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but in the imperfect constitution of the sort. For similar reasons plant your head lands and side rows next to hard ground with some other sort of potato, or some other crop, as in these places, your trial seedlings will not have an equal advantage.
52. Let me here add a topic not treated of above, but one not to be omitted. I refer to the question of large and small seed, one which will frequently meet you even the second year of planting young seedlings. I object utterly to cutting seed into single or even double eyes. I prefer a three ounce tuber. Those weighing from five to seven ounces I would cut into two pieces, and those from eight to ten ounces, into three pieces. Always cut from end to end, and never crosswise. The root end of a tuber has little starch in it and little vitality, and never should be used alone for seed. Yet do not cut it off, but let it remain connected with the seed end, either of the whole or of the half tuber. The assertion that a large tuber, with many eyes, will throw up as many shoots as it has eyes, is hardly ever true. From three to five eyes will usually start, the others remaining dormant. If but two start, the plant will make many side shoots from just beneath the soil from these main stems; if five or more eyes start, each stem will put out fewer side shoots. The looseness and richness of the soil has much to do with this question, as well as with the number of branches above ground. Many side shoots starting from beneath the soil bear no tubers, yet they do not exist in vain, but contribute to the general support of the plant. As an experimenter you will soon find, that of seedlings of the first year even, one will throw out but a few side branches from the main stalk, while another variety will throw out twenty. In future years you may cut these seedlings small, if you please, but you will not alter this their nature.
I am always suspicious of a young seedling that throws up but a single stalk, with no side branches from beneath the soil, however many top branches it may exhibit, and however large the yield of tubers. Sooner or later that sort will dwarf and run out.
53. Cultivate during the season in the usual manner of such crops. I like always, in cultivating potatoes, to run a light subsoil plow along each side of the row quite closely, and soon after they are up. This gives deep formation to the roots, so that the plant has better and cooler nutrition, especially in dry weather, whether hot or cool, and has also better drainage in a wet season.
54. Each sort should be headed by a mark made of a piece of smooth lath—or better, a slip of cedar wood, split out of the same shape, say eight inches long. On this mark the number of each sort with shellac varnish, into which a little lamp-black has been worked.
55. All your sorts should be entered into a book-common square blankbook, about two numbers on a page. Begin with one family, and when it is finished, let the next begin with the next highest number. Thus, if one family includes twenty sorts, the second family will begin with number twenty-one. This is a much more convenient way than to number each family independently.
56. I usually begin each family with those supposed to be of the earliest maturity and pass through it, ranging them into about four classes on this ground, provided I had ascertained such maturity the first year.
The marks should be set at the head of each sort without the number being yet marked upon it, since, until you plant, you will not usually determine how many sorts you will use—some of them being likely to be rejected when opened on the field. The painting of the numbers can be done after the planting is finished.
57. Upon your book enter the color and shape of the tuber, the time of maturity, as 1, 2, 3, or 4, if it has been previously ascertained. During the summer add under each sort the size of the vines, as large or small, the color of the vines and leaves, as dark or light, the color of the flower. Mark also the influence of the weather as burning the leaves or drying up the flowers speedily. Notice any morbid liability—such as curl, dwarf, mildew, &c. Mark the period of maturity as each sort ripens, if it had not been done previously. Here at Utica, those that ripen from August 25th to 31st I call “first maturity," those that ripen from September 1st to 8th “second maturity,” those that ripen from September 8th to 16th "third maturity," those that ripen from September 15th to October the 8th “fourth maturity," thus making the last term longer than the others, because the operations of nature are now much slower than at an earlier period. Sorts ripening later than the last-mentioned date will not fit this climate, and, bowever vigorous at first, will soon decline.
58. I ought here to define more particularly the terms curl and dwarf just used above.
Curl sometimes marks the young plant just as the tuber sprouts in the soil, and when coming up. At other times it does not appear until the
od when the land in Full Her ernes apparently healthy plant is in full flower, and it may occur at any period between these two points. It consists in an evident cessation of growth and a sudden drying up of the leaves-first those near the bottom of the stem and so up to the top. Occasionally it operates slowly, but usually rapidly, so that in the course of one week all the leaves have changed, often from apparently perfect health to death. Curl seems to have no connection with disease as commonly seen. If the vine has made much size, it is always attended with an unnaturally early setting of the tubers. Such tubers, when planted the second year, never prosper. The old western red and some other old red varieties are liable to it. When it seizes with any considerable, and especially with any growing power, on any new sort, that sort should be registered at once as incurably injured in constitution. I have known a few cases of curl in truly valuable sorts. It seemed to arise from very bad conditions of soil and culture. But usually I can give no account of it other than that it marks deficient constitution.
59. Dwarf is where the vine does not make quite its usual growth, and exhibits a leaf a little smaller and often somewhat sunburnt. It is a much less evil than the preceding. The tubers of dwarfed hills are usually less in quantity necessarily, but almost always good. My seedlings now in market, called the Pale-Blush Pink-Eye, always shows it upon an occasional hill, and in some soils and seasons—especially dry ones, more than others.
In a few cases I have known dwarf to run into a partial curl. Any considerable tendency to either, especially curl, should condemn the sort, however valuable otherwise. It was thus that one of the finest seedlings to the eye which I have ever originated perished. I refer to the Mountain June Pink-Eye, a seedling of 1853.
60. In digging the crop this year pursue much the same course as at the close of the first year. Your rejections will now be made mostly on the ground of any considerable curl or dwarf that may appear or disease, especially if the season have been a less propitious one than the first. Such disease will always arise in connection with unusual weather, either cold wet following suddenly that which was dry and hot, or hot wet weather continuing for a considerable period. Any considerable degree of disease on the tubers of even one of your three hills of each sort should condemn it, since what has thus appeared this year will be likely to appear in any other year of similar weather. No potato should be considered proof against disease until it has passed through one or other, or indeed both of the preceding intensities of weather. Ability to resist them is the very best proof of a vigorous constitution, as in the parallel case of grapes, wheat, &c. I rejected many seedlings during the past season, some of them of great beauty and of considerable age, because then, for the first time, they became subject to disease in consequence of the very unusual severity of the weather.
61. There is one other evil that you will be almost certain to meet, if you have any considerable numbers of varieties—I refer to degeneration in shape. Sorts which the first year were smooth and beautiful, may now become knotty and elongated into very ill shapes. This change is almost a permanent one, and when existing in any considerable degree, should condemn the whole sort though showing it may be only in one bill of it. This evil sometimes arises temporarily from a disturbance of the tubers after they have begun to form. When this has probably been the case, it does not, of course, condemn them.
62. Another evil which may reveal itself this year is hollowness at the beart of the tuber. When existing in any considerable proportion of the tubers of a hill, it should condemn that sort however healthful and shapely. Other culture in too rich a soil may cause this, and then should not condemn the sort.
63. A disposition of the tuber to rise out of the ground and become knotty, will also be likely to manifest itself this year. This, if it should not be traceable to superficial covering, should be considered a serious evil especially if manifesting itself another year.
64. Your yield at digging this second year will vary from about three to five pounds to the hill, according to sort, soil and season. Three hills may, therefore, give you fifteen pounds which is one peck. This is doubtless more seed than you will want the next spring, yet it will be well to store the whole of it because you can better judge of the winter keeping qualities of the new sort by keeping many than few. A peck may possibly show two tubers in the spring, diseased or shrunk, while if you had kept but a dozen tubers both these two imperfect ones might have been found in their number which would have lessened your judgment of the value of the sort much more than when they were all that were hurt in a peck.
65. Your best containers will be small cotton bags made from stout unbleached sheeting. They may be made two to the yard and three to the yard, some holding seven or eight, and some 15 or 16 pounds. Others may be made larger. They should be sewed in the simplest manner and tied at the top with a twine string. Before filling, prepare yourself with small thin pieces of wood, such as are best split from cedar-say remains of old. fence posts two inches long and one inch wide. In bagging a sort, first mark its number on the side of the bag with a red pencil, and the same number on your small bit of cedar to be put inside; then if anything defaces your external mark the internal one will be a sure guide. This method takes less room, is cheaper, and less liable to confusion of sorts than the use of boxes, although the latter may be often readily got at some grocery; boxes formerly used for starch, soap, &c. Put your potatoes in the bags as dry as may be since they do not air as readily as in boxes. It is well to spread the bags in an airy, dry place, a few days before putting them into the cellar.
66. How many sorts proportionately of those you planted in the spring you will think best to save from the third year, will depend on the judgment with which you are able to make selections, and or the goodness of the bases. You may see best to save two-thirds, and possibly not more than one-fourth of the whole number planted.
VII. CULTURE TIE THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH YEARS. 67. How many hills of each sort you will plant depends on circumstances. a. If you have room, and can use rejected sorts and superfluous quantities of good ones in the fall, you can plant the whole of them, since though rejected as seed, many of them at the close of the third year will be moderately fit to cut, and all will be good to feed. b. Again, if you are only an amateur experimenter, you will need to cultivate but few, just enough to carry on the best culture of each sort, so as in the end to have enough for home seed. With fair soil, weather and good sorts, I have always found it safe to calculate on an increase of sixteen to one of the seed planted. That is, suppose you plant three ounces of seed to the hill, and these hills are set 3X3 which equals 4,840 hills to the acre. These at three pounds to the hill will yield 242 bushels, which is nearly ten to one. Very hardy, productive and latish sorts, under highly favorable circumstances, will sometimes double this yield, that is produce six pounds to the bill, or about 500 bushels to the acre. c. But if you have a plan of advertising five new sorts for the public use, then you will need to plant so many as shall amount at the close of the fourth or fifth year to perhaps two hundred bushels each of the few sorts that you may carry through to that point of time. d. You may also see best to plant most of those sorts which are unusually promising, though let me forewarn you of the many sad disappointments in store for you in regard to their future prosperity. I planted nearly one bushel of a new variety in 1863, that being its third year. I deemed it one of the most promising sorts that I had ever originated. By midsummer it was half curled and dwarfed, and in the autumn was hardly worth digging.
68. It is safe to advise you to save all sorts that do not dwarf or curl, or scatter very widely in the hill, or come out of the ground and get green, or yield fairly, are not decayed certainly to much amount in even a bad year. The shape is always to be noticed, the hearts as hollow or sound.
69. The mechanical culture and evils to be watched against are the same in these years as in the second. Barrels, boxes, bins, &c., will now be needful for storing.
CONCLUSION. 70. The very important question may here be discussed whether seedling potatoes, in this course of test culture, should receive any extraordinary care? I answer promptly, yes. Once I did not think so, nor so advise, but experience has modified my judgment. This extra care refers not to richness of soil. I am content with a soil that here will ordinarily produce forty bushels of corn or two hundred and fifty of potatoes. Your soil should be uniform in kind, not stiff clay in one spot and light sand in another, and black muck in a third. It should be such as is known to have produced fair crops of this kind in former years. Then the planting should be carefully conducted, so that no single hill is slighted. The same should be done with the cultivation; always have your head-lands, at each end where the team turns, planted with some sort not under test culture. Then if a hill fails you may suspect that it is through differing in the blood.
I recall the fact that some of my seedlings given early to neighbors before their test culture was completed, and by them treated carefully, did not prosper, while with me all resulted well. A young seedling potato, at two or three years old, has its habits no more fixed than those of a young onion of the same age. Hence I have latterly been unwilling to part with seed of very imperfect sorts not yet fully tested, as fearing that they would not be well reported of.
71. I began to sell seedlings in the spring of 1853 (but donated still more of them) in connection with the sale of my improved potato, the “Rough Purple Chili.” These seedlings were but one year old, having been grown in 1852. I was not then aware that seedlings of the finest appearance the first year may gradually and utterly fail before they are five years old. Nearly all those which I cultivated myself of these early families entirely failed, and I have no reason to hope that my correspondents did any better.
72. It becomes an important question how widely a seedling, truly valuable in the hands of the originator, will suit the varying soils and climates of our country. From 1854 to 1860 inclusive, I usually sent out a circular of inquiries on this and other plants. My seedlings are now cultivated from the interior of Canada to central Virginia, and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, and the States of Iowa and Minnesota beyond. My best sorts prosper everywhere. Some that are latish here, as the Black Diamond, become early in the hot, dry soils of portions of Indiana and Illinois.
The New Hartford is a better table potato in Western Maryland than with me.
73. The question may arise how long a truly vigorous variety of potatoes will preserve in health. The question does not admit of a definite answer. Where the climate is very uniform, as in California, Oregon,