Richard Lamb Allen.

A Brief compend of American agriculture online

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giously from sufferance, and if unchecked will soon over-
spread the farm.
D*



106 AMERICAN AGRICULTURE.

Every pasture should if possible, be provided with running
water and shade trees, or other ample protection against a
summer's sun. The last can at all times be secured by a few
boards supported on a light, temporary frame. Excessive
heat exhausts and sometimes sickens animals, and conse-
quently it materially diminishes the effects of food in promo-
ting their secretion of milk, the growth of wool, flesh, &c.
Pastures ought to be protected against poaching in the spring
or late in the autumn. All grounds immediately after long
and late rains in the fall or the winter's frosts, arc liable to
this when exposed to the hoofs of cattle, particularly clay
lands and such as have been recently seeded. On late, and
oif early, is a good rule to be adopted for spring and fall
pasturing. Wherever the grasses disappear, fresh seeds
should be added and harrowed in ; mosses should be destroy-
ed ; they should be properly drained and every attention
paid to them that is bestowed on the mowing lands, except
that they seldom require manures. But ashes, gypsum,
lime, &c., may frequently be applied to them with great pro-
fit. Pastures should take their course in rotation when they
get bare of choice herbage or full of weeds and it is possible
to break them up advantageously. Though many choice, na-
tural forage plants may thus be destroyed, yet if again turned
into grass at the proper period and they are sown with a plen-
tiful stock of assorted grass seeds on a rich and well prepared
surface, they will soon place themselves in a productive state.



GRAIN AND IT.> CULTIVATION. 1QY



CHAPTER VII.



GRAIN AND ITS CULTIVATION.

WHEAT (Triticum).

This is one of the most important and most generally
cultivated of the cereal grains, (or grasses as they are bo-
tanically termed,) though both rice and maize or Indian
corn, contribute lo the support of a larger population. It is
found in every latitude excepting those which approach too
nearly to the poles or equator, but it can be profitably raised
only within such as are strictly denominated temperate.
Linnceus describes only six varieties, but later botanists enu-
merate about thirty ; while of the sub-varieties there are sev-
eral hundred. The only division necessary for our present
purpose is of the winter wheat, (Trilicum Jiyburnum) and
spring or summer wheat (Triticum (pstivum). The former
requires the action of frost to. bring it to full maturity, and is
sown in Autumn. Germination before exposure to frost,
does not however, seem absolutely essential to its success,
as fine crops have been raised from seed after having been
saturated with water and frozen for some weeks, and sown
early in spring. It has also been successfully raised when
sowed early in the season and while the frost yet occupied
the ground. Spring and winter wheat may be changed
from one to the other by sowing at the proper time through
successive seasons, and without material injury to their
characler. The latter grain is by far the most productive,
the straw is stouter, the head more erect and full, the
grain plumper and heavier, and the price it bears in market,
from 8 to 15 per cent, higher than that of spring wheat.
This difference of price depends rather on the appearance
of the flour and its greater whiteness, than on any intrinsic



108 AMERICAN AGRICULTURE.

.-

deficiency in its substantial qualities. The analysis of Davy
gave in 100 parts of

<iluleu. Staich, mattei.

Spring wheat of 1804, 24 70 6

Best Sicilian winter wheat, 21 74 5

Good English winter wheat of 1803 19 77 4

Blighted wheat of 1804 13 53 34

This analysis gives the greatest nutritive value to the spring
wheat, as the gluten constitutes the most important element
in flower, resembling so nearly as it does animalized matter.
It will also be noticed that the Silician yields about 2 per
cent more gluten than the English, which enables the flour
to absorb and retain a much larger proportion of water when
made into bread. This is what is termed by the bakers,
strength; and when gluten is present in large proportions,
other qualities being equal, it adds materially to the value of
flour. American wheat also contains more gluten than
English, and that from the southern states still more than
that from the Northern. An eminent baker of London
says, American flour will absorb from 8 to 14 per cent,
more of its own weight of water when manufactured into
bread or biscuit than their own ; and another reliable
authority asserts, that while 14 Ibs of American flour will
make 21 i Ibs of bread, the same quantity of English flour
will make only 18 h Ibs. As a general rule, the drier or
hotter the climate in which the grain is raised, the greater is
the evaporation and the more condensed is the farina of the
grain, and consequently, the more moisture it is capable of
absorbing when again exposed to it. Certain varieties of
wheat possess this quality in a higher degree than others.
Some manures and some soils also give a difference with
the same seed, but for ordinary consumption, the market
value (which is the great consideration with the farmer,) is
highest for such wheat as gives the largest quantity of bright
flour, with a due proportion of gluten. Other prominent
differences exist among the leading cultivated varieties of
wheat, such as the bearded and bald or beardless, the white
and red chaff, those having large and strong stalks, or a
greater or a less tendency to tiller, or to send out new stems,
&c., &c. There is great room for selection in the several
varieties, to adapt them to the different soils, situations, and
climate for which they are designed.

PREPARATION OF THE LAND FOR SOWING. Wheat is
partial to a well-prepared clay or heavy loam, and this is



GllAIN A>'U ITS CULTIVATION. 109

improved when it contains either naturally or artificially a
large proportion of lime. Many light and all marly or cal-
careous soils, if in proper condition, will give a good yield
of wheat. Lime is an important aid to the full and certain
growth of wheat, checking its exuberance of straw and its
liability to rust, and steadily aiding to fill out the grain. A
rich mellow turf or clover ley is a good bed for it ; or land
which has been well manured and cleanly cultivated with
roots or corn the preceding year. Fresh barn-yard manure
applied directly to the wheat crop, is objectionable, not only
from its containing many foreign seeds, but from its tendency
to excite a rapid growth of weak straw, thus causing the
grain both to lodge and rust. The same objection lies
against sowing it on rich alluvial or vegetable soils ; and in
each, the addition of lime or ashes, or both, will correct these
evils. A dressing of charcoal has in many instances, been
found an adequate preventive ; and so beneficial has it
proved in France, that it has been extensively introduced
there for the wheat crop. A successful example of uninter-
rupted cropping with wheat through several years, has been
furnished by a Maryland farmer, who used fresh barn-yard
manure with lime. But this is an exception not a rule, and
it will be found that profitable cultivation requires, that wheat
should take its place in a judicious rotation. The great pro-
portion of silica in the straw of cereal grains, (amounting in
wheat, barley, oats and rye, to about four-fifths of the total
of ash from the grain and straw,) shows the necessity of
having ample provision made for it in the soil, in a form
susceptible of ready assimilation by the plant. This is af-
forded both by ashes and from the action of lime upon the
soil.

Depth of soil is also indispensable to large crops. The
wheat plant has two sets of roots, the first springing from
the seed and penetrating downwards, while the second push
themselves laterally near the surface of the ground from the
first joint. They are thus enabled to extract their food from
every part of the soil, and the product will be found to be in
the ratio of its extent and fertility. Under-draining and
sub-soil plowing contribute greatly to the increase of crops,
and it is essential that any surface water be entirely removed.
Wheat on heavy clay lands are peculiarly liable to winter
kill unless they are well drained. This is owing to succes-
sive freezing and thawing, by which the roots are broken
or thrown out. When this is done to a degree that will



110 AMERICAN AGRICULTURE.

materially diminish the crop, the naked spots may be sown
with spring wheat. Any considerable portion of the latter
will lessen the value for sale, but it is equally good for domes-
tic use. The land should be duly prepared for the reception
of the seed by early and thorough plowing, and harrowing
if necessary.

SELECTION AND PREPARATION or SEED. Many persons
select their seed by casting or throwing the grain to 'some
distance on the floor, using only such as reaches the farthest.
This is a summary way of selecting the heaviest, plumpest
grain, which if Sprengcl's theory be correct, is attended
with no advantage beyond that of separating it from the
lighter seeds of chess or weeds. It is certain that the utmost
care should be taken in removing every thing from it but
pure wheat, and this should be exclusively of the kind
required. When wheat is not thoroughly cleaned by casting,
a sieve or riddle should be used, or it should even be picked
over by hand, rather than sow anything but the pure seed.
Previous to sowing, a strong brine should be made of salt
and soft water, and in this the grain should be washed for
live minutes, taking care to skim off all light and foreign
seeds. If the grain be smutty this washing should be
repeated in another clean brine, when it may be taken
out and intimately mixed with one-twelfth its bulk of fresh
pulverized quick lime. This kills all smut, cleans out
weeds from the grain, and insures early rapid growth.
When the seed is not smutty, it may be prepared by soaking
or sprinkling it with stale urine and afterwards mix with the
lime ; and if well done this also will prevent smut though
the first is most certain. (See " varieties of seed " following
for further directions.)

QUANTITY OF SEED AND TIME OF SOWING. On well
pulverized, ordinary wheat soils, about 5 pecks of seed is
.sown to the acre, while rough land, clay soils and such as
are very fertile, require from G to 8. In Maryland, but 3
pecks are frequently sown to the acre, and s.iine of the best
crops have hem raised from only 2 pccku of seed on a finely
pulverized soil. It takes more seed when full and plump
than when shrunken, as there may be nearly I wo of the -lat-
ter to one of the former in the same measure. A difference
is to be observed according to the kind of wheat, some need-
ing more than others. A larger quantity of seed produces an
earlier growth of lighter straw and head, but does not usually
increase the aggregate crop. There is always a tendency



GRAIN AND ITS CULTIVATION. Ill

in wheat and most of the cereal grasses to tiller or send out
new shoots for future stalks. This is a law of these plant*,
which compels them to make the greatest effort to cover the
whole ground, and sometimes a single seed will throw
out more than 100 stalks. In early sowing, the wheat tillers
in the autumn ; in late sowing this is done in part only till
the ensuing spring. Thick sowing is a substitute for tiller-
ing to the extent that would otherwise be induced, and is
equivalent to earlier sowing of a smaller quantity. The time
for sowing in our Northern states is from the 10th to 20th
September. If sown earlier it is liable to attack from the
Hessian fly, and if later, it docs not have time to root as well,
and is in more danger of being thrown out by the frost or of
winter killing. Late sowing is also more subject to rust the
following season from its later ripening.

SOWING. When the ground has been well mellowed, the
seed may be sown broadcast and thoroughly harrowed in.
Rolling is a good practice as it presses the earth closely upon
the seed and facilitates germination, and as soon as the seed
is covered the water furrows should be cleaned out, and again
late in autumn and early in the following spring. In nor-
them Europe it has been found a preventive against winter
killing on strong clays, to sow the wheat in the bottom of
each furrow 6 inches deep, and cover it with the succeeding
one. The wheat thus planted, comes up as soon as on the
fields sown broadcast and harrowed, grows more vigorously,
withstands the winters and produces large crops. Lightly
plowing in wheat is perhaps under any circumstances better
than harrowing, as the wheat is thereby all buried, and at a
more suitable depth than can be done by the harrow. The
roughness of the furrows when left without harrowing, is
advantageous in heavy or clay lands, and only injurious in
light or sandy.

AFTER CULTURE. Harrowing in the spring by loosening
the soil, adds to the growth of the crop, and the loss of the
few plants is much more than compensated by the rapid
tillering and vigor of those which remain. Sowing in drills
and hoeing between them is much practiced in Europe.
The additional amount thus frequently raised would seem to
justify the adoption of this mode of cultivation in this coun-
try; and it should at least be done so far as to give it a fair
trial. On light soils, rolling the wheat both in fall and
spring is highly advantageous. When the growth is luxu-
riant, decided benefit has attended feeding off the wheat on



112 AMERICAN AGRICULTURE.

the field in the fall or spring, taking care to permit the ani-
mals to go on only when the ground is firm.

ENEMIES OF WHEAT. These are numerous. It is subject
to the attack of the Hessian Fly if sown too early in the
fall, and again the ensuing spring, there being two annual
swarms of the fly early in May and September. When thus
invaded, harrowing or rolling, by which the maggots or flies
are displaced or driven ofT is the only remedy of much avail.
Occasionally other flies, and sometimes wheat worms com-
mit great depredations. There is no effectual remedy known
against any of these marauders, beyond rolling, brushing
and harrowing. Dusting the grain with lime, ashes and
soot, have been frequently tried, as have also the sprinkling
them with urine, dilute acids, dec.; and also by fumigating
them in the evening when the smoke creeps along through
the standing grain. For this last purpose a smouldering
heap of clamp brush, weeds, or chips, is placed on the wind-
ward side of the field, and its efficacy may be increased by
the addition of brimstone. Whenever obnoxious to these
attacks, the only safety is to place the crop in the best con-
dition to withstand them by hastening its growth, and by
the propagation of the most hardy varieties. An application
of unleached ashes in damp weather will sometimes dimin-
ish the ravages of worms at the root. Quck lime has the
same effect on all insects with which it comes in contact,
but it should be carefully applied to avoid injury to the
plants.

Smut is a dark brown or blackish parasitic fungus, which
grows upon the head and destroys the grain. The only rem-
edy for this, is washing in two or three successive strong
brines, and intimately mixing and coating the seed with
quick lime.

Rust affects the straw of wheat while the grain is form-
ing and before it is fully matured. It is almost always pres-
ent in the field, but is not extensively injurious except in
muggy (close, showery and hot) weather. The straw then
bursts from the exuberance of the sap, which is seen to
exude, and a crust or iron colored rust is formed in longitu-
dinal ridges on the stalk. It is generally conceded that this
rust is a fungus or minute parasitic plant which subsists on
the sap ; but whether it be the cause or consequence of this
exudation is not fully determined. There is no remedy for
this when it appeal's, and the only mitigation of its effects,
is to cut and harvest the grain at once. The straw in this



(,R\IN AND ITS CULTIVATION. llM

-iso will be saved, and frequently a tolerable crop of grain
which partially matures ulrrr cutting ; while if suffered to
sl;uul, both straw and grain will be, almost totally lost. The
only preventives experience has hitherto found, are the selec-
tion of hardy varieties of grain which partially resist the
t lii'cis of ru>f ; sowing on elevated lands where the air has a
fr.-i-* circulation ; the abundant use of saline manures, salt,
liuie, >;ypsum, and charcoal ; the absence of recent animal
manures ; and early sowing which matures the plant before
the disease commences its attack.

HARVESTING. The grain should be cut immediately after
the lowest part of the stalk becomes yellow, while the grain
is yet in the dough state and is easily compressible between
the thumb and linger. Repeated experiments have demon-
strated that wheat cut then, will yield more in measure, of
heavier weight, and a larger quantity of sweet white flour.
If early cut, a longer time is required for curing before
threshing or storing.

THRESHING is usually done among extensive farmers, with
some one of the large horse machines taken into the field.
The use of machines enables the farmer to raise some of the
choicest kinds of grain, whose propagation was limited before
their introduction, by the great difficulty of separating the grain
from the head. He can also push his wheat into the market
at once if the price is high, which is frequently the case im-
mediately after harvest ; and they save all expense and trou-
ble of moving, storing, loss from shelling, and vermin, inte-
rest, insurance, &c. For the moderate farmer, a small, single
or double horse machine, or hand threshing in winter where
there is leisure for it, is more economical than the 6 or 8
horse thresher.

MOWING OR STACKING. When stored in the straw, the
grain should be so placed as to prevent heating or molding.
This can only be avoided, unless very dry before carrying
into the barn, by laying it on scaffolds where there is a free
circulation of air around and partially through it. If placed
in a stack, it should be well elevated from the ground ; and if
the stacks arc large, a chimney of lattice or open work should
be left from the bottom running through the centre to the
top ; or a large bundle may be kept at the surface in the
centre, and drawn upwards as the stack rises, thus leaving
an opening from the bottom to the roof. Additional security
would be afforded by similar openings horizontally at suitable
intervals, so as to admit the air from one side to the other.



114 AMERICAN AGRICULTURE.

Mice and rats may be avoided by laying the foundation of the
stack on posts or stones elevated beyond their reach, and
covered at the top with projecting caps. Weevils sometimes
affect the grain after storing. These may be almost if not
wholly prevented by thorough cleanliness of the premises
where the grain is stored.

The strait) and chaff of wheat should never be wasted.
This is the most nutritious of the cereal straws, and yields
good fodder to cattle in time of scarcity, and is always valu-
able for this object when cut and mixed with meal or roots ;
and particularly when early harvested and well cured. Tur-
neps and straw are the only food of half the cattle and most of
the sheep throughout Great Britain, and nowhere do they
thrive more or better remunerate their owners than in that
country. It is of great use also as bedding for cattle, and as
an absorbent of animal and liquid manures. It furnishes in
itself the best manure for succeding grain crops ; containing
large proportions of the salts or ash required. When thresh-
ed on the field, and not wanted for cattle, it should be scat-
tered over the ground and either plowed in or suffered to de-
cay on the surface.

VARIETIES OF SEED. Much depends on the judicious selec-
tion of seed. Some soils are peculiarly adapted to wheat grow-
ing, and on these should be sown the finest varieties, which
are generally of a more delicate character. Wheat on other
soils, is liable to many casualties, and on such only the har-
dier kinds should be propagated. Careful and repeated expe-
riments with different varieties of seeds, on each field or on
those which are similar, will alone determine their adaptation
to the soil. There are several choice varieties of winter
wheat in cultivation in the United States, some of which
stand higher in one, and some in another section. Some in
high repute abroad, have been introduced into this country
and proved to be valuable acquisitions, while others have
a found on trial, decidedly inferior to many of the long
adopted varieties. Experiment alone will enable the farmer
to decide as to thehi value for his own grounds, however
high they may stand elsewhere. When of a fine quality and
found to produce well on any given soils, their place should
not be usurped by others till repeated trials have shown their
superiority either in yield or quality. But when the acclimar
ted grain is inferior, other seed from remote distances, even
if no better in quality, ma^ r properly be substituted for it, as a
decided benefit has been found to follow an exchange.



GRAIN AND ITS riTLTIVATIOX. 115

Wheat and nearly all seeds are tbund to be more productive
when taken from a soil interior to the one intended for sow-
ing; and it is claimed that what is produced both in a warmer
and colder climate will mature earlier. It is not essential
that the fullest, heaviest grain be sown. Sprengel affirms
that seed somewhat shrunken is more certain to give a good
yield than the choicest seed ; and numerous trials would
seem to favor this conclusion. The grain designed for seed
should be well ripened before harvesting. From the ever
varying character of the different kinds of seed, their superi-
ority at one time and on one locality, and their inferiority at
other times and in other situations, it seems almost superflu-
ous to give a particular enumeration of the present most pop-
ular kinds. A brief mention of such only as stand high in
public favor in this country, with some of their most striking
peculiarities, is all that our limits will admit.

The improved flint is extensively cultivated in the fine
wheat growing country of western New- York; where it was
introduced in 1822. It is hardy and withstands the winters
remarkably well. A striking improvement in the strength of
its straw has been observed, which at first inclined to lodge,
but it is now erect and firm till fully ripened. The head-?
are also fuller and longer than when first introduced ; the
berry is plump and white, yielding a large proportion of choice
flour ; and it is retained in the head with great tenacity which
is a decided advantage for econamy in harvesting, where
threshing machines are substituted for the flail.

The old Genesee red chaff is a bald white wheat, first cul-
tivated in the same region in 1798 ; and for a long time it
was the decided favorite. Since 1820 however, it has been
very subject to rust and blast, but. when circumstances are
favorable it is still found to be highly productive. Its trans-
fer to other localities, may therefore be attended with great
success.

The white May of Virginia was a choice variety and exten-
sively raised in the neighborhood of the Chesapeake bay in
1800, but is now nearly extinct there. It has been cultivated
in New- York for 10 years, is a good bearer, very heavy ;
\veighing frequently 66 Ibs, per bushel, and ripens early, by
which it escapes rust.

The Wheatland red is a new variety discovered and propa-
gated by Gen. Harmon of Monroe co., N. Y., by whom it is
held in high estimation. It produces well and ripens early.



116 XMEHTPVN

Tlie Kentucky while bearded, Hiitchinson or Canadian flint

is very popular in Western New- York win-re it has been ra-
pidly disseminated since its first introduction some IvJ years
j-incc. ll is hard\, a good \ ielder, with a short plump bcrr\ ,
weighing (') I llx. per bushel. It requires thicker sowing
(about '.Jfi per eeni. more seed) than the improved Hint, as it
does no! tiller as well, and unlike that it shells easily, wasting
much unless cut quite early.

The, English irtrct beard or Crate wlieal has a coarse straw,
large heads, a good berrv of a reddish hue, and is well adapt-
ed to the rich alluvial bottom lands, where its linn straw pre-
vents its lodging. It is a fair vieider and tolerably hardy, but
its long beard is a great objection to its introduction on such



Online LibraryRichard Lamb AllenA Brief compend of American agriculture → online text (page 11 of 44)