Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station.

Bulletin - Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station (Volume no.379-398) online

. (page 9 of 77)
Online LibraryMassachusetts Agricultural Experiment StationBulletin - Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station (Volume no.379-398) → online text (page 9 of 77)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

accumulation of organic matter and a degradation of the soil's physical condition.
Surface-applied fertilizers are fairly effective in correcting soil mineral deficiencies,
but they accomplish little toward improving the physical condition of the soil.
In many permanent pastures the slopes are either so steep or rocky or already
so encumbered by brush growth that it is practically impossible to make fertilizer
treatments. Permanent pastures also present a difficult problem with respect
to organic matter because, while a sod may build up organic matter in the soil,
this material is not effectively utilized unless it is turned under and allowed to
decay. As a final consideration it must be pointed out that pasture standards
have probably risen in recent years. A permanent pasture which may have been
wholly satisfactory for beef cattle or sheep one hundred years ago is quite in-
adequate for the average dairy herd of today.

What place, therefore, will the permanent pasture have in present-day pasture
systems? This question cannot be answered definitely because conditions will
vary from farm to farm, but certain generalizations can be made. In pastures
where the soil is retentive of moisture and where moderate regular applications
of fertilizers will maintain a good bluegrass-white clover sod, much good economi-
cal grazing ma\' be had during the spring and fall months and, depending on the


weather, a fair amount during midsummer. If a considerable acreage of such
land is available (a situation rare in Massachusetts) and some form of supple-
mentary grazing is available during midsummer, permanent pastures maj' supply
most of the grazing requirements. An extensive system such as this can be used to
particular advantage with beef cattle, dry stock, young stock, and sheep, or with
dairy cattle on medium production. On most farms, it is desirable to main-
tain a number of small permanent pasture lots conveniently located near the
buildings to be used as overnight pasture or for some other reason in which ac-
cessibility is important.

It is obvious that there are in Massachusetts large acreages of permanent
pastures, much of which should and probably will shortly revert to forest.

Semi-Permanent Pastures

Adequately fertilized, well-managed, semi-permanent pastures have great
potentialities. Not only will such pastures go far in solving the pasture problem
in Massachusetts but, in addition, they will aid greatly in solving problems
relating to soil fertility and soil conservation. Where land acreage is limited
and grazing requirements heavy, the normal condition throughout most of the
State, a source of grazing must be sought which is more productive and more
dependable than the permanent pasture. Semi-permanent pastures are already
extensively used and the acreage is rapidly increasing. One of the principal
reasons why farmers have not used this type of pasture to a still greater extent
is that many of them do not even yet full>- appreciate many of iis actual and
potential advantages

Perhaps the most important advantage of the semi-permanent pasture is that
once every few years the farmer has an opportunity tc deal directly with that all-
important problem of soil fertility. When he plows to seed or reseed a field, he
can apply adequate amounts of suitable fertilizer as well as barnyard manure
and he can mix these materials thoroughly through the plow laj^er of soil where
they will most effectively promote the growth of the new seeding. Plowing makes
possible the decomposition of the old sod or any other kind of raw organic matter
which may have been turned under so that, where mineral deficiencies have been
satisfied, the many benefits which accrue from decomposing organic matter in
the soil may be realized. The semi-permanent pasture presents an opportunity
to deal directly with the pasture soil fertility problem easily and effectively.
Stapledon has recently written, "If only all interests concerned will properly
evaluate the meaning and far-reaching implications of the golden word ferlility,
then great things will indeed happen. "'^^

The semi-permanent pasture gives the farmer an opportunity to control, for a
few years at least, the kind of plant he grows in his pastures. He can seed pasture
strains of species which will deliver not only much greater total herbage yields,
but yields which are well sustained throughout the grazing season despite the
vagaries of the weather. He is able to select plants particularly well adapted to
certain kinds of livestock or a particular type of soil or to suit any personal prefer-
ences. It is only the semi-permanent pasture which will benefit greatlv from the
present extensive program of plant breeding which is being carried on all over
the world.

A third important attribute of the semi-permanent pasture is its great flex-
ibility. Many of the seeding mixtures can be used for hay, for grass silage, or for
pasture. This gives the farmer a splendid opportunity to insure his grazing re-

^'*''Plough-Up Policy and Ley Farming, p. 170.


quirements against the unfavorable effects of the weather. In favorable seasons
the surplus crop can be made into hay or grass silage. In unfavorable seasons
any surpluses which existed at earlier periods can be used to fill later feed require-
ments. By using strains and species of varying seasonal maturities in different
fields, he can spread his haying or grass silage operations over a longer period of
time and in doing so he can make more effective use of his rowen or aftermath
grazing. It must be conceded that the semi-permanent pasture magnifies the
grazing management problem, but the benefits to be derived from a well-co-
ordinated, properly controlled system of grazing far outweigh the few disadvan-
tages which exist.

The last important potentiality of the seeded or rotation pasture is the logical
role it should play in a well-conceived system of "grassland agriculture." In the
writer's opinion, a grassland system of agriculture for Massachusetts does not
imply decreasing the acreage of tilled crops and increasing the acreage in grass,
nor does it mean keeping to the present long-continued practice of growing tilled
crops continuously on certain restricted parts of the farm and grass continuously
on other parts. A logical system of grassland farming will alternate insofar as
practical the tilled crop with the sod crop, a system which will operate to the
mutual advantage of both crops. More than a hundred years ago S. F. Dickinson
said of farming in Massachusetts, "Alternate ploughing and seeding is a valuable
substitute for manure; and an economical method of keeping land in heart. 'i^^
Stapledon has more recently written, "The ley itself is the pivotal crop in any
good system of alternate husbandry, both for the feed it produces and for the sod
it develops. Both feed and sod properly disposed of carry fertility around the
whole farm. "1*6

The difficulties which have frequently been enountered in Massachusetts in
the use of sod crops in rotations probably resulted from inadequate fertilizing
of the land while it was in sod. When the hay or pasture crop is permitted to
exhaust most of the available soil fertility, an operation at which grass is very
efficient, the succeeding crop, particulary if it is one with high fertility require-
ments, will usually make poor and unsatisfactory growth.

The grass crop is one of infinite usefulness and one which can be made to serve
a wide variety of purposes; but its success, together with the success of crops
grown in rotation with it, centers around the key words soil fertility.

^^^Address to the Hampshire. Franklin and Hampden County Agricultural Society (Amherst,

1831), p. 10.
l**Plough-Up Policy and Ley Farming, p. 150.


Bulletin No. 381 February 1941

Spraying to Control
Preharvest Drop of Apples

By Lawrence Southwick and J. K. Shaw

The use of "hormone sprays" to reduce preharvest drop is a new devel-
opment. This bulletin reports results of recently conducted tests in an
attempt to evaluate the method, especially in relation to Mcintosh.


Effect of Hormone Sprays on Preharvest Drop

^^ V>.-*4 ^^f^/-% ,#

Thebc pliotuyiaphb, ihuw the marked difference in the amount uf drop in one 24-hour
period, September 2-3, 1940, between sprayed and check Duchess trees. The tree in the
upper picture rece>ved a hormone spray on August 28. The response was outstanding and
was unequaled in tests with other varieties. (See Table 1 and text.)


By Lawrence Southwick, Research Assistant in Pomology
and J. K. Shaw, Research Professor of Pomology


Tlie dropping of fruit just before and during harvest often causes con-
siderable loss to apple growers. In Massachusetts the problem centers
around Alclntosh, the leading commercial variety and a notoriously "bad
dropper." However, this fault is not limited to any one variety. It is
natural for any apple upon approaching or attaining maturity to terminate
its iiitiiiiale connection with the tree and fall to the ground. Nature's
purpose has been accomplished in the production of mature seetls to per-
petuate the species. But unlike nature, man is concerned primarily with
tiie flesh of the apple which, unfortunately, is particularly susceptible to
physical injury and deterioration. In short, apples belong to the class
of very perishable "handle with care" farm products and many precautions
are necessary to prevent bruising. One of the first requisites is to harvest
apples before they drop to the ground. On the other hand, apples should
be allowed to mature properly in order to develop size, color, and quality.
W'itli some varieties, this development is not as satisfactory at the time
dropping begins as with seme others. Mcintosh is a good example. P>e-
cause of its recognized tendency to drop before full development, many
Mcintosh are harvested early and thus deprived of the chance to develop
that exquisite quality that should be associated with this variety. This is
especially true with the larger orchards where, in order to finish the har-
vest before disastrous dropping takes place, an extra early start is a
practical necessity. A further impetus to early picking is the insistent
ilemand for Mcintosh at that time. Buyers urge growers to "color pick"
ill order that this demand may be supplied. Too often this demand is
over-suppliefl with immature, poor-quality fruit. Consumers, fooled once,
do not reorder and demand slackens. This depresses prices, which olten
-liow a decided tendency to resist a later, usually justified upward trend.
In siiort, low-quality ofiferings at any time may limit the immediate sale^.
lower current prices, and even depress the price level for later oilerings
of better quality. Any development which promises to aid materially in
getting apples to the consumer in prime condition is a step in the right
direction. The proper use of the recently developed lionnone sprays may

Development of Quality

The ultimate quality which an apple can develop depends to a consifl-
erable degree on its stage of development at the moment it is harvested.
Following its removal from the tree, which has furnished its entire nour-
ishment, an apple continues to respire and in so doing proceeds to use up
its own energy resources. A stage called the "climacteric" is eventually


reached, by which time an apple has developed "good eating condition."
That ultimate eating quality is due in large part to initial ([uah'ty at time
of picking is a logical conclusion. This is apparent in the generally ac-
cepted notion that Mcintosh apples which have matured fairly well on
the tree develop the highest eating quality. "Green" Mcintosh, on the
contrary, never do reach this state. The idea that apples improve in cold
storage is basically false. Low temperatures simply prolong the interval
of ripening. Of course, no increase in red color occurs in storage. Studies
at this Station and elsewhere indicate that delated picking of Mclntosli is
imperative if the highest quality development is desired. Further, the
studies show that early-picked "green" fruit often stores rather poorly.
Color ant[ quah'ty in a crop from a given tree are often closely associated.

Use of Hormones

The use of hormone sprays to delay dropping of Mcintosh just prior
to and during harvest, if sufficiently successful, sliould encourage grower.s
to delay picking somewhat in order to take advantage of this critical
period in quality and color development. Improvement of an entire
crop in these factors would be a significant accomplishment, especially
if it were not accompanied by disproportionate losses due to excessive
tiropping. Further, it has been shown in a previous publication (6) that
Mcintosh apples continue to grow in size into October and that a ver\-
significant increase in yield results from this late-season growth. It is
the purpose of this bulletin to analyze briefly the results of some drop
control experiments at the Massachusetts Experiment Station in 1940
and to evaluate the method in the light of the considci'ations just dis-


The work involved several tests Avith four varieties. Each test included
two or three to many comparisons. Five commercial proprietary products
and the pure naphthalene acetic acid powder were used. When the pure
cliemical was used, it was dissolved in a small quantity of alcohol and
was then added directly to the water in the spray tank. Its low rate
vjf solubility in water made this procedure necessary. The commercial
products, being specially prepared to take care of this solubility problem,
were used as received. When the manufacturers' directions were followe

Online LibraryMassachusetts Agricultural Experiment StationBulletin - Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station (Volume no.379-398) → online text (page 9 of 77)