Edgar Thurston Sir George Watt.

A dictionary of the economic products of India, Volume 6, Part 3 online

. (page 49 of 76)
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its new life with the germinating embryo to which it attaches itself.
Growing up through the tissue of the stem it finally reappears in the
fTowerin^ spike, to disseminate the fresh showers of black spores that
carry on the process. Year after year, if not checked, the proportion of
diseased stems may increase until a crop may be seen that is practically
worthless. One peculiarity of Smut may be here further added, namely,
that while no structural difference has as yet been recognised in the smuts
met with on wheat, oats, barley, sorghum, etc., the smut that has appeared
on one of these crops does not seem to possess the f>ower to infect another.
Each crop may, therefore, be assumed to possess its own peculiar form of
Ustilago catbo or Smut

With reference to the appearance of this disease in India, numerous
reports mi^ht be quoted and with advantage could space be afforded.
The followmg may perhaps suffice: Mr, W. R.Robertson, M.R.A.O^
Superintendent, Government Farms Madras (Agri, Report, Madras, 1878),
wrote : —

** I have the honour to forward, for the Board's inspectioii, a few heads of ckolam
attacked by a bligrht called ** Smut" a funfroid disease which appears to be very
common this season in this district. It will be observed that the gram b very much
changed from its ordinary shape^and that nnany of the grains are filled with a fine
black granular powder (spores). The blight is of common occurrence, but I do not
remember any year in which I have seen so much of it as this. In most countries
this blight is well known to agriculturists, but it occurs to a serious extent chiefly
only in those countries in which agriculture is yet in a backward state. In some
parts of England its occurrence is certainly far from unfrequent, but this is only where
an antiquated system of agriculture is still pursued, or where injudicious attempts are
made to grow cereal crops unsuited to the ciimatical conditions. However, in England,
there has been a very marked disappearance of the disease durine the past twenty or
thirty years, which must be attnbuted^ to the progressive development of a superior
agricultural practice. Straw and grain infested by the spores m * Smut ' are not
thereby, it is believed, rendered at all injurious when used as the food of live-stock,
neither is the grain rendered unfit for human food as is that infested by the spores ol
the fungoid disease called ' Ergot.' The loss that results from *' hmut " is chiefly
in the diminution of the yield of grain ; and when, as is sometimes the case, from 20
to 30 per cent, of the heads of grain in a field are rendered abortive, the loss is a
serious one. As regards the prevention of this blight, it appears to be generally
admitted that superior culture with the protection of the seed oy the use of chemical
dressings are the most efficient means Of course, nothing can effectually protect
a field of grain if the crop in a neighbouring field or in the locality has been attacked
by the blight; hence the attempt to root out the disease in a locality must be
general on the part of all the farmers. It was not usual in England until lately
to dress seed in view to protect thi* crop from *'Smat," but the practice is now
general. It is true that the means taken are not so efficient as could be desired, for
the sporules are so liable to become dispersed before harvest and during the harvest-
ing operations. However, it has been shown that, when seed infested by the spores
of the blight have been sown, the blight has been reproduced in the crop and that,
when infested seed has been properly dressed with a chemk:al solution, the blight has
not appeared. There are many different descriptions of seed preparations used.
Those in which sulphate of copper forms the chief or only ingredient are the most
to be relied on. The following process might, I think, be adopted with everv hope
of success in the treatment of seed infested by the spores of Smut :— ' For 50ft of seed
take 3 ounces of sulphate of copper which disolve in one quart of hot water ; when
the solution is quite cold pour it over the seed, with which mix it thoroughly ; when
quite dry the seed is fit for sowing'" {Con/, with Rtpt., Am. Dept.. Madras

As alluding to Smut and, perhaps, also to Rust and Bunt, the following
passage may now be quoted from Mr. Nickelson's Manual ofCoimba'iore,

S. 2461



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Dictionary of the Economic







Diseases snd Pests

Madras^ as it shows the diseases which are known to attack the juir crop
in that district :—

'' Setnbei is rust and ia common in cold misty weather. Karipuitei is mildew ; it
is not known whether this is the developed form of Sembei. Instead of grain, the
ears are filled with a blackish brown powder like smut in wheat. Navei-fuchi is a
li^ht green insect beginning as a tiny worm, Kuanthi-Paluva, which feeds and
grows on the tender plant ; it developes at the time of flowering if the weather is
mistv. A similar cause is alleged for Asugani {Pen or Pongan)* which is a minute
blacK insect.*'

Very little is known for certain r^arding the insect pests of this crop,
but the reader should consult the special paragraphs below on that subject.

Bunt ^Tilletia caries.— The spores of this fungus are slightly larger
than those of Smut, and their surfaces are covered with a reticulation.
They ripen and are dispersed about the time of the harvest. They attach
themselves to the outsiae of the grain and remain until it is sown next year.
With the germinating seedlinp^ the spore renews its activity, attacks the
embryo, and grows up within the tissue of the plant, but in doing so it
undergoes a succession of changes and thereby effects a very serious
injury to the host, upon whose tissue it literally feeds. The spore first
sends out a little tube, from the top of which arise from four to eight cells, and
these form the spores of the second generation. They unite by cross tubes
into H -shaped fissures, then fall off and give rise to spores of the third gene-
ration, which in their turn produce spores of the fourth veneration. From the
last mentioned spores the mycelium arises — a network of exceedingly deli*
cate tubes which, like that of Smut, permeates the entire substance of the host
and pushes forward as if its aim had been the destruction of the g^ain, for, on
the fruits forming, the fungus attacks their substance and pr«luces within
each grain a baneful crop of fresh shores which, by the wind, is sown on
the unaffected spikes or ears of corn. The grain attacked by bunt looks»
however, externally as if perfectly healthy. It is, if any thing, plumper and
rounder. On pressing it, however, it bursts and emits an offensive smell
and a slimy or greasy dark coloured powder. Little wonder therefore that,
the farmer fears Bunt more than Smut, for, the latter is seen while the for-
mer all unsuspected, may be reaped, and on the thrashing floor the bane-
ful spores sown on the entire crop of eratn. Bunt has been recorded on more
than one occasion as doing serious damage to the Sorghum crop of India
iConf, Field & Garden Crops), but it does not seem necessary to repub-
lish the local reports. From the brief account here given of Smut and
Bunt, the reader will be able to appreciate the value of the pickling as it
has been called (in official correspondence) of the seed of Sorghnm and
other crops. The difficulty in India rests in the fact that whife one culti-
vator may be induced to adopt such scientific measures, his neighbour by
refusing to do so undoes all the good effects of the pickling. It has, how-
ever, been pointed out that the germs of both Smut and Bunt are so sensi-
tive to hot water and so easily removed mechanically by washing, that
steeping or washing the grain for a short time, in slightly warm water,
would do much good where chemical agents to destroy the adhering
fungoid germs were beyond the means of the cultivators In some parts of
India (as in the Panjdb, p. 308) to wash the seed before sowing is a common
practice. For the results of experiments and informatton regarding the
materials used in India to pickle the seed, the reader should consult the
Experimental Farm Reports for Bombay, 1885-86, 1886-87,1887-88, etc.
Carbolic acid, sulphate of copper, common salt, etc., are the substances
that have been chiefly experimented with.

II. A Parasitic Flowering Plant— Striga.— The reader who may be
interested in this subject will And full details under Saccharum (sugar-
s' 2463

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of the Juar Crop.

(G. Watt,)


cane) (Conf, with Vol. VI., Pt, II., 126), where the same parasite, by
attacking the roots of either or both crops, does such damage as to
often effect total destruction. Many popular writers affirm that Striga
acts by depriving thecrw) of the natural nourishment of the soil, but on
the other hand, the species of Striga arc known botanically to be root
parasites and therefore to suck the sap from the foster-plants to which
they attach themselves. Although no Indian writer has especially noted
t^e direct attachment of the Striga weed to the roots ot Sorghum or
Saccharum, yet there is little doubt that it is in that way that the weed
effects its destruaive mission. The Observation that the oarasite is de-
stroyed if cotton be rotated with Sorghum would be accountable for by the
affirmation that it is unable to subsist on the roots of cotton and, being
an annual, the seeds germinate and die, from want of a suitable host on
which to feed and produce their fruits and seeds. The Director of Land
Records and Agriculture, Bombay (Report, 1886-87, p^ io), refers to this

" One-third of the crop of the general farm was devaitated. The experiments to
study the habits of the oarasite have been continued. Plots sown with maize fol-
lowed by eram and witn iow4ri were attacked, thoueh in the case of maize the
parasite did not show till late. It was plouefaed in b^ore the eram was sown, and
did not reappear. In the jowdri plot it held sway in spite of iJl efforts to keep it
down. In another plot, last year sown with fowdri, when the parasite appeared.
Cotton is supposed to keep it in check. Sub-soiling was tric^ as a preventive in
another plot. Gram was the crop taken. The result was very favouiable, though
not Conclusive, because the parasite does not feed on nam. fowdri should be tried
after sub-soiling. Horse-dun|^ is locally supposed to mvoar the parasite. The result
did not in any way support the supposition, for, though jowdri was sown, it was un-

III. Pests in the Form of Insects, Birds, Squirrels, etc.— Most writers
say that birds and squirrels are perhaps the worst enemies to Sorghum.
Their depredations necessitate constant watching for at least 25 days
before the crop is cut, a circumstance that enhances g^reatly the cost of
cultivation. But this danger and trouble is perhaps so evident that it
needs no further explanation. It is otherwise with the insect pests. Some
of these are fully understood, others are so obscure that much difference
of opinion prevails as to whether the poisonous property (spoken of as
possessed at times by the stems, when used as fodder) is due or not to
an insect. In the special article on Pests {Vol, VI., Pt, /., 147) it is stated
that the larvae of a moth known in the North- West Provinces as hhaunri
(not as yet identified) attacks t\\ejudr stalks in much the same fashion as
the sugar-cane is tunnelled by the *• sugar-cane borer." These larvae, in
fact, bear so strong a resemblance to those found in cane that Mr. Cotes
suggests, that they may also set up decompositions suflRcient t> cause the
poisonous properties r^arding which so much has been written. It may
be added that the prevalent belief among the Natives is that the poison
is the result of an insect, and it is worthy of note that it occurs at the same
peried and under similar circumstances as in cane, via,, during an excep-
tionally dry season. The following two passages may be accepted as
representing the somewhat exhaustive controversy that exists on this
subject :^

* The most peculiar of the diseases to which fudr is liable is that which makes
the young" stalks poisonous to cattle, if eaten by them when semi-parched from want
of rain. Of the fact there can be no doubt ; in the scarcity of i^jj large numbers of
cattle were known to perish from this cause, their bodies becoming inflated after a
meal of the young judr plants, and death ensuing shortly afterwards, ap|>arently in
severe pain. A good explanation is not, however, forthcoming. The opinion uni-
versally accepted by Natives is that young iudr when suffering from deficiency of
rain becomes infested with an insect called bhaunri, to which its poisonous effect on
catde is due. Immediately rain faUs the insect is said to perish, and unless the ears

S. 2464


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Birds, Jte.


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Dictionary of the Economic




Birds, He.

Conf. 9ith

Diseases and Pests


have appeared before the rain failed, the crop often recovers itself, and yields a food
outturn of grain" (Duthie & Fuller),

A totally different explanation of the great nr.ortality amongst cattle*
in the year 1877, is given in a paper by Veterinary Surgeon J. Anderson
Asrri. and Hort, Soc, Jo'irn^i F/., Part /, p, i. New Series), The
articles is too long to give* in extenso, but the following extracts will show
the opinions arrived at by that writer : —

* From my recent inve^igations and experiments, I have come to the contusion
that jowar is not poisonous. Some stocks here and there contain insects, others a
fungus, both of which are supposed by many to be the medium of poison. Even if
they were poisonous, they are not found in sufficient Quantities to prove iniurious, and
account for such wholesale mortality. The prevaihng idea is tnat the f'ifwar has
become poisonous not only from want of the usual rains, but also from the scorching
effects of the unusual return of the hot winds ; or that a poisonous gas engendered
in the stalk by the action of the heat, etc., etc. The insects are of the HsMiPrSRA
family commonly met with on plants, and the fungus, when submitted to a micros-
copical examination, consisted almost entirely^ of round spores. Dr. Franklin,
who examined it, cannot say to what species it belongs." "I look uponjowmr as a
destructive substance or thing, and not as a poison. It destroys life by acting mecha-
nically on the system, just as a sponge dwells in the stomach and kills on being
retained there. When jowar has been eaten, it generally produces *lioven' dis-
tension of the first stomach as known by the generation of a large quantity of
confined air, a product of fermentation arresting tne natural function of rumenatiofl
and digestion which causes the animal to sw^l even to a state of suffocation or
rupture of some part of the stomach or intestines to death." '"Hoven/ therefore,
is a verv common and exceedingly fatal form of disease, or rather accident. The
stomach becomes surcharged with flatus, becomes paralysed as it were, and is thus
rendered incapable of expdling its contents. Consequently rumenation and digestion
cannot be carried on properly, but fermentation goes on instead, b3f which a large
quantity of gas b immediately generated which, from want of ventilation, causes ttie
animal to swell to a state of suffocation and sudden death is the consequence.

*' The symptoms are verv alarming and rapid in their course; and may come on
sometime^, even if only a very small quantity of f'oivar has been eaten. The left
flank swell up accompanied oy distressed and labored breathing, panting and great
depression, disinclination to move, with prominent and blood shot eye ; the animal
staififgers, falls down, and dies of suffocation.*' '* Hoven is the result of irregular
and bad feeding^, or from cattie eating food which they are unaccustomed to ; or
from eating partially decayed or unripe fodder of any description (stunted jowar),
and particularly, succulent shoots which spring up after the first showers of rain.
Cattie are sure to overgorge themselves, more especially half-starved ones, or eat so
greedily that it is not sultiaently masticated, and before it can be properly prepared
by rumenation, fermentation takes place, and carbonic acid gas is eliminated. Hoven
is the result, appearing like an epizootic, affecting many animals at the same time and
place. As this complaint w preventable, the assamis should hinder their cattie from
eatingy<mrar by herding them, or by fencing in the jowar khsts. This has been done
in many places with marked success .... The first thing to be done

is to arrest the process of fermentation and restore heilthy secretion and action of the
stomach. To do this the air must be displaced by eructation or through the int»-
tines, or bv opening the stomach with a trocar and canula the latter should be left in
the wound for some time^ so that the gases generated may escape as far as formed."
** I have given an experimental bullock as much as six seers at one time, of what was
supposed to be poisonous /owar, and it had no effect whatever. I attribute this simply
to the fact that the animal ate it surely, masticated it property, and ruminated quirav.
I'he same animal has had it dried in the form of ohoosa and in decoction. The
experimental sheep will not eat mor^ than a stalk at time, and after being starved
for 24 hours. A strong decoction had no effect on them either. I he great loss thnwgh
neglect and ignorance ought to rouse cattle owners from their apathy, and show them
the necessity of storing fodder in plentiful seasons, preserving pastures and fencing
in crops."

IV. CUiDAtic Disturbances, such as want of rain, excess of humidity
or damp, cloudy weather, and extreme or unnaturally high temperature,
etc.— It will be observed from the remarks already offered that whether
due to the presence of an insect or to some physiolog^ical change in the
grrowth of the plant, owing to climatic disturbances, the judr stems are

S. 2465

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Products of India,


of the Jiutf Ccopw

((?. Watt.)

not always liable to cause injury to cattle. * The occurrence of the poison-
ous property (as it has been called) is simultaneous over a large tract of
country, appearing and disappearine within certain fixed limits of time.
The imerence is, therefore, unavoidable that the stems have been affected
or altered in some way* Both the theories (advanced above) are, therefore
admissible, namely, that certain climatic conditions pre-dispose the stems to
an epidemic development of the insect pest or alter the nature of the stem
or of its sap, so as to favour the fatal fermentation to which Veterinary
Surgeon Anderson attributes the disease. The only observation that
seems consistent to both theories is that the disease follows unusually
hi^h temperatures. The judr is mostly ^rrown on hi|^h lands as a khartf
crop and is only very occasionally irrigated. It is dependent on the
rains for its moisture, and if these fail famine both to cattle and itien must
supervene over large tracts of India. A delay of the rains or an un-
usually high temperature must materially alter both the yield and the
quality of the crop. It would thus seem, that the effect of climatic dis-
tarbances, both as favouring one or other of the diseases dealt with above,
and as modifying the <)uantity and quality of the crop, has not received
that degree of consideration which it demands. Need it therefore be added
that the study of the races of Sorghnm, in relation to climate and soil, is of
the very first importance.

Cultivation in BengmL — Although grown by the hill tribes of Chutia
Nagpur, Rajmahal, and the Tarai— to a limited extent— yi/<fr cannot be
regarded as an important article of food in Bengal. It is more generally
cultivated in the portions of the province that approach in climatic and
other conditions to those which prevail in the North- West Provinces.
The unimportance oijudr, indeed of all millets, may be learned from the
opinion arrived at by the Famine Commission, namdy, that famine in
Bengal meant essentially the loss of the rice crop sown in April to June
and reaped from November to January. The loss of the bhad9i or
intermeaiate crops, which consist very lar^^ely of Indian-corn, millets, etc.,
would not produce famine, nor even scarcity*

The following passages are extracted from the A^icultural Department
reports on the subject of iudr as a fodder in Bengsu :^>

" The following fodder-grasses were sown on the Farm :*Sorgham,
yellow cholarn^ vfhite ckolam, and Reana (Euchlma) Iturarians. The
Sorghum was manured with bone- meal. The increase in yield thus obtained
more than covered the enhanced cost of cultivation due to the purchase of
the meal. The results showed that fbdder^grasses can be raised at a nomi-
nal cost of two to three pice per maundy and are likely to prove profitable
crops in Bengal '' (1888-89).

Sorghum*^ThR following statement shows that Socglmm can be pro-
fitably cultivated in Bengral as a fodder crop. The price is taken at 4
annas per maund of gfreen S«rgliiitii, and has been arrived at by a com-
parison with paddy straw. It appears that a bullock of more than ordi-
nary size can be kept in perfect tiealth during the height of the working
season, on half a maund of Sorghum (well matured and with the seed and
stalk together), and a seer of mustard cake per diem* The outturn may be
given :—




Whether manured
or unmanured.

Cost 01


per acre,


51 6 o

25 II o

a 13 o

ist cutting,
and do. .
3rd do. .


per acre

in 0).



Price of


R a.p*
58 6 6
36 1 9

2% 4 o





Con/, with

pp' rn, !iX2,

291, 308, 3o9,

3 to, 3iJ,






pp. 267, 294,



S. 2467

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bicUonary of the Ecokomic






Conf. with

pp. 2S7, 294*

3049 305, S09,



Provincial Account of the

Ac AjDH.


It has hitherto been said, that Sor^um as a fodder crop will not pay
in Lower Bengal {tSSg-gt/}*

" S^grhum,^Etp€r\menis made with this crop last year confirmed the
opinion expressed in the Annual Report of the previous year that Sorgin u n
can be profitably grown as a fodder crop in Bengal. The produce was
sold at 2 annas 6 pies per maund to a Calcutta dairy, the manager of
which, Mr. Q. O. Bose, a Cirencester scholar, reported verj- favourably on
it. The yield of milk of a number of cows was increased from 20 to 25
Seers by the substitution of Sorghum for straw ; while the cost of feeding
wa^ at the same tilne r^uced. Mr, Bdse has been so far encouraged by
tne r^ultSf that he proposes to grow Sorghum as a fodder for his mifch
cof«rs. The cultivation of Sorghum realized a net profit of Hi 2- 12^3 per
bigha **( 7^0-9/ ^.

Cultivation in A88am.^!n the report of the Agricultural Department
of Assam (1886-87, p. 23), the J (mar and Bdjra crops are dealt with as
follows % — " These two admirable fodder crops are never giown in Assam,
except, perhaps, occasionally by tea-garden coolied, and yet, in almost all
parts of the Protince, there are s6^sohs wfieti tfi6 cattle suffer from want
of food. It w^s thought that possibly the people might be induced to
grow fodder, and in 1886 a small consignnnent of one maund of h&jta
and one maund of jewdt was tried. It was distributed to the Deputy
Commissioners of Sibsa^ar, Darrang, K^mrup, Nowgbng, and Laknim-

Sur, and to tlie Sub-di visional officer of MangaldSi. At Lakhimpnr,
orhdt, Golagh^t, Nowgorfg, anci Kamrdp, the ^periments failed. At
Sibsdgar.a poor crop was obtained ; at Tezpur the produce was good ; at
Mangaldai a part of the seed germinated well, and the Stib-£visional
Officer (Mr. Qait) reports that the experiment has resulted in much good,
as it has started the cultivation of the^te crops, and much is being gfbwff
by the coolies this year on their oKvn account. '*

Online LibraryEdgar Thurston Sir George WattA dictionary of the economic products of India, Volume 6, Part 3 → online text (page 49 of 76)