United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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count for the different results obtained where spraying has been carried out on heavier soils
under moister climates.

Mr. Sutton's house devotes great attention to the production of seed-
lings and they have met with great success in the development of many valu-
able sorts, and doubtless for this reason Mr. Sutton has more faith in the
development of new varieties as the mainstay of the potato in the future than
in chemical treatment of the plants; but he says:

Those who attempt to raise seedling potatoes must possess abundant patience. Like many
other species which are not habitually multiplied by seed, the potato has a remarkable tend-
ency to revert to the wild form. It may be necessary to cultivate one hundred or, perhaps,
one thousand seedlings before finding one which is really worthy of a place among the better
varieties already existing. M. Vilmorin says that in France the raising of seed potatoes has
been proceeded with in a somewhat haphazard manner, while we have followed a more sys-
tematic method, seeking especially richness in siarch, excellence of flavor, power of resisting
disease, with little tendency to develop haulm. Unfortunately, he says, they are not always
able to profit in France by our progress, because the French have a marked preference for
potatoes with yellow flesh, whereas, with us, for many years past, there has been a preference
for white-fleshed potatoes. Hence, even the celebrated Magnum Bonum, which my house
had the honor of introducing in 1876, after a brief period of popularity in the Paris markets,
has l>een almost abandoned as a table variety on account of the flesh being too pale in color.
M. Vilmorin remarks that in Germany considerable attention has been given to the raising of
seed potatoes, more particularly with the object of obtaining varieties which are specially
adapted for the production of alcohol and starch.

In discussing species and varieties, Mr. Sutton referred to the Solanum
maglia as follows :

Chiefly on account of the fact that the dreaded potato fungus produces most havoc in
damp seasons, it was very much hoped by Lord Cathcart that, if hybrid seedlings could be
obtained between the Solanum magtia (whose habitat is that of low -lying, marshy places
near the coast of the islands of the Chonos Archipelago) and the Solanum tuberosum^ which
most authorities consider a native of the higher slopes of the Andes, a new race of potatoes
might be secured that would resist disease. Here, I may say, in parenthesis, that it is not at
all impossible that Solanum tuberosum may have had its origin as a littoral plant, instead of
being a species from elevated or mountainous regions. This idea is supported by the fact that
potatoes flourish so amazingly on the warp lands of our eastern seaboard in England.

Although many hundred flowers of Solanum maglia were artificially fertilized with pollen
from cultivated varieties, only five were si^ccessful, resulting in five seed berries. From these
seed berries but two seedlings were secured, and only one of these showed any promise what-
ever, the second having to be grown under glass to prevent its dying away. * * *

I regret to say that in 1894 the outdoor crop of Solanum magiia was almost entirely de-
stroyed by disease, while some grown indoors escaped. The hybrid seedling resulting from
the cross just referred to, although a vast improvement on the Solanum maglia^ is very far
behind the ordinary cultivated potato in appearance, crop, and qualities. The seedling has
now been grown for eight years, and in 1894 the crop was slightly diseased, although it had
previously been almost free from attack.

Mr. Sutton closed his paper with an account of experiments made by
himself in grafting the potato upon the tomato plant and vice versa. The
result of grafting tomatoes upon potato plants was, that the potato roots
brought forth a crop of potato tubers and the tomato grafts a crop of to-
matoes. In the reverse experiment, the tomato roots produced no tubers,

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but the potato stock produced flowers and berries. To further conduct the
experiment, the tomato flowers were fertilized with potato pollen and potato
pollen with tomato flowers, and in this experiment two of the potatoes grow-
ing on tomato stocks put forth tubers from the axils of the leaves and stems.
Mr. Sutton concluded :

As a result of these experiments in grafting, I can not lead you to indulge the hope that
there is a probability of originating some new potato of practical utility.

Professor Maiden read a paper on English and Irish potato cultivation
and trade. Of the soil required for the potato, he said :

The potato is a gross feeder, and requires a considerable amount of nitrogen to make full
growth. If, however, nitrogen is largely excessive and mineral manures are distinctly de-
ficient, the very heavy haulm and small tuberation on some of the bog lands is produced.
Good quality is obtainable only when there is sufficient lime, potash, and phosphoric acid

In discussing markets, he said :

A population of 5,cxx),ooo does not require 700,000 acres of potatoes to feed them. There
must be waste somewhere. * * * The potatoes exported from Ireland are comparatively
few, and not many of those compete in the best markets. * * * The Irish people have
acquired the taste for what is regarded in England as a coarse-flavored potato. An Englbh-
man wants his potato as mild as his butter. * * * He also wants a white-fleshed potato,
while the more popular Irish potatoes are yellow fleshed. In this, the Irishman is like the
Frenchman, for in France the white potato is more or less despised. It, therefore, is probable
that the Irishman is right, and where he grows for his own consumption he is very foolish
not to grow what he likes. * * * But when I was in Ireland I felt strongly that there
was to be a great advance in Irish farming in the near future. * * * l( more is produced,
it must be exported. * * * To do this, the Irish farmer must cater for the special market,
and those he grows for this purpose must not necessarily be what he most approves of, but
which are more approved of by the customer he hopes to obtain.

Professor M'Weeney, M. A., M. D., director of the bacteriological
laboratory at the Royal Albert Institution at Glasnevin, Dublin, delivered
a lecture on **Sclerotium diseases of the potato plant, its cause and preven-
tion.'* The disease, he said, partook in some respects of the character of
the ordinary blight, but it was at the same time very different from it. The
subject of his remarks had not as wide a distribution as the ordinary blight.
Ireland, Scotland, and Norway were the European countries chiefly affected,
and even in Ireland the distribution was local and mostly confined to the
Atlantic seaboard and its vicinity. The characteristic signs of the disease in
question were the sudden drooping of isolated plants or patches of plants
in the height of the summer, shortly after flowering, and the occurrence on
the drooping plants of fluffy, cushion-like patches of mycelium, or fungus
growth. These occurred on the stem chiefly. The plant soon died, became
dried up, and on breaking open the stem, it was found to contain black oval
grain-like bodies called *'sclerotia." These were found to be formed by
the fungus in the interior of the white cushion-like tufts above referred to.
If the diseased stalks are allowed to rot on the ground, the sclerotia fall out
*nd lie on the ground during the winter, and during the following spring

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they germinate and produce a thread-like stalk, on top of which is a tiny
disc or peziza, which produces on its upper surface thousands of asaor spore
bags, each containing eight spores one twenty-five hundredth of an inch in
diameter. These get wafted by the wind on to the young potato plants and
germinate on them, force their "germ tubes" into them and devour their
substance, so that they droop and die, exhausted at the very time when
their vegetative activity ought to be at its height. The disease had been
investigated by Berkley, Worthington Smith, and others several years back;
but many points in its life history still needed investigation, and this he (the
speaker) had been enabled to give the subject last summer, thanks to the en-
lightened action of the board of national education, at the instance of their
agricultural superintendent, Mr. Thomas Carroll. He had, in company with
Mr. Carroll, visited the congested districts of Donegal, observed the ravages
of the disease, ascertained the manner in which the plants became infected,
and found the sclerotia germinating on the fields. Some of these pezizas
he now demonstrated ; and from species obtained from them he had been
able to infect sterilized slices of boiled potato and produce a fresh crop of
sclerotia. He had also been able to clear up the relation between this disease
and another malady associated with moldy, mouse-gray patches on the
potato plant. This was also due to a fungus the spores of which produced
first moldy growth and then a sclerotium, which was much smaller and
more closely adherent to the potato. These little sclerotia on germinating
only produced mold, technically **botrylis.*' The two diseases, with their
respective sclerotia, often occurred on the one plant, and had been con-
founded by many observers. The preventive measures were: Adoption of
the drill system of culture; not growing potatoes the second year on the
same field; and especially early destruction by fire of all withered haulms.
The disease only afl*ected the green part of the plant, and the tubers — if
formed — were unafl*ected.

For some years the Champion variety of potato, which was introduced
from Scotland by the Government in 1879, ^^ ^^^^ ^^^ leading variety
grown in Ireland, reaching for the past ten years as high as 75 per cent of
the total potato acreage. In an address presented to the Lord Lieutenant
of Ireland by the Irish Gardeners' Association on the occasion of his attend-
ance at the conference, his attention was called to the fact that the Champion
variety was deteriorating and that it would be necessary in the near future
to replace the Champion by some more suitable variety. It was suggested
that experimental stations be introduced throughout the country for the pur-
pose of cultivating and comparing the principal round varieties of recent
introduction, with a view to collecting the most suitable for general use,
and thus averting a possible recurrence of a potato famine. The Lord
Lieutenant, in reply, promised that an Irish board of agriculture would be
created at the coming session of Parliament.

If I may be allowed to summarize, the points in my report which I
deem most worthy of attention are as follows: In Mr. Cotter's paper, the
advocating of the evaporation of potatoes in order to reduce the bulk of

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storage, the waste in food value from storing, and the large loss occasioned
every year from the various troubles which affect the stored product. In
Professor Johnston's paper, the results from experiments in seeding with the
whole tuber and with sections; also, the statement that the watery potato
contained more nutriment than the mealy one; also, the attention given to
the Solatium maglia as a probable substitute for Solanum tuberosum. In
Mr. Sutton's paper, his testimony as to the probability that spraying was not
profitable ; also, that portion bearing upon the experiments with the Solanum
maglia and in grafting. In Professor Maiden's paper, the point of most
interest is that the potato grower must not cater to his own taste, but to the
demand of the market; also, the fact that in this respect there are well-
marked national prejudices, as, for instance, the French demanding a
yellow-fleshed potato and the English a white-fleshed one.

Dublin, January ir, iSgy, Consul.


Consul Wetter, of Tamatave, under date of January 2, 1897, sends a
translation of the revised law relative to the mining of precious metals and
stones in Madagascar, which was promulgated December i, 1896. The most
imix)rtant provisions of the law are :

Any one is allowed to engage in mining, except foreigners of Asiatic or
African origin. The permits to prospect cost ^4.83 each, and are valid for
one year. The same person can not be accorded more than ten permits.
Signals, consisting of stakes with placards, should be placed as soon as pros-
pecting is begun, and the said signals must be at least 5 kilometers (a little
over 3 miles) apart. Excavations in roads within a certain distance of
houses, works of art, or burial grounds are forbidden. Any one who dis-
covers a deposit outside of a declared mining district and who desires to
work the same must address a declaration to the service of mines; the latter
will declare the new district open, and the discoverer has the right to mark
off around the signals which he has set up and described in the declaration
a number of lots or claims. No more than eighty claims are allowed and
they must be of prescribed shape and dimensions, and rent must be paid for
the same according to their size. If the rent is not paid at the end of the
year, the claims are sold at auction.

The claims can be registered at the office of the commissioner of mines
on payment of a fee of 25 francs ($4.24) per claim. The registration has
the following advantages: The registered lot is a fixture; it can be hypoth-
ecated like ordinary real estate; and in case of failure to pay the annual
rent, a delay of six months is granted the holder.

Associations for the working of the mines can obtain concessions of
2,000 hectares (4,942 acres). Only ten concessions will be granted to one

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association. A tax of 5 francs (97 cents) per hectare (2.471 acres) is due
on the day when the working commences; there is also a tax of 5 per cent on
the material extracted, but the association has the right to choose between the
payment of these taxes or the surface rental already referred to in the case
of individuals.

Every mine holder is responsible for temporary or permanent damages
sustained by the lands or husbandry or other mines in the pursuit of his

Traffic in precious metals or stones in a rough state is subject to a special
tax of J347.40. Books must be kept and visaed by agents of the adminis-
tration. All infractions of the above law are punishable by fine or imprison-
ment, or both.


The year 1896 has been highly unsatisfactory, in many cases even quite
profitless, to the Austrian cotton spinner. The beginning of the year found
the yarn market in an exceedingly replete state, as a result of the large
number of new mills that had been erected during the preceding year. Not-
withstanding the fact that the productive capacity of the Austrian estab-
lishments had so largely increased that it amounted to about 236,000,000
pounds— enough to occupy the Austrian weavers during the past year — the
import of foreign yarns had remained at the high figure of 33,495,000
pounds. It was but a natural consequence that an overstock in cotton yarns
should result. This state of affairs was rendered more discouraging when
the f>rice of raw cotton began to fall in the month of April. During the
succeeding months, this situation has but slightly changed. To day, profits
are out of the question, and to decrease the large stock of yarns on hand,
especially coarse goods, prices below cost have been accepted.

For example, I may mention that a spinning mill of medium size in
the immediate vicinity of this city, having about 20,000 spindles and man-
aged by a gentleman highly regarded in his profession, at present carries a
stock of 300,000 pounds of yarn.

Although the manufacturers who, up to this date, -have sold products of
their factories below cost are those having no large financial resources, it is
nevertheless to be expected, in case the present depression continues, that
the entire cotton-spinning industry will be placed in an exceedingly danger-
ous position.

Steps have been repeatedly taken to bring about a curtailment of the pro-
duction of the spinning mills, but these have never resulted in a satisfactory
agreement. In every instance, the representatives of the smaller mills in-
sisted, with a great deal of right, that a reduction of the production would
be felt more by them than by a large mill, the latter, at the same tinie, on ac-
count of the continuous increase of its productive capacity, being one of the
causes of the present overproduction. It was thus found impossible to fix a
ratio according to which the reduction should be made by the individual firms.

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During the weeks just passed, a number of proprietors of spinning mills
have presented a new plan to dispose of the superfluous stock and render
the outlook more promising. Since no agreement as to the reduction of the
quantity produced can be reached, the sole possibility of exporting remains.
But to what country can we export? asks the Austrian spinner. The answer
that has been found is, Germany.

In Germany, the spinners are well supplied with foreign orders, especially
those from Russia. Prices for yarns are therefore normal in Germany, and
it is certainly to the interest of the German spinner to keep them at their
present level. The difference, on the other hand, between the prices for
yarn in Austria and those in Germany is so large that but a small premium
is sufficient to allow Austria to compete successfully in Germany, notwith-
standing duty and transportation charges. This being the case, Austrian
spinners representing approximately 2,500,000 spindles (about 3,000,000
spindles are in use in Austria) have come to an agreement looking to the
granting of such a premium, and thus indirectly to the augmentation of
the export of Austrian yarns to Germany. The latter, during the year 1895,
amounted to but 53,570 pounds. Conventions have been held in Vienna
and Dresden to unite, on the one hand, the Austrian spinners in this com-
mon movement, and, on the other hand, to find a satisfactory method of
conducting the sale of Austrian yarn in Germany. The intention at first
was to employ agents to accomplish this latter end. But there appeared to
be danger that the agents, by mutual competition, would exert pressure on
the prices. The Society of Spinners of Saxony, fearing that a too complete
stagnation in Austrian markets would not be without result in Germany,
offered to take 6,000,000 pounds of Austrian yarns, and this was accepted.
The firms that have united in this undertaking will pay 2 kreutzers (0.8 cent)
per spindle every month for half a year. A spinning mill with 50,000 spin-
dles, would, therefore, have to pay 1,000 florins (J406) a month, or 6,000
florins (^2,436) for six months. Taking into account that about 2,500,000
spindles will form this combine, 270,000 florins ($109,620) will be raised.
This amount is deemed sufficient to pay the difference between the price of
yarn in Germany and the net price of yarn in Austria, plus duty and trans-
portation charges into Germany. The difference is computed to be about
I to 2 pfennigs (one-fifth to one-half cent) a pound.

This plan of the Austrian spinners is unique in this, tfiat they are willing
to pay the export premium themselves and do not apply to the Government
for assistance. The direct results of this action are without doubt beneficial
to both countries. The large overstock in Austria will be diminished and
its mills will be awakened to new life, while Germany has warded off the
influx of yarns sold far below cost, to which action the Austrian spinner
would be obliged to resort, and which would cause a fall in the price of
German yarns.

Whether the plan will be successful is a question much debated. Since
the price of yarn in Germany depends upon the export into foreign coun-
tries, it would appear more rational for the Austrian spinner to compete

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with the German at such places, as, for instance, in Russia, where the two
countries are obliged to pay the same duties and the same transportation
charges. If, as it appears, the Austrian yarns are cheaper, a permanent mar-
ket in such a foreign city might have been gained. The competition in
Germany can only be made possible by the aid of artificial means and will
not be based on a healthy and sound foundation. The fact can not be
hidden that this premium is paid not by the spinner, but by the weaver, and,
so far as the domestic trade is concerned, by the purchaser of the woven

The Austrian weaver will pay a higher price for his yarn than his col-
league in Germany. Now. as Austria is obliged to export its woven cotton
fabrics, will not a German weaver, or, for that matter, any foreign weaver,
enjoy a great advantage on neutral ground ?

The future is in doubt. For the present, the Austrian spinner will be
greatly benefited.


Reichenberg, February 6, iSgy. Consul.


As a supplement to my report of February 6, on "Cotton spinning in
Austria,*' I beg to add the following : The plan has now been brought to a
practical test, and up to date, from 300,000 to 400,000 pounds of Austrian
yarns have been placed in foreign markets, principally in those of Germany.
At the same time, the way for an export to Russia, Asia Minor, and Japan
has been very successfully prepared. In Austria, the price of cotton yarn
has risen a few kreutzers a pound, notwithstanding the fall in the price of
raw cotton, but the present success appears more and more to remain but a
temporary one. Already the cotton spinners of other countries are calling
for similar conventions, with the object of granting like premiums. Such
measures must again bring about the original status; in fact, the one result
of the entire movement will probably be the demonstration of the fact that
a change for the better is to be brought about only by a decrease in the pro-
duction of the coarse numbers and an increase in the production of the fine
numbers of cotton yarn.


Reichenberg, February 2j, iSg7» Consul,


The lively interest taken by German capital in industrial enterprises
during the last few years, coupled with the fact that such enterprises have
lately been favored even by those careful investors who formerly considered
only public stocks (Staatspapiere) an absolutely safe employment for their
capital^ suffices to warrant inquiry into the causes of such a change. In 1877,

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the 4 per cent German imperial loan was issued at 94.6 per cent. In
1885, ^^^y eight years afterwards, Prussia was in a position to put her 3^
per cent loan into the market at 98^. The German Empire followed with
a similar loan in 1887, when money was needed, and all the German federal
states followed in succession. German capital, being less powerful than that
of England or France, could not easily bear this low rate of interest, and
was forced to interest itself to some extent in industrial enterprises and foreign
public stocks. The losses sustained by German capital toward the end of the
last decade through the decrease in German trade were vastly augmented
by the failures in Portugal, Greece, the Argentine Republic, etc. Dr. Miquel,
who had shown his ability in political economy as manager of the Berliner
Disconto Gesellschaft, one of the most important German banking concerns,
was intrusted with the duties of Financial Secretary of State for Prussia, and
created the 3 per cent loan in 1890, at first for Prussia, and, in natural con-
sequence, for the German Empire. The same was put into the market at 87
per cent, leaving to the buyer a chance of profit in the exchange, the interest
being about the same as the 3^ per cent loan. The situation was, however,
at that time not favorable to these new stocks, and as early as February, 1891,
a 3 per cent imperial loan of ^550,000,000 more was issued at 84.4, and one
year later, in 1892, ^40,000,000 as low as 83.6. The issues of 1893 and
1894 were offered and taken at 86.6 and 87.7, respectively. In 1894, these
loans were officially quoted at the London exchange, and in consequence of

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 73 of 82)