Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 1889. THE WHEAT SUPPLY.
An Ellesmere farmer has elicited from Mr G. G, Stead some information respecting the production and disposal of New Zealand wheat that is worthy of careful perusal by wheat growers and others interested m the trade. The cause of the enquiry being made was that m the Financial Statement the difference betweeen the production and the export of wheat for the last two years amounts to an average of about 10 bushels a head of the population each year. Mr Stead gives official statistics of the production one exportsof wheat for the six years end ing December 31, 1888, amounting to a total of 46,980,486 bushels, and exports of wheat and flour as wheat equal to 14,509,946 bushels, The other means by which the wheat haß been disposed of, according to Mr Stead's estimates, are — heconds and screenings, 2 per cent on the estimated yield, 988,609 bushels ; damaged wheat used as pig-feed 1,000,000 (principally after the wet harvests of 1888-4); geed wheat for 1,822,842 acres during the six seasons, at 11 bushels per acre, 2,734,263 bushels | making the total quantity of wheat disposed of by export, seed, and cattle feed, of 19,180,818 bushels, and leaving ft balance to be accounted for of 27,749,668 bushels. Taking the average population of the colony, inoluding Maoris, during the six years at 645,000, this quantity means the consumption by each man, woman and child m New Zealand of 7*16 bushels per annum. This quantity is much ib excess of the known consumption m any part of the world, and Mr btead, therefore, can only assume that tho estimates of our producers at the time the statistics are taken are more or less exaggerated. Mr btead states " that the Government Statists, both here and m some of the other colonies, constantly fall into error through estimating the requirements of their respective colonies from an assumed consumption per head based upon the yields of wheat, as shown by their agricultural statistics. Nothing can be more mischievous than to base the requirements of a country upon such fallacious data, and I was aware at that time that it was on such unsound premises the New South Wales statist estimated the import requirements of that colony for the current year to be six and a half million bushels of wheat. Unfortunately, farmers m Canterbury were misled into relying upon these exaggerated figures, and upon ill-advised assurances that California had no wheat to spare, insteap of heeding the friendly warning that was given them at the time. The result we see m our overfilled granaries." Without entering upon the question of the influence whioh the figureß have upon prices, we must say that it has been .quite open to the Government statisticions at any time during the last six years— or previously, for their is no reason to suppose that these over-statements are confined to recent years — and steps should have been taken to secure something like accuracy m the returns. Last harvest some gleam of the possibility of error seems to have struck the Department, and the extreme of nndbr-estimating the yield was rushed into. Unless these figures have some approach to accuracy they are worse than valueless— they aie misleading.