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FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 75, 18 March 1880
THE YIELD OP GRAIN. Now. that the principal work of the farmer is in connection with the threshing and carting of his grain, we arc enabled to form a more correct idea as to the yield per acre throughout the County, than by the guegf process of a casual loo!-; and a the ears. Talcing it all through, we think that the lar-ge majority of farmers have good cause to be satisfied with their lot. Some have had blight and rust in their paddocks to rob them of a portion of their hard-earned crops, but, leaving these out of the question, the yields have as yet threshed out up to the average expected. The cry at present is for more engines and combines, as, although more of these are at work this year than have hitherto been known. There are a huge number of stacks and a large quantity of grain in stock, which is awaiting the advent of the threshing machines. This is more particularly noticeable in the swampy parts of Longbeach, where there have been some very heavy oat crops cut, and the farmers there will find some difficulty in carting the grain out of the soft land if they do not get rid of it before the winter sets in. The price at which oats are quoted now acts as a deterrent on' the farmer being anxious to thresh, as the cost of that, of the cartage, and of the sacks, will almost absorb the market value of the grain. At Methven, a few days will finish all the stacking. Threshing has commenced, and the yields, so far, show a return on an average of about 28 bushels, and the new branch line is kept busy in conveying the produce to the main south rail-way. Some of the newer makes of combines are very highly spoken of by both the men working on them and by the farmers. A traction engine, lately purchased by Mr. Henry Moffat, does her work uncommonly well, and can shift her cumbrous load with the utmost ease, besides being able to turn on a much narrower radius than a two-horse dray could. We saw her working at Mr. Patterson’s farm, on the north bank of the river, and a return of ,46^-bushels per acre of a splendid sample of wheat was the record. Another new machine, owned by Messrs. J. Tucker and Co., has been credited with doing some big work, Mr. J. W. Mcßae being pilot of the ship, having given up cab driving for the nonce. This gang have been on some big farms—the Fairfield estate, Messrs. Woods, Mr. G. Parkin’s, and others—and the returns for wheat On these farms are from 15 to 24 bushels of firsts, the seconds being larger in proportion this year on account of the rust. Barley has, as’ a rule, yielded well, and the samples are above the average. Oats have not been threshed out much as yet, farmers preferring to hold for a rise ; and in a good many cases we find farmers are rather reticent as to giving information regarding their crops. V RED RUST IN AUSTRALIAN WHEAT. It will be an unparalleled disaster for Australia if, after having achieved the proud distinction of being the producer of the finest wheat in the world, her productive powers were to he seriously impaired by disease in what is, ne>t to wool, her chief agricultural product. The bare suggestion of such a possibility is enough to excite alarm ; but, with the experience of the ravages caused among the French vineyards by a plague similar to that which is attracting, attention in the wheat fields of Australtvjjt is not surprising that colonial farmers hriouid feel uneasiness at the prospect, however remote it may prove. Complaints of the existence of red rust ” in wheat reach us from South Australia, from Queensland, from Victoria, and more recently from New South Wales. The disease is due, it is said, to. the existence of a minute insect parasite, somewhat similar to the phylloxera, and also to the growth of a parasitic fungus similar to the coffee fungus—hemeleia vastatrix —which has caused the “ leaf disease ” among the coffee plants of Ceylon, Brazil, &c. If this is the case, there would appear to be two separate diseases prevalent among tho Australian wheat fields. Careful inquiry over so large an area is difficult, if not impossible, unless undertaken by some properly constituted and competent authority, and it is satisfactory to see that a step towards elucidating the problem of the cause and cure of the pest has been taken in the projected offer by the Queensland Government of a reward of LIOOO for the discovery of a remedy. The South Australian authorities, we believe, made a somewhat similar offer some time ago, but nothing came of it, and it would be much more advantageous, the “ Globe ” thinks, if the Colonial Governments would unite in issuing a Commission to properly investigate the matter throughout the various districts in which complaints of wheat disease exist. If allowed to spread the pest may endanger the agricutural prosperity of the whole country. It was stated some time ago that one-fourth of the actual wheat producing area of the colony of Victoria was already destroyed. This statement was probably an exaggeration arising from natural alarm ; but it is quite time that steps should be taken to check and eradicate the evil before alarmist fears develop into reality. The following note from an extensive and, so long as times permitted, highly successful Scotch farmer, speaks more ! eloquently than anything we have seen or heaid of the reality and magnitude of farming losses in recent years “ Fortyfive years ago I commenced farming with LSOO, which, in the course of forty years, I converted into L 40,000 ; but during the last five years I have lost L 20,000, and if times and seasons do not change, I v ill soon end as I began.”
FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 75, 18 March 1880
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