MEADOW FOXTAIL. 49
before most other grasses have made appreciable growth. It is useful wherever early pasture or hay is required.
Agricultural value: If grown for hay it should be cut when in bloom. The stems then contain a great amount of sugar, making the hay sweet and nutritive. After flowering, this sugar is used for the formation of the seed and the feeding value of the hay decreases rapidly. If grown for pasture, Meadow Foxtail furnishes an abundance of excellent fodder early in the season when there is nothing else to graze on. All kinds of stock like it. Where the land is suit-able, it is no doubt one of the most valuable grasses. It is practically always grown in a mixture.
Seed : Meadow Foxtail ripens its seed very quickly but rather unevenly. This makes harvesting comparatively difficult. In many places in Europe the seed is stripped off by hand. Gathered in such a way, it is dried in an airy place and turned daily for about two weeks. If not thus treated, germination will be rather low. Commercial seed is generally of low vitality, owing to uneven maturing. To secure a large amount of good seed, cut the crop a little before full maturity, make the sheaves small, stand them nine or ten together in round shocks and leave them to ripen. When grown alone, twenty to twenty-five pounds of seed to the acre are sufficient.
Good seed is straw-coloured and weighs from six to twelve pounds to the bushel.
It hath been noted that Seed of a year old is the best, and of two or three years is worse; and that which is more old is quite barren, though (no doubt) some Seeds and Grains last better than others.--Bacon, Natural History, 1625.
There is no storm that may them deface,
Nor hail, nor snow, nor wind nor frostes keen.
—Chaucer, The Flower and the Leaf, 1360.
Meadow lands should be selected in a rich, or else a moist or well-watered, soil, and care should be taken to draw the rain-water upon them from the highroad. The best method of ensuring a good crop of grass, is first to plough the land, and then to harrow it: but, before passing the harrow over it, the ground should be sprinkled with such seed as may have fallen from the hay in the hay-lofts and mangers The land should not be watered, however, the first year, nor should cattle be put to graze upon it before the second hay-harvest, for fear lest the blade should be torn up by the roots, or be trodden down and stunted in its growth.—Pliny, Natural History, 23-79.