Having long resided in the best wheat-growing district in the Union, the writer has devoted years of study and observation to all the influences of soil, climate, and constitutional peculiarities, which affect this bread-bearing plant. It is far more liable to smut, rust, and shrink in some soils than in others. This is true in western New York, and every other section where wheat has long been cultivated. As the alkalies and other fertilizing elements become exhausted in the virgin soils of America, its crops of wheat not only become smaller on an average, but the plants fail in constitutional vigor, and are more liable to diseases and attacks from parasites and destructive insects. Defects in soil and improper nutrition lead to these disastrous results. Soils are defective in the following particulars:
1. They lack soluble silica, or flint in an available form, with which to produce a hard glassy stem that will be little subject to "rust." Soluble flint is never very abundant in cultivated soils; and after they have been tilled some years, the supply is deficient in quantity. It is not very difficult to learn with considerable accuracy the amount of silica which rain-water as it falls on the earth will dissolve out of 1,000 grains of soil in the course of eight or ten days. Hot water will dissolve more than cold; and water charged with carbonic acid more than pure water which has been boiled. The experiments of Prof. Rogers of the University of Virginia, as published in Silliman's Journal, have a direct bearing on this subject. The researches of Prof. Emmons of Albany, in his elaborate and valuable work on "Agriculture," as a part of the Natural History of New York, show that 10,000 parts of soil yield only from one to three parts of soluble silica. The analyses of Dr Jackson, as published in his Geological Survey of New Hampshire, give similar results. Earth taken from an old and badly exhausted field in Georgia, gave the writer only one part of soluble flint in 100,000.
What elements of crops rain water, at summer heat, will dissolve out of ten or twenty pounds of soil, in the course of three months, is a point in agricultural science which should be made the subject of numerous and rigid experiments. In this way, the capabilities of different soils and their adaptation to different crops may be tested, in connection with practical experiments in field culture, on the same kind of earth.
Few wheat-growers are aware how much dissolved flint an acre of good wheat demands to prevent its having coarse, soft, and spongy stems, which are anything but a healthy organization of the plant. In the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, vol. 7, there is an extended "Report on the Analysis of the Ashes of Plants, by Thomas Way, Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester," which gives the result of sixty-two analyses of the ash of wheat, from as many samples of that grain, mostly grown on different soils and under different circumstances.
In this report are given the quantity of wheat per acre, the weight of straw cut close to the ground to the acre, and also that of the chaff. These researches show, that from ninety-three to one hundred and fifty pounds of soluble flint are required to form an acre of wheat; and I will add from my own investigations, that three-fourths of this silica is demanded by nature during the last sixty days preceding the maturing of the crop. This is the period in which the stem acquires its solidity and strength, and most of its incombustible earthy matter. The quantity of this varies from three to fifteen per cent. of the weight of the straw. Prof. Johnston and Sir Humphry Davy give instances in which more than fifteen per cent. of ash was found; and Prof. Way gives cases where less than three per cent. were obtained. The mean of forty samples was four and a half per cent. Dr. Sprengel gives three and a half as the mean of his analyses. M. Boussingault found an average of seven per cent. As flint is truly the bone of all the grass family, imparting to them strength, as in cane, timothy, corn, oats, rye, rice, millet, and the proportion of this mineral varies as much in wheat-straw, as bone does in very lean and very fat hogs or cattle.
A young growing animal, whether a child or a colt, that is kept on food which lacks bone-earth, (phosphate of lime,) will have soft cartilaginous bones. Nature cannot substitute iron or any other mineral in the animal system, out of which to form hard strong bones; nor can any other mineral in the soil perform the peculiar function assigned to silica in the vital economy of cereal plants. To protect the living germs in the seeds of wheat, corn, oats, rye, barley, &c, the cuticle or bran of these seeds contains considerable flint. The same is true of chaff.
The question naturally arises,—How is the farmer to increase the quantity of soluble silica or flint in his soil? This is a question of the highest practical importance. There are three principal ways in which the object named may be attained. First, by keeping fewer acres under the plough. Land in pasture, if well managed, will gain its fertility, and in the process accumulate soluble silica in the surface soil. In this way more wheat and surer crops may be made by cultivating a field in wheat two years than four or six. If the field in the mean time be devoted to wool-growing, butter or cheese-making, or to stock-raising, particular care must be taken to make great crops of grass or clover to grow on the land, and have all the manure, both solid and liquid, applied to its surface.
There are many counties in England that yield an average of thirty-two bushels of wheat per acre for ten crops in succession. There are but few of the old counties in the United States which average the half of that quantity: and yet America has greater agricultural capabilities than that of Great Britain.
Another way to increase soluble silica in the soil, is to grow such crops, in rotation with wheat culture, as will best prevent the loss of dissolved flint, at any time by leaching and washing, through the agency of rain water. This remark is intended to apply more particularly to those large districts devoted to cotton and tobacco culture, plants that take up no considerable amount of silica, and which by the constant stirring of the earth, and the clean tillage which they demand, favor the leaching of the soil. To keep too much of a plantation of these crops, is to lessen its capabilities for producing good crops of corn, wheat, and barley, at a small expense. Corn plants, well managed, will extract more pounds of silica in three or six months from the soil, than any other. As not an ounce of this mineral is needed in the animal economy of man or beast, it can all be composted in cornstalks, blades, and cobs, or in the dung and urine derived from corn, and be finally reorganized in the stems of wheat plants. Corn culture and wheat culture, if skilfully and scientifically conducted, go admirably together. Of the two, more bread, more meat, and more money can be made from the corn than from the wheat plant in this country. But so soon as what is called "high farming" in England, shall be popular in the United States, the crops both of wheat and corn grown here will demonstrate how little we appreciate the vast superiority of our climate for the economical feeding and clothing of the human family, over that of our "mother country." In several counties in England, it takes from twelve to fourteen months to make a crop of wheat, after the seed is put into the ground. At or near the first of December, 1847, Mr. M.B. Moore, of Augusta, Ga., sowed a bushel of seed wheat on an acre and a half of ground, which gave him over thirty bushels by the middle of May following. This ground was then ploughed, and a fine crop of hay made and cut in July. After this, a good crop of peas was raised, and harvested in October, before it was time to seed with wheat again, as was done. While the mean temperature of England is so low, that corn plants will not ripen, in Georgia one can grow a crop of wheat in the winter, and nearly two crops of corn in succession in the summer and autumn, before it is time to sow wheat again. No writer, to my knowledge, has done full justice to the vast agricultural resources of the southern portion of the American confederacy. But there is much of its soil which is not rich in the elements of bread. Nothing but the careful study of these elements, and of the natural laws by which they are governed, can remedy defects in wheat culture anywhere, but especially on very poor land.
All alkaline minerals, such as potash, soda, lime, ammonia, and magnesia, hasten the solution of the several insoluble compounds of silica in the soil. This fact should be remembered by every farmer. To undertake an explanation of the various ways in which alkalies, oxides, and acids act and re-act upon each other in the surface of the earth, when subject to tillage, would be out of place in this outline view of wheat-growing in the United States. I may state the fact, however, as ascertained by many analyses, that a cubic foot of good wheat soil in the valley of the Genesee, contains twenty times more lime than do the poorest soils in South Carolina and Georgia. The quantity of gypsum, bone-earth, and magnesia, available as food for plants, varies in an equal degree. Not only lime, but phosphoric acid, potash, and magnesia are lacking in most soils, if one desires to raise a large crop of wheat, and have the seeds of the grain weigh as much as the straw. In a number of the specimens of wheat analyzed by Prof. Way, when cut close to the roots, the dry wheat outweighed the dry straw.
Having secured the growth of a bright, hard, glassy stem, the next thing is to develop a long, well-filled ear. To this end, available ammonia or nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, and magnesia are indispensable. Ammonia (spirits of hartshorn) is necessary to aid in forming the combustible part of the seed. The other ingredients named are required to assist in making the incombustible part of the grain. In 100 parts of the ash of wheat, there are the following substances, viz.:—
Silica 2.28 Phosphoric acid 45.73 Sulphuric acid 0.32 Lime 2.06 Magnesia 10.94 Peroxide of iron 2.04 Potash 32.24 Soda 4.06 Chloride of sodium 0.27 ——- Total 99.94
The quantity of ash in wheat varies from 11/4 to 21/2 per cent.; the average is about 1.69. The amount of phosphoric acid in any given quantity of the ash of wheat varies from forty to fifty per cent. of the same.
Seeds that have a thick cuticle or bran, and little gluten, contain a smaller per centage of phosphoric acid, and more silica. About one-third of the ash is potash; in nearly all cases magnesia varies from nine to fourteen per cent.; lime from one and a half to six per cent. Peroxide of iron is seldom as abundant as in the ash above given, and the same is true of soda. Chloride of sodium is common salt, and exists in a small quantity. Salt is beginning to be much used as a fertilizer on wheat lands in western New York. It operates indirectly to increase the crop.
The following may be taken as about the average composition of the ash of wheat-straw. It is "Specimen No. 40," in the tables of Prof. Way, and I copy verbatim all that is said upon the subject: [Soil, sandy; subsoil, stone and clay; geological formation, silurian; drained; eight years in tillage; crop, after carrots, twenty tons per acre; tilled December, 1845; heavy crop; mown, August 12th; carried, August 20th; estimated yield, forty-two bushels per acre; straw long, grain good, weight sixty-two pounds to the bushel.] Length of straw, forty-two inches.
Relation of Grain, Straw and Chaff.
Actual quantities. Per centage. Grain 1633 lbs. 45.15 Straw 1732 47.89 Chaff 250 6.96 —— Total 3615 lbs.
Specific gravity of grain 1.396 Weight of grain per acre 2604 lbs. " " straw " " 2,775 3/10ths. " " chaff " " 401 1/6th.
Mineral Matter in an Acre. Wheat 44 1/2 lbs. Straw 113 Chaff 47 1/6th. —————- Total 204 7/10ths.
Analysis of the Ash of the Grain. Per centage. Removed from an acre. lbs. ozs. Silica 5.63 2 8 Phosphoric acid 43.98 19 8 Sulphuric acid .21 0 1 1/6th. Lime 1.80 0 12 8/10ths. Magnesia 11.69 5 3 2/10ths. Peroxide of iron .29 0 2 Potash 34.51 15 5 6/10ths. Soda 1.87 0 13 3/10ths. ——- —- ————— Total 99.98 44 6 l/10ths.
Analysis of Straw with its proportion of Chaff. Per centage. Removed per acre. lbs. ozs. Silica 69.36 111 1 7/10ths. Phosphoric acid 5.24 8 6 7/10ths. Sulphuric acid 4.45 7 2 2/10ths. Lime 6.96 11 2 2/20ths. Magnesia 1.45 2 5 Peroxide of iron .29 1 2 Potash 11.79 18 14 Soda none none. Chloride of sodium " " ——- —- —————- Total 99.54 160 1 l/10ths.
If we subtract the 111 pounds of silica from 160 pounds of minerals in the straw and chaff, the difference between what are left and those in wheat, is not great. As the stems and leaves of wheat plants grow before their seeds, if all the phosphoric acid, potash, and lime available in the soil is consumed before the organization of the seeds begin, from what source is nature to draw her supply of these ingredients to form a good crop of wheat? If the farmer could reverse the order of nature, and grow a good supply of seeds first, and make straw afterwards, then many a one would harvest more wheat and less straw. But the cultivator must grow the stems, roots, and leaves of wheat, corn, and cotton, before nature will begin to form the seeds of these several plants: and every one should know that the atoms in the soil, which are consumed in organizing the bodies of cultivated plants, are, in the main, identical in kind with those required to make their seeds. The proportions, however, differ very considerably. Thus, while 100 parts of the ash of wheat contain an average of 45 parts of phosphoric acid, 100 of the ash of the wheat straw contain an average of only 5 parts. The difference is as 9 to 1. In magnesia the disparity is only a little less striking.
In what are called the organic elements of wheat (the combustible part) there are seven times more nitrogen in 100 pounds than in a like weight of straw. Hence, if the farmer converts straw into manure or compost, with the view ultimately of transforming it into wheat, it will take 7 pounds of straw to yield nitrogen enough to form one pound of wheat. Few are aware how much labor and money is annually lost by the feeding of plants on food not strictly adapted to the peculiar wants of nature in organizing the same. It is true, that most farmers depend on the natural fertility of the soil to nourish their crops, with perhaps the aid of a little stable and barn-yard manure, given to a part of them. As the natural resources of the land begin to fail, the supply must be drawn from other quarters than an exhausted field, or its cultivator will receive a poor return for the labor bestowed.
In Great Britain, where the necessity for liberal harvests and artificial fertilizing is far greater than in this country, the yield of wheat is said to be governed in a good degree by the amount of ammonia available as food for growing plants. This opinion is founded not at all on theory, but altogether on the teachings of experience. But in England, limeing and manuring are so much matters of constant practice, that few soils are so improverished as many are in the United States, With land as naked and sterile as is much that can be found in the whole thirteen colonies between Maine and Alabama, English farmers could hardly pay their tithes and poor rates, to say nothing of other taxes, rent, and the coat of producing their annual crops.
The first step towards making farming permanently profitable in all the older States, is to accumulate in a cheap and skilful manner the raw material for good harvests in the soil.
Over a territory so extensive as the United States, it is extremely difficult to lay down any rule that will be applicable even to a moiety of the republic. There are, however, many beds of marl, greensand, gypsum, limestone, saline and vegetable deposits available for the improvement of farming lands, in the Union. In addition to these, there are extraneous resources, the ocean with its fish, its shells, its sea-weeds, and its fertilizing salts, which will yield an incalculable amount of bread and meat. In the subsoil and the atmosphere, every agriculturist has resources which are not duly appreciated by one in a thousand.
As a general rule, the soil must be deepened before it can be permanently improved. One acre of soil 12 inches deep is worth more to make money from, by cultivating it, than four acres 6 inches in depth. Thus, admit that a soil 6 inches deep will produce 14 bushels of wheat, and that 12 bushels will pay all expenses and give 2 for profit. Four acres of this land will yield a net income of only 8 bushels. Now double the depth of the soil and the crop: making the latter 28 bushels, instead of 14 per acre, and the former 12 inches deep, in the place of 6. Fifteen bushels instead of twelve, will now pay all annual expenses, and leave a net profit not of two but of thirteen bushels per acre. If small crops will pay expenses, large ones will make a fortune; provided the farmer knows how to enrich his land in the most economical way. It is quite as easy to pay too dear for improving lands, as to lose money at any other business whatever.
The first thing for the operator to do is to acquire all the knowledge within his reach, from the experience of others who have done for their soils what he proposes to accomplish for his. Twenty or fifty dollars, invested in the best agricultural works in the English language, may save him thousands in the end, and double his profits in two years. The Agricultural Journals of the United States abound in information most useful to the practical farmer: and the back volumes, if collected and bound, will form a library of great value.
Rotation of Crops in connexion with Wheat Culture.—A system of tillage and rotation which will pay best in one locality, or on one quality of soil, and in a particular climate, will be found not at all adapted to other localities, different soils and latitudes. Hence, no rule can be laid down that will meet the peculiar exigencies of a farming country so extensive as the thirty States east of the Rocky Mountains. There are soils in Western New York, known to the writer, which have borne good crops of wheat every other year for more than twenty years, and produce better now than at the beginning of their cultivation. The resources of the earth in supplying the elements of wheat and corn are extremely variable. There are friable shaley rocks in Livingstone county, N.Y., which crumble and slake when exposed to the air, that abound in all the earthy minerals necessary to form good wheat. These rocks are hundreds of feet in thickness, and have furnished much of the soil in the valley of the Genesee. The Onondaga Salt Group, and other contiguous strata, which extend into Canada West, form soils of extraordinary capacity for growing wheat. Indeed, the rocks and "drift" of a district give character to its arable surface.
Nothing is more needed at this time than a good geological map of the United States, accompanied by an accurate and popularly arranged work on agricultural geology. The writer had hoped to give such a map in this report; but it is thought best to devote another year to the collection of geological surveys and facts, and to the making of more critical and extended researches before publishing.
In the matter of rotation of crops in connection with wheat culture, clover and corn are generally preferred in all the Northern, and most of the Middle States. In New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northern Indiana, and Illinois, so far as the writer is acquainted, a crop of wheat is made in rotation, either every third, fourth, or fifth year. Wherever wool growing is united with wheat culture, clover and wheat are the staple crops of the farm. Wool and superfine flour are exported; farmers taking nearly all the bran and shorts of the millers who purchase their wheat.
The offal of wheat makes not a little feed with chaff and cut straw. Many agriculturists grow peas, beans, turnips, beets, and carrots in large quantities, as well as clover, corn, oats, and barley. Peas and beans, both stems and pulse, when well cured, are excellent feed for sheep; and on good land they are easily grown. They prepare the soil well for wheat.
All the manure derived from sheep is husbanded with extreme care by the farmers who are gradually enriching their lands. On a deep, rich, arable soil, quite a number of sheep may be kept per acre, if highly cultivated; and their manure prepares the land for producing generous crops of wheat at a small expense. Of all business men, farmers should be the closest calculators of profit and loss.
Great care should be taken to sow good and clean seed on clean land. Previous to putting the seed in the ground (drilling is preferable to sowing broadcast), wheat should be soaked five or six hours—not longer—in strong brine. After this, add a peck or more of recently slaked lime to each bushel, and shovel it over well, that the lime may cover each seed. It is now ready to commit to the earth. Most good farmers roll the earth after seeding: some before.
In the Southern States, planters are in the habit of permitting their wheat to remain too long in the field after it is cradled, and in small shocks. Good barns are too scarce in all the planting States, and in some others.
Summer fallowing is generally abandoned, except in cases where old pastures and meadows, new prairie, or bushy bad fields are to be subdued. As a general rule, friable soils need not be ploughed long before the intended crop is expected to begin to grow. Among fertilizers, wood ashes, salt, bones, lime, guano, and poudrette have been used in wheat culture with decided advantage. In Great Britain, manure derived from the consumption of turnips and other root crops by sheep and neat cattle, is much used in preparing land for wheat. Sheep, clover and peas, corn and hogs, rotate well to insure the economical production of this staple. Manure is usually applied to the crop preceding wheat.
It may be interesting to some readers to see in this place the mean result of several organic analyses of wheat made by M. Boussingault. Wheat, dried at 230 deg. in vacuo, was found to contain:
Carbon 46.1 Oxygen 43.4 Hydrogen 5.8 Nitrogen 2.3 Ash 2.4 ——- Total 100.0
Charcoal may be regarded as a fair representative of carbon, and water as the representative of both oxygen and hydrogen. It will be seen by the above figures, that over 95 per cent. of wheat is made up of elements which greatly abound in nature in an available condition; and the same is true of all other plants. It is doubtless owing to this circumstance, that a comparatively small quantity of guano and other highly concentrated fertilizers are able to produce crops five, ten, and fifty times greater than their own weight. Azote, or nitrogen, in the form of ammonia, or nitric acid, (aqua fortis), and the incombustible part of plants are the elements which least abound in soils, and should be husbanded with the greatest care.
The Hon. C.P. Holcomb, of Delaware, furnishes some interesting remarks on the wheat crop of the United States:—
A short wheat crop in England, Mr. Webster says, affects the exchanges of the civilized world. In the vast increase of population in the absence of long wars and famines, the importance of this staple is constantly increasing. Its cultivation is the most attractive and pleasant of all descriptions of husbandry; and its rewards are generally remunerating, when the soil and climate are favorable, and the markets are not too distant.
It is important to know what our relation is to this staple of the world, and what is, and what is likely to be, our contribution to the great aggregate of production. Beyond feeding our own great and rapidly increasing population, it probably will not soon, if ever, be very great. It is a mistake, I apprehend, to suppose our country is naturally a great wheat-producing country. The wheat district at present, in comparison to the whole extent of our territory, is limited. It is confined, so far as any appreciable amount is grown, to about ten degrees of latitude and twenty degrees of longitude, and embracing about one half the number of the States. The crop of 1848 is estimated by the Commissioner of Patents at one hundred and twenty-six millions, and our population at twenty-two millions. This gives a less number of bushels, per head, to our population than the consumption of Great Britain, which is generally set down at one hundred and sixty millions, or six bushels to each inhabitant. But with us Indian corn is a great substitute; so are potatoes and oats in Ireland and Scotland. Still our consumption of wheat, including the black population, is undoubtedly less, per head, than theirs. But in the absence of any certain data, to ascertain either the actual production, or our consumption, our only safe course is to take the actual excess, or the amount exported, after supplying our own wants. This, for the fiscal year 1848, being the crop of 1847, amounted, in flour and wheat, to twelve millions two hundred and ninety-four thousand one hundred and seventy-five bushels, although Mr. Burke's figures would show a surplus of some forty millions! That there was not, and never has been any such surplus in the country is very evident, for the foreign demand was all the time good, and drew away all we had to part with.
The crop of 1848 was, undoubtedly, one of the best and largest we have ever grown; yet I have ascertained, by application at the registrar's office, that the exports for the fiscal year 1842, amounted in wheat to but 1,527,534 bushels, and in flour to 2,108,013 barrels, or less by 226,676 bushels than the exports of 1848. Twelve millions is comparatively a small surplus in a favorable season, for a country with a population of twenty-two millions of inhabitants. The loss of a small per cent. in an unfavorable season would at once sink this excess.
Let us now notice more in detail the different sections of our country as adapted to the growth of wheat.
The New England States, some of them aided in their recent enterprises by bounties offered by the state governments, have failed to insure such success as is likely to encourage them to continue the culture of wheat; or, at all events, to induce them to aim at increasing their product to any considerable extent, since, as one of their own farmers candidly states, "the attempt to grow a crop of wheat is an experiment."
The States south of North Carolina, and inclusive of a part of Delaware, have never heretofore succeeded in growing wheat to any considerable extent, though there were periods in their history—before the general introduction of the culture of cotton—when, if it had been practicable to make the cereal one of their staples, they would certainly have done so. Besides the common dangers from rust and blight, the fly, and sometimes the frost—as the past season—they have a most formidable enemy in the weevil. In Upper Georgia, in the Cherokee country in particular, wheat will probably be cultivated to some extent, and a limited cultivation of it by the planters for their own use will probably continue in several of the southern states. But the cotton, rice, and sugar states, like the manufacturing states of New England, will not soon, if ever, add much to the supply of wheat; the rich staples of the former, and the varied husbandry and grazing of the latter, suited to supply the immediate wants of a manufacturing population, will be likely to receive their attention in preference.
Kentucky and Tennessee, though their agricultural history dates back beyond the settlement of the north-western states, have already been out-stripped by at least two of them. In neither of these states has the culture of wheat ever been put forward, and regarded as one of their best staples, or as very favorably adapted to their soil and climate. Still, notwithstanding the formidable danger from rust, the production of Tennessee is estimated to be equal to nine bushels to each person, and Kentucky about seven and a half bushels. Missouri may be classed with Kentucky and Tennessee, which she much resembles in soil, climate, and productions, except that she raises much less wheat than either, her crop being placed by the Commissioner of Patents at only two millions, or less than four bushels to each resident of the state. But, besides that the experience of the past discourages the idea that these fine states are likely to become great wheat-producing states, the fact that the staple of cotton may be cultivated over a considerable portion of one of them, and that hemp and tobacco are among the valuable products of the other two; that Tennessee is the very largest corn-producing state in the Union, showing her soil and climate are particularly adapted to this description of grain, and that Kentucky and Missouri are unsurpassed as grazing countries, and there is little ground to suppose that any change in their husbandry will very greatly or suddenly augment the production of wheat. Let us come now to the States of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and that fabulous wheat district or territory to the west of these again, from which, according to the vaticinations of some, may be drawn supplies of wheat to feed the population of both Europe and America, or fill warehouses that would sustain our people through a longer famine than that which afflicted the people of Egypt! I cannot help thinking that, to some extent, this generally fertile district of country has, so far as the production of wheat is concerned, been "shouted forth in acclamations hyperbolical." My own impression in regard to it is, including the states last named, derived in part from observation, from intercourse and correspondence with intelligent agriculturists of these states, and from a careful examination of a geological survey of two of them, that the soil and climate of this whole district of country are not particularly favorable to the production of wheat. The popular idea I know to be otherwise. I am not going to dwell upon it, or to examine the subject at any length. There is a single remark that may help to explain the reputation that has gone abroad in reference to the wheat-producing qualities of these lands. The prairie sod, when first broken up, generally produces wheat well, often most abundantly, provided it escapes the rust, insect, &c. But, when this ground has been much furrowed, becomes completely pulverized by exposure to the atmosphere, the light and friable mould, of which most of it is composed, drenched, as a good deal of it is, at times, with surface water, fails to hold or sustain the roots of the plant, it is thrown out, or winter-killed; and "winter-killed," "winter-killed," "winter-killed," we all know, is among the catalogue of disasters that almost annually reach us. Sometimes, when escaping the winter, the high winds of spring blow this light soil from the roots, exposing them to such an extent, that, in a dry time in particular, the wheat often perishes. When breaking up fresh prairies, there was much encouragement and promise of hope, but which, I believe, has not been, nor is likely to be, realized by their husbandmen, in the degree that early experiments induced them to look for.
As appears by the last report of the Commissioner of Patents, the crop of Illinois, in reference to population and production, is below that of Kentucky, and both Indiana and Illinois are below that of Tennessee. The crop of Indiana is set down at 8,300,000, her population at 1,000,000, or equal to 81/2 bushels a-head. The production of Illinois is stated at 5,400,000, her population at 800,000, or less than seven bushels to each inhabitant—and both these "fair and fertile plains" are still farther behind the old "battered moors" of Maryland and Virginia.
Much of their wheat, too, is spring wheat, sown often on land where the fall crop had winter-killed, increasing the number of bushels much more than the value of the crop. I have heard it estimated that full one-third of all the wheat shipped from Chicago was of this description. Chicago is their great wheat depot. Several millions of bushels are shipped from this point, the contributions from parts of three States, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois; and which concentration of their joint product at this new western city, or something else, seems to have imparted to each and all these states the reputation of great wheat-growing states, though they are, in fact, with the advantage of a virgin soil, behind several of the western states, and two at least of the eastern or Atlantic States. The geological explorations of the Hon. Robert Dale Owen, undertaken under the authority of Congress, throws much light on the character of the soil of Wisconsin and Iowa, and the description given undoubtedly characterizes much of that region of country. The specific gravity of the soil, Mr. Owen states to be remarkably light; but what he represents to be a "striking feature in the character of the Iowa and Wisconsin soils, is the entire absence, in the most of the specimens of clay, and in a large proportion of silex." Again, he speaks of their being particularly adapted to the growth of the sugar-beet, which he truly says, "flourishes best in a loose fertile mould." Again, he detected no phosphates; but they might be there, as the virgin soil produced good wheat. So does the virgin soil of most of the prairie land.—"The soil was rich in geine," &c. But I submit that this does not describe a wheat soil, hardly in any one particular. Liebig tells us, that "however great the proportion of humus in a soil, it does not necessarily follow it will produce wheat"—and cites the country of Brazil.
Again, he adds, "how does it happen that wheat does not flourish on a sandy soil (which much of the soil of these states is described to be), and that a calcareous soil is also unsuitable to its growth, unless it be mixed with a considerable quantity of clay?"
The late Mr. Colman, in his European Agriculture, states, that "the soil preferred for wheat (in England) is a strong soil with a large proportion of clay. But the question after all is, not whether these States cannot grow wheat, and in comparatively large quantities, for we know that while their lands are fresh, they can and do—but whether, considering the hazard of the crop from winter-killing, the rust, the fly—the risk from the two former being equal to a large per cent. premium of insurance, they are not likely to find their interest in grazing, in raising and feeding stock, instead of attempting to extend their wheat husbandry. Lord Brougham has said, that grazing countries are always the most prosperous, and their population the most contented and happy. The meat markets of Great Britain are likely to prove better and more stable for us, than their grain markets.
The Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, a distinguished citizen, and large farmer of Indiana—distinguished throughout the Union for his zeal in the cause of agriculture—thus expresses himself on this subject: "After a full consideration of the subject, I am satisfied that stock-raising at the West is much more profitable than raising grain. Indeed, an examination of the north-western States shows a vast difference in the wealth of the grazier over those who crop with grain. The profits of wheat appear well in expectation on paper, but the prospect is blasted by a severe winter, appearance of insects, bad weather in harvesting, in threshing, for there are but few barns at the West, or transporting to market, or last, a fluctuation in the market itself."
Such is the opinion of Mr. Ellsworth, the result of observation and experience, himself largely interested in ascertaining the safest and surest course to be pursued. The destiny he has indicated for this beautiful fertile region of country, will undoubtedly be fulfilled; it will become a great pastoral, stock-raising, and stock-feeding country.
Ohio stands now, as she did at the census of 1840, at the head of all the wheat States, in the aggregate of production; her crop of 1848 being estimated at 20,000,000, which is about equal to 101/2 bushels per head of her population. The geological survey of this State, and the character of the soil, as described in the Reports of the Board of Agriculture, in a large range of her counties, as a "clayey soil," "clayey loam," "clay subsoil," &c., shows Ohio to possess a fine natural wheat soil, if indeed, alter thirty years of a generally successful wheat husbandry, such additional testimony or confirmation was necessary.
Michigan has also been successful in the cultivation of wheat. Her burr-oak openings are unsurpassed in producing wheat. They are intervening ridges between low grounds, or marshes and bodies of water, and their location not generally considered very healthy. A doubt has also been suggested as to whether this soil, being a clayey loam, resting on a sandy and gravelly subsoil, is likely to wear as well as some other portions of the fertile soil of the State. The Commissioner of Patents puts her crop for 1848 at 10,000,000 of bushels, which is equal to 231/2 bushels to each inhabitant! By the census of 1840, the population of Michigan was 212,267; number of bushels of wheat, 2,157,108. Her population in 1848 is estimated at 412,000. While she has barely doubled her population, she has, according to the above estimate, more than quadrupled her production of wheat—increased it at the rate of about one million bushels a year for eight consecutive years, making the quantity she grows to each head of her population more than double that of any State in the Union.
We can at least say, and appeal to the past history of the country to show it, that for a period of more than one hundred years, the supply of the Atlantic wheat States has generally been constant, and for the most part abundant. They have furnished the "staff of life" to several generations of men, and cotemporary with it, an annual amount for export, that materially assisted in regulating the exchanges of the country.
England requires for her own consumption, upon the average of years, somewhere about 32,000,000 bushels of wheat more than she produces. The average annual entries of foreign wheat for consumption in the United Kingdom, for the sixteen years ending with 1845, were about nine and a half million bushels. Inasmuch as the average number of acres in wheat crop were in 1846 about 4,600,000, the average produce 142,200,000 bushels, or over 30 bushels to the acre—an improvement in the harvest to the extent of two bushels per acre, will destroy the demand, and a deficiency to that extent will double it. Now as there is an available surplus at the neighbouring ports in Europe, in the Baltic and the Black Sea, of about 18,000,000 of bushels only, whenever there is a demand for home consumption, for, say 20,000,000 bushels, as was the case in each of the five years from 1838 to 1843, larger shipments from America will take place; but whenever there are good harvests, as in the six years from 1831 to 1837, in which the deficiency only ranged from 230,000 to 1,000,000 bushels, the trade is not worth notice. It must be remarked, however, that in a country like Britain, where capital is abundant, consumption great, speculation rife, the harvest so uncertain, and the stake so great that a cloudy day transfers thousands from one broker to another, the importation cannot be closely assimilated to the actual wants of the country. The ordinary yield of grain in the United Kingdom after deductions for seed, is about 400,000,000 bushels, and as nearly 100,000,000 bushels of grain and meal were imported in 1847, there must have been a general deficiency of nearly twenty-five per cent.
In the "Statistics of the British Empire," the average extent of land under grain culture, &c., in 1840, was estimated as follows:—
ENGLAND AND WALES. Produce per Acre. Total Produce. Wheat 3,800,000 31/4 quarters. 12,350,000 Barley and rye. 900,000 4 " 3,600,000 Oats and beans. 3,000,000 41/2 " 13,500,000
SCOTLAND. Wheat 220,000 3 660,000 Barley 280,000 31/2 980,000 Oats 1,275,000 41/2 5,737,500
In Scotland, ten years ago, 150,000 acres were reckoned to be under cultivation with wheat, 300,000 with barley, and 1,300,000 with oats, which is the great crop and chief food of the people.
Mr. Braithwaite Poole, in his "Statistics of British Commerce," 1852, states—"The annual average production of all sorts of corn in the United Kingdom has been estimated by competent parties at rather more than 60,000,000 quarters, and L80,000,000 in value; but in the absence of general official returns, we cannot vouch for its accuracy, although, from various comparisons, there are reasonable grounds for assuming this calculation to be as nearly correct as possible. Some persons in the corn trade imagine the aggregate production to approach almost 80,000,000 quarters; but I cannot find any data extant to warrant such an extended assumption."
The estimated produce of wheat, in quarters, and acreage, he states as follows:—
Quarters. Acreage. England 15,200,000 3,800,000 Ireland 1,800,000 600,000 Scotland 1,225,000 350,000 ————— ————- Total 15,225,000 4,750,000
The average price of wheat per quarter in the last thirteen years, in England and Wales, has been as follows:—
s. d. 1840 66 4 1841 64 4 1842 57 3 1843 50 1 1844 51 3 1845 50 10 1846 54 8 1847 69 9 1848 50 6 1849 44 3 1850 40 4 1851 38 7 1852 41 0
The best wheat, as well as the greatest quantity, is raised in the midland counties. From two and a half to three Winchester bushels per acre are required for seed, and the average produce varies from twenty-two to thirty-two bushels per acre.
The quantity of wheat raised in France in 1835 was 71,697,484 hectolitres, of which eleven millions was required for seed. The average produce per hectare was stated at thirteen and a half hectolitres.
The total grain and pulse raised in that year was set down at 204,165,194 hectolitres.
Hectolitres. Maslin 12,281,020 Barley 18,184,316 Rye 32,999,950 Buckwheat 5,175,933 Maize and Millet 6,951,179 Oats 49,460,057 Peas and Beans 3,318,691
Oats, next to wheat is the largest crop grown in France, for the support of two million horses and three and a half million mules and asses.
According to the "Annuaire de l'Economie Politique de la Statistique," there were 13,900,000 hectares (each about 21/2 acres) under cultivation with the cereals in France.
The primary article of consumption is wheat. At the rate of three hectolitres (1 qr. 1/4 bush.) to each individual, every family would require thirteen to fourteen hectolitres, costing 210 to 280 francs (L8 15s. to L11 10s.) according as the price varies, between its present value fifteen francs, and its occasional cost twenty francs. In the reign of Louis XVI, Arthur Young referred with horror to the black bread eaten by the French. Since that time half a century has passed, and whilst the agricultural produce in France has tripled in value, the labourers who produce it continue, from custom and necessity, to eat a detestable bread made from rye, barley, or peas and potatoes; and, to make the matter still worse, it is badly baked, without yeast, and being sometimes kept for weeks, it becomes covered with mould, and altogether presents an appearance enough to turn the stomach of a savage.
According to Mr. McGregor's estimate some ten or twelve years ago, the land under wheat culture was 13,808,171 acres, producing 191,000,000 bushels; and 11,715 acres with spelt, or red wheat, the yield of which was 374,000 bushels.
The other crops were—
Acres Crops, bushels Maslin 2,251,438 32,000,000 Rye 6,369,879 76,000,000 Barley 2,936,453 45,000,000 Oats 7,416,297 134,000,000 Maize 1,561,372 20,000,000
Wheat and oats are grown all over Russia, which is the greatest corn land in the world.
In Austrian Italy the yield of grain has been reckoned at three million quarters, but this seems rather low. About one-half of this is maize and rye, and a quarter wheat.
It is reckoned that eight million quarters of grain are raised yearly in Denmark, but this seems doubtful. In 1839, a million quarters of grain, however, were shipped from that kingdom.
BRITISH AMERICAN PROVINCES.
According to the census return of 1852, the number of acres under grain crops, and the produce in Canada, were as follows:—
Lower Canada—Produce. Upper Canada—Produce.
Acres. Bushels. Acres. Bushels. Lower Canada—Produce Upper Canada—Produce Acres Bushels Acres Bushels Wheat 427,111 3,075,868 782,115 12,692,852 Barley 42,927 668,626 29,916 625,875 Rye 46,007 341,443 38,968 479,651 Oats 540,422 8,967,594 421,684 11,193,844 Buckwheat 51,781 530,417 44,265 639,381 Maize 22,669 400,287 70,571 1,666,513
Flour may be valued at 21s. the barrel.
The grain crops in Lower Canada are taken in the minot, and not in the bushel, except in the townships. In like manner, the acres are taken in arpents. An arpent is about one-seventh less than an acre; and a minot about one-eighth (some say one-twelfth) more than a bushel.
During the years 1850-1, Western Canada exported upwards of two million barrels of flour, and three million bushels of wheat, being equivalent to 13,600,000 bushels of wheat. The value of the wheat and flour exported in 1851 was L404,033. Canadian flour, like that of Genessee, is of very superior quality.
WHEAT.—UPPER CANADA. Bushels. To each inhabitant. Wheat crop of 1841 was 3,221,991 or 6.60 Do. 1847 7,558,773 " 10.45 Do. 1849 9,706,082 " 12.08 Do. 1851 12,692,852 " 13.33
The quantity of land under wheat in "Upper Canada was 782,115 acres, showing a yield of about sixteen and three quarter bushels to the acre. The wheat produced in 1852 was valued at nearly two million pounds sterling.
LOWER CANADA. Minots. Wheat crop in 1843 was 942,835 or 1.36 Do. 1851 3,075,868 " 3.46
UNITED STATES. Bushels. Wheat crop in 1839 was 84,832,272 or 4.96 Estimated by patent office 1847 114,245,500 " 5.50 Crop of wheat 1849 100,684,627 " 4.33
In order, however, to institute a fairer comparison, I will divide the States into three classes, viz.:—1st. States growing over six million bushels.
Bushels. Population. Bush, per head. Pennsylvania 15,367,691 2,311,736 6.65 Ohio 14,487,351 1,980,408 7.32 New York 13,131,498 4,148,182 3.16 Virginia 11,232,616 1,421,661 7.90 Illinois 9,414,575 851,471 11.06 Indiana 6,214,458 988,416 6.28 ————— ————— ——- Total 69,847,189 11,701,924 5.97
2nd. States growing over one million and less than six million bushels.
Bushels. Population. Bush, per head. Michigan 4,925,889 397,654 12.39 Wisconsin 4,286,131 305,191 14.04 Maryland 4,494,681 583,031 7.71 Missouri 2,981,652 682,043 4.38 Kentucky 2,140,822 982,405 2.15 North Carolina 2,130,102 868,903 2.45 Tennessee 1,619,381 1,002,525 1.61 New Jersey 1,601,190 481,555 3.27 Iowa 1,530,581 192,214 7.96 Georgia 1,088,534 905,999 1.21 South Carolina 1,066,277 668,507 1.60 ————— ————- —— Total 27,865,240 7,078,131 3.93
3rd. The remaining States and territories.
2,791,470 4,466,246 0.63
Total wheat crop in the United States, 100,503,899 bushels. Population, 23,246,301. Bushels per head, 4.33.
Increase:—U. States, 1839 84,823,272 bushels " 1849 100,503,896 " —————- 15,680,627
Or 18.49 per cent. in ten years.
Upper Canada, 1841 3,221,991 " " 1851 12,692,825 " ————— 9,470,861
Or nearly quadrupling itself in ten years.
Bushels. Population. Bush. per head. Pr. Ed. Island 1847 219,787 62,678 3.50 Newfoundland 1850 297,157 276,117 1.08 New Brunswick 1850 206,635 193,800 1.06
The Eastern States in 1849 raised 1,090,896 bushels. Population 2,668,106, or 0.41 each.
The population of Upper Canada is 952,904, and allowing five bushels for each, 4,760,020 bushels; and for seed at one and a half bushels per acre 1,173,173 bushels = 5,933,193; leaves for export 6,761,668 bushels. More than sufficient to supply the consumption of the whole of the Eastern States.
"Were the population of Lower Canada to consume flour at the given rate, it would require—
Bushels. 890,261 at five bushels each 4,451,305 Seed 640,000 ————- 5,091,305 Grown 3,075,868 ————- 2,015,437
Leaving a surplus of wheat in Canada 4,746,231 bushels, or at four and a half bushels for each, equal to 1,054,718 barrels of flour.
Professor Johnston in his report on New Brunswick, furnishes some valuable information as to the produce there.
The following table of average weights indicates a capacity in the soil and climate to produce grain of a very superior quality:—
- - - - Buck- COUNTIES Wheat Barley Oats Rye Wheat Maize - - - - Saint John 61 41 50 Westmoreland 60 48 351/2 48 59 Albert 58 50 343/4 50 45 Charlotte 59 45 39 57 59 King's 591/2 48 37 48 60 Queen's 581/2 50 361/2 53 43 61 Sunbury 57 55 38 53 47 57 York 63 50 38 51 60 Carleton 64 38 52 65 Kent 63 37 50 Northumberland 62 53 37 45 57 Gloucester 63 51 39 Restigouche 63 48 42 - - -
The general average weights for the whole Province are, for
Wheat 60 11-13 lbs. Barley 50 " Oats 38 " Rye 521/2 " Buckwheat 48 8-11 " Indian Corn 591/2 " Potatoes 63 " Turnips 66 " Carrots 63 "
The annexed statement shows not only the average yield per acre of each description of crop, but affords an opportunity of contrasting it with the like products in the State of New York:—
AVERAGE PRODUCE PER IMPERIAL ACRE.
New Brunswick State of New York Bushels Bushels Wheat 20 14 Barley 29 16 Oats 34 26 Rye 201/2 91/2 Buckwheat 333/4 14 Indian Corn 413/4 25 Potatoes 226 90 Turnips 460 88 Hay 13/4 —
A possibility of error in striking the averages is suggested in the report; and to guard against it the following statement of the averages derived from the minimum returns is given, viz.:—Wheat 173/4 bushels; Barley, 27; Oats, 33; Buckwheat, 28; Rye, 18; Indian Corn, 361/2; Potatoes, 204; Turnips, 389. The diminished averages scarcely affect the question of productiveness, as in every particular they exceed the averages for the favored Genesee Valley and the southern shores of Lake Ontario.
While the productiveness of the soil is thus proven by the statements of most experienced farmers, the average prices appear to be equally favorable to the Provincial growers. The following tables of averages set this in a clear point of view:—
AVERAGE PRICES OF GRAIN PER BUSHEL AND PER QUARTER.
Per Bushel Per Quarter Wheat 7s. 6d. 60s. 0d. Barley 4 21/2 33 8 Oats 2 0 16 0 Rye 4 10 38 8 Buckwheat 3 9 30 0 Indian Corn 4 8 37 4
ROOT CROPS AND HAY.
Potatoes 1s. 11d. per bushel. Turnips 1 2 " Eng. Hay 49 0 per ton. Carrots 2 5 per bushel. Man. Wurtzel 2 1 " Marsh Hay 20 0 per ton.
AVERAGE MONEY VALUE OF AN ACRE OF EACH CROP. New Brunswick Canada West State of Ohio Wheat L 6 13 0 L2 4 7 L2 19 0 Barley 5 13 71/2 1 19 41/2 2 4 0 Oats 6 3 6 1 11 0 1 13 9 Rye 4 7 0 1 5 101/2 1 12 4 Buckwheat 5 5 0 3 5 0 1 16 3 Indian Corn 8 10 4 2 14 41/2 2 15 0 Potatoes 19 11 0 6 6 0 6 9 41/2
On a review of the foregoing and other tables, Professor Johnston has drawn the following conclusions:—
"That grain and roots generally can be raised more cheaply in the Province of New Brunswick than in New York, Ohio, or Upper Canada; and that the Province ought to be able to compete with those countries and drive them from its home markets."
Such are the deductions of a skilful and scientific, practical and theoretical agriculturist, from the statements furnished by the most enterprising and successful of our colonists. Nevertheless, I cannot conceal a doubt whether all the elements of comparison have been duly weighed. The result, especially as regards wheat, is so contrary to pre-conceived opinions, that further investigations should be made. Is it not possible that, while an equality of expense in preparing the land for a wheat crop appears to have been assumed, the great care and expense necessary in New Brunswick to prepare the land, and an occasional succession of minimum returns would, to a very considerable extent, account for the supposed discrepancy?
Wheat has, from time immemorial, been a staple crop in the plains of Northern India, and especially in the Punjaub. The climate and soil are well fitted for this cereal, but owing to defects and carelessness in the agriculture and harvesting, the crops, though excellent, fall short of what most corn-growing countries produce. Further—owing to foul boats and granaries, and to the moist heat of the months immediately succeeding harvest, the wheat reaches England in a state too dirty and weevelled for market. The hard wheat is preferred by the natives in India to the soft, probably for no better cause than that the hardness of the grain more closely resembles their favorite food, rice.
Oats, rye and barley, are the staple crops of northern and mountainous Europe and Asia. In England barley is grown principally in the eastern and some of the midland counties, and chiefly for malting. It is most extensively cultivated in the Himalaya and Thibet, replacing in many districts the wheat, and producing an admirable flour.
Since the establishment of the studs at Buxar, Ghazepore, &c., oats have been extensively cultivated. It is a winter crop.
Although believed to have been indigenous to the countries bordering on the torrid zone, this grain possesses the remarkable flexibility of maturing in favorable seasons and situations on the eastern continent as far north as 70 deg., and flourishes well in lat. 42 deg. south. Along the Atlantic side of the continent of America, its growth is restricted to the tract lying between the 30th and 50th parallels of north latitude, and between 30 and 40 deg. south. Near the westerly coast, its range lies principally between latitude 20 and 62 deg. north. The barley chiefly cultivated in the United States is the two-rowed variety which is generally preferred from the fulness of its grain and its freedom from smut. Barley has never been much imported from that country, as the Americans have been rather consumers than producers. The consumption of barley there in 1850 in the manufacture of malt and spirituous liquors amounted to 3,780,000 bushels, and according to the census returns, the quantity of barley raised was 4,161,504 bushels in 1840, and 5,167,213 bushels in 1850. In this country barley is extensively used for malting, distilling, and making beer; large quantities are consumed in Scotland, or carried into England.
In Prussia, about ten and a half million hectolitres of barley are annually raised. In the Canary Isles, about 354,000 bushels are annually exported. In Van Diemen's Land in 1844, 174,405 bushels of barley were grown on 12,466 acres.
The quantity of barley made into malt in the United Kingdom in the year ending 10th October, 1850, was 5,183,617 quarters, of which about four million quarters were used by 8,500 maltsters. The quantity of malt charged with duty in the year ending 5th January, 1851, was 636,641 tons; the average price per quarter, 26s. 2d.
Barley is at present extensively cultivated in the temperate districts and islands of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. In Spain, Sicily, the Canaries, Azores and Madeira, two crops are produced in a year. In North America its growth is principally confined to Mexico, the middle, western, and northern States of the Union, and to the British North American provinces. The introduction of barley into the American colonies may be traced back to the period of their settlement. By the year 1648 it was raised in abundance in Virginia, but soon after its culture was suffered to decline, in consequence of the more profitable and increased production of tobacco. It has also been sparingly cultivated in the regions of the middle and northern States for malting and distillation, and has been employed, after being malted, as a substitute for rice.
Barley, like wheat, has been cultivated in Syria and Egypt for more than 3,000 years, and it was not until after the Romans adopted the use of wheaten bread, that they fed their stock with this grain. It is evidently a native of a warm climate, as it is known to be the most productive in a mild season, and will grow within the tropics at an elevation of 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the level of the sea. It is one of the staple crops of northern and mountainous Europe and Asia. It is the corn that, next to rice, gives the greatest weight of flour per acre, and it may be eaten with no other preparation than that of boiling. It requires little or no dressing when it is sent to the mill, having no husk, and consequently produces no bran. In this country barley is chiefly used for malting and distilling purposes. In the year 1850, 40,745,050 bushels of malt paid duty, the number of maltsters in the United Kingdom being from 8,000 to 9,000. About one and a half million quarters of barley were imported in 1849, and a little over a million quarters in 1850, principally from Denmark and Prussia. The counties in England where this grain is chiefly cultivated are Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, Bedford, Herts, Leicester, and Nottingham. The produce of barley on land well prepared, is from thirty to fifty bushels or more per statute acre, weighing from 45 to 55 lbs. per bushel, according to quality. It is said to contain 65 per cent. of nutritive matter, while wheat contains 78 per cent.
The estimated average produce of barley in this country may be stated as follows:—
Acres. Crop. England 1,500,000 6,375,000 Ireland 320,000 1,120,000 Scotland 450,000 1,800,000 ———— —————- 2,270,000 9,295,000
The average produce per acre, in the United Kingdom, is 41/4 quarters in England, 31/2 in Ireland, and 4 in Scotland. The prices of barley per quarter have ranged, in England, from 36s. 5d. in 1840, to 27s. 6d. in 1842. In 1847 barley reached 44s. 2d., and gradually declined to 23s. 5d, in 1850.
Oats are principally in demand for horses, and the extraordinary increase of the latter has occasioned a proportional increase in the culture of oats. They are grown more especially in the north and north-eastern counties; in the midland counties their culture is less extensive, but it is prevalent throughout most parts of Wales.
Nearly twice as much oats as wheat is raised in the United Kingdom, but the proportion grown in Scotland is not so large as is supposed. The following is a fair estimate of the comparative production:—
Acres. Produce. England 2,500,000 12,500,000 Ireland 2,300,000 11,600,000 Scotland 1,300,000 6,500,000 ————- ————- Total 6,100,000 30,500,000
We import annually about l1/4 million quarters from foreign countries and nearly three-fourths of a million quarters from Ireland. The average produce per acre throughout the kingdom is five quarters. The price within the last 10 years has ranged from 28s. 7d. per quarter (the famine year) to 17s. 6d.
The oat, when considered in connection with the artificial grasses, and the nourishment and improvement it affords to live stock, may be regarded as one of the most important crops produced. Its history is highly interesting, from the circumstance that in many portions of Europe it is formed into meal, and forms an important aliment for man; one sort, at least, has been cultivated from the days of Pliny, on account of its fitness as an article of diet for the sick. The country of its origin is somewhat uncertain, though the most common variety is said to be indigenous to the Island of Juan Fernandez. Another oat, resembling the cultivated variety, is also found growing wild in California.
This plant was introduced into the North American Colonies soon after their settlement by the English. It was sown by Gosnold on the Elizabeth Islands in 1602; cultivated in Newfoundland in 1622, and in Virginia, by Berkley, prior to 1648.
The oat is a hardy grain, and is suited to climates too hot and too cold either for wheat or rye. Indeed, its flexibility is so great, that it is cultivated with success in Bengal as low as latitude twenty-five degrees North, but refuses to yield profitable crops as we approach the equator. It flourishes remarkably well, when due regard is paid to the selection of varieties, throughout the inhabited parts of Europe, the northern and central portions of Asia, Australia, Southern and Northern Africa, the cultivated regions of nearly all North America, and a large portion of South America.
In the United States the growth of the oat is confined principally to the Middle, Western and Northern States. The varieties cultivated are the common white, the black, the grey, the imperial, the Hopetown, the Polish, the Egyptian, and the potato oat. The yield of the common varieties varies from forty to ninety bushels and upwards per acre, and weighing from twenty-five to fifty pounds to the bushel. The Egyptian oat is cultivated south of Tennessee, which after being sown in autumn, and fed off by stock in winter and spring, yields from ten to twenty bushels per acre. In the manufacture of malt and spirituous liquors oats enter but lightly, and their consumption for this purpose does not exceed 60,000 bushels annually in the United States.
In 1840, Ireland exported 2,037,835 quarters of oats and oatmeal, but in 1846, on account of the dearth, the grain exports fell off completely. Most of the grain grown in Ireland requires to be kiln-dried, and is, therefore, of lower value.
The oat, like rye, never has entered much into our foreign commerce, as the domestic consumption has always been nearly equal to the quantity produced. The annual average exports from the United States for several years preceding 1817, were 70,000 bushels.
By the census returns of 1840, the total produce of the United States was 123,071,341 bushels; of 1850, 146,678,879 bushels.
In Prussia 43 million hectolitres of oats are annually raised.
The quantity of oats imported into the United Kingdom, has been declining within the last few years. In 1849, we imported 1,267,106 quarters; in 1850, 1,154,473; in 1851, 1,209,844; in 1852, 995,479. In 1844, 221,105 bushels of oats were raised in Van Diemen's Land on 13,864 acres.
Rye (Secale cereale) is scarcely at all raised in this country for bread, except in Durham and Northumberland, where, however, it is usually mixed with wheat, and forms what is called "maslin,"—a bread corn in considerable use in the north of Europe.
Geographically rye and barley associate with one another, and grow upon soils the most analogous, and in situations alike exposed. It is cultivated for bread in Northern Asia, and all over the Continent of Europe, particularly in Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Holland; in the latter of which it is much employed in the manufacture of gin. It is also grown to some extent in England, Scotland and Wales. With us it is little used as an article of food compared with wheat and oats, though in the north of Europe and in Flanders it forms the principal article of human subsistence, but generally mixed with wheat, and sometimes, also with barley; 100 parts of the grain consist of 65.6 of meal, 24.2 of husk, and 10.2 of water. The quantity of rye we import seldom reaches 100,000 quarters per annum.
The straw is solid, and the internal part, being, filled with pith, is highly esteemed for Dunstable work, for thatching and litter, and it is also used to stuff horse collars.
In Ireland there are 21,000 acres under culture with rye, producing 105,000 quarters.
In North America rye is principally restricted to the Middle and Eastern States, but its culture is giving place to more profitable crops.
In Bohemia, as in most parts of Germany, rye forms the principal crop, the product being about 3,250,000 quarters annually.
The three leading varieties cultivated in the United States are the spring, winter, and southern; the latter differing from the others only from dissimilarity of climate. The yield varies from 10 to 30 or more bushels per acre, weighing from 48 to 56 pounds to the bushel. The production of rye has decreased 4,457,000 bushels in the aggregate, but in New York it is greater by the last decennial census than in 1840, by about 40 per cent. Pennsylvania, which is the largest producer, has fallen off from 6,613,373 to 4,805,160 bushels. Perhaps the general diminution in the quantity of this grain now produced may be accounted for, by supposing a corresponding decline in the demand for distilling purposes, to which a larger part of the crop is applied in New York. This grain has never entered largely into its foreign commerce, as the home consumption for a long period nearly kept pace with the supply. The amount exported from the United States in 1801, was 392,276 bushels; in 1812, 82,705 bushels; in 1813, 140,136 bushels. In 1820-1 there were exported 23,523 barrels of rye flour; in 1830-1, 19,100 barrels; in 1840-1 44,031; in 1845-6, 38,530 barrels; in 1846-7, 48,892 barrels; in 1850-1, 44,152 barrels. During the year ending June 1, 1850, there were consumed of rye about 2,144,000 bushels in the manufacture of malt and spirituous liquors.
According to the American census returns of 1840, the product of the country was 18,645,567 bushels; in 1850, 14,188,637 bushels. We imported 246,843 quarters of rye and rye meal, in 1849, equivalent to 49,368 tons; but in 1850 the imports were only 94,078 quarters and in 1851 they were but 26,323 quarters. About 20,000 acres are under cultivation with rye in Ireland, the produce of which is 100,000 quarters.
Buckwheat belongs to the temperate and arctic climates, and is cultivated in Northern Europe, Asia, and America for the farinaceous albumen of its seeds, which, when properly cooked, affords a delicious article of food to a large portion of the human race. It also serves as excellent fodder to milch cows, and the straw, when cut green and converted into hay, and the ripened seeds, are food for cattle, poultry, and swine.
It is raised most abundantly in Central Asia and the Himalaya. In the latter country the different varieties are grown at various elevations, between 4,000 and 12,000 feet. The finest samples exhibited in 1851 were from Canada, but some of excellent quality was also shown by the United States, Russia, and Belgium. The common variety grown in Europe is the Polygonum fagopyrum, and P. emarginatum is grown in China and the East. In this country the produce varies from 2 to 4 quarters per acre. The quantity of seed sown is 5 to 8 pecks the acre. Vauquelin found 100 parts of its straw to contain 29.5 of carbonate of potash, 3.8 of sulphate of potash, 17.5 of carbonate of lime, 13.5 of carbonate of magnesia, 16.2 of silica, 10.5 of alum, and 9 of water.
It is believed to be a native of Central Asia, as it is supposed to have been first brought to Europe in the early part of the twelfth century, at the time of the crusades for the recovery of Syria from the dominion of the Saracens; while others contend that it was introduced into Spain by the Moors, four hundred years before.
The cultivation of buckwheat, in one or other of its species, is principally confined to Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Russia, China, Tartary, Japan, Algeria, Canada, and the middle and northern portions of the United States.
In America from 30 to 45 bushels per acre may be considered as an average yield in favorable seasons and situations, but 60 or more bushels are not unfrequently produced.
According to the census returns of 1840, the annual quantity raised in the United States was 7,291,743 bushels; of 1850, 8,950,916 bushels.
The average annual imports of buckwheat into this country have not exceeded 1,000 quarters, until last year (1852), when they reached 8,085 quarters. A small quantity of the meal is also annually imported.
Maize (Zea Mays), is the common well-known Indian corn forming one of the most important of the grain crops, and has a greater range of temperature than the other cereal grasses. It was found cultivated for food by the Indians of both North and South America, on the first discovery of that continent, and thence derived its popular name. Maize succeeds best in the hottest and dampest parts of tropical climates. It may be reared as far as 40 degrees north and south latitude on the American continent; while in Europe it can grow even to 50 degrees or 52 degrees of latitude, some of the numerous varieties being hardy enough to ripen in the open air, in England and Ireland. It is now cultivated in all regions in the tropical and temperate zones, which are colonized by Europeans. It is most largely grown, however, about the Republics bordering on the northern shores of South America, California, the United States and Canada, the West India islands and Guiana, on the coasts of the Mediterranean, and partially in India, Africa, and Australia. We see the singular fact in Mexico of land which, after perhaps thousands of years' culture, is so little exhausted, that with a very little labor bestowed on it, a bad maize harvest will yield two hundredfold profit, while a good crop returns 600 fold.
This grain adopts itself to almost every variety of climate, and is found growing luxuriantly in the low countries of tropical Mexico, and nearly equally well on the most elevated and coldest regions of the table-land; in the rich valleys of the Cordilleras or the Andes, and on the sandy heights of those mountains wherever a rill of water can be brought to nourish its roots. In short, it ripens under the sun of America, in every part of both continents.
Though wheat is characterised as the most nutritious food for man in all quarters of the world, yet the Indian corn crop of the United States is not second in value to any product of the earth; cultivated in the middle and Eastern States, nay, even in the rich cotton-growing districts, Indian corn is fast rising in importance, and will soon equal in value that important commercial staple. This indigenous grain yields to the nation an annual average of five hundred millions of bushels, and has, within the last five years, attracted much attention as a life-sustaining food, more particularly at the period of Ireland's severe suffering, in 1847, and the following years. Nations, as well as statesmen and farmers, have found it an object worthy of their consideration and esteem.
When due regard is paid to the selection of varieties, and cultivated in a proper soil, maize may be accounted a sure crop in almost every portion of the habitable globe, between the 44th degree of north latitude and a corresponding parallel south. Among the objects of culture in the United States, it takes precedence in the scale of cereal crops, as it is best adapted to the soil and climate, and furnishes the largest amount of nutritive food. Besides its production in the North American Republic, its extensive culture is limited to Mexico, the West Indies, most of the States of South America, France, Spain, Portugal, Lombardy, and Southern and Central Europe generally. It is, however, also cultivated with success in Northern, Southern, and Western Africa, India, China, Japan, Australia, and the Sandwich Islands, the groups of the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries, and numerous other oceanic isles.
Maize is not a favorite grain as bread-corn with the European nations, for although it abounds in mucilage, it is asserted to contain less gluten, and is not likely to be much used by those who can procure wheaten flour, or even rye bread.
The large importations which were made by our Government during the prevalence of the potato disease, brought it into more general use among some classes, and the imports for home consumption are still extensive, having been as follows in the last few years:—
1848. 1849. Indian corn, quarters 1,582,755 2,249,571 " meal, cwts. 233,880 102,181
1850. 1851. Indian corn, quarters 1,286,264 1,810,425 " meal, cwts. 11,401
The trade in maize, or Indian corn, is totally new since 1846. The famine in Ireland in that year, and the potato rot in almost every successive year since, have now fully established it. Like the gold discoveries, the potato rot may be regarded as a providential means of effecting a great change in the condition of society. Those discoveries are not without their influence in the East, and, combined with the potato rot, they have rapidly increased the commerce between the East and West of Europe, while they are spreading broad paths between all Europe and the lands in the Southern Ocean. The imports of maize from all parts, in 1852, amounted to 1,550,000 quarters, of which about 1,100,000 quarters arrived in vessels from the Mediterranean, &c., calling at Queenstown or Falmouth for orders. The balance consisted of imports from America, France, Portugal, &c., and also of cargoes addressed direct to a port of discharge, without first calling off the coast for orders. The quantities received in 1851 and 1852 from the Mediterranean were as follows:—
1852. 1851. Received from qrs. qrs. Galatz 223,000 286,067 Ibraila 362,600 211,779 Salonica 35,640 95,377 Odessa 219,170 74,065 Egypt 50,960 86,260 Italy 8,250 162,544 Constantinople, Malta, Trieste, and other ports in the Mediterranean 190,720 286,358 ————- ————- 1,090,340 1,202,450
The various quarters from whence we derive supplies of this grain, are shown in the following table of the imports for the last three years, which I have compiled from the most recent Parliamentary returns.
INDIAN CORN AND MEAL IMPORTED INTO THE UNITED KINGDOM. - 1849. 1850. 1851. - - PLACES. Corn. Meal. Corn. Meal. Corn. Meal. qrs. cwts. qrs. cwts. qrs. cwts. - - - - - Russian Ports in Black Sea 25,519 19,721 98,176 Denmark 1,300 250 5 Hanover 1,344 Belgium 67 France 135,115 510 102,978 26 164,128 29 Portugal Proper 61,446 67,518 53 21,922 Azores and Madeira 17,214 7 7,794 6 4,356 1 Spain and Bahama Islands 26,856 48 19,982 48 34,771 Sardinian Territories 13,357 25 2 1,302 1 Tuscany 11,481 95 15,612 94 34,760 Papal Territories 8,927 1,876 75,588 Naples and Sicily 18 10,066 101,489 Austrian Territories 90,540 45,748 73,966 Malta and Gozo 18,198 4,969 11,002 Ionian Islands 5,390 7,324 5,967 Greece 57,520 8,712 3,252 Egypt 12,767 71,808 127,692 Turkish dominions, including Wallachia, Moldavia and Syria 563,799 348,456 748,180 Morocco 760 West Coast of Africa 889 2,322 B.N.A. Colonies 1,645 164 1,530 4,377 7 U.S. of America 1,170,154 100,859 538,155 11,253 295,978 9,522 Brazil 1,253 468 725 Other places 1,756 1 - - - - - 2,225,459 101,683 1,277,070 11,482 1,807,636 9,561 (Parliamentary Paper, No. 14, Sess. 1852.)
The many excellent properties of Indian corn, as a wholesome nutritious food, and the rich fodder obtained from the stalk and leaf for the nourishment of cattle, invite more earnest attention from the farmer and planter in the Colonies to its better and extended cultivation.
Though the average quantity of grain from each acre in the United States is not more than thirty or forty bushels, yet it is known that with due care and labor 100 to 130 bushels may be obtained.
In feeding cattle little difference is discoverable between the effects of Indian corn meal and oil-cake meal; the preference rather preponderates in favor of the latter.
Corn cobs, ground with the grain, have advocates, but this food is not relished, and swine decline it.
Indian corn contains about the same proportion of starch as oats (sixty per cent.), but is more fattening, as it contains about nine or ten per cent. of oily or fatty ingredients.
The following analysis of maize is given by Dr. Samuel David, of Massachusetts:—
FLESH FORMING PRINCIPLES.
Gluten, albumen, and casein 12.60
FAT FORMING PRINCIPLES.
Gum, sugar, starch, woody fibre, oil, &c. 77.09 Water 9.00 Salts 1.31 ——- 100.
Prof. Gorham, in "Thomson's Organic Chem.," published in London in 1838, gives another analysis:—
Fresh grain. Dried grain. Water 9.00 Starch 77.00 84.60 Gluten 3.00 3.30 Albumen 2.50 2.74 Gum 1.75 1.92 Sugar 1.45 1.60 Loss 5.30 5.84 ——— ——— 100. 100.
Professor Johnston supplies a table, which, he says, exhibits the best approximate view we are yet able to give of the average proportion of starch and gluten contained in 100 lbs. of our common grain crops as they are met with in the market.
From this table I extract the following:—
Starch, gum, &c. Gluten, albumen, &c. Wheat flour. 55 lbs. 10 to 15 lbs. Oats 65 " 18 lbs. Indian corn 70 " 12 " Beans 40 " 28 " Peas 50 " 24 " Potatoes 12 " 2-1/3 "
The Professor remarks that the proportion of oil is, in 100 lbs. of
Wheat flour 2 to 4 Oats 5 " 8 Indian corn 5 " 9 Beans and peas 21/2 " 3 Potatoes 01/4 "
Maize is one of those plants in which potash preponderates, for analysis of its ashes gives the following proportions:—
Salts of potash and soda 71.00 —— lime and magnesia 6.50 Silica 18.00 Loss 4.50 ——— 100.
Dr. Salisbury has also furnished the proximate analysis of five varieties of ripe maize or Indian corn:—
Proportions. One hundred grains of each. Water. Dry.
Golden Sioux corn, a bright, yellow, twelve-rowed} variety, frequently having fourteen rows } 15.02 84.98 Large eight-rowed yellow corn 14.00 86.00 Small eight-rowed ditto 14.03 85.97 White flint corn 14.00 86.00 Ohio Dent corn, one of the largest varieties of } maize } 14.50 85.50
COMPARATIVE ORGANIC ANALYSIS. Golden Ohio Small Large White Sioux. Dent 8-rowed 8-rowed Flint Corn. Corn. Corn. Corn. Starch 36.06 41.85 30.29 49.22 40.34 Gluten 5.00 4.62 5.60 5.40 7.69 Oil 3.44 3.88 3.90 3.71 4.68 Albumen 4.42 2.64 6.00 3.32 3.40 Casein 1.92 1.32 2.20 0.75 0.50 Dextrine 1.30 5.40 4.61 1.90 3.00 Fibre 18.50 21.36 26.80 11.96 18.01 Sugar and extract 7.25 10.00 5.20 9.55 8.30 Water 15.02 10.00 13.40 14.00 14.00
Large quantities of starch are now made from this grain in Ohio; an establishment near Columbus consume 20,000 bushels of corn annually for this purpose. The offal of the grain is given to hogs, 500 to 600 head being annually fattened therewith. The quality of the starch is said to be superior to that of wheat, and commands a higher price in New York.
A corn plant, fifteen days after the seed was planted, cut on the 3rd June close to the ground, gave of—
Water 86.626 Dry matter 10.374 Ash 1.354 Ash calculated dry 13.053
By the above figures it will be seen that nearly 90 per cent, of the young plant is water; and that in proportion to the dry matter, the amount of earthy minerals which remain, as ash, when the plant is burnt, is large. This excess of water continues for many weeks. Thus, on the 5th July, thirty-three days from planting, the relations stood thus:—
Water 90.518 Dry matter 9.482 Ash 1.333 Ash calculated dry 14.101 (Ash very saline.)
Before green succulent food of this character is fit to give to cows, oxen, mules, or horses, it should be partly dried. Plants that contain from 70 to 75 per cent. of water need no curing before eaten. The young stalk cut July 12, gave over 94 per cent. of water. Such food used for soiling without drying would be likely to scour an animal, and give it the cholic.
The root at this time (July 12) gave of—
Water 81.026 Dry matter 18.974 Ash 2.222 Ash calculated dry 11.711 (Ash tastes of caustic potash.)
Ash of the whole plant above ground, 6.77 grains. Amount of ash in all below ground, 3.93 grains.
So late as July 26, the proportion of water in the stalk was 94 per cent.; and the ash calculated dry 17.66 per cent. The plant gained 21.36.98 grains in weight in a week preceding the 6th September. This was equal to a gain of 12.72 grains per hour.
The rapid growth of corn plants, when the heat, light, and moisture, as well as the soil are favorable, is truly wonderful. A deep, rich, mellow soil, in which the roots can freely extend to a great distance in depth and laterally, is what the corn-grower should provide for his crop. The perviousness of river bottoms contributes largely to their productiveness of this cereal. A compact clay, which excludes alike air, water, and roots, forbidding all chemical changes, is not the soil for Indian corn.
When farmers sell corn soon after it is ripe, there is considerable gain in not keeping it long to dry and shrink in weight. Corn grown by Mr. Salisbury, which was ripe by the 18th October, then contained 37 per cent. of water, which is 25 per cent. more than old corn from the crib will yield. The mean of man experiments tried by the writer has been a loss of 20 per cent. in moisture between new and old corn. The butts of cornstalks contain the most water, and husks or shucks the least, when fully matured and not dried. The latter have about 30 per cent, of dry matter when chemically desiccated.
COMPOSITION OF THE ASH OF THE LEAVES AT DIFFERENT STAGES.
July 19. Aug. 2. Aug. 23. Aug. 30. Oct. 18. Carbonic acid 5.40 2.850 0.65 3.50 4.050 Silicia 13.50 19.850 34.90 36.27 58.650 Sulphuric acid 2.16 1.995 4.92 5.84 4.881 Phosphates 21.60 16.250 17.00 13.50 5.850 Lime .69 4.035 2.00 3.88 4.510 Magnesia .37 2.980 1.59 2.30 0.865 Potash 9.98 11.675 10.85 9.15 7.333 Soda 34.39 29.580 21.23 22.13 8.520 Chlorine 4.55 6.020 3.06 1.63 2.664 Organic acids 5.50 2.400 3.38 2.05 2.200 ——- ——— ——— ——- ——— 98.14 97.750 98.187 99.83 99.334
The above figures disclose several interesting facts. It will be seen that the increase of silica or flint in the leaf is steadily progressive from 131/2 per cent. at July 19, to 58.65 at October 18.
Flint is substantially the bone earth of all grasses. If one were to analyse the bones of a calf when a day old, again when thirty days of age, and when a year old, the increase of phosphate of lime in its skeleton would be similar to that witnessed in the leaves and stems of maize. In the early stages of the growth of corn, its leaves abound in phosphates; but after the seeds begin to form, the phosphates leave the tissues of the plant in other parts, and concentrate in and around the germs in the seeds. On the 23rd of August, the ash of the whole stalk contained 191/2 per cent. of phosphates; and on the 18th of October, only 15.15 per cent. In forming the cobs of this plant, considerable potash is drawn from the stalk, as it decreases from 35.54 per cent. August 16, to 24.69 October 18. When the plant is growing fastest, its roots yield an ash which contains less than one per cent. of lime; but after this development is nearly completed, the roots retain, or perhaps regain from the plant above, over 41/2 per cent. of this mineral. Soda figures as high as from 20 to 31 per cent. in the ash obtained from corn roots. Ripe seeds gave the following results on the analysis of their ash:—
Silica 0.850 Phosphoric acid 49.210 Lime 0.075 Magnesia 17.600 Potash 23.175 Soda 3.605 Sodium 0.160 Chlorine 0.295 Sulphuric acid 0.515 Organic acids 5.700 ——— 99.175
The above table shows a smaller quantity of lime than is usually found in the ash of this grain. It is, however, never so abundant as magnesia; and Professor Emmons has shown that the best corn lands in the State of New York contain a considerable quantity of magnesia. All experience, as well as all chemical researches, go to prove that potash and phosphoric acid are important elements in the organisation of maize. Corn yields more pounds of straw and grain on poor land than either wheat, rye, barley, or oats; and it does infinitely better on rich than on sterile soils. To make the earth fertile, it is better economy to plant thick than to have the rows five feet apart each way, as is customary in some of the Southern States, and only one stalk in a hill. This gives but one plant to twenty-five square feet of ground. Instead of this, three square feet are sufficient for a single plant; and from that up to six, for the largest varieties of this crop.
Mr. Humboldt states the production of maize in the Antilles as 300 for one; and Mr. H. Colman has seen in several cases in the New England States of America, a return of 400 for one; that is to say, the hills being three feet apart each way, a peck of Indian corn would be sufficient seed for an acre. If 100 bushels of grain is in such case produced by an acre—and this sometimes happens—this is clearly a return of 400 for one.
Of the whole family of cereals, Zea Mays is unquestionably the most valuable for cultivation in the United States. When the time shall come that population presses closely on the highest capabilities of American soil, this plant, which is a native of the New World, will be found greatly to excel all others in the quantity of bread, meat, milk, and butter which it will yield from an acre of land. With proper culture, it has no equal for the production of hay, in all cases where it is desirable to grow a large crop on a small surface.
Although there has been much written on the Eastern origin of this grain, it did not grow in that part of Asia watered by the Indus, at the time of Alexander the Great's expedition, as it is not among the productions of the country mentioned by Nearchus, the commander of the fleet; neither is it noticed by Arian, Diodorus, Columella, nor any other ancient author; and even as late as 1491, the year before Columbus discovered America, Joan di Cuba, in his "Ortus Sanitatis," makes no mention of it. It has never been found in any ancient tumulus, sarcophagus, or pyramid; nor has it ever been represented in any ancient painting, sculpture, or work of art, except in America. But in that country, according to Garcilaso de la Vega, one of the ancient Peruvian historians, the palace gardens of the Incas, in Peru, were ornamented with maize, in gold and silver, with all the grains, spikes, stalks, and leaves; and in one instance, in the "garden of gold and silver," there was an entire cornfield, of considerable size, representing the maize in its exact and natural shape; a proof no less of the wealth of the Incas, than their veneration for this important grain.
In further proof of the American origin, it may be stated that this plant is still found growing, in a wild state, from the Rocky mountains in North America, to the humid forests of Paraguay, where, instead of having each grain naked, as is always the case after long cultivation, it is completely covered with glumes or husks. It is, furthermore, a well authenticated fact, that maize was found in a state of cultivation by the aborigines, in the island of Cuba, on its discovery by Columbus, as well as in most other places in America, first explored by Americans.
The first successful attempt to cultivate this grain in North America, by the English, occurred on James' river, in Virginia, in 1608. It was undertaken by the colonists sent over by the Indian company, who adopted the mode then practised by the natives, which, with some modifications, has been pursued throughout this country ever since. The yield, at this time, is represented to have been from two hundred to more than one thousand fold. The same increase was noted by the early settlers in Illinois. The present yield, east of the Rocky Mountains, when judiciously cultivated, varies from 20 to 135 bushels to an acre.
The varieties of Indian corn are very numerous, exhibiting every grade of size, color, and conformation, between the "chubby reed" that grows on the shores of Lake superior—the gigantic stalks of the Ohio valley—the tiny ears, with flat, close, clinging grains, of Canada—the brilliant, rounded little pearl—the bright red grains and white cob of the eight-rowed haematite—the swelling ears of the big white and the yellow gourd seed of the South. From the flexibility of this plant, it may be acclimatised, by gradual cultivation, from Texas to Maine, or from Canada to Brazil; but its character, in either case, is somewhat changed, and often new varieties are the result. The blades of the plant are of great value as food for stock, and is an article but rarely estimated sufficiently, when considering of the agricultural products of the Southern and Southwestern States especially.
To supply slaves on plantations with bread, including old and young, requires from twelve to thirteen bushels of corn each a year. Taking thirteen bushels as the average consumption of breadstuffs by the 22,000,000 of people in the United States, the aggregate is 286,000,000 bushels per annum.
The increase of production, from 1840 to 1850, was 214,000,000 bushels, equal to 56 per cent.
The production of New England advanced from 6,993,000 to 10,377,000 bushels, showing an increase of 3,384,000 bushels, nearly fifty per cent. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, increased 20,812,000 bushels, more than fifty per cent. In the production of this crop no State has retrograded. Ohio, which in 1840 occupied the fourth place as a corn-producing State, now ranks as the first. Kentucky is second, Illinois third, Tennessee fourth. The crop of Illinois has increased from 2,000,000 to 5,500,000 bushels, or at the rate of 160 per cent. in ten years.
Of the numerous varieties some are best adapted to the Southern States, while others are better suited for the Northern and Eastern. Those generally cultivated in the former are the Southern big and small yellow, the Southern big and small white flint, the yellow Peruvian, and the Virginian white gourd seed. In the more Northerly and Easterly States they cultivate the golden sioux, or Northern yellow flint, the King Philip, or eight-rowed yellow, the Canadian early white, the Tuscarora, the white flour, and the Rhode Island white flint.
The extended cultivation of this grain is chiefly confined to the Eastern, Middle, and Western States, though much more successfully grown in the latter. The amount exported from South Carolina, in 1748, was 39,308 bushels; from North Carolina, in 1753, 61,580 bushels; from Georgia, in 1755, 600 bushels; from Virginia, for several years preceding the revolution, annually 600,000 bushels; from Philadelphia, in 1765-66, 54,205 bushels; in 1771, 259,441 bushels.
The total amount exported from America in 1770, was 573,349 bushels; in 1791, 2,064,936 bushels, 351,695 of which were Indian meal; in 1800, 2,032,435 bushels, 338,108 of which were in meal; in 1810, 1,140,960 bushels, 86,744 of which were meal. In 1820-21, there were exported 607,277 bushels of corn, and 131,669 barrels of Indian meal; in 1830-31, 571,312 bushels of corn, and 207,604 barrels of meal; in 1840-41,535,727 bushels of corn, and 232,284 barrels of meal; in 1845-46, 1,286,068 bushels of corn, and 298,790 barrels of meal; in 1846-47 16,326,050 bushels of corn, and 948,060 barrels of meal; in 1850-51, 3,426,811 bushels of corn, and 203,622 barrels of meal. More than eleven millions of bushels of Indian corn were consumed in 1850, in the manufacture of spirituous liquors.
According to the census of 1840, the corn crop of the United States was 377,531,875 bushels; in 1850, 592,326,612 bushels.
The increase in the production of corn in Ohio has been (in ten years) 66 per cent. I have also before me the auditor's returns for the crop of 1850, as taken by assessors, and the number of acres planted. The auditor's returns are:—
Seventy-three counties 55,079,374 Darke county 524,484 Twelve counties, average 8,400,000 ————— Total 64,003,858
This is an advance of 15 per cent. on the crop of 1840, and it is known that the crop of 1850 was better than that of 1849. The number of acres planted, and the average production was:—
Acres planted 1,810,947 Bushels produced 64,003,858 Average per acre 35-3/8 bush.
Considering how large a portion of hill land is planted, and how many fields are ill cultivated, the average is high. Many persons have believed that taking all years and all lands into view, the average of corn lands was not more than thirty bushels. But the immense fertility of bottom lands on the rivers and creeks of Ohio make up for bad cultivation and inferior soil. We may see something of the differences in the production of corn, by taking the averages of different counties, thus:—
Acres. Crop. Average. Butler 62,031 2,646,353 421/2 Warren 42,322 1,757,409 42 Pickaway 65,860 2,627,727 40 Ross 69,520 2,918,958 42
Compare the average of these counties, which embrace some of the best lands in the State, with the following:—