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NEW YORK STATE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.
To the Legislature of the State of New York:
In reviewing the progress of Agriculture in our State during the year 1863, it is a matter of congratulation that the operations of the farmer have been successful. The demand · which has existed for the products of the farm has been such as to remunerate the farmer for his labors, prices ranging far higher than for many years. All the leading crops have been, taking the State at large, as good as usual; and the increased machinery for the benefit of the farmer which has been manufactured and put in operation during the year, has enabled him to cultivate the usual amount, and for special crops much larger amounts than usual, so that the scarcity of manual labor during the harvest in some sections, has occasioned less inconvenience than was anticipated. The increased culture of flax and tobacco has been very large, and the prices obtained for these products have been largely remunerative. From the best information we have received as to the culture of flax the past season, it was largely in advance of any previous year; but from the best accounts received, the yield of lint is not equal to that of 1862, and is not of as good quality. The crop of 1862 was probably the best grown during the past twenty years. The improvement in flax machinery has been very beneficial to farming interests, preparing a market for the product, and as continued efforts are being made still further to improve, it is hoped we shall be enabled largely to increase its culture. At the State Fair at Utica, a thorough trial of flax machinery on exbibition was had, and the result was most satisfactory, as will appear from the report of the committee annexed. The committee appointed to investigate the improvements of flax machinery, under the appropriation of the Legislature, is continued, and every inventor can, by application to the committee, have a thorough examination of the inventions which are ready for operation. From a late account from Ireland, it is reported that flax cloth has been manufactured there which is cheaper than cotton, and that this cheap article is produced from inferior flax, and makes a much better article for service than cheap cotton. Should this be found practicable, we then shall have a market for this product which will induce its extended cultivation, and as flax can be cultivated in all portions of our country, its production will be almost without limit. The machinery to prepare it, as soon as the culture of the crop demands it, will be located in all parts of the country where flax is extensively cultivated convenient to the producer, 80 there can be no doubt of a largely increased production.
The price of the products of the farm in 1863, as compared with 1860, shows a large average increase, and as cash has been paid, the farmers of New York have had the opportunity which, we trust, has been generally improved, of freeing themselves from indebtedness, and are in a position for the future, if prudent in their investments, to be prepared for a revul. sion which may be expected when the affairs of the country shall be settled. The price of articles used has also increased largely, yet in many of the articles of luxury a diminished amount will be used in every household, and of all others we anticipate that the farming interest will be less affected than any other. Certainly this will be so, if the farmers remain unincum. bered with debts.
The importance of the agricultural interest has never been so clearly shown as during the war. Where is there a country except this in which the immense armies and navies of the country could have been supplied, and a large supply at the same time furnished to foreign countries, and this while the operations of the field are going forward here. The sturdy labor. ers from the old world are flocking here in largely increased numbers to occupy our fertile lands and secure a homestead, and adding largely to the productive wealth of our country.
As yet no invention in flax machinery has accomplished the manufacture of flax cotton so as to meet the expectations of the Legislature in the apo propriation made in reference to this object. The money remains in the care of the Society on interest, and a committee of the Society are giving attention to the applications, several of which have been made during the year. None of these answer the purposes required. It has been reported that the object has been secured abroad, but from our latest information from Ireland we have no intelligence of any such results, and presume it has not been secured. With the improvements of machinery by Mallory and Sandford, thoroughly tested at Utica, for which a special premium of $100 was awarded, a great advance has been made in preparing the flax for use at much less cost and time than heretofore, realizing a considerable profit to the grower. Should any additional valuable results in flax operations be brought out during the year, the Executive Committee will, at the earliest day, advise the public.
Increased attention, as was expected, has been given to the increase of our flocks of sheep, to the manifest advantage of the farmer. The question as to the breeds of sheep best adapted to our State, is exciting attention, and mutton sheep, and sheep for wool, have each their advocates. The experience of farmers, with the discussions which will necessarily arise, will doubtless decide these questions. The variety of sheep will, in the main, probably be that best adapted to the market connected with the locality where bred. That a large increase in the breeding of sheep in our State will prove of advantage to our farmers, and profitable to them if judiciously carried out, we think cannot be doubted; and with the information spread before the public by the late valuable works on sheep husbandry, the farmers have advantages never before enjoyed.
TRIAL OF IMPLEMENTS. In 1861 the Executive Committee made preparations for the trial of implements to be held at the city of Auburn. A list of premiums was issued and all the preliminary arrangements made. The excitement which arose in raising the first volunteers for the service of the country prevented the trial, and it was postponed until more quiet times. The past three years have shown the importance of implements adapted to the use of the farmer; without them the crops of our country could not have been put in, or if put in could not have been harvested. At our last show at Utica, the new and valuable implements and machinery exceeded all expectation, and the judges were utterly unable to decide between machines on exhibition, in a manner satisfactory to themselves or the public. From one of the most important committees on implements and machinery, the chairman,* one of our oldest and most experienced engineers and farmers, we have the following in his report on the division under his charge:
"The number of entries in this class was 342, comprising a vast display of expensive machines, whose merits can be satisfactorily ascertained only by an elaborate trial, which would reqnire at least two weeks of time. The committee has been able only to inspect these machines and bear the representations of the inventors and manufacturers, and make such notes and observations as appeared just. We are conscious that we have not been able to do justice in many cases. The improvements are manifest in every department, and it is especially gratifying to see that the makers of the machines, whose reputation has been established by the best of all tests, sctnal use by the farmers, show great advance in the perfection of detail.
The whole show in this class is highly creditable to the exhibitors, there being very few machines submitted to our inspection that are not of real value.
Your committee is confident that the time has fully come for the Society to make the necessary arrangements for a full trial next summer, the results of which will be satisfactory to the public and to the Society. We are now forced to confine our expression of approval of the various articles we have selected for honorable mention, to much more guarded language than we could have used had we had time to have made more extended examiDations."
The other committees also reported that they could not do justice to exhibitors or the Society, where so many new and valuable machines were presented, without a public and satisfactory trial. Should the manufacturers be prepared for this, we trust the Society will enter upon the trial, with the determination that it shall be so made as to satisfy the exhibitors and the public, and that the results of the trial will be such as to secure the confidence of the farmers of the country, as all the previous trials of this Society have done.
It is gratifying to know that the reaper to which the first prize was awarded at Geneva, in 1852 (Manny's), has maintained its reputation through our whole country and through Europe (with the modifications of
• Hon. George Goddos.
its present proprietor, Mr. Wood, of Hoosick Falls, in this State), and the manufacture and sale of them is largely carried on abroad, and this, together with McCormick's, are the leading grain reapers in Europe.
Since 1852 many new machines have appeared in all departments of husbandry, and many of these are of great value and should be thoroughly tested, so that the farmer might have presented to him a machine in which he can have confidence.
The introduction of steam for the aid of the farmer, is exciting great attention at present. The efforts in this country to secure the steam plow, as yet, have been unavailing. In Great Britain the plow is successful. The steam engine is the substitute for horses in thrashing most of their grain, and in various other ways does the work which is performed by horse-power here. It is apparent that the work done by it is far better done. No one who has seen the operation of the plow in the field can for a moment doubt this. From a statement given at a public meeting in relar tion to steam plowing in London, it was most clearly shown that in economy as well as superiority of work, the steam plow is decidedly successful.
In connection with a trial of implements at this time, it is all important to secure, if practicable, the introduction of the steam plow, which has been so successfully introduced abroad. The trial of the English steam plows in 1862, showed that they were well adapted to the work, and they are being introduced in Great Britain and the colonies, and upon the continent. Since 1862, we are advised from correspondents there who have given attention to the alterations which have been made, who advise us that they now will do the work at a very much reduced expense, as compared with teams, and the work is far better done than by the ordinary team plowing. A steam plow we think may be secured for a trial, and there may be others perhaps in addition to those now in use, ready for trial here. Should a sufficient award be secured, those from abroad might be induced to attend, and should those who have been giving attention to the subject here prove successful, the competition would add much to the interest of the trial. During the past season in England, lands have been plowed at one-third less expense than by horse-power, and increased crops, averaging on wheat eight bushels per acre, secured by deeper plowing, thus giving an addition to the crop sufficient to pay the rental of the farm.
The progress of steam cultivation is very encouraging, and it was stated at the meeting of the Smithfield Club, in December, that the plowing of a field by steam-power cost only from one-half to two-thirds of the expense of a plow with horses, and while the work was so much better done, that the average additional product per acre of wheat was one-quarter. One of the farmers described it by saying: Steam plowing combines the advantages of deeper and cheaper cultivation. This certainly looks more favorable than twelve months since, and if the expense of the machinery, which is now from $4,000 to $5,000, can be materially lessened, we may hopo for its introduction here. A letter from American parties in London, who are entirely familiar with the subject, received in December, assures us that such improvements since the trial at Yorkshire, in 1862, have been made, that they are willing to unite with parties here to introduce the im