As soon as the flower is fertilized, the seed draws on the store of nourishment in the stems and leaves and the plant begins to harden. With some l uds of fodder plants, such as Blue-joint Grass, that depend largely on their roots for reproduction and bear few seeds, the hardening of the plant'-less pronounced; but in nearly all the most valuable kinds the change from succulent and pliable tissues to brittle and woody stems and leaves is rapid and marked. Even before fertilization, many of the fodder plants, such as Alfalfa, Western Rye Grass and Timothy, commence to harden.

If cut before the flowers are ripe for fertilization, the plant will renew its efforts to reproduce itself, and the aftermath or second crop


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