To the Editor. Sir, —In your issue of March 22nd you gave an article on New Zealand grain, quoting from a circular issued by the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, showing the necessity of sending Home nothing but the best samples, and stating that the samples of both wheat and oats received from New Zealand throughout the past year of 1880 have been most disappointing, being of a very inferior character, proving (as they say) that in too many instances old and wornout seed have been employed, and as you very properly remark, “ This is a question which requires the serious consideration of our farmers;” and further, “ That, first of all, it must be found out whether this is the cause, and the only one.” Now, sir, by your permission, I will give you a little of my experience on the subject during the last forty years. There is no doubt but what a change of seed occasionally is beneficial if done in the right direction, but some samples of grain sown on different kinds of soil and in different localities will produce different results, just in the same way that cattle and sheep bred on very rich land in a mild climate being put on a poor, light, dry soil and in a cold bleak situation, would degenerate both in size and quality. There is no doubt but what there are other causes for samples of grain varying so much besides that of sowing the same seed on the same soil year after year. Last year I sowed a very poor looking sample of self-sown wheat, which was the third crop, but I sowed it on new land, which has produced this year one of the finest samples I have seen, thus showing that bad samples are more likely to come from worn-out land than from worn-out seed. On the other hand, some of the best crops of wheat in this district have been the second, and in some cases the third wheat crop in succession. This certainly speaks well for the soil, and proves that there is a very large amount of wheat producing matter in it, and properly managed will continue to produce not only as much as it does now but a great deal more. But if three wheat crops are taken out of it in succession, it cannot be expected to carry as much stock when laid down to grass as it would have done had less grain crops been taken from it. Consequently there is less chance of getting good crops when broken up next time after being down to grass. But it is well known that the harvest of 1880 was nearly all affected more or less by rust, which, no doubt, accounted for the indifferent samples of wheat sent to the Horae market from New Zealand last year,
and notwithstanding all that said and written on the subject, men as well as practical farmers differ in their opinions as to the cause or prevention of this much dreaded disease. There is one thing I have always observed when it is a wet cold spring, and then a change of dry hot weather sets in about December, the late sown wheat will be almost sure to get the rust. My own opinion is that owing to so much moisture the plant makes such rapid growth, and for want of more bright sunny days to harden and stiffen the straw in proportion to its growth, it becomes more suitable for the development of the insect, which no doubt is one of the causes of rust, and when the change of dry hot winds come the sap receives such a sudden check that the grain is not sufficiently filled. 1 - Hence the withered looking sample. The best advice I can give is to get the land well ploughed so as to secure a good seed bed, and sow with the drill when practicable, and not too late. Wheat sown after July seldom produces a good crop. As a rule, June is the best month for sowing wheat. — I am, Ac., A Plains Farmer.
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WHEAT SAMPLES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 304, 28 March 1881
WHEAT SAMPLES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 304, 28 March 1881
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