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THE FARMER.

RUST IN WHEAT—NATURE OF THE PEST. By Angus Mackay, M.L.A., Queensland. The developments of the rust fungus, that is proving so destructive to wheat, in all the colonies, from South Australia to Queensland, are amongst the most important that concerns Australian farmers. But I make no apology for bringing the questions rust gives rise to before readers of Castner’s Monthly all over Australia.' It is by diffusing such knowledge .as we have of this pest, and then by attacking its weak and vulnerable points in a body, jjCfewe may hope to check an evil that ' tlmbtcfrs to ruin wheat farming in the colonies. Rust has been known in the coloijtcs for many years, and fiJl the colonies, at various times, have felt the effect of its oval influences. Victoria and South Australia have suffered severely this last year. Queensland is the greatest sufferer, and there are parts of New South Wales where great havoc has been done. I bub refer to those cases because experience has proved that the appearances and effects of rust, wherever they beennoted m Australian wheat fields,

are identical, and because there is convincing proof that, as the nature and inode of attack from rust became better known, the evil may be met and checkmated.

Although scientific men are at variance as regards the number of parasites that, under the common name of rust, attack wheat, there is no difference of opinion regarding the mode or the nature of that attack. There are persons,! am aware, who have assorted that rust, in wheat is caused by insects ; but all who desire to become acquainted with the real nature of the pest cannot do better than either personalty, or by the aid of others, bring the microscope or powerful observing glass to their aid. The human eye, however good it may bo, and however well it may be lodged in a careful, shrewd head, is not able, unaided, to watch the progress or to make the necessarily minute observations that show, plain as noonday, the proceedings of rnst. I do not intend treating the subject before us hi a scientific way. The desire is to interest farmers in it, ciid they, as a rule, have not the time necessary for scientific research, it will answer the present purpose, therefore, to know that the rust of wheat is a parasite plant —that is, ic lives upon other plants. Those acquainted with the enemy of lucerne will have seen how that parasite which (being much larger than the wheat rust plant is so much more easily seen) lives upon the lucei-ne, and during warm, damp, growing weather destroys it rapidly. The seed of wheat rust is the dust-liko substance seen in wheat fields, when the crop has become badly rusted. But it is to be noted from the outset that, when the rust is seen on the wheat, when it comes off in red powder upon the boots, clothes and hands, when passing amongst the wheat, the parasite has then done all the mischief it can do directly at that time ; the rust, of Avliich the red dust is the seed, has run its course, lias grown and matured its seed upon the wheat; and the grain and straw will he found more or less injured by the presence of the parasite upon it. For purposes of scientific identification, and with the hope that some who read will follow up the subject in a scientific way, tho rust of wheat will be found described as “puccinia,” and recognised as one of the parasitic plants that are destructive to grasses, wheat, and other grains. That the wheat rust attacks other plants ; that it lives upen them at certain times of the year, there is much reason to believe. Many of the native grasses, and notably those that have sweet stems and approach in their nature nearest to oats, wheat, and other grain, perish season after season from attacks of parasities like rust. The mode of attack in their case is similar to that upon wheat, but the time when the attack is made upon the grasses is different from that when the wheat is attacked. The grasses perish during February, March, April and May. Wheat is attacked during the months of September, October, and November. The time, and the method of attack is similar in all the colonies named, and the cases and conditions that induce attack are also similar, or very nearly so. Grain crops suffer most from rust during damp and vigorously growing seasons. Indeed, from the nature of the rust parasite, it is seen that it cannot grow unless there is moisture, and the more there is of it, short of such deluge as would drown or wash the plant, the more vigorously does the rust grow, and the more rapidly does it destroy the plant upon which it fastens. To understand the case more fully, there is a simple, but very satisfactory experiment that any one so disposed may try. That is to place a few grains of rust upon glass, or between two glasses, and lay the glass upon flannel over an ordinary water-bath. Keep the bath gently warm, say at a temperature of between 100" and 120'. In from one to four hours the rust seeds, or spores, will be found to have germinated, or commenced growing, and when the glass is put under the observing instrument it will be seen that masses of white pair-like shoots have sprung from each seed. If this experiment is worked out during October, and soft, ripe, stalks of wheat can bo got, and if a portion are laid near to the rust seeds, the shoots'will turn towards the grain stalks upon which the pair-like shoots cling firmly. The further existence of the rust plant from the stage at which, it vegetates and fastens upon the wheat is dependant entirely upon the presence of heat and moisture. It cannot live without the latter ; but when the conditions are favorable, it enters into tbe wheat at once, pierces the skin of the straw, and lives upon the juices of the straw and the grain. The process goes on with a rapidity almost amazing. When the favorable conditions for rust growth continue —that is, heat and moisture—the whole of the wheat crop is overrun in a space of time varying between five, and twenty days. When the growth of rust is complete, the plant, or its seeds, rather become visible to the human eye, in the form of the red dust with which we have become but too familiar. But, as stated, the injury has been inflicted ere the red dustlike substance is seen, and the grain is found to be injured in proportion to the rapidity with which the parasite grow, and the quantity of it upon the straw. The stronger and more sappy and vigorous the wheat was when the rust came upon it, the more injury will have been inflicted. Where the straw of wheat is rich and rank, growing densely or closely, and tlic ears of grain are just commencing to fill, the destruction of the latter is almost certain to bo complete. The grain will not be worth reaping. But when the attack comes upon a thinner crop, whore the straw is poorer, harder, and more woody, as it appears, the grain does not suffer so.much. There may be gathered, under such circumstances, a return of straw to shrivelled wheat. Before proceeding further, reference may be made to the dangerous practice of sowing shrivelled up wheat for seed, that has in any way suffered from rust. The constitution has been sapped out of such grain by the parasite, and, oven if some of the seeds of the latter should cling to the grain, it is still unsuitable for seed. But the chances are that the seeds of the rust cling to the wheat, and they may remain in a dormant state awaiting the favourable conditions already referred to, when they will spring into growth. That the spores of rust from wheat cling to grain that falls in the field, to straw, or any portion of wheat loft in such positions that rust spores can lodge on it, there is no doubt. Hence the necessity for burning all rubbish about the wheat fields, old grass and pasture land included ; and also the necessity of steeping seed before sowing. The steep starts the spores into growth, and when the seed, ere sowing it, is rolled in lime or ashes—as all steep seed ought to be—the spores of rust are destroyed in so fains the wheat seed is concerned. One of the worst visitations from rust experienced in the southern colonies has been traced to sowing shrivelled seed from the rusted fields of the previous year. The weather of the season which followed proved wet and warm, and rust developed with fearful rapidity. To the question, “Is there a cure for rust ? ’’ the readers may say sorrowfully, “ There is is no cure. ” But precautionary measures can. be employed, and w ith favorable prospects- Dry airs, dry soil, and dry weather are all opposed to the spread of rust. And stiff, hard, poor straw resists it better than what is rank and soft. Thin, light crops are, therefore, safer than rich, heavy crops; it is better to make certain of, say 15 bushels per acre, than run risks for 30 bushels. The rich soils of the northern colonies usually put under wheat are not cultivated so successfully as the thinner and

poorer soils of the south. The rust plant does not flourish so luxuriantly upon the crops of the latter. Let us then sow less seed, try poorer laud, and aim at less heavy crops. Let us burn off, ere the spring rains come, old pasture, grass, and bush lan*, around the wheat fields. Lime is a necessity for wheat, and should be used more plentifully. Salt has undoubted recommendations. Let us drain the lands, and soak our seed carefully, all of which tire seen to be precautions worthy of attention from the wheat farmers.

VALUE OF THE BERKSHIRE PIG FOR BACON.

American haras, lard, and bacon are continually increasing in favor among European consumers. Our markets avo year by year widening, and local pork-packing establishments are beginning to appear in many places. It is evident the best way to send pork to market is not to crowd it in a fresh state upon any one place, but to properly prepare it, and so put it upon the markets of the world.

The growing competition of Americans in these products has caused considerable alarm emoug English agricultnx-al writex-s, one of whom, in a recent letter to the London “ Field,” contends that the theory of a large-growing pig being more profitable than the small fashionable breeds, is perfectly correct. lie nan-ates the result of axx experiment made by himself last yeax-. He px-ocured, early in the spring, three pigs, one of a small white breed, and of a stock which lias regularly taken prizes at royal and other shows : another of a Tamwoi-th breed, and a third of the approved Berkshire. The Bei-kshire pig was the only one of the three that proved profitable to keep for bacon purposes, for which, as farmers well know, a proper proportion of fat and lean is required. At eight months the Berkshire weighed 230 lbs. The writer goes on to remark that pigs which are intended for bacon should bo allowed to run about for six weeks or two months after weaning, before they are put up to bo fattened. One hundred and eighty pounds is a good size for bacon. HOW TO MAKE A CHEAP GREENHOUSE. (Cal i fora -an Paper.) A small green-house in which to grow a few choice plants for the house, and for cut flowers in winter, is capable of giving a great deal of pleasure if only it is well cared for. But the trouble with most people is that their ideas are too large. They want what can be dignified with the title of a cousei-'-atovy, and they build foxlooks instead of for utility. It is good to have a small, low roofed, well filled, Cosy nook for plants, in which the rafters are wound with trailing vines, and the spaces between the larger plants are covered with bits of shining fem and moss-like licopodiums. It is, on the other hand, not desirable to be the owner of a vast dome-like, chilly space, glasswalled and fit only for a few palms, dracenas and hardy begonias. Do not build fox- looks merely ; consider the comfort of the plants you expect to grow. ■ In country places, where laud is plenty, take an eastern exposure. The east side of a fence, shed or outbuilding, or of the dwelling-house, is a good location. If cheapness is an object, use xmigh timber, two by three scantling, and inch redwood for the walls and door, and ordinary hotbed sashes for the glass x-oof. Ax-x-ango the sashes, cither so that they can be slid from the top, or so as to be lifted, with a prop underneath. The height at which the plant-tables should bo placed vanes, as it depends on the person who is expected to take care of the plants. In a small green-house for a lady’s use three feet is enough, and the whole height of the green-house should not be over six or seven feet midway between ridge-pole and eaves. Plants undoubtedly do better in a low green-house. The floor may be covered with planking, but this is not necessary, as, if the soil is rounded up so as to allow the water to pass off readily, and is kept sanded and free from dried leaves, and rubbish, it makes an entirely satisfactory floor. In summer time it is a good plan to nail a three-inch slat to the front edge of the plant-bench, and fill it with tan-baric, or some similar substance, in which the pots of plants are plunged. This process keeps them at a more equable temperature than any other. In winter, however, this process is not only useless, but detrimental. Avoid giving too much water to plants during the colder mouths, and let them have all the light and heat possible. Stir the soil on the surface of pots occasionally. Trim off' withering or de cayod leaves and flowers. Pinch back s cots which have grown too long and rambling, so as to keep well-shaped plants.

In city homes the cheap green-house is seldom possible owing to lack of space out of doors. It must ho made a part of the house, and of course requires a degree of finish. Avoid too great a height, as this only adds so much more cold air for tho sunlight to warm. We have seen a plant-box made on the x-oof of a woodshed, in th’s city, by the use of an old hot bed frame made of double thickness, and a space of three inches, filled with tan-bark, left between the outer and inner planks. . During the recent cold spell an old carpet was thrown over the glass and the plants came through in safety.

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THE FARMER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 65, 24 February 1880

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