The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1880.
Seldom, perhaps, in the colony’s history has a harvest been looked forward to with so much anxiety as the one we are now reaping, and seldom has a year’s yield of grain swayed to such extent the fate of the colony. We were in the thick of a great commercial and financial trouble—a trouble that, like the eddying circles in a pool disturbed by the cast of a stone, reached to every shore, and made its influence felt in every direction. The boom of the Glasgow Bank’s crash had scarcely died away before business men in every corner of the globe began to gather up their purse-strings in anticipation of the demands that were to come. Men of
straw, reckless traders, hungry speculator’s with an 03'o larger than their purses, and men of small capital, who might, ere now, but for the bad times, have been on the highroad to a well-to-do if not to an affluent position, went down before the sudden pressure brought to bear upon them. Every department of trade in Great Britain suffered, and there was a stillness in the great workshop of the world, such ns has certainly not been experienced within a century. The great strength <>f England’s manufactures the iron trade—was paralysed, the coal trade, as it needs must, following in sympathy ; while every other, department of industry felt the strain in a greater or less degree. The strain reached this colon}' at the very worst time it could possibly have come. We had had two had harvests in succession, the last one especially so, and our borrowed millions were spent to the last farthing, and more. Doubly did we in this district feel the tightness. Our land was, so to speak', but newly broken, and nearly every farmer was a beginner—we do not mean a beginner in his profession, but a beginner in this locality. All spare capital had been swallowed up in the extra expenses attending commencing business, and just when a return was expected in the shape of grain, the crops were a failure, the farmer’s hopes were blasted, and a time of anxiety followed to all, not only to the farming interest, but to every interest in the district. This was inevitable, for so closely is the agricultural interest of the district bound up with every other that upon the success of the former depends the existence of every pursuit and every branch of enterprise engaged in by us. It was no wonder then, the last seed time was a sorrowful one, and the harvest prospects a matter of great moment, seeing so much depended upon the yield. It is satisfactory to find that the hopes of the grain growers have every promise of being fulfilled, and that throughout the colony the return will be a bountiful one. There are always “ stormy petrels ” ready to give warning of danger, and this year we have been told of what damage the wet would do, of the danger that threatened from rust, and other evils, but with all the forebodings of the petrels the average yield will be a high one, and the threatened scourges have passed harmlessly away. Where mischief has been done, and we do not deny that some parts have suffered from one cause or another, the exceptionally high 3 T iold in others will compensate. Last year the grain crops covered some 571,000 acres, which was an increase over the previous year of 115,000 acres, and this year a still further increase has taken place, though we cannot give the exact figures until the agricultural statistics have been compiled. Shrewd men who give thought to these matters, estimate the land under wheat at about 300,000 acres this year, and the probable total yield at about eight and a half million bushels, which at 3s. a bushel all over, would give a return for wheat of £1,270,000. The return of all cereals grown in New Zealand last year only amounted to 6,000,000 bushels and everyone knows how fearfully short that crop was of what this one is expected to yield, and the price last 3 ear was discouragingly low. To the wheat crop of this year, which wo have given above as calculated at L 1,270,000 value, must be added tlxe oats and baric}' crop, aiid if expectations now held arc realised, as there is every promise they will be, at least another million sterling will be added to the New Zealand farmers’ income. With an exceedingly bad harvest last year, and low priced grain, the cereal export was valued at £875,000, so that the prospect this year is hopeful indeed. Besides, the promise is a bright one of good prices being maintained in the Homo market, seeing the harvest in Europe was almost a failure, and America is not expected to fulfil the anticipations of her export. Eussia, one of the greatest European exporters of grain last year, supplied L 10,000,000 worth from her granaries, and this year she is expected to have to resort to importation to supply her own home wants. All this points to high prices, and the country that reaps a largo harvest must of course profit in proportion by tbe wants of those whoso crops have failed them. There is thus reason for assuming that ruling prices in the European markets will at least be maintained, if they do not yet go up, and with this in view farmers can reasonably hope f?r at least 4s. per bushel, and those who can affoidto choose their merchants, and ship on their own account, may realise a far higher figure.