Cows love canna lily tops and they would eat the root if I let them. Sheep don't touch it therefore they can be grazed on canna as in crop weed control then when the crop is ready cattle can be used to defoliate. Some damage may occur to bulbs from hooves or bites if left to long on it. The defoliation makes harvest easier. Another issue may be fresh manure in field shortly before harvest. Or you could leave the bulbs in the ground the removal of the tops would cause the Canna to re-sprout rapidly. We would want to defoliate our plants around the time of the last rains in the fall that way they can start regrowth at the beginning of the dry season when they would normally be going dormant. That is a lesson learned from syntropic agroforestry practices. Without any human intervention the plants tend to sprout new growth approximately one and a half months before the rainy season begins. That is a good reason to leave the plants in over the winter and allow them to provide early green fodder in Spring rather than harvesting the bulbs. The bulbs could be harvested the second year but weeds could become a problem in full sun. Weeds become much less of an issue if some other crop provides shade and as I said if sheep are used to control weeds. Trees and canna is the ideal mix but not so ideal for mechanical harvesting
A consortium of canna, nopal, raspberry and maybe crinum could be maintained by sheep and then the canna nopal and crinum would be largely consumed by cattle at key times like spring and fall to try and promote fruiting of the raspberries. This system would ultimately benefit the trees because the undergrowth especially grasses would be suppressed. The raspberries would get grazed a certain amount but as long as animals are kept out during periods of extreme drought this shouldn't do much harm to raspberry because they prefer other plants they only eat raspberry leaves when they are basically the only leaf left.
I know this system will work because it is a system that I have come up with through observation as it is already in place at my house but not on the larger farms. Currently we do not have enough canna nopal raspberry or crinum to fill all the space between trees in the rows. We have about 3linear km of tree rows to try and fill. We are coming close to filling up the cacti neich with about 1/3 of the row length filled canna is a far second with maybe 1% of the amount that I hope to grow.
Jeff Hodgins wrote:Just to clarify what I'm talking about is basically growing fruit and vegetables with grazing by using in this case three plants that sheep will not eat and that cattle will eat.
This is very interesting and a great point. I'm in the desert SW of the US, and I have been propagating some canna edulis, but I did not realize all the applications.
Could you give a few more details? I think this could help people visualize how this system would apply for their situation. I'm curious as to:
What type of planting zone/climate are you in? (High temps, low temps, general climate?)
What rainfall do you receive?
Which variety of crinum are you referring to? What all do you use it for?
Do you have any pics you can post of your current system?
Thanks for this fascinating idea! I certainly have loads of nopal, the canna is multiplying well, and I'm also growing raspberries. I can't put these out in the open here because of the boar-like animal here called a pecarry (or javelina), and an incredible amount of rabbits who will eat these things. But I have fenced gardens where I'm propagation these plants, except the crinum. I'm very interested in wider applications for these plants.
Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts. ~Wendell Berry
I live in a summer rain fall climate in Puebla. We can get frost at night but not usually too cold. We had one night with a low of -5 about 5years ago that killed many of my limes and made me rethink what I grow. Canna and nopal are both going down to about -8 for canna as long as the ground doesn't freeze. We grow the white crinum and the pink ones. Crinum latifolium. I think I mentioned that I'm not sure on side effects of feeding crinum to cattle but they definitely want to eat it. I mostly graze the Shep in areas that have crinum and canna because the cattle go straight for them.
The area currently grazed on a regular basis does not contain much nopal just because I grow the nopal on the farm where I have more space. It does however contain some nopal and the cows will sometimes eat it. Canna and Crinum on the other hand get eaten like cow candy. Basically have a very dense orchard and the raspberries grow best in the areas with shade canna lily also likes to grow in the dense areas. It's planted in less of a consortium and more in patches but the sheep have free run of it for a few hours each day. The Crinum is used as chop and drop mulch and cattle feed I guess because they do sneek over and eat it often if no one is watching.