In Farmington, on the Sandy River, in Maine, I have seen a very fine grove of maples, but thirty years old, which produced a large yield of very good sugar. A man and two boys made 1,500 lbs. of sugar from the sap of these trees in a single season. The sap was boiled down in potash kettles, which were scoured bright with vinegar and sand. The sugar was of a fine yellow color, and well crystallised. It was drained of its molasses in casks, with a false bottom perforated with small holes—the cask having a hole bored at the bottom, with a tow plug placed loosely in it, to conduct off the molasses. This method is a good one, but the sap ought to be limed in boiling, as I have described; then it will not attach to the iron or copper boilers. The latter metal must not be used with acid syrup, for copper salts are poisonous.
There are several towns in the northern sections of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, that produce more than sufficient sugar for the consumption of their inhabitants. A lot of good sugar trees will average four pounds to the tree, in a favorable season. Many farmers have orchards that will yield five hundred to a thousand pounds of sugar in a year. As this is made at a season interfering very little with the general business of the farm, the sugar that the farmer makes is so much clear gain.
There is, on almost every hill-farm, some place favorable for the growth of a maple orchard—some rocky spots yielding little grass, and impervious for the plough. Such spots may be favorably chosen for the growth of a maple orchard; and whether the increase be used for manufacturing sugar or molasses, or for timber or fuel, the proprietor of the land will find a profit better than money at interest in the growth of this beautiful tree, which will spontaneously propagate itself in many positions.
Its great excellence consists in yielding sap for the manufacture of vast quantities of maple sugar in the country during the months of spring. An open winter, constantly freezing and thawing, is a forerunner of a bountiful crop of sugar. The orchard of maple trees is almost equal to a field of sugar cane of the same area, in the production of sugar. This tree reaches an age of 200 years.
Vermont is the second sugar-producing State in the Union. The amount of maple sugar produced there in 1840 was over 2,550 tons, being more than 173/4 pounds to each inhabitant, allowing a population of 291,948. At five cents a pound, this is worth. 255,963 dols. 20 cents.
The Statistics of the United States census for 1850, show that about thirty-five millions of pounds (15,250 tons) of maple sugar were manufactured in that year:—
Maine 97,541 New Hampshire 1,392,489 Massachusetts 768,596 Vermont 5,159,641 Connecticut 37,781 New York 10,310,764 New Jersey 5,886 Pennsylvania 2,218,641 Maryland 47,740 Virginia 1,223,908 North Carolina 27,448 South Carolina 200 Georgia 50 Alabama 473 Mississippi 110 Louisiana 260 Arkansas 8,825 Tennessee 159,647 Kentucky 388,525 Ohio 4,528,548 Michigan 2,423,897 Indiana 2,921,638 Illinois 246,078 Missouri 171,942 Iowa 70,684 Missouri 661,969 Minnesota 2,950 —————- Total 32,776,671
There is a balance of about two million pounds produced by Rhode Island, Texas, Oregon, California, Utah, New Mexico, Delaware, and Florida. The above statement does not include the sugar made by the Indians, east of the Mississippi river, which may be set down at 10,000,000 lbs., and west of that river 2,000,000 lbs.
Besides the above sugar crop, there was a yield by the sugar maple in the United States in 1850, of 40,000,000 gallons of maple molasses.
Maize Sugar.—The stem and branches of Indian corn, during the time that its grain is filling, abounds with sugar, even when grown in this country; so much so, that it might be turned to account by those of the peasantry who have small plots of ground attached to their cottages; and I applied a simple method by which a rich syrup may be obtained from it, equal in sweetness to treacle, and superior to it in flavor. The proper time for cutting down the plant (which should be done within an inch of the ground), is when the corn in the ear is small and full of a milky juice. All the large and old leaves should be stripped off, leaving only the young and tender ones; they should then be cut into short lengths, thoroughly bruised, and the juice entirely pressed out from them. Where the means cannot be obtained for expressing the juice by this method, the following may be employed:—After the plants have been cut into small pieces, put them into a large pot or copper, with only just sufficient water to extract the juice; boil for one hour, and then strain off the liquor; to each gallon of this liquor add a wine-glass full of lime-water whilst warm; but if it be the expressed juice, obtained as above mentioned, add double the quantity of lime-water. When the liquor is cold, for every three gallons beat up an egg with some of the liquor; put altogether into a boiler, and boil gently till the syrup acquires the consistence of treacle. Whilst this is going on, the liquor should every now and then be well stirred, and the scum which rises to the surface taken off. This syrup, which will be found a better substitute for sugar than treacle, and more wholesome, should be kept in lightly-covered vessels, in a dry place.
My own observations, twelve years ago, acquainted me with the fact, that when the grain in the ear has acquired one half of the full size, the quantity of sugar in the sap has passed its maximum, or begun to decrease, and continues to do so until it disappears entirely. Lopping off the young ears makes shorter work of it. It is like taking the young from an animal giving suck, in which case the milk soon ceases to flow into the breast, and that which produced it is elaborated into other fluids necessary to the nourishment of the different parts of the body of the parent. In the corn-stalk, when deprived of its ears, the elements of sugar are dissipated by increasing the size of the plant.
Sugar may also be obtained from the carrot and the parsnip, as well as from all sweet fruits. It is abundant throughout the vegetable kingdom; it forms the first food of plants when they germinate in the seed; when the first little sprout is projected from a grain of corn, a portion of the farina, or starch, is changed into sugar, which may be called the blood of the plant, and from it is drawn the nourishment necessary to its expansion and appearance above the surface of the earth. In the latter growth of many plants an inverse process is carried on, as in the Indian corn, which I have just spoken of. In this instance, as also numberless others, sugar is formed in large quantities in the body of the plant, and elaborated into farina, or starch, in the ear. The elements of which sugar and starch are composed are the same; the only difference is in their proportions. Chemists, being aware of this, have converted starch into sugar; and could do it with certainty to any extent, were any advantage to be gained by it; but hitherto starch has been higher in price than sugar.
THE GRAIN CROPS, EDIBLE ROOTS, AND FARINACEOUS PLANTS FORMING THE BREAD STUFFS OF COMMERCE.
The vegetable substances, from which man derives his principal sustenance, such as the nutritious cereal grains, the tuberous rooted plants and the trees yielding farina, are very widely diffused, and necessarily occupy the main attention of the cultivator; their products forming the most important staples of domestic and foreign commerce. The cereal grasses and roots, cultivated in temperate regions, such as wheat, barley, oats, rye, and the potato, are so well known, and have been so fully described by agricultural writers that I shall not go much into details as to their varieties, culture, &c., but confine myself chiefly to their distribution, produce, statistics, and commercial importance. The food plants may be most conveniently arranged under three heads. Firstly—the Grain crops and legumes, which comprises the European cultivated grasses, wheat, barley, oats, &c.; and the tropical ones of rice, maize, millet, Guinea corn, &c. Secondly—Palms and other trees yielding farina, including the sago palms, plantain and banana, and the bread fruit tree. And Thirdly—the edible Root crops and Starch producing plants, which are a somewhat extensive class, the chief of which, however, are the common potato, yams, cocos or eddoes, sweet potatoes, the bitter and sweet cassava or manioc, the arrowroot and other plants yielding starch in more or less purity.
There is a great diversity of food, from the humble oak bark bread of the Norwegian peasant, or the Brahmin, whose appetite is satisfied with vegetables, to the luxurious diet of a Hungarian Magnate at Vienna.
The bread stuffs, as they are popularly termed, particularly wheat and wheat flour, maize, and rice, form very important articles of commerce, and enter largely into cultivation in various countries for home consumption and export. Russia, India, and the United States, carry on a very considerable trade in grain with other countries. Our local production being insufficient for food and manufactures, we import yearly immense quantities of grain and flour. In the four years ending 1852, the annual quantity of corn, of various, kinds, imported into the United Kingdom, exclusive of flour and meal, rice, sago, &c., averaged 8,085,903 quarters.
The flour and meal imported, omitting sago, arrowroot and other starches, averaged in the same period 4,143,603 cwts. annually.
The annual imports of breadstuffs for food, taking the average of the four years ending with 1852, may be thus summed up—
Tons. Corn and grain, 8,085,903 quarters, at 60 lb. the bushel 173,270 Flour and meal 207,180 Rice 40,817 Potatoes 42,440 Sago, arrowroot, &c. 5,000 ———- Total 468,707
Some portion of this quantity is doubtless consumed in the arts—as starch for stiffening linens, &c., and for other purposes not coming under the term of food, but I have purposely left out in the calculation about 30,000 to 40,000 quarters of rice in the husk annually imported.
Ireland took, in 1849, of foreign grain 2,115,129 quarters; 1,683,687 quarters in 1850; and 2,504,229 in 1851; as well as 256,837 cwts. of various kinds of meal and flour in 1849; 220,107 cwts. in 1850; and 341,680 cwts. in 1851. England also supplied her with about 500,000 quarters of grain and 350,000 cwts. of meal in each of those years.
The comparative returns of the importations of grain into the United Kingdom for the last four years, are as follows, in quarters:—
1852. 1851. 1850. 1849. Wheat 3,068,892 3,812,009 3,738,995 3,845,378 Barley 656,737 829,564 1,035,903 1,381,008 Oats 995,480 1,198,529 1,154,473 1,267,106 Rye 10,023 24,609 98,836 240,566 Beans 371,250 318,502 443,306 457,933 Peas 107,017 99,399 181,419 234,366 Maize 1,479,891 1,807,636 1,277,071 2,224,459 Other sorts 8,085 3,432 868 1,150 ————- ————- ————- ————- Quarters 6,667,375 8,124,280 7,930,871 9,651,966
The meal and flour imported in the same years, in cwts., were as follows:—
1852. 1851. 1850. 1849. Wheat 3,889,583 5,314,414 3,819,440 3,349,839 Barley 212 34 108 224 Oats 521 2,525 5,999 40,230 Rye 92 6,493 964 18,468 Indian corn 742 9,561 11,334 101,683 Other sorts 54 343 163 1,396 ————- ————- ————- ————- Cwts. 3,891,195 5,323,370 3,838,008 3,511,840
Before the famine in Ireland the imports seldom reached 20 millions of bushels of grain and meal of all kinds. In 1848 our imports were about 60 millions; in 1849, 85 millions; in 1850, 68 millions; in 1851, 751/2 millions; in 1852, 69 millions, with good wheat harvests; showing the great shock received and the slowness of recovery.
With a rapidly increasing population in all parts of the civilized world, the production of bread is obviously the first object to be sought after, alike by the statesman and the peasant. I scarcely dare give the calculation of the immense amount which would be realised in any great country, by the single saving of a bushel to an acre, in the quantity of seed ordinarily sown. The same result would follow if an additional bushel could be produced in the annual average yield of the wheat crop.
According to Mr. H. Colman, the annual amount of seed for wheat sown in France is estimated at 32,491,978 bushels. If we could suppose a third of this saved, the saving would amount to 10,863,959 bushels per year. Suppose an annual increase of the crops of five bushels per acre, this would give an increase of production of 54,319,795 bushels. Add this, under improved cultivation, to the amount of seed saved, and the result would be 65,183,754 bushels—I believe under an improved agriculture this is quite practicable.
An eminent agricultural writer placed the average yield in England at eighteen bushels per acre; some years since a man of sanguine temperament rated it at over thirty bushels. In France it is stated, in the best districts, to average twenty-two bushels. These evidently are wholly conjectural estimates. In England Mr. Colman states that fifty bushels per acre were reported to him on the best authority, as the yield upon a large farm in a very favorable season. More than eighty bushels have been returned, upon what is deemed ample testimony, to the Royal Agricultural Society of England, as the product of a single acre. In France Mr. Colman had, upon credible authority, reports of forty, forty-four and seventy-two bushels. It would be of immense importance to any government to know the exact produce grown in any county, or district, or in the whole country; and this might be obtained by compelling, on the part of the owner or cultivator, an actual return of his crop; but it is of little use to found such returns on estimates purely conjectural.
From the best statistical accounts that can be obtained, the wheat annually produced in the United Kingdom.
England, Scotland, Ireland is 111,681,320 bushels. In France it is 198,660,000 " United States 100,503,899 "
The amount of seed ordinarily sown to the acre in France is from two to three bushels. The return of crop for the seed sown is represented as in the best districts averaging 6.25 for one; in the least productive 5.40 for one. My readers may be curious to know the calculations which have been made in some other countries in regard to this matter.
CENTRAL EUROPE Increase Countries. Year. for seed sown. Spain 1828 6 for one Portugal 1786 10 " Tuscany 10 " Plains of Lucca 15 " Piedmont—Plains of Marengo 4 to five Bologna 15 " Roman States—Pontine marshes 20 " Ordinary lands 8 " Kingdom of Naples—best districts 20 " Ordinary lands 8 " Malta—the best lands 38 to 64 " Ordinary lands 22, 25, 30 "
Sweden and Norway 1838 4.50 for one Denmark 1827 6 " Russia, a good harvest 1819 5 " —— province of Tambof 1821 4.50 " —— provinces north of 50 deg. latitude 1821 3 " Poland 1826 8 " England 1830 9 " Scotland 1830 8 " Ireland 1825 10 " Holland 1828 7.50 " Belgium 1828 11 " Bavaria 1827 7 to 8 " Prussia 1817 6 " Austria 1812 7.05 " Hungary 1812 4 " Switzerland, lands of an inferior quality 1825 3 " Of a good quality, 8; of the best quality 12 " France, inferior lands, 3; best lands 6 "
(Statistique des Cereales de la France par Moreau de Jonnes.)
STATISTICS OF WHEAT CULTURE.
As wheat forms the principal nutritious food of the world, claiming the industrious application of labor over the greater part of Europe, throughout the temperate regions of Asia, along the northern kingdoms of Africa, and extending far into the northern and southern regions of the American continents; as it has been cultivated from time immemorial, and has produced in various climates and soils many varieties; it is surprising that so little is generally known of the distinct varieties best adapted to particular climates—and that in Great Britain and the United States we have yet to learn the variety which will yield the largest and best amount of human food!
At the Industrial Exhibition in 1851, twenty-six premiums only were distributed for specimens of wheat; of these, five were awarded to British farmers, three to France, three to Russia, three to Australia, three to the United States, and one each or severally to other nations. Some beautiful specimens of wheat were exhibited from South Australia, weighing seventy pounds a bushel; which were eagerly sought after for seed wheat by our farmers and the colonists of Canada and the United States. But as is well observed by Professor Lindley, it has no peculiar constitutional characteristics by which it may be distinguished from other wheats. Its superior quality is entirely owing to local conditions; to the peculiar temperature, the brilliant light, the soil, and those other circumstances which characterise the climate of South Australia.
All kinds of wheat contain water in greater or lesser quantities. Its amount is greater in cold countries than in warm. In Alsace from 16 to 20 per cent.; England from 14 to 17 per cent.; United States from 12 to 14 per cent.; Africa and Sicily from 9 to 11 per cent. This accounts for the fact, that the same weight of southern flour yields more bread than northern, English wheat yields 13 lbs. more to the quarter than Scotch. Alabama flour, it is said, yields 20 per cent. more than that of Cincinnati. And in general American flour, according to one of the most extensive London bakers, absorbs 8 or 10 per cent. more of its own weight of water in being made into bread than the English. The English grain is fuller and rounder than the American, being puffed up with moisture.
Every year the total loss in the United States from moisture in wheat and flour is estimated at four to five million dollars. To remedy this great evil, the grain should be well ripened before harvesting, and well dried before being stored in a good dry granary. Afterwards, in grinding and in transporting, it should be carefully protected from wet, and the flour be kept from exposure to the atmosphere. The best precaution is kiln-drying. By this process the wheat and flour are passed over iron plates heated by steam to the boiling point. From each barrel of flour 16 or 17 pounds of water are thus expelled, leaving still four or five per cent. in the flour, an amount too small to do injury. If all the water be expelled, the quality of the flour is deteriorated.
The mode of ascertaining the amount of water in flour is this; take a small sample, say five ounces, and weigh it carefully; put it into a dry vessel, which should be heated by boiling water; after six or seven hours, weigh it; its loss of weight shows the original amount of water.
The next object is to ascertain the amount of gluten. Gluten is an adhesive, pasty mass, and consists of several different principles, though its constitution has not yet been satisfactorily determined. It is chiefly the nutritious portion of the flour. The remaining principles are mostly starch, sugar and gum. On an average their relative amount in 100 parts are about as follows:—
Average. Kobanga wheat, the best. Water 13 12 Gluten 12 16 Starch 67 60 Sugar and Gum 8 8 —- —- 100 97
Professor Beck examined thirty-three different samples from various parts of the United States and Europe, and he gives the preference to the Kobanga variety from the south of Russia. There would probably be a prejudice against it in this country, from the natural yellowish hue of its flour and bread.
The value of the vegetable food, grain, potatoes, rice and apples exported from the United States within the past few years is thus set down:—
Dollars. 1847 57,970,356 1848 25,185,647 1849 25,642,362 1850 15,822,273
To this has to be added nine or ten million dollars more for tobacco, 72 million dollars for cotton, and 180,000 dollars for hops and other minor agricultural staples—making the value of the raw vegetable exports about 98 million dollars. There is further the value of the products of the forest, timber, ashes and bark, tar, &c., which are equal to nearly seven millions more, as shown by the following figures:—
Dollars. 1847 5,248,928 1848 6,415,297 1849 5,261,766 1850 6,590,037
It appears from an official document of the American Treasury Department, that the average value of the breadstuffs and provisions annually exported from the United States from 1821 to 1836 inclusive, was 12,792,000 dolls.; in 1837 and 1838, about 9,600,000 dolls.; from 1839 to 1846, 16,176,000 dolls.; and for the last seven years as follows:—
Dollars. 1846 27,701,121 1847 68,701,921 1848 37,472,751 1849 38,155,507 1850 26,051,373 1851 21,948,651 1852 25,857,027
Out of the wheat crop in the United States in 1846 of 110 million bushels raised, 10 millions were used for seed, starch, &c.; 72 consumed for food, and 28 million exported. The 460 million bushels of Indian corn raised, were thus disposed of; exported to foreign countries 22 million bushels; sold to and consumed by non-producers, 100 million; consumed on the farms and plantations of the producers for human and animal food, seed, &c., 338 million bushels.
The United States now produce about 120 million bushels of wheat, and nearly 600 million bushels of corn. Their surplus of wheat, for export, may be taken at 20 million bushels, and of Indian corn an almost unlimited quantity. They export about one and a quarter million barrels of flour, and about one million of bushels of wheat to other markets besides those of Great Britain or her North American colonies, viz., to Europe, Asia, Africa, the West Indies and South America, California and Australia, manufactured flour being the article required for these latter markets. Nearly four million bushels of Indian corn, and 300,000 barrels of corn meal, are exported from the United States to the West Indies and other foreign markets.
From the abstracts of statistical returns prepared at the American Census office, it appears that Pennsylvania, in 1850, was the largest wheat producing State of the Union. I have had the curiosity to compare the most prominent States in respect to this crop, and give them below, with the crop of each, as shown by the returns:—
Bushels. Pennsylvania 15,482,191 Ohio 14,967,056 Virginia 14,516,900 New York 13,073,000 Michigan 4,918,000 Maryland 4,494,680
That the United States could export 6,000,000 bushels of wheat, and its equivalent in flour in 1845; 13,000,000 in 1846, 26,000,000 in 1847, and then fell back to 13,000,000 in 1848, and 6,000,000 in 1849, with their production of wheat constantly increasing throughout this period, shows a wonderful elasticity, and extensive home market. If the price of wheat is higher in proportion than for corn, the Americans export the former and consume the latter; if the demand for corn be also great, they kill their hogs and export corn, for the pork will keep. If there be no great demand for either, they eat their surplus wheat, feed their hogs with the corn, and export pork as having the greatest value in the least bulk.
DESTINATION OF FLOUR SHIPPED FROM THE UNITED STATES. - - - - - WHERE TO. 1847 1849 1850 1851 - - - - - Swedish West Indies 7,366 7,573 8,757 5,315 Danish ditto 52,150 49,568 44,802 60,102 Dutch East Indies 1,150 4,625 1,600 1,873 Dutch West Indies 11,387 17,221 18,354 19,217 Holland and Belgium 73,871 727 1,177 594 England 2,475,076 953,815 369,777 1,004,783 Gibraltar 23,974 6,265 2,543 195 British East Indies 3,034 791 1,646 1,600 British West Indies 320,363 303,551 250,776 294,731 British American Colonies 272,299 294,891 244,072 252,380 France 612,641 French West Indies 28,966 5,554 5,480 7,902 Hayti 40,257 10,903 31,504 43,867 Cuba 50,046 7,154 5,584 5,611 Spanish West Indies 17,780 6,429 7,074 2,285 Madeira 4,856 4,358 6,321 7,006 Cape de Verds 1,634 501 455 838 Mexico 5,928 11,633 9,736 14,964 Honduras 10,686 4,125 4,725 5,912 Central America 550 4,180 746 2,573 Columbia 39,403 32,251 41,072 47,477 Brazil 270,473 328,129 295,415 374,711 Argentine Republic 10,684 6,599 4,901 22,612 Chili 5,977 5,129 2,848 4,327 South America 2,128 40 200 West Indies 4,902 3,984 1,702 4,079 Africa 25,728 4,617 5,524 5,430 North-west Coast 764 1,180 858 2,593 Other ports 29,866 35,017 18,949 19,158 - - - - Total Barrels 4,382,496 2,108,013 1,385,448 2,202,335 - - - - Average price 5.95 5.35 5.00 4.77 - - - - -
Wheat, where the soil and the climate are adapted to its growth, and the requisite progress has been made in its culture, is decidedly preferred to all other grains, and, next to maize, is the most important crop in the United States, not only on account of its general use for bread, but for its safety and convenience for exportation. It is not known to what country it is indigenous, any more than any other cultivated cereals, all of which, no doubt, have been essentially improved by man. By some, wheat is considered to have been coeval with the creation, as it is known that upwards of a thousand years before our era it was cultivated, and a superior variety had been attained. It has steadily followed the progress of civilisation from the earliest times, in all countries where it would grow. In 1776 there was entailed upon America an enduring calamity, in consequence of the introduction of the Hessian or wheat fly, which was supposed to have been brought from Germany in some straw, employed in the debarkation of Howe's troops on the west end of Long Island. From that point the insect gradually spread in various directions, at the rate of twenty or thirty miles a year, and the wheat of the entire regions east of the Alleghanies is now more or less infested with the larva, as well as in large portions of the States bordering on the Ohio and Mississippi, and on the great Lakes; and so great have been the ravages of these insects that the cultivation of this grain has in many places been abandoned.
The geographical range of the wheat region in the Eastern Continent and Australia, lies principally between the 30th and 60th parallels of north latitude, and the 30th and 40th degrees south, being chiefly confined to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Prussia, Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Northern and Southern Africa, Tartary, India, China, Australia, Van Diemen's Land, and Japan. Along the Atlantic portions of the Western Continent, it embraces the tract lying between the 30th and 50th parallels, and in the country westward of the Rocky Mountains, one or two more degrees further north. Along the west coast of South America, as well as in situations within the torrid zone, sufficiently elevated above the level of the sea, and properly irrigated by natural or artificial means, abundant crops are often produced.
The principal districts of the United States in which this important grain is produced in the greatest abundance, and where it forms a leading article of commerce, embrace the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The chief varieties cultivated in the Northern and Eastern States are the white flint, tea, Siberian, bald, Black Sea, and the Italian spring wheat. In the middle and Western States, the Mediterranean, the Virginia white May, the blue stem, the Indiana, the Kentucky white bearded, the old red chafet, and the Talavera. The yield varies from ten to forty bushels and upwards per acre, weighing, per bushel, from fifty-eight to sixty-seven pounds.
It appears that on the whole crop of the United States there was a gain during the ten years ending 1850, of 15,645,373 bushels. The crop of New England decreased from 2,014,000 to 1,078,000 bushels, exhibiting a decline of 936,000 bushels, and indicating the attention of farmers has been much withdrawn from the culture of wheat. Grouping the States from the Hudson to the Potomac, including the district of Columbia, it appears that they produced, in 1849, 35,085,000 bushels, against 29,936,000 in 1839. In Virginia there was an increase of 1,123,000 bushels. These States embrace the oldest wheat-growing region of the country, and that in which the soil and climate seem to be adapted to promote the permanent culture of the grain. The increase of production in the ten years has been 6,272,000 bushels, equal to 15.6 per cent. The area tilled in these States is 36,000,000 acres, only thirty per cent. of the whole amount returned, while the proportion of wheat produced is forty-six per cent. In North Carolina there has been an increase of 170,000 bushels, but in the Southern States generally there was a considerable decrease. Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin contributed to the general aggregate under the sixth census only 9,800,000 bushels; under the last they are shown to have produced upwards of 25,000,000 bushels, an amount equal to the whole increase in the United States for the period.
When we see the growth of wheat keeping pace with the progress of population in the oldest States of the Union, we need have no apprehension of a decline in the cultivation of this important crop.
The amount of flour exported from New Jersey in 1751, was 6,424 barrels. From Philadelphia in 1752,125,960 barrels, besides 85,500 bushels of wheat; in 1767, 198,816 barrels, besides 367,500 bushels of wheat; in 1771, 252,744 barrels. From Savannah, in 1771, 7,200 lbs. From Virginia, for some years annually preceding the revolution, 800,000 bushels of wheat. The total exports of flour from the United States:
in 1791 were 619,681 barrels, besides 1,018,339 bushels of wheat; in 1800, 653,052 barrels, besides 26,853 bushels of wheat; in 1810, 798,431 barrels, besides 325,924 bushels of wheat; in 1820-21, 1,056,119 barrels, besides 25,821 bushels of wheat; in 1830-31, 1,806,529 barrels, besides 408,910 bushels of wheat; in 1840-41, 1,515,817 barrels, besides 868,585 bushels of wheat; in 1845-46, 2,289,476 barrels, besides 1,613,795 bushels of wheat; in 1846-47, 4,382,496 barrels, besides 4,399,951 bushels of wheat; in 1850-51, 2,202,335 barrels, besides 1,026,725 bushels of wheat.
In the London Exhibition very little wheat was exhibited equal to that from the United States, especially that from Genessee county, in the State of New York—a soft white variety, to the exhibitor of which a prize medal was awarded by the Royal Commissioners. The red Mediterranean wheat exhibited from the United States attracted much attention. The wheat from South Australia was probably superior to any exhibited, while much from the United States fell but little behind, and was unquestionably next in quality.
From the Second Report on the Breadstuffs of the United States, made to the Commissioner of Patents, by Lewis C. Beck, M.D., I am induced to make some extracts. He states:—
The analyses of several samples, the growth of various foreign countries, have afforded me an opportunity of comparing the American and foreign wheats and flours. With a few exceptions of peculiar varieties, it will be seen from the results that with ordinary care the wheat of this country will compare advantageously with that of any other. Indeed, on reviewing my analyses, I question whether there is any part of the world where this grain is generally of a finer quality than it is in the United States. But all the advantages which we possess in this respect will be of little avail so long as inferior and damaged breadstuffs are shipped from our ports.
In addition to the analyses which I have executed of the various samples of wheat and wheat flour according to the mode heretofore pursued, I have performed a series of experiments for the purpose of settling the important question in regard to the relative value of the fine flour of wheat, and the "whole meal." I have also consulted every work within my reach which could throw any light upon the different points that have presented themselves during the progress of the investigation.
The large number of samples of wheat and wheat flour which have been placed in my hands for examination, have left me no time for the analysis of our other breadstuffs.
It cannot be denied that the amount shipped to foreign ports during 1849 is considerably less than for the two preceding years. In the meantime, however, a new and important market has been opened in our territories on the Pacific. It may also be safely affirmed that the causes for foreign demand, and which must hereafter operate, still remain. These are the cheapness of land in this country, and the peculiar adaptation of our soil and climate to the growth of the two important cereals, wheat and maize.
Another fact, it seems to me, is of sufficient interest in connection with this subject, to be here noticed. The failure of the potato crop in various parts of the world for several years past has engaged the attention of scientific and practical men. Unfortunately, the nature of the blight which has seized upon this tuber has eluded the most careful inquiries; but it has been shown by well-conducted analyses that potatoes at their late prices are the most expensive kind of farinaceous food. This will be evident from the following statement:—
"Potatoes contain from about seventy to seventy-nine per cent. of water, while the proportion in wheat flour is from twelve to fourteen per cent; and while the gluten and albumen in potatoes scarcely rise to one per cent., in wheat flour the range may be set down at from nine to thirteen per cent. Again, the non-nitrogenous principles are as about seventy-five per cent. in wheat flour against fifteen or sixteen in potatoes. In short, whilst potatoes supply only twenty per cent. of heat-forming and nutritious principles, taken together, wheat supplies more than seventy per cent. of the former, and more than tea of the latter. The value of wheat to potatoes, therefore, is at least four to one; or, if wheat sells at fifteen shillings sterling per cwt., potatoes to be equally cheap, ought to sell at between three and four shillings."
The preceding results, for which I am principally indebted to Dr. Daubeny, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford, show that unless a great change occurs in the culture of the potato, there must be an increased demand for other kinds of farinaceous food. And it is worthy of notice that while this blight is one of the causes which bring to our shores the starving population of Europe, the raising of the cereals not only furnishes profitable employment to the emigrant, but enables him to make the best return to those who are still obliged to remain.
Adaptation of the soil and climate of the United States to the culture of the cereals.—That the soil and climate of many portions of the United States are well adapted to the cultivation of the more important cereals, is fully shown by the results of all the researches which have thus far been prosecuted. I have indeed seen it asserted that the climate of England is the best for the cultivation of wheat, and preferable to any in our country; its humidity being the peculiarity to which this superiority is ascribed. But this is undoubtedly the testimony of a too partial witness. A recent statement by an English author is the result of a more correct knowledge of the facts. He acknowledges that there is no ground for the expectation which has been entertained concerning the advantageous growth of maize in England. "Nor is ours," says he, "the most favorable country for wheat, but skill in husbandry has overcome great difficulties." The mistake on this subject may have originated from the occurrence of a larger and plumper grain in the more humid climate; but analysis shows that the small grain raised in the hotter and drier air oftentimes greatly surpasses the former in its nutritious value.
Russia is said to be the great rival of this country in the growth of wheat, but I think it doubtful whether she possesses superior natural advantages; and I am sure she will find it difficult to compete with the industry and skill which here characterize the operations of husbandry, and the manufacture and shipment of breadstuffs.
Export of sophisticated and damaged flour.—It is a matter of deep regret that circumstances have occurred which must have a most injurious influence upon the trade in breadstuffs between this country and Great Britain. I refer to the mixtures of damaged, inferior, and good kinds of flour, which it appears on authentic testimony have been largely exported during the past year. Whether this fraudulent operation, which is said to have been principally confined to New York, is the result of the change in the inspection laws, as some assert, I am unable to say. But it requires no great foresight to predict that, if continued, it will create a distrust of our breadstuffs in foreign ports which it will be very difficult to remove. It cannot but excite the indignation of the many honorable dealers, that the unworthy cupidity of a few individuals should lead to such disastrous consequences.
I have as yet been unable to obtain samples of these sophisticated flours, and the only information which I have in regard to them is the general fact above stated, and concerning the truth of which there can be little doubt. No means should be left untried to devise some mode by which these frauds can be easily and certainly detected.
Injury sustained by breadstuffs during their transport and shipment.—During the past year, I have had abundant means of determining the nature of the injuries which are often sustained by our breadstuffs in their transport from the particular districts in which they are grown and manufactured to our commercial depots, and in their shipment to foreign ports. As this is one of the most important points connected with these researches, I have devoted much time to its investigation. From the results of numerous analyses, I think it may be safely asserted, that of the wheat flour which arrives in England from various ports of the United States, a large proportion is more or less injured during the voyage. The same remark may be made in regard to many of the samples sent from the Western States to the city of New York. Their nutritive value is considerably impaired, and without more care than is usually exercised, they are entirely unfit for export.
In my former report, I adverted to one of the great causes of the deterioration which our breadstuffs often suffer during their transport and shipment. This was the undue proportion of the great disorganizing substance, water, under the influence of what usually occurs, viz., an elevation of temperature above the ordinary standard. My recent investigations have served only to strengthen these views. There is no doubt that these are the conditions which cause the change of the non-nitrogenous principles into acids (the lactic or acetic), while a portion of the gluten is thus also consumed.
I have tried a series of experiments in reference to the action of moisture upon various samples of wheat and wheat flour. The samples were placed for twelve hours in the oven of a bath with a double casing, containing a boiling saturated solution of common salt, the temperature of which was about 220 deg. Fahr. Subjected to this test,
100 grains of Milwaukie wheat lost 12.10 grains. " " Guilderland (Holland) wheat lost 9.35 " " " Polish Odessa red wheat " 10.55 " " " Soft Russian wheat " 8.55 " " " Kobanga wheat " 8.15 "
After an exposure of the dried samples to the air for two or three days, they increased in weight from one to three grains in the hundred originally employed.
Nineteen different samples of wheat flour, which lost by exposure to the above heat from ten to fourteen grains in the one hundred, when similarly exposed to the air for eighteen hours, again increased in weight from 8.40 to 11.60 in the hundred grains originally employed.
These experiments show, what might indeed have been predicted as to the general result, that wheat in grain, if not less liable to injury than flour, yet if once properly dried, suffers much less from a subsequent exposure to air and moisture.
It is now ascertained that in presence of a considerable proportion of water, wheat flour under the influence of heat undergoes a low degree at least of lactic fermentation, which will account for the souring of the ordinary samples when exposed to warm or humid climates. The same result will inevitably follow from their careless exposure in the holds of vessels. That this is particularly the case with many of the cargoes of wheat flour shipped to Great Britain, there is little reason to doubt. This may be partly owing to the great humidity of the English climate, as the deterioration is observed as well in the flour which is the produce of that country as in that which is received from abroad.
It is stated by Mr. Edlin, quoted in an article on Baking, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, that, "as a general rule, the London flour" is decidedly bad. The gluten generally wants the adhesiveness which characterizes the gluten of good wheat."
I have observed that, in the analyses of some of the samples of damaged flour, the proportions of what is set down under the head of glucose and dextrine are unusually large. This is perhaps due to the change produced in the starch by the action of diastase, and which may under certain circumstances be formed in wheat flour. It would seem, according to M. Guerin, that starch may thus be acted on even at slightly elevated temperatures. In one of his experiments, at a temperature no higher than 68 deg. Fahr., a quantity of starch, at the end of twenty-four hours, was converted into syrup, which yielded seventy-seven per cent. of saccharine matter. It may be thought that I have overrated the importance of this subject, but it is believed that a careful examination of the facts will relieve me from this charge. I am now satisfied that, if the proportion of water in our exported breadstuffs could be reduced to about five or six per cent., one of the great causes of complaint in regard to them would be completely removed.
Kiln-drying of breadstuffs, and exclusion of air.—The injury which our breadstuffs sustain by the large proportion of water can of course be prevented only by careful drying before shipment, and by the employment of barrels rendered as impervious as possible to the influence of atmospheric moisture.
In my first report, I have spoken favorably of the process of drying by steam, according to the plan patented by Mr. J.R. Stafford. I still think this mode possesses great advantages over those previously followed, and which almost always injured the quality of the grain or flour: but from some trials which I have made during the past year, it is inferred that the exposure to the heat is perhaps usually not sufficiently prolonged to answer the purpose intended by the operation. I have often observed that samples of wheat flour, after being exposed to the heat of the salt water-bath oven (220 deg. Fahr.) for two or three hours, lost weight by a further continuance of the heat. An apparatus has been patented by Mr. J.H. Tower, of Clinton, N.Y., consisting of a cylinder of square apartments or tubes, into which the grain or flour is introduced, and subjected to heat while in rapid revolution. I examined samples which had been subjected to this operation, and ascertained that wheat flour, originally containing 14.80 per cent. of water, had the proportion reduced to 10.25 per cent., while in wheat the proportion of water was reduced from 14.75 to 8.55 per cent.
Now it is probable that by either of the above modes, and perhaps by many others, the various kinds of breadstuffs may be brought to that degree of dryness which, with ordinary care, shall protect them from subsequent injury; but in order to secure this advantage, the operation must be carefully performed, and experiments must be made to ascertain how long an exposure to heat is necessary to bring the sample to the proper degree of dryness, and to determine whether in any respect its quality is impaired. It has already been stated that absolute desiccation is not necessary, even were it attainable; but any process in order to be effective should reduce the proportion of water to about six, or at most seven per cent.
I have heretofore adverted to the great care employed in the drying of grain in various foreign countries, and to which the preservation of it for a great number of years is to be ascribed.
The operation is not conducted in the hurried manner which is here thought to be so essential, but is continued long enough to effect the intended object. Thorough ventilation, as well as the proper degree of drying, and which is equally important, is thus secured.
It is said that in Russia the sheaves of wheat, carried into the huts, are suspended upon poles and dried by the heat of the oven. The grain shrinks very much during this process, but it is supposed to be less liable to the attacks of insects, and preserves its nutritive qualities for many years. During the winter, it is sent to market.—("The Czar, his Court and People." By John S. Maxwell, p. 272.)
With all the necessary attention which may be paid to the proper drying of our breadstuffs intended for export, another point is of equal importance, viz., the shipment in vessels rendered as impervious as possible to the influence of atmospheric moisture. For however carefully and thoroughly the drying, especially of wheat flour or maize meal, may have been performed, it will be nearly useless if the shipment is afterwards made in the barrels commonly employed. And it is very certain that the transport and shipment of grain in bulk, as usually conducted, are attended with great loss. This difficulty might be removed at a trifling expense by adopting the plan suggested in the preceding report, and to which I would again respectfully call the attention of those who are engaged in this branch of trade.
I might here adduce a mass of testimony showing the importance of the matters just referred to, but will only advert to the following statements, which although made in allusion principally to maize, are equally applicable to our other breadstuffs. Maize meal, if kept too long, "is liable to become rancid, and it is then more or less unfit for use. In the shipments made to the West Indies, the meal is commonly kiln-dried, to obviate as much as possible this tendency to rancidity." "When ground very fine, maize meal suffers a change by exposure to the air. It is oxygenated. It is upon the same principle that the juice of an apple, after a little exposure to the air, is oxygenated, and changes its character and taste. If the flour could be bolted in vacuo, it would not be changed." "Intelligent writers speak of the necessity of preparing corn for exportation by kiln-drying as indispensable. Without that process, corn is very liable to become heated and musty, so as to be unfit for food for either man or beast. The kiln-dried maize meal from the Brandywine Mills, &c., made from the yellow corn, has almost monopolized the West India trade. This process is indispensable, if we export maize to Europe. James Candy says that from fifty years experience he has learned the necessity of this process with corn intended for exportation." "I have often found the corn from our country when it reached its destination, ruined by heating on the voyage. It had become musty and of little or no value. Kiln-drying is absolutely necessary to preserve it for exportation. We must learn and practice the best mode of kiln-drying it."
The nutritious value of the "whole meal" of Wheat, as compared with that of the fine flour.—The question whether what is called the whole meal of wheat, or that which is obtained by the mixture of the bran, contains more nutritious matter than the fine flour, is one of great importance. In my former report, I adverted to the statement made in regard to it by Professor J.F.W. Johnston, and which seemed to be almost conclusive in favor of the value of the whole meal. During the past year, however (1849), M. Eug. Peligot, an eminent French chemist, in an elaborate article "On the Composition of Wheat," to which more particular reference will be made hereafter, combats the opinion that the bran is an alimentary substance. He observes that "the difficulty of keeping the bran in flour intended for the manufacture of bread of good quality appears to result much less from the presence of the cellulose (one of the constituents of woody matter) contained in wheat than that of the fatty matter. This is found in the bran in a quantity at least triple of that which remains in the flour, and the bolting separates it from the ground wheat not less usefully than the cellulose itself." M. Millon objects entirely to the views of M. Peligot on this point, and states some facts which are especially worthy of consideration. He asserts that, according to the views of the last named chemist, the separation at most of one part of fatty matter sacrifices fifteen, twenty, and even twenty-five per cent. of substances which are of the highest nutritive value. This abstracts from wheat, for the whole amount raised in France, the enormous sum of about two hundred millions of pounds annually.
It seems that in France the question whether the bolting of flour is advantageous has always been decided in the most arbitrary manner. An ordinance of Louis XIV., issued in 1658, prohibited, under a very heavy penalty, the regrinding of the bran and its mixture with the flour; this, with the mode of grinding then in use, caused a loss of more than forty per cent.—(Comptes Rendus, February 19th, 1849.)
In large cities and elsewhere, there seems for some time to have been a growing prejudice against the use of brown bread; and it is said that now nearly all the peasantry of France bolt their flour. The increase of this practice, according to M. Millon, threatens the nation with an annual loss of from two to three hundred millions of francs. If the bran was entirely valueless, there would be a loss of more than one million a day.
It is quite difficult to determine the precise amount of bran which may have been removed from wheat, for various samples contain such a different proportion of bran that in the one case a removal of ten per cent, leaves more bran in the flour than a bolting of five per cent. in another.
The following is an analysis of bran by M. Millon; the sample being a soft French wheat grown in 1848:—
Starch, dextrine and sugar 53.00 Sugar of liquorice 1.00 Gluten 14.90 Fatty matter 3.60 Woody matter 9.70 Salts .50 Water 13.90 Incrusting matter and aromatic principles (by difference) 3.40 ——— 100.
The conclusion to be drawn from this analysis is, that bran is an alimentary substance. If it contains six per cent. more of woody matter than the rough, flour, it has also more gluten, double that of fatty matter, besides two aromatic principles which have the perfume of honey, and both of which are wanting in the fine flour. Thus by bolting, wheat is impoverished in its most valuable principles, merely to remove a few hundredths of woody matter.
The economical suggestion which springs from these views is, that the bran and coarse flour should be reground and then mixed with the fine flour. Millon states that he has ascertained, by repeated experiments, that bread thus made is of superior quality, easily worked, and not subject to the inconvenience of bread manufactured from the rough flour, such as is made in some places, and especially in Belgium.
Opinions similar to those above noticed are entertained by Professor Daubeny. "The great importance attached to having bread perfectly white is a prejudice," he says, "which leads to the rejection of a very wholesome part of the food, and one which, although not digestible alone, is sufficiently so in that state of admixture with the flour in which nature has prepared it for our use." After quoting the remarks of Professor Johnston on the same side of the question, he adds, "that according to the experiments of Magendie, animals fed upon fine flour died in a few weeks, whilst they thrived upon the whole meal bread." Brown bread, therefore, should be adopted, not merely on a principle of economy, but also as providing more of those ingredients which are perhaps deficient in the finer parts of the flour.—("Gardeners' Chronicle," January 27th, 1849, p. 53.)
The remarks of Dr. Robertson may also be here introduced. "The advantage," he observes, "of using more or less of the coverings of the grain in the preparation of bread has often been urged on economical principles. There can be no doubt that a very large proportion of nutritive matter is contained in the bran and the pollard; and these are estimated to contain about one-fifth part of the entire weight of the wheat grain. It is, unquestionably, so far wasteful to remove these altogether from the flour; and in the case of the majority of people, this waste may be unnecessary, even on the score of digestibility." This subject can also be rendered apparent to the eye. If we make a cross section of a grain of wheat, or rye, and place it under the microscope, we perceive very distinct layers in it as we examine from without inwards. The outer of them belong to the husk of the fruit and seed, and are separated as bran, in grinding. But the millstone does not separate so exactly as the eye may by means of the microscope, not even as accurately as the knife of the vegetable anatomist, and thus with the bran is removed also the whole outer layer of the cells of the nucleus, and even some of the subjacent layers. Thus the anatomical investigations of one of these corn grains at once explains why bread is so much the less nutritious the more carefully the bran has been separated from the meal. There can therefore be little doubt that the removal of the bran is a serious injury to the flour; and I have presented the above array of evidence on this point in the hope of directing public attention to it here, as has been done in various foreign countries.
After this, it will easily be inferred that I am not disposed to look with much favor upon the plan proposed by Mr. Bentz for taking the outer coating or bran from wheat and other grains previously to grinding. Independently of the considerations which have already been presented, it is far from being proved, as this gentlemen asserts, that the mixture of the bran with the meal which results from the common mode of grinding is the chief cause of the souring of the flour in hot climates. On the contrary, the bran is perhaps as little liable to undergo change as the fine flour, and then the moistening to which, as I am informed, the grain is subjected previously to the removal of the husk, is still further objectionable, and must be followed by a most carefully-conducted process of kiln-drying.
Nutritious properties of various articles of food.—There seems to be some difference of opinion in regard to the nutritious properties of various kinds of food. It is generally, however, agreed that those which contain the largest proportion of nitrogenous matters are the most nutritious. It is on this account that haricots, peas, and beans, form, in some sort, substitutes for animal food. Tubers, roots, and even the seeds of the cereal grasses, are but moderately nutritious. If we see herbivorous animals fattening upon such articles, it is because, from their peculiar organisation, they can consume them in large quantities. It is quite doubtful whether a man doing hard work could exist on bread exclusively. The instances which are given of countries where rice and potatoes form the sole articles of food of the inhabitants, are believed to be incomplete. Boussingault states that in Alsace, for example, the peasantry always associate their potato dish with a large quantity of sour or curdled milk; in Ireland with buttermilk. "The Indians of the Upper Andes do not by any means live on potatoes alone, as some travellers have said they do: at Quito, the daily food of the inhabitants is lorco, a compound of potatoes and a large quantity of cheese. Rice is often cited as one of the most nourishing articles of diet. I am satisfied, however, after having lived in countries where rice is largely consumed, that it is anything but a substantial, or, for its bulk, nutritious article of sustenance."—("Rural Economy," Amer. edition, p. 409.) These statements are further confirmed by the observations of M. Lequerri, who, during a long residence in India, paid particular attention to the manners and customs of the inhabitants of Pondicherry. "Their food," he states, "is almost entirely vegetable, and rice is the staple; the inferior castes only ever eat meat. But all eat kari (curry), an article prepared with meat, fish, or vegetable, which is mixed with the rice, boiled in very little water. It is requisite to have seen the Indians at their meals to have any idea of the enormous quantity of rice which they will put into their stomachs. No European could cram so much at a time; and they very commonly allow that rice alone will not nourish them. They very generally still eat a quantity of bread." In regard to the proportion of nutritious matter contained in grains of various kinds, it may be remarked that the tables which have been constructed as the results of various experiments are liable to an objection, which will be more particularly adverted to under another head. For example, two substances, by the process of ultimate analysis, may exhibit the same proportion of nitrogenous matter, and still differ very materially in their value as articles of food. Much depends on the digestibility of the form in which this matter is presented to the digestive organs. A strong illustration is afforded in the case of hay, the proportion of nutritive matter of which, about 9.71, would certainly not represent its power of affording nourishment to the human system. It is in truth quite impossible to arrive at any other than approximate results from the operations of chemistry, as to the amount of nutriment contained in a given quantity or weight of any article of food. It is perhaps not irrelevant to notice in this place some of the researches which have recently been made upon fermentation, and particularly its effects in the manufacture of bread. It appears that when this process is brought about by the addition of yeast or leaven to the paste or dough, the character of the mass is materially altered. A larger or smaller proportion of the flour is virtually lost. According to Dr. William Gregory the loss amounts to the very large proportion of one-sixteenth part of the whole of the flour. He says, "To avoid this loss, bread is now raised by means of carbonate of soda, or ammonia and a diluted acid, which are added to the dough, and the effect is perfectly satisfactory. Equally good or better bread is obtained, and the quantity of flour which will yield fifteen hundred loaves by fermentation, furnishes sixteen hundred by the new method, the sugar and fibrin (gluten) being saved."—("Outlines of Chemistry," p. 352.)
Another author, Dr. R.D. Thomson, states, as the results of his experiments upon bread produced by the action of hydrochloric acid upon carbonate of soda, "that in a sack of flour there was a difference in favor of the unfermented bread to the amount of thirty pounds thirteen ounces, or in round numbers, a sack of flour would produce one hundred and seven loaves of unfermented bread, and only one hundred loaves of fermented bread of the game weight. Hence it appears that in the sack of flour by the common process of baking, seven loaves, or six-and-a-half per cent, of the flour are driven into the air and lost."—("Experimental Researches on the Food of Animals," &c., p. 183.)
The only objection to the general introduction of this process seems to be the degree of care and accuracy required in properly adjusting the respective qualities and quantities of acid and alkali, and which could seldom be attained even by those who are largely engaged in the manufacture of bread.
I cannot leave this subject without adverting to a practice which has prevailed in England and France, and perhaps also in this country, of steeping wheat before sowing it in solutions of arsenic, sulphate of copper, and other poisonous preparations.
The result has been that injurious effects have often followed, both to those who are employed in sowing such grain, and to those who have used the bread manufactured from it. The great importance of the subject led to the appointment of a commission at Rouen, in France, in December, 1842, having for its object to determine the best process of preventing the smut in wheat, and to ascertain whether other means less dangerous than those above noticed were productive of equally good results. The labors of this commission extended over the years 1843-'44-'45, and the experiments were repeated two years following on the farm of Mr. Fauchet, one of the commission, at Boisquilaume, in the department of the Seine Inferieure.
The results arrived at by this commission are—1st. That it is not best to sow seed without steeping. 2nd. That it is best to make use of the sulphate of soda and lime process, inasmuch as it is more simple and economical, in no way injurious to the health, and yields the soundest and most productive wheat. 3rd. That the use of arsenic, sulphate of copper, verdigris, and other poisonous preparations, should be interdicted by the government.—("Gardeners' Chronicle," January 6th, 1849, pp. 10 and 11.)
Composition of wheat and wheat flour, and the various modes of determining their nutritive value.—In my former report it was stated that the analyses of the various samples of wheat, the results of which were there given, had been chiefly directed to the determining the amount of rough gluten which they contained. My reasons for adopting this plan, and the arguments in favor of its general accuracy, as compared with other modes of analysis, and especially that by which the ultimate composition is ascertained, were also detailed. A more full examination of this subject has served only to strengthen the opinion already expressed, that for the great purpose to be answered by these researches, the process which I have adopted is, to say the least, as free from objection as any other, and if carefully and uniformly carried out, will truly represent the relative values of the several samples of wheat flour. As this is a matter of much consequence in a practical point of view, I trust I shall be excused for introducing some additional facts in regard to it.
The term gluten was originally applied to the gray, viscid, tenacious, and elastic matter, which is obtained by subjecting wheat flour to the continuous action of a current of water. But it appears that this is a mixture of fibrine and caseine, with what is now called glutine, and a peculiar oily or fatty matter. Now these substances may be separated from each other, but the processes employed for this purpose are tedious, and to insure accuracy the various solvents must be entirely pure—a point which, especially in the case of alcohol and ether, is not ordinarily easy to be attained. This will be rendered still more evident by a reference to a French process, which will hereafter be noticed.
But were it much less difficult in every case accurately to separate the constituents of gluten, it would not, in my opinion, be of the least practical utility. It is to the peculiar mechanical property of this gluten that wheat flour owes its superior power of detaining the carbonic acid engendered by fermentation, and thus communicating to it the vesicular spongy structure so characteristic of good bread. It may also be added, that the results of more than one hundred trials have satisfied me that a diminution or loss of elasticity in the gluten is the surest index of the amount of injury which the sample of flour has sustained. Whether, therefore, the sample contains a certain proportion of nitrogen, or whether it contains albumen, fibrine, and caseine in sufficient quantity, it may still want the very condition which is essential to the manufacture of good bread. My objection, therefore, to the mere determination, however accurate, of the proportion of nitrogen contained in wheat flour, or of the various principles which form the gluten, is, that it does not represent the value of the various samples for the only use to which they are applied, viz., the making of bread. The remarks of Mulder, the celebrated Dutch chemist, upon the subject of manures, are so applicable to this point that I cannot refrain from quoting them. "It has," he says, "become almost a regular custom to determine the value of manures by the quantity of nitrogen they yield by ultimate analysis. This method is entirely erroneous; for it is based upon the false principle, that by putrefaction all nitrogeneous substances are immediately converted into ammonia, carbonic acid, and water! But these changes sometimes require a number of years. Morphine, for example, is prepared by allowing opium to putrefy; and the process for preparing leucin, a substance which contains 10.72 of nitrogen, is to bring cheese into putrefaction. Cheese, therefore, does not perhaps in a number of years resolve itself into carbonic acid, ammonia, and water, but produces a crystalline substance, which contains no ammonia. Hence the proportion of nitrogen yielded by manures is not a proper measure of their value, and therefore this mode of estimating that value ought to be discontinued." We infer, therefore, that the proportion of nitrogen furnished by food of various kinds is not the true measure of their nutritious value, and cannot for practical purposes take the place of that process by which the amount of rough gluten is determined.
No better illustration can be given of the uncertainty which attends the inferences drawn from the ultimate composition, than the fact heretofore stated in regard to hay, the nutritive value of which is placed in the tables containing the results of these analyses, at a figure nearly the same as that of ordinary wheat flour. In the paper on the "Composition of Wheat," by M. Peligot—(" Comptes Rendus," February 5th, 1849)—to which I have already referred, the author gives the results of the various analyses which he has made, and details the process he adopted.
Aware of the complex and difficult nature of the examination as conducted by him, he seems to doubt in regard to some of the results given in his tables In the fourteen samples which he analysed, the proportion of water ranges from 13.2 to 15.2, which is a rather higher average than is yielded by our American samples, especially those which have not been shipped across the Atlantic. Of the nitrogenous matter, soluble and insoluble, the proportions range from 9.90 per cent, to 21.50 per cent.; the former being from a sample of very soft and white French wheat; the latter from a very hard wheat with long grains, from Northern Africa, cultivated at Verrieres. Another sample from Egypt yielded 20.60 per cent, of these nitrogenous matters, both of which are very remarkable proportions.
In describing the process for ascertaining the amount of insoluble nitrogenous matters, this author adverts to their estimation either by the quantity of nitrogen gas furnished, or of ammonia formed, the last being preferred for substances, which, like wheat, contain only a few hundredths of nitrogen. The results which he obtained by this method were compared with those yielded by the direct extraction of the gluten by softening the farina under a small stream of water. "These results," says he, "differ but little from each other when we operate upon wheat in good condition, although the gluten which we thus obtain holds some starch and fatty matter, while the starch which is carried away by the water contains also some gluten." The loss and gain, as I have already explained, and as has been proved by these and other comparisons, are nearly balanced, and the amount of rough gluten will therefore afford a fair exhibit of that of the insoluble nitrogenous matters in this grain.
The salts in the samples of wheat analysed by M. Peligot, were either wanting or were in small proportion; while the amount of fatty matter ranged from 1.00 to 1.80 and 1.90 per cent.
These results agree very well with those which I have obtained. But it is probable that the proportion is liable to great variation, inasmuch as it is inferred that the fatty matter originates from starch through its exposure to the general deoxidising influence which prevails in plants. There are also many difficulties attending the accurate determination of this matter, and which are probably the cause of the higher proportion often given. It is properly remarked by M. Peligot that the ether employed in this process should be free from water, and that the flour ought also to be very dry. By neglecting these precautions, we separate not only the fatty matter, but also a certain amount of matters soluble in the water, which is furnished as well by the wheat as by the ether.
It would not, I think, be difficult to point out some incorrect views entertained by this chemist, and more especially those which relate to the fatty matter. Some of his processes for the separation of various substances, if not faulty, require so many conditions for success as to render the results, at least in other hands, exceedingly uncertain.
But the capital error which he has committed is that concerning the bran, already adverted to, which he considers injurious to the flour, chiefly in consequence of the large proportion of fatty matter which it contains.
In regard to the soluble nitrogenous matter usually called albumen, from its resemblance to the animal substance of the same name, I have to remark that in my trials the proportion has been found to be considerably less than that often given in tables of the composition of wheat. In one sample it was found to be as low as 0.15 per cant., in another it did not rise above 0.20 per cent. The amount was usually so inconsiderable, that I did not think it worth while to retard the progress of the work by following out processes which could add little to the utility of these investigations.
Although much time and labor have been expended upon the analyses of the ash of plants, I have but slight confidence in the results heretofore given. The difficulties which attend the obtaining the ash in a proper condition, and the fact that the products of all the organs and parts of the plants have been analysed together, must necessarily impair the accuracy of the experiments, and render the inferences drawn from them of uncertain value. Much, indeed I may say almost everything, still remains to be done in this department of agricultural chemistry.
Weight of wheat as an index to its value.—Much has been said in regard to the relative weights of the bushel of wheat of different varieties or under different modes of culture.
As ordinarily determined, this weight ranges from fifty-six to sixty-five or sixty-six pounds, being in a few cases set down somewhat higher. It is said also that the bushel of wheat weighs less in some years than it does in others, and that the difference often amounts to two, or three, or even four pounds. Though this may seem of comparatively little consequence for a few bushels, yet, for the aggegate of the wheat crop of the United States, or for a State, or even a county, it makes a great difference. Thus, were we to estimate the product of one year in the United States at one hundred and ten million bushels, weighing fifty-six pounds to the bushel, and another year at one hundred and eight million bushels, weighing sixty-two pounds, the difference in favor of the latter, though the least in quantity, would amount to five hundred and thirty-six million pounds in weight, or more than one million and a quarter of barrels of flour.—(Report of the American Commissioner of Patents for 1847, p. 117.)
It may be remarked, however, that it is not after all so easy to determine with accuracy the weight of a bushel of wheat, nor to decide upon the circumstances which have an influence in increasing the density of a grain of wheat. If the microscopical representations of wheat are to be relied on, it is probable that the increase in the density of wheat depends upon the increase in the proportion of gluten. I have found in several cases that, the proportion of water being the same, those samples of wheat which contain the largest proportion of gluten exhibit the highest specific gravity, or, in other words, will yield the greatest number of pounds to the bushel. But the weight of wheat will be influenced by the proportion of water which it contains; the drier the grain, the greater is its density; a fact which may account for the difference which has been observed in the weight of wheat in different seasons. If this is the cause, the calculation above given in reference to the United States is fallacious—but if the amount of gluten is actually, instead of relatively, increased by peculiarities in seasons, it is no doubt correct.
I have devised a series of experiments to test the accuracy of the statements made upon this point, but have not yet had leisure to complete them.
General conditions from the analyses of wheat flour.—The large number of analyses which I have made, and the uniformity of the processes pursued, enable me to draw some general conclusions which it may be useful to present in a connected form.
1. In the samples from the more northern wheat-growing States, there seems to be little difference in the proportion of nutritive matter that can be set down to the influence of climate. Thus, the yield of the wheat from Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, is scarcely inferior to that from New York, Indiana, and Illinois, although the two latter are somewhat farther south. Local causes, and more especially the peculiarities of culture and manufacture, have more influence, within these parallels of latitude, than the difference of mean temperature.
2. The samples from New Jersey, Lower Pennsylvania, the southern part of Ohio, Maryland (probably Delaware), Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, contain less water and more nutritive matter than those from the States previously enumerated. That the samples from Missouri, which is included within nearly the same parallels of latitude as Virginia, do not exhibit so high an average of nutritive matter as those from the latter State, must be ascribed principally to a want of care in the management of the crop, and perhaps also in the manufacture of the flour. Virginia flour, for obvious reasons, maintains a high reputation for shipment.
3. The difference in the nutritive value of the various samples of wheat depends greatly upon the variety, and mode of culture, independently of climate. The correctness of the former statement is shown by the much larger proportions of gluten yielded by many of the samples of hard wheat from abroad, the Oregon wheat in Virginia, and a variety of Illinois wheat, &c. And in regard to the effect of particular modes of culture, the various analyses of Boussingault may be referred to, and that in my table of a sample from Ulster county, New York.
4. The deterioration of many of the samples of wheat and wheat flour arises in most cases from the presence of a too large per centage of water. This is often the result of a want of proper care in the transport, and is the principal cause of the losses which are sustained by those who are engaged in this branch of business.
5. There seems to be little doubt that a considerable portion of the wheat and wheat flour, as well as of other breadstuffs, shipped from this country to England, is more or less injured before it reaches that market. It is also shown that this is mostly to be ascribed to the want of care above noticed, and to the fraudulent mixture of good and bad kinds. The remedy in the former case is the drying of the grain or flour before shipment, by some of the modes proposed, and the protection of it afterwards as completely as possible from the effect of moisture. The frauds which are occasionally practised should be promptly exposed, and those who are engaged in them held up to merited reproach.
6. It has been fully shown, by the results of many trials, that the flour obtained by the second grinding of wheat, or the whole meal, contains more gluten than the fine flour. Hence the general use of the latter, and the entire rejection of the bran, is wasteful, and ought in every way to be discouraged.
7. It cannot but be gratifying to us that the average nutritive value of the wheat and wheat flour of the United States is shown by these analyses to be fully equal to, if not greater than, that afforded by the samples produced in any other part of the world. And it will, in my opinion, be chiefly owing to a want of proper care and of commercial honesty, if the great advantages which should accrue to this country from the export of these articles are either endangered or entirely lost.
TABLE EXHIBITING THE PER CENTAGE COMPOSITION OF VARIOUS SAMPLES OF AMERICAN AND FOREIGN WHEAT FLOUR, BY LEWIS C. BECK, M.D. (1849). - - Gluten Glucos Kind of Wheat Flour, and from and dextrine, whence obtained Water albumen Starch &c. Bran - - - Country Mills, New Jersey 12.75 11.55 65.95 8.10 .65 West Jersey Wheat 12.80 12.32 69.48 5.90 .50 White Wheat, New Jersey 11.55 12.60 66.85 8.50 .50 Pennsylvania Wheat 11.90 13.16 66.20 7.25 .75 ditto ditto 13.35 12.73 66.90 6.50 .52 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 13.35 14.72 71.28 .65 Pelham Wheat, Ulster Co., N.Y. 10.79 13.17 67.74 7.60 .70 "Pure Genesee" Wheat 13.20 11.05 75.20 .55 Ohio Wheat, "fine" 12.85 12.25 73.90 1.00 Ohio Wheat, "superfine" 13.00 9.10 77.80 .10 Winter Wheat, Ohio 13.10 11.56 66.84 7.90 .60 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 13.05 12.69 73.61 .65 Michigan Wheat, "superfine" 13.25 11.10 74.80 .85 Michigan Wheat 12.25 10.00 67.70 8.75 .75 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 12.75 11.20 66.00 8.50 1.05 Illinois Wheat 12.73 14.61 65.20 6.45 .80 Magnolia Mill, St. Louis, Mo. 13.13 10.27 69.75 6.15 .35 Mound Mill, St. Louis 13.48 10.53 67.35 8.15 .20 Walsh's Mill, St. Louis 12.70 10.63 69.40 6.65 .40 Washington Mill, St. Louis 12.88 11.00 68.65 7.27 .20 Missouri Mill, St. Louis 13.00 10.46 67.79 8.35 .40 O'Fallan's Mill, St. Louis 12.85 11.25 68.24 7.00 .66 Phoenix Mill, St. Louis 13.22 10.10 68.70 7.30 .15 Nonantum Mill, St. Louis 12.10 11.02 68.60 7.93 .35 Franklin Mill, St. Louis 12.25 10.29 69.85 7.26 .35 Eagle Mill, St. Louis 11.00 10.15 69.50 8.65 .20 Winter Wheat, Missouri 14.00 9.30 70.05 6.30 .35 Wisconsin Wheat 12.80 13.20 68.90 6.50 .70 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 12.80 13.46 72.54 1.20 Maryland Wheat 13.00 12.30 66.65 7.10 .65 Richmond City Mill 11.70 13.00 67.50 6.90 .50 Haxall and Co., Richmond, Va. 11.40 12.80 68.50 6.60 .35 Virginia Wheat, "superfine" 12.05 12.95 74.50 .50 Haxall and Co., "best brand, '49" 11.40 13.25 68.20 6.25 .60 Haxall and Co., "2nd brand, '49" 11.00 13.20 75.60 .20 Richmond City Mill, '49 11.90 10.50 70.00 7.10 .50 Oregon White Wheat, Va. 12.80 14.80 71.30 1.10 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 13.85 14.50 65.15 5.90 .60 Gallego Mill, Richmond, Va. 11.50 13.50 68.35 6.00 .65 Ship Brandywine, Liverpool 13.38 10.62 67.60 7.75 .65 Ship Fanchon, Liverpool 13.83 11.38 67.45 6.34 1.00 Ship New World, Liverpool 13.65 11.60 65.80 7.70 .65 Ship Juniata, Liverpool 12.50 14.14 64.20 8.36 .80 Ship Stephen Lurman, Liverpool 11.65 13.18 64.50 9.55 .68 Ship Leila, Liverpool 13.22 13.18 64.65 8.00 .95 Ship Oxenbridge, Liverpool 13.90 10.13 68.42 7.30 .25 & bran Ship Italy, Liverpool 12.94 10.60 68.56 7.90 Ship West Point, Liverpool 14.30 12.30 63.00 9.45 .95 Ship W.H. Harbeck, Liverpool 13.53 10.18 66.95 8.80 .30 Ship Princeton, Liverpool 13.40 11.52 65.60 7.90 .85 Ship Columbus, Liverpool 13.50 10.45 66.45 8.50 1.03 Ship Russell Glover, Liverpool 13.45 10.47 66.20 8.83 1.05 Ship South Carolina, Liverpool 13.80 9.00 70.80 5.95 .38 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 13.30 9.45 76.90 .35 Ship Cambridge, Liverpool 14.50 8.52 70.60 5.40 .40 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 14.10 9.10 70.55 5.45 .20 Ship Columbus, Liverpool 14.85 8.47 76.48 .20 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 14.15 9.00 76.60 .25 Ship Ashburton, Liverpool 13.55 11.68 69.22 5.30 .25 Wheat grown in Canada West 12.80 7.23 74.12 5.10 .75 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 12.60 8.45 78.55 .40 Chilian Wheat 12.44 9.45 67.80 8.37 1.30 Chilian Wheat 12.85 8.65 71.60 6.10 .60 & bran Valparaiso Wheat 12.50 14.55 French Wheat 13.20 9.85 69.00 7.65 .30 Spanish Wheat 13.50 10.30 68.90 7.00 .30 Canivano Wheat 11.33 16.35 63.10 6.50 2.30 Canivano Wheat 11.15 15.40 67.25 5.70 .60 ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 12.60 18.70 67.00 1.70 Hard wheat, grown near Malaga 10.87 12.15 64.38 12.60 & lactic acid ditto ditto (2nd grinding) 10.00 14.50 60.20 15.30 - - -
There is no crop, the skilful and successful cultivation of which on the same soil, from generation to generation, requires more art than is demanded to produce good wheat. To grow this grain on fresh land, adapted to the peculiar habits and wants of the plant is an easy task. But such fields, except in rare instances, fail sooner or later to produce sound and healthy plants, which are little liable to attacks from the malady called "rust," or which give lengthened ears or "heads," well filled with plump seeds.