Method of Exterminating Johnson Grass. Page: 1 of 2
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CLAY HARPOLD, OF CLEBURNE, TEXAS.
METHOD OF EXTERMINATING JOHNSON GRASS.
SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 678,468, dated July 16, 1901.
Application filed July 16, 1900. Serial No 23,832, (No specimens)
To all whom it-7nay corncer'7f:
Be it known that I, CLAY HARPOLD, a citi-
zen of the United States, residing at Cle-
burne, in the county of Johnson and State
5 of Texas, have invented a new and useful
Process for Exterminating Johnson Grass, of
which the following is a specification.
The object of my invention is to extermi-
nate the Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense)
to prevalent in many of the southern States,
especially in the cotton-growing districts.
This grass has been a great pest in the south-
ern countries, and various methods have
been tried to exterminate it. Numerous
15 plowings and harrowings have been resorted
to; but this method is only efficient when car-
ried on with great labor and expense, which
often exceeds the value of the land itself.
Another method heretofore employed is to
20 apply substances for poisoning the grass; but
this also poisons the land and prevents crops
being grown on the land for several years,
besides being expensive.
The roots of Johnson grass vary from a few
25 inches to three or four feet in length, with
joints from one-half to two inches in length,
and these roots are from one-fourth inch to
one-half inch in diameter. Most of them are
flat and crooked. The roots throw out shoots
3o or sprouts from the joints and produce a
large number of twine-roots from every joint:
The grass appears in the early spring and
grows slowly for about two months, then very
rapidly for the next few weeks, during which
35 time-it multiplies rapidly both above and be-
low the ground and continues to do so until
midsummer or maturity, if the soil is dry.
If the soil is wet, it multiplies much faster
than formerly under ground till dry again.
4o The roots often occupy one-half of the space
near the surface of the ground, the area de-
creasing as the roots descend. The grass
often grows to a height of nine or ten feet
and is very thickly arranged on the surface of
45 the ground. It will readily be understood
from this description what a difficult grass I
have to deal with and how desirable it is to
get rid of it by a simple process.
I find that by stimulating the growth of the
50 grass by shallow winter breaking and thor-
ough harrowing as deep as the ground is
broken and by systematic cultivation car-
ried on in a particular way I can extract the
vitality from the roots and cause them to de-
cay prematurely, leaving behind no material 55
for producing a second crop.
Broadly stated, my process consists in
breaking the soil and pulverizing as deep as
broken to admit air, light, and moisture and
severing the grass from the roots at stated 6o
periods to cause the roots to produce repeated
crops, and thus finally extracting all the vi-
tality from the roots and exhausting them.
In carrying out my invention I break the
ground during the winter-af ter the first kill- 65
ing frost and before the grass begins to grow
in the spring. The ground is preferably at
this time broken to a depth of three inches or
less. The broken ground is then pulverized
as deep as broken by harrowing, and when 70
this is done no further cultivation is resorted
to until time is given for the grass to grow
vigorously to the height of one to three feet.
After this-say about April 20-I break the
ground again, this time taking care to turn 75
out of sight the grass which has appeared
during the interval between the first and sec-
ond breaking and pulverizing of the soil.
The broken ground is then pulverized as deep
as broken, and this should occur some time 8o
after the second breaking-say a week. This
gives time for the butts of grass to heat and
decay. A week or ten days after the last
harrowing I cultivate the ground as deep as
mellow to prevent the twine-roots of the grass 85
from tying themselves together in the ground
and forming a sod and to keep the soil loose.
I again cultivate the soil four to seven times-
each time as deep as mellow-at intervals of
a week to twenty days apart. I allow suffi- 90
cient time between the several cultivatings
to allow the grass to sprout and grow to some
extent, and then destroy this growth by cul-
tivation as deep as mellow.
The cultivations above described should 95
be as deep as land is mellow, which at this
stage of the process will be to a depth of from
six to eight inches. Repeated cultivations
cause the loose soil to be deeper than when
begun at three inches in winter. zoo
The deep cultivations referred to do not
kill the grass, but rather stimulate for a time
the growth of the grass, causing the vitality
of the roots to be exhausted. If instead of
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Harpold, Clay. Method of Exterminating Johnson Grass., patent, July 16, 1901; [Washington D.C.]. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth508530/m1/1/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.