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Mr. Russell is right in supposing that we could not raise so much wheat if it were not for the fertilizing effect of the clover. There has been much said about the exhaustion of our soils, but this one thing is certain : as long as we can grow good crops of clover, the soil is capable of growing, so far as the constituents of the plant are concerned, good crops of wheat.
My advice to the farmers of Western New York has always been : “Raise your own clover seed, and sow it with an unsparing hand.” You cannot raise too much clover. It is the grand renovating crop of America.
But, having raised the clover, what shall we do with it? Formerly it was turned under as a manure for the wheat crop. It is so yet to a considerable extent. But some of our best farmers find it more profitable to eat it off on the land with sheep, while others, like the veteran farmer of Seneca county, John Johnston, make it into hay and feed it on the farm to sheep, returning the manure to the land,
So far as enriching the soil is concerned, it makes very little difference whether we pluw under the clover or feed it to animals and apply the manure. If we plow in the clover instead of eating it off with sleep, we furnish the soil with a large amount of carbonaceous matter. But this carbonaceous matter is not needed for wheat. In fact, the wheat would usually be better without it, as it has a tendency to retard the ripening of the crop. I think that the immense quantity of clover which has been plowed under in this section has been one reason why our wheat crop has been injured so much by the midge. It has undoubtedly a tendency to make our wheat late. Had the clover been eaten off on the lard by sheep, or made into hay and the manure returned to the land, I think the wheat would have ripened earlier ; and it is a well-known fact that if we could get our wheat ten days earlier we should escape the midge. It was at one time thought that the reason why Mediterranean wheat escaped injury from the midge was because it is a bearded variety. It is now known that this has nothing to do with the matter. It is simply because the Mediterranean is an earlier wheat, and comes into flower before the midge flies make their appearance. If we could get a white wheat as early as the Mediterranean, or a few days earlier, it would be worth thousands of dollars to this county. I am in hopes that such a variety will yet be discovered.
I recently heard an ex-president of this society talking about our wheat show. " It was all very well, perhaps," he said, but he thought "it was not best to get up much of a wheat fever." If he means that it is not desirable to sow as much land to wheat as we did ten years ago, with him. But if he thinks we ought not to try to raise wheat, I beg leave to differ with him altogether. I hope and expect to see more wheat raised in Western New York during the next twenty years than at any former period. But I believe this will be done by sowing less land instead of more.
A few days ago I received from Mr. Lawes, of England, a summary of the results of his experiments in growing wheat year after year on the same land with various kinds of manure and without manure of
kind. In 1840 he set aside a field of fifteen acres for the purpose of these experiments. He sowed it with barley the first year, the next year with peas, the next with wheat, and the next with oats--all without manure of any
kind. He then divided the field into different plots and sowed wheat. One plot was sown without manure of any kind, and the others were dressed with different artificial fertilizers, and one plot with 14 tons of barn.yard manure per acre. The ashes of 14 tons of wlieat straw were sown on one acre—or rather at that rate per acre. The ashes of 14 tons of barn-yard manure were sown on another acre. Other plots were dressed with superphosphate and salts of potash, soda and magnesia; others were dressed with salts of ammonia alone and in connection with superphosphate, potash, soda, and other mineral manures; and the very first year showed that mineral manures, or the ashes of plants alone, did very little good, but that wherever ammonia was used, there the wheat was very heavy.
These experiments have been continued to the present time. The twentieth crop, now on the land, Mr. Lawes informs me, is the heaviest crop the field has yet produced. The plot which has been sown to wheat each year since 1843, and without 'manure of any kind, has produced, on the average up to the last harvest, an annual crop of 164 bushels of wheat per acre. In 1844 it produced 16 bushels, and last year it also produced 16 bushels. In other years it produced less or more, according to the season; but, as I have said before, the average for nineteen years in succession has been 164 bushels per acre, without any manure.
I think you will agree with me that this is a very remarkable result. There is nothing peculiar in the character of the soil. It is what you would call good wheat land-no better than thousands of acres in Western New York; and yet it produces each year, without manure, a crop of wheat of 164 bushels per acre. After the crop is harvested, the land is plowed twice; the seed is then drilled in rows one foot apart; and in the following spring the wheat is hand-hoed to kill the weeds. This is all the cultivation it receives.
On the plot which has been dressed with mineral manures the average yield is 184 bushels per acre-or only two more bushels than the unmanur
On the plot which has received, in addition to the same mineral manures, a dressing each year of ammonia, the yield has been, on the average, 343 bushels per acre. In other words, the ammonia has increased the crop, on the average, 161 bushels per acre. In some favorable seasons the increase from the ammonia was over 20 bushels per acre.
In one case, where an extra quantity of ammonia was used and the season was unusually favorable for the perfection of the crop, the yield was 55 bushels per
These experiments prove that there is no absolute necessity for a rotation of crops. Wheat has been grown every season on the same land for twenty years, and there is no diminution of the yield on the unmanured plot. They clearly show, however, the advantage of making the land rich. The same land that produced 164 bushels for nineteen years in succession, produced an average crop of 343 bushels by the aid of manure.
I believe that the climate of Western New York is better adapted to the prodnction of wheat of fine quality than that of Great Britain. Our land is certainly as good as that of Mr. Lawes, which has produced, without manure, 164 bushels per acre for nineteen years in succession, and 341 bushels when properly manured. Is there any reason why the wheat of this county should not average 30 bushels per acre ? The average now is not over 15 bushels per acre. It has never been 20 bushels per acre. All that we want to make it 30 bushels is manure.
What is manure? The word means "hand-labor.” This is its original signification. To hoe, to plow, to harrow, to pulverize the soil is to manure it. In keeping stock and making manure we have to compete with the west; but in thorough cultivation we need fear no competition. Our land is good, and I think will prove more permanently productive than much of the land at the west. On many farms in this section, underdraining is required. This is the first thing to be attended to. The best of culture and manure will have but little effect on land surcharged with water at any season of the year. Underdraining it acts to a certain extent as manure. It will make the land warmer, the crops will be earlier, and the midge and mildew will be left behind. The next thing is to enrich the land. Good cultivation is the main point-manure is the second. To make this we must grow as much clover as possible, and either plow it in or make it into hay, and feed it out on the farm to sheep. Peas and beans belong to the same botanical order as clover, and like it may be classed among renovating plants. You cannot grow too many peas, provided they are consumed on the farm, and the manure returned to the land. Nothing makes richer manure than peas and beans. A bushel of peas will make manure worth twice as much as a bushel of corn. To grow peas and sell them, however, will do no good. They must be fed out on the farm.
On a wheat farm, every operation should be conducted with special reference to enrich the land for wheat. Wheat requires a large amount of ammonia. So does barley, oats, timothy grass, &c. They are all cereals. The less we grow of them on wheat land, the less shall we impoverish the soil. On the other band, clover, peas, beans, turnips, beets, mangel wurzel, &c., when grown and consumed on the farm, furnish large quantities of ammonia; and this is just what we want for wheat. It was this that doubled Mr. Lawes' wheat crop. It will do the same thing here.
I have already detained you longer than I expected. One word more as to the excessive production of straw, and I have done. We often hear the remark, “I have straw enough for forty bushels, but the crop fell down and turned out badly." Can anything be done to give us a stiffer straw and a better yield of grain? As I have said, the practice of plowing in 80 much clover undoubtedly has a tendency to produce an excessive growth of straw. We must raise clover in order enrich our land, but would be better to eat it on the land with sheep, or make it into hay and return the manure to the soil.
Another reason for an excessive growth of straw is, that the manure we use is too poor.
It is often little better than rotten straw. We must feed more grain and clover hay.
On rich land, salt has a tendency to check an excessive growth of straw. In some experiments, made recently on the farm of the Royal Agricultural Society, the unmanured plot of wheat produced 29 bushels per acre, and the plot dressed with 3 cwt. of common salt, 382 bushels, or an increase of 93 bushels per acre. A few years ago I was on the farm of John Johnston, of Seneca county. He had dressed part of a field of wheat with a barrel of salt per acre, and the effect was most decidedly beneficial. The wheat was heavier, and the straw much brighter and stiffer. It also ripened several days earlier, and escaped the midge in consequence. Mr. Johnston is here with us to-day, and he has just informed me that he thinks there is nothing like salt for stiffening the straw on rich land. He sows a barrel per acre on the fallows just before sowing the wheat. He has sown as much as 75 barrels in a year on his wheat.
Lime is also a splendid manure for producing plump heads of wheat and a stiff straw. There is nothing like it. There is a general impression that in this limestone region our soil does not require lime. I question, however, if lime would not prove of very great benefit. Mr. Johnston says if he was a young man he would lime every acre of his farm. In 1844 he applied 200 bushels of lime on two acres, before sowing the wheat, and it was a magnificent crop-over 50 bushels per acre; and he says he can see the effect of that lime on the land to the present day. The common error in regard to lime is in not using it in sufficiently large quantities. I think 100 bushels per acre is as small a dressing as should be used. My father used to say that small dressings of lime did no good. You want sufficient to change the chemical, as well as to some extent the mechanical character of the soil. Its effects will then last for many years. I trust some of the wheat-growers of Monroe county will give lime a fair trial.
The twenty-third annual fair of the Oneida County Agricultural Society was held in the village of Rome, on the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th days of September, and though the attendance was not large, as compared with some former years, yet it was such, as under the circumstances, was very gratifying to the officers and friends of the society. The defence of our country had found many “ willing hands” among the sons of Oneida since the commencement of the rebellion, and the thousands that had gone forth from among us, could but be missed upon such an occasion, nevertheless the receipts were amply sufficient to meet all demands against the society, and pay in full the generous list of premiums offered by the society. Thus leaving the society to pursue its course untram melled by debt, till the dawn of peace has settled down upon us again, when it is to be hoped that a renewed prosperity will gladden our hearts, and all the pursuits of industry resume their wonted course.
The exhibition in most of the departments was good. Some remarkably fine young horses were exhibited, showing considerable spirit and improvement in this direction, and leading us still to hope our county was not to loose her well earned reputation in this respect. The exhibition of cattle was not so large as at some previous fairs, but some very fine animals were present. The Ladies' Department was well represented, and added much to the interest of the occasion. On the whole, everything passed off very pleasantly for all parties concerned.
GEORGE BENEDICT, President.
DEAR Sır: In accordance with your request, I send you a partial report of the operations of the Ontario County Agricultural Society during the current year, reserving the more detailed account for the annual report, which has been made usually after our yearly meeting for election of officers, and awarding premiums upon “The Dairy, Seeds and Field Crops."
I ain very glad to be able to state that notwithstanding all our national troubles, there was a much more decided interest taken in the fall exhibition, than last year, which was made manifest by the increased attendance and the number of entries made in the several classes. There was an improvement in some classes, while others were not up to the standard the members of our society should strive to attain.
The entries in the several classes were 1,368.
The exhibition of cattle was not what it should have been, either in respect to numbers or quality.
The show of sheep was worthy any State exhibition, receiving the commendation of every one. There were seventy-six entries of first class Spanish merino, some of which, to the uninitiated in the mystery of the "sheep fever," sold on the grounds at fabulous prices.
The exhibition of horses was very large, and in some classes very good, especially of stallions.
A new department was added to the exhibition this year, especially devoted to little girls, thirteen years old and under, in which their work could be entered, and not compete with old folks. Anything a little girl can make from doll's working dresses and ball dresses, to cake and bread, is admitted in this department, wherein little girls reign supreme. This was the first year, and the fact of such a department was not known to the little ones very extensively, but there were seventy-two (72) entries, and fifty little girls made very happy by receiving children's handsome books. We expect to have all the little girls work for the Ontario County Agricultural Society the coming year, and we pity the father and mother who do not exert themselves to bring their little ones with their bandiwork to the fall exhibition.
The receipts of the society since the last report were $1,406.42, of which $790,63 have already been paid out for premiums.
I hope to be able to give you in my supplementary report, after our winter meeting, a detailed statement in reference to the "grape crop" of the county during the last year, and other valuable facts in reference to drainage, and the statements in reference to the "premium crops."
Very truly yours, &c.,
GIDEON GRANGER, Cor. Sec'y. CANANDAIGCA, Dec. 16th, 1863.
STATEMENTS IN REFERENCE TO FIELD CROPS, FOR WHICH PREMIUMS WERE AWARDED BY THE ONTARIO COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY, JANUARY,
1864. Corn Crop, William Johnson, Seneca. The said piece of ground was, as measured by me, 36 rods long by 281 rods wide, making six acres and sixty-six rods. I assisted in weighing the