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COMMERCIAL.

Ashburton Guardian Office, Wednesday afternoon. Stock Sale —At the usual fortnightly sale yesterday there was a better attendance, and more entries than at any sale for the past 12 months. Sheep show a considerable improvement in prices and are in demand. Cattle are still very low and purchasers shy of bidding. A lot of fine young draught horses from Wanganui were held over till Saturday’s sale. Messrs. Matson and Co. report sheep, fat cross-breds, 7s. 3d.; store merino ewes, 4s. 6d.; do. cross-bred, ss. lOd. to Gs. 7d.; 700 merino, 2-tooth, 4s. 7d.; 580 do., atss. 9d.; cattle, from L 4 17s. 6d. to L 5 10s. Messrs. Edmiston Bros, and Gundry report having sold 62 head of cattle and 3050 sheep. Sheep—Stores, 3s. Cd. to 3s. lOd. for ordinary quality; medium, from os. 6d. to 7s. 3d.; lambs, 4s. 6d. Cattle—Stores, from L 3 ss. to L 4 155.; milch cows, L4los. to L 9. Beef averaged from 17s. 6d. to 19s. per 100 lbs. Messrs. Acland, Campbell, and Co. also disposed of a large quantity of both sheep and cattle, but we were unable to obtain particulars of their sale. THE CORN TRADE. The following report appears in the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company’s Circular of 29th January last:— A review of the corn market and of the circumstances by which it has been affected during the past year reveals as its two most prominent features the failure of the wheat harvests in Western Europe and the corresponding increase of supplies from America. Of the former it may bo said that the Continental yield was generally insignificant, and that in Great Britain it was the very worst known for years. Of the latter, events have shown that the large breadths of land put under wheat cultivation last year have returned full crops, to the emolument and further encouragement of the American farmer. The disastrous results of the last two harvests in England have naturally been aggravated by the competition to which English wheats are exposed from foreign supplies; and although the growth of cereals in this country will probably continue to be the main occupation of the agriculturist, it is evident that the business must be carried on under largely modified conditions. A tenant farmer giving L2 an acre for his arable land, pays every year in rent as much as the American freeholder pays for the fee simple of his farm, while, in addition, he is burdened with the constantly recurring expenses of improving - and fertilising the soil from which his American rival is, with the vast area at command, almost wholly free. It is true that much of the land henceforward to be devoted to wheat growing in the United States lies far back from the coast, and that its carriage to the shipping ports is consequently a costly matter ; but this is only temporary, and in a few years the railway systems now in operation and in contemplation will probably have made cheap transport of grain a fact throughout the States. Looking at the matter in this light it is impossible to doubt but that for years to come America must and will be the leading contributor of cereal produce to the English market, and to such markets of the Continent as may stand in need of additional supplies. This being the case her wheats come into competition not only with those grown here, but quite as strongly and directly with those shipped to this centre from Australia and New Zealand. Having regard to this it is manifest that the colonial farmer must look upon the American wheat growers as his most formidable rivals ; w ith an almost unlimited tract of country to fvork in, and with the energy and determination to work it; that every year larger and larger breadths of land will be sown and produce larger and larger crops ; and that every year the cost of growth, and transit will in all probability decrease. To keep pace with this increase of production and diminution of cost—-or, in other words, with the lower laid-down value of the wheat in European markets—is a task to which colonial farmers must vigorously address themselves if they would hold their own in time to come. Australian and New Zealand wheats arriving in this country since July last have experienced the full benefit of the enhanced values ensuing from the shortness of o sr own crops. During the later months of the year prices have been considerably influenced by speculative purchases ; but on the whole it may be conceded that the market has been genuine, and that the bulk of the demand was for trade purposes either at home or abroad. Of the Australian wheats those samples grown in Victoria have given much satisfaction ; but those from Adelaide exhibited in many instances a decided falling off both in quality and dressing. Evidences of slovenly husbandry were frequently apparent, the grain plainly showing that the soil had been badly tilled and that the seed wheats were degenerating. Fanners who fail to pay attention to such matters cannot expect their produce to compete satisfactorily in this market. New Zealand shipments have generally come forward in good condition, the chief exception to the rule being those per City of Quebec, many of which were badly damaged by sea water. The wheats themselves, of great variety of type and class, were, on the whole, well grown, bright, plump, and healthy, combining, in certain cases, both colour and strength. Perhaps the best of all have been the “Talavera” and “Red chaff Pearl,” and next to these “ Hunter’s "White.” These descriptions seem to thrive admirably in the soil and climate of New Zealand. In a few instances, however, we have detected some of the unfavorable symptoms noticed in the Adelaide wheats; not many, but still sufficient to interfere with their sale. The market opened in January with 51s. as the top price of Australian, and 455. New Zealand. At that date heavy failures were occurring in California as the result of speculations in wheat cargoes, and it was expected that many of those cargoes would be the subject of forced realisations. From January to July there were occasional alterations in value, but not on average more than 3s. per qr. In i the latter month when it became apparent ,

from the backward condition of the English crop that a poor harvest was inevitable, speculative purchases were made on a large scale for home consumption, and prices advanced 4s. to ss. per qr. There was scarcely any further variation until the end of August, when Australian and New Zealand wheats were both quoted at the same price —sos. per qr. After that date a series of further speculative transactions led to an excited market, and these being supported by a strong trade demand, prices touched 635. Australian, and 61s. to C2s. for New Zealand Those were the closing rates of the year on a quiet market. Grain was then being held in large quantity in the United States by a “ring” in New York, at prices which prevented its profitable shipment to this country. The total quantity of foreign wheat imported into London in 1879 reached 2,855,128 qrs., against 2,481,111 qrs. in 1878. The stocks of wheat and flour in port on 31st ultimo were 483,680 qrs. wheat, and 52,857 barrels and 107,515 sacks flour, against 308,131 qrs. 131 barrels, and 40,153 sacks at the same date in 1878. The importations of foreign wheat into the United Kingdom during 1879 were 13,700,340 qrs., against 11,494,995 qrs. in 1878, and 12,499,128 ars. in 1877. The total deliveries of English wheat in the United Kingdom are calculated at 8,088,496 qrs., as compared with 8,567,024 qrs. in 1878, and 7,772,344 qrs. in 1877. Throughout the past month dullness has characterised the market generally, and within the last ten days a serious decline in values has taken place. The stocks in granary in the United States have increased to thirty one millions of bushels, and the supply of tonnage in the Atlantic ports is unusually large, so that the anticipated collapse of the “ring” above alluded to, will probably have the effect of increasing shipments to a considerable extent. The supplies now on passage to this country are estimated at 1,958,800 qrs. against 1,307,353 qrs. at same date of last year, while our net imports since Ist September, so far, show an excess of about 2,400,000 qrs. as compared with those of the like period in 1878-70. On the other hand, farmers’ deliveries have, according to the customary computation, shown a decrease of 2,000,000 qrs. Australian wheats for forward delivery are difficult to place at 535. c.i.f. New Zealand shipments are offering at 50s. c.i.f. without finding buyers. On the spot stocks of both kinds are small, values being about 3s, per pr. lower than at date of our last report. We quote : Per 4961b5. S. Australian Wheat ... 575. to 59s Victorian Wheat ... 58s. ~ 595. New Zealand Wheat ... 525. ~575. Per 2801bs. Australian Flour ... 38s. ~ 435. New Zealand do ... 375. ~ 40s.

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COMMERCIAL. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 75, 18 March 1880

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