Fodder: Soy Beans cannot compete with Red Clover as a hay maker in the regular farm rotation but can be used in case some spring crop fails. The hay is of high nutritive value if the crop is cut at the proper stage. This is when the pods begin to develop. If they are advanced, the hay will be woody and unpalatable and the leaves, which constitute the most nutritious part, will be shattered. From one and a half to two bushels of seed to the acre are required when intended for hay.
Seed growing: If handled right, Soy Beans give a profitable return when grown for seed. As the pods break up when fully ripe, late cutting causes loss, especially with the Medium Green variety which shatters the seed badly. The plants should be cut for seed when the pods begin to turn yellow. One bushel of seed should be sown to the acre.
Quality of seed: In some varieties the seeds are like peas in shape and size, in others they are twice as large, and in still others they are like small beans. The colour may be yellow, white, green, brown or black. The seed is rich in protein and oil, and can be used in the same way as other concentrated protein and oil feeds.
Botanical description: Rape, especially when young, looks like varieties of Swedish turnips. Its root, however, is not fleshy but is more like the root of a cabbage, penetrating the soil to a considerable depth. The leaves are numerous, large and spreading, bluish green, sweet, succulent and tender. The flowers are in a large open inflorescence, bright yellow and about half an inch wide when fully developed. They are fertilized by insects.
Geographical distribution: Wild Rape is indigenous to northern Europe, where it occurs especially along seashores. It is grown practically all over Europe, in northern Asia, the United States and eastern Canada.
Cultural conditions: Rape requires a good rich soil, well cultivated and with sufficient moisture. Best results arc obtained on clay loams which contain large amounts of organic matter. On light sandy soil or stiff clay the returns are generally small. It likes a moist and not too hot climate but can be grown in comparatively dry and hot regions if the soil is rich and holds some moisture.
Varieties: Rape is either annual or biennial. The annual varieties are grown principally for their seed and are called summer rape; winter rape, such as Dwarf Essex, is biennial. Only the latter varieties are important as fodder plants for Canada.
Habits of growth: The development of Dwarf Essex and other fodder varieties is not dissimilar to that of turnips. The seed should be sown at about the same rate per acre - two to four pounds - and at about the same time, either in drills or broadcast. The foliage is ready for pasture during the autumn. If protected against severe cold during the winter, the remaining stalks produce seed the following year.
Agricultural value: Rape has a high feeding value for sheep, pigs, store and fattening cattle. As it is very succulent - that is, contains a large percentage of water - it is difficult to cure it into hay and when cured it is of comparatively little value as the leaves crumble to powder. It is principally used for pasture and to some extent as a soiling crop. It is not much used for ensilage.
The rape is by no means difficult to please in soil, for it will grow almost anywhere, indeed where nothing else can be sown. It readily derives nutriment from fogs and hoar-frosts, and grows to a marvellous size; I have seen them weighing upwards of forty pounds. - Pliny, Natural History, 25-79.
With first approach of light we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Von flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth:
Those blossons also * * * *
That lie bestrown unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease. - Milton, Paradise Lost, 1669.
Some old men in Surrey............report, That they knew the first Gardiners that came into these parts, to plant Cabbages, Colleflowers, and to sowe Turnips, Carrets, and Parsnips, to sowe Raith or (early ripe) Rape, Pease, all of which at that time were great rarities, we having few, or none in England, but what came from Holland and Flanders. These Gardiners with much ado procured a plot of good ground, and gave no lesse than 8 pound per Acre; yet the Gentleman was not content, fearing they would spoil his ground: because they did use to dig it. So ignorant were we of Gardening. in those dayes. - Samuel Hartlib, The Compleat Husbandman, 1659.