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Publication #SS-AGR-156

Agronomic Crop Species and Variety Selection 1

D. L. Wright, A. Blount, and E. B. Whitty2

A field or forage crop may include several species within a genus and several varieties within a species, or may consist of a single species with no recognized varieties.

In choosing the genus, species, or variety of crop to be grown, the following seven characteristics should be kept in mind: (1) growth cycle; (2) growing season; (3) adaptation to soils and climate; (4) uses of the crops; (5) yield and quality of the harvested product; (6) resistance to insects, diseases, and nematodes; and (7) market acceptability of the variety.

New or unfamiliar species and/or varieties should not be planted on large acreages until they have been evaluated and performed satisfactorily for a number of years on relatively small areas on a particular farm or those in close proximity. Even if a particular species or variety has performed well in experimental or other trials, a grower should be familiar with the characteristics and particular cultural requirements of the species or variety before large acreages are planted. However, many crops have been genetically transformed to include herbicide or insecticide traits or combinations with as many as 5–7 stacked events in one plant. Parent lines may have been widely grown and new gene insertions can result in different performance.

The potential for an introduced species or variety to become a noxious, invasive, or otherwise undesirable plant should be considered before the initial planting. Check to be sure that any plant selected is not on the invasive or noxious weed lists, which may prohibit planting or propogation. Some desirable plants may become difficult to control in other crops. For example, crotalaria and hairy indigo were introduced into Florida as green-manure crops, but soon became major pests in other crops. Some grasses such as cogongrass may root so deeply that they are difficult to control or eradicate. Other plants may harbor diseases, nematodes, or insects that attack crops. Several of the species listed in Table 1 could be undesirable in many situations if proper precautions are not followed.

The field and forage crops that could be grown in Florida are described in Table 1, as to common name, scientific name, plant family, growth cycle, growing season, method of propagation, and area adaptations. Recommended varieties of the major field crops grown in Florida are listed in appropriate variety reports.

Tables

Table 1. 

Growth characteristics and adaptations of field and forage crops grown in Florida.

Common Name/

(Plant Family)1/

Scientific Name

Growth

Cycle2

Season of Maximum Growth

Method of Propagation

Seed/lb

(1000)

Section of State Where Adapted3

         

NW

NE

C

S

Aeschynomene (L)

Aeschynomene spp.

A

Summer

Seed

200-220

*

*

*

*

Alfalfa (L)

Medicago sativa

P 4

Winter

Seed

210

*

*

*

*

Alyceclover (L)

Alysicarpus vaginalis

A

Summer

Seed

300

*

*

*

*

Austrian winter pea (L)

Pisum arvense

A

Winter

Seed

5

*

*

*

*

Bahiagrasses (G)

Paspalum notatum

P

Summer

Seed

120-240

*

*

*

*

Barley (G)

Hordeum vulgare

A

Winter

Seed

13

*

*

*

*

Beggarweed, Florida (L)

Desmodium purpureum

A

Summer

Seed

200

*

*

*

*

Bermudagrasses (G)

Cynodon dactylon

P

Summer

S&V

1800

*

*

*

*

Buffelgrass (G)

Pennisetum ciliare

P

Summer

Seed

3200

*

*

*

*

Bur-clover, California (L)

Medicago hispida

A

Winter

Seed

150

*

*

*

*

Bur-clover, spotted (L)

Medicago arabica

A

Winter

Seed

230

*

*

*

-

Canola (B)

Brassica napus

A

Winter

Seed

120

*

*

-

-

Caribgrass (G)

Eriochloa polystachya

P

Summer

Veg.

---

-

-

-

*

Carpetgrass (G)

Axonopus affinis

P

Summer

Seed

1250

*

*

*

*

Cassava (Sp)

Manihot esculenta

P 4

Summer

Veg.

---

*

*

*

*

Castorbean (Sp)

Ricinus communis

P

Summer

Seed

1

*

*

*

*

Chufa (Se)

Cyperus esculentus

P 4

Summer

Veg.

---

*

*

*

-

Clover, arrowleaf (L)

Trifolium vesiculosum

A

Winter

Seed

400

*

-

-

-

Clover, berseem (L)

Trifolium alexandrinum

A

Winter

Seed

200

-

-

*

*

Clover, crimson (L)

Trifolium incarnatum

A

Winter

Seed

150

*

-

-

-

Clover, hop (L)

Trifolium campestre

A

Winter

Seed

1000

*

*

*

-

Clover, hop, large (L)

Trifolium aureum

A

Winter

Seed

2200

*

*

*

-

Clover, hop, small (L)

Trifolium dubium

A

Winter

Seed

1000

*

*

*

-

Clover, Persian (L)

Trifolium resupinatum

A

Winter

Seed

640

*

*

*

*

Clover, rose (L)

Trifolium hirsutum

A

Winter

Seed

170

*

     

Clover, red (L)

Trifolium pratense

P 4

Winter

Seed

275

*

*

*

*

Clover, sub (L)

Trifolium subterraneum

A

Winter

Seed

60

*

-

-

-

Clover, white (L)

Trifolium repens

P 4

Winter

Seed

800

*

*

*

*

Clover, white, Ladino (L)

Trifolium repens

P 4

Winter

Seed

800

*

*

*

*

Corn (G) Zea mays

A

Summer

Seed

1.1-1.8

*

*

*

*

Cotton, Sea Island (M)

Gossypium barbadense

P 4

Summer

Seed

4

*

*

*

-

Cotton, upland (M)

Gossypium hirsutum

P 4

Summer

Seed

4

*

*

*

-

Cowpea (L)

Vigna Uniquiculata

A

Summer

Seed

2-6

*

*

*

*

Crotalaria, lance (L)

Crotalaria lanceolata

A

Summer

Seed

170

*

*

*

*

Crotalaria, showy (L)

Crotalaria spectabilis

A

Summer

Seed

33

*

*

*

*

Crotalaria, slenderleaf (L)

Crotalaria intermedia

A

Summer

Seed

97

*

*

*

*

Crotalaria, striped (L)

Crotalaria mucronata

A

Summer

Seed

80

*

*

*

*

Dallisgrass (G)

Paspalum dilatatum

P

Summer

Seed

230

*

-

-

-

Digitgrasses (G)

Digitaria decumbens

P

Summer

Veg.

---

-

-

*

*

Fescue tall (G)

Festuca arundinacea

P

Winter

Seed

230

*

*

*

*

Guineagrass (G)

Panicum maximum

P

Summer

Seed

1000

-

-

*

*

Limpograss (G)

Hermarthria altissima

P

Summer

Veg.

---

*

*

*

*

Indigo, hairy (L)

Indigofera hirsuta

A

Summer

Seed

200

*

*

*

*

Johnsongrass (G)

Sorghum halepense

P

Summer

Seed

130

*

*

*

*

Kudzu (L)

Pueraria thumbergiana

P

Summer

S&V

40

*

*

*

*

Hemp, Sunn

Crotalaria Junceae

A

Summer

Seed

15

*

*

*

*

Lespedeza (L)

Lespedsa Striata

A

Summer

Seed

200-340

*

*

*

*

Lovegrass, weeping (G)

Eragrostis curvula

P

Summer

Seed

1500

*

*

*

*

Lupine, blue (L)

Lupinus angustifolius

A

Winter

Seed

2

*

*

*

-

Lupine, yellow (L)

Lupinus luteus

A

Winter

Seed

3.6

*

*

*

-

Medic, black (L)

Medicago lupilina

A

Winter

Seed

280

*

*

*

-

Molassesgrass (G)

Melinis minutiflorum

P

Summer

Seed

6800

-

-

*

*

Napiergrass (G)

Pennisetum purpureum

P

Summer

Veg.

---

*

*

*

*

Oats (G)

Avena sativa

A

Winter

Seed

13

*

*

*

*

Pangolagrass (G)

Digitaria decumbens

P

Summer

Veg.

---

-

-

*

*

Paragrass (G)

Panicum purpurascens

P

Summer

Veg.

---

-

-

-

*

Pea, field (L)

Pisum sativum

A

Winter

Seed

4

*

*

*

*

Peanut (L)

Arachis hypogea

A

Summer

Seed

0.5-1.0

*

*

*

-

Peanut, perennial (L)

Arachis glabrata

P

Summer

Veg.

---

*

*

*

*

Pearlmillet (G)

Pennisetum glaucum

A

Summer

Seed

88

*

*

*

*

Pigeon Pea (L)

Cajanus cajun

A

Summer

Seed

5.5-6.0

*

*

*

*

Ramie (N)

Beohmeria nivea

P

Summer

Veg.

---

-

-

-

*

Rape (B)

Brassica napus

B

Winter

Seed

104

*

*

*

*

Rescuegrass (G)

Bromus catharticus

A

Winter

Seed

62

*

*

-

-

Rhodesgrass (G)

Chloris gayana

P

Summer

Seed

2000

-

-

*

*

Rice (G)

Oryza sativa

A

Summer

Seed

15-25

*

*

*

*

Roughpea (L)

Lathyrus hirsutus

A

Winter

Seed

15

*

-

-

-

Rye (G) Secale cereale

A

Winter

Seed

18

*

*

*

*

Ryegrass, Italian (G)

Lolium multiflorum

A

Winter

Seed

227

*

*

*

*

S. humilis (L)

Stylosanthes guianesis

A

Summer

Seed

180-220

-

-

*

*

St. Augustinegrass (G)

Stenotaphrum secundatum

P

Summer

Veg.

---

-

-

*

*

Sericea (L)

Lespedeza cuneata

P

Summer

Seed

360

*

-

-

-

Sesbania (L)

Sesbania exaltata

A

Summer

Seed

44

*

*

*

*

Sorghum (G)

Sorghum bicolor

A

Summer

Seed

28

*

*

*

*

Sourclover (L)

Melilotus indica

A

Winter

Seed

300

*

*

*

*

Soybean (L)

Glycine max

A

Summer

Seed

2.8-8

*

*

*

*

Stargrass, (G)

Cynodon aethiopicus

P

Summer

Veg.

---

-

-

*

*

Sudangrass (G)

Sorghum vulgare sudanese

A

Summer

Seed

55

*

*

*

*

Sugarcane (G)

Saccharum sp.5

P

Summer

Veg.

---

*

*

*

*

Sweetclover (L)

Melilotus alba

A

Winter

Seed

250

*

*

*

*

Sunflower (Thistle)

Helianthus annuus

A

Summer

Seed

3-9

*

*

*

*

Tobacco (Nightshade)

Nicotiana tabacum

A

Summer

Seed

5000

*

*

*

-

Torpedograss (G)

Panicum repens

P

Summer

Veg.

500

-

-

*

*

Trefoil, big (L)

Lotus uliginosis

P

Winter

Seed

1200

*

*

*

*

Trefoil, birdsfoot (L)

Lotus corniculatus

P

Winter

Seed

400

*

*

*

*

Triticale (G)

Triticosecale

A

Winter

Seed

---

*

*

-

-

Vaseygrass (G)

Paspalum urvillei

P

Summer

Seed

440

*

*

*

*

Velvetbean (L)

Mucna pruriens

A

Summer

Seed

0.8-1.2

*

*

*

*

Vetch, common (L)

Vicia sativa

A

Winter

Seed

8

*

-

-

-

Vetch, hairy (L)

Vicia villosa

A

Winter

Seed

18

*

-

-

-

Vetch, monantha (L)

Vicia arthculata

A

Winter

Seed

12

*

-

-

-

Vetch, woollypod (L)

Vicia dasycarpa

A

Winter

Seed

10

*

-

-

-

Wheat (G)

Triticum aestium

A

Winter

Seed

12-20

*

*

*

*

1 A = annual; P = perennial; B = biennial

2 L = Legume; G = Grass; M = Mallow; B = Brassica; Sp = Spurge; Se = Sedge; N = Nettle

3 NW = northwest; NE = northeast; C = central; S = south

4 Grown as an annual under Florida conditions

5 All sugarcane varieties currently grown commercially are hybrids produced from crosses of Saccharum species, the most important of which are S. officinarum and S. spoutaneum.

Footnotes

1.

This document is SS-AGR-156, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, UF/IFAS Extension. First printed December 1992. Revised November 2008. Reviewed December 2014. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

D. L. Wright, professor, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy, FL; A. Blount, professor, UF/IFAS North Florida REC, Quincy, FL; and E. B. Whitty, professor emeritus, Agronomy Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.