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KUMERAS OR SWEET POTATOES.

The following ertiole, entitled "Kumorns, 1 Had written by Mr W. Berridge, wb'cb ap peared in the lest copy of the •' Journal of Agriculture, is of interest to our readers. Aooording to Mr Jas, Hay, the kumcra was grown most successfully in Molntosh Bay in the old days .when the Maoris had a Rood deal of area in tne kumern crops. This would, no doubt, be due to the fact that MolnKwh Biy looks towards the oast, and aUo teoapea all tho cold southerly wind 3. The northerly winds, which are most violent there, are usually warm. Mr II >y states j that the kumera did not do at nil welt in other parts, which is only in keeping with the statements made by Mr J. Herridge :— When the Maoris lirst carao to New Zear land they brought manj kinds of sweet potatoes, and from these doubtloss many sorts or variations arose., Some of the old Natives • elm to have knowledge of about forty varieties. The differenco between many of them was very Blight. Some had variously shaped leaves, some differontly coloured slnna, and in others the flesh was pink or xci, In soma varieties the leaves were round or heart shaped, in others thnae were deeply pilmated, and others ngiin pro BOnted intermediate features, An t> d Maori guppliea the nimes of sixteen varieties wnich ho himself has grown, viz., Uti-uti, Toromahoe, Pioia, Eekamatoa, Kaitorangi, Koreher«he, Rawhiwhi, Tukau, Tarihann, Whakahekeraro. These were well grown from pieces ot tho tubers on ridges or hills. The Maori elaborated an actual ritual relating to the cultivation of the kumera, It was tj him (be crop of tho highest importance. Tho time of pluming was decided by tho ap> pea'ano) of coruin stars, and an almost general cessation of war was accepted at tho harvest, The s?ed pieoea of the tubors were always planted with i ho cut part facing thn north, tho Natives claiming that the eeod would either rot or else produce no tubers it plant' d in any other direotion. I have en deavoured to show the falluoy of this by j growing them faoiriß all direotions, but the i Maoiis merely say it does not matter with ' the pakeha, but if a Native did so tho crop ' woukl be a failure They decline to exparimoat With tho kumera, < }n I have endeavouted to asaortaiu whon liio ' Maoris first grew the variety called by them t " Waina." Although thia variety is culti. ' vated raore largely than any other kind, it is c Considered by the Natives to ha only a late t introduotian to New Zealand, and was not ' known in the older men in ihoir youth Thu F most reliable account I have been abo to l obtain of its introduotion into New Zealand t WAS from Mr Val Savage, of Opotiki Homo ° time in the "fifties" he was employed r i d pairing boata on tho " Rainbow " whaler, and during dinner he was offered soms ewtet potatoes very much larger than any he bad previously seen among the Maoris, On inquiring from the captain whero they were grown be wi9 informed that the vaaeel had ' brought them from tho South Seae—lt.uatonga, I believe. Mr Savage prooured some from the captain, and divided them among ibo Maolie, Some were aont north and R jpma to the Bpyof Plenty, They rapidly me

became appreciated in many part? of the /country. This poato 'was called "Wainn," by the Maoris because it was propagated by sets of plants or part of the viae hvaina being the nearest pronunciation the Maoris could make to " vine ") Previous to the in troduotion of this variety tho kumera wa^ grewn from a piece of the tuber, not from I pels or planls. The Waina often sports, and ( flantß wilh'bolh yellow nnd ted tubers often appear In a crop, although only plants, from nd tubers be planted. Others will be found of varying shades, from deep crimson to pink, ahd even both colours on one tuber. It is important to nmtmber that in New Zealand ihe kumrra can be grown only in the warmer part 3. A sandy soil, ov one with a liberal pro • portion of fsnd, suits the sweet potato, Heavy applications of fresh stable manure' stimulate the growth of tha vinea at the ex pense of tho root. It has been found better t" apply stable manure to tho previous crop, us by this method tho manure will have leotne thoroughly incorporated with the o'l before tbo sets are planted oil the land. It has also been noted that the tubers will be >mall, and tho yield unsatisfactory, on soils tt,at d not contain suftioient o ganio matter k> produce a fair growth of vine 3. A dre s.ing of lime hastens the maturity of the crop and increases the yield. The plot that received a dre-sing of line showed a distinct improvement both in strength of vine and size of tuber. It is better to apply the lime some tiraa beiore planting the crop. The sweet potato appears to be one of the few \ciop3 that thrive as well with artificial feitiMizers as with stable manure, or better with j the former tnan with the latter, A combination of the t>vo, however, gives the best resu'ta. The Uuitt-d States Department of Agriculture recommends a mixture com> posed of 2001b. sulphate of ammonia, 2001b. dried blood, 12001b. superphosphate, 4001b, muriate of potash, applied at the rate of scwh to lOcwt per aore. For most soils a ferti izer should contain 5 per cent, nitrogen, 7 per cent, phosphoric acid, and 10 per cent, potash. The American varieties are grown better from sets or plants obtained by planting the tubers closely together—but not touching— on a hotbed. When the sets or plants are from 4in, to sin, high, they are detached from the tubere, care being taken to hold latter in place with one hand while pulling off the plants with the other. When sand is used to cover the tubers the roote oome away better, .and if the tubers be not disturbed in drawiDg off the sets thoy will yield several crops of plants or sets. The soil should be worked to a fine tilth and the tubers will be shaped better than when grown in a lumpy soil. It is well to sow the fertilizer broadcast, and work it well into the soil by harrowing. The land should bo thrown up in ridges with the ploughpreferably running north and south. The best time to plant out is immediately beforo or after rain. Scarcely any plants will fail to grow if the soil be damp. Should dry wealher occur when planting out, this need not prevent the work going on, as about a quarter of a pint of water about each plant (taking care it i 3 in dhect contact with the roots) will ensure growth. When this is done, planting even in the hottest weather can be undertaken success'ully. As natives of the tropic?, kumeras revel in the hottest weather. When the ridges are made high it is a good plan to mak? a basin for each plant, This confines the water given clostly to the roots, affords sbolter to the plants when cutting winde prevail. When weeding the ridcres with the hoe the lrgh orest is pulled with the weeds into the furrows, whore they are easily killed with the horse hose or oulti vator. Scarifying will alfo conserve the moisture in hot weather, and so benefit the crop. Many methods have been tried for storing sweet potatoes, t-uoh as packing in dry sand, putting in clamps, storing in sheds, etc, but j experience teaches that storing in ruae, as the Maoris call their underground pits, is the most successful. If properly handled, the potatoes can be kept in this manner un'il toe nest crop is ready to dig. The kurneras must be dried thoroughly, and th pits opened and ventilated every fine day until the sweating period is over. This gßnerally i takes about a month, and even afcerwa:ds y tbo pits ahould ba ventilated occasionally. | The tubers should bo kept from direct con- ?, taot with the bottom and sides of the pits by ! 5 a layer of dry fern, It is advisable before j using tho rua again to clean out all fern and !? rubbish, and to burn sulphur. This will I kill all wood lice and insects, and help lo ti Jeetroy germs, of decay, fungus, etc, j According to variety, the tubers contain, j; )j analysis, when first dug, from 61 to 79 i jer cent of water, and frfem 4to 11,'J per f:ent of sugar. Six months after digging they | sontain 50 to 70.82 per cent ef water, and I torn 753 to J'J 71 per cent of sugar, accord- | ng to variety, the variety giving the highest fc ugar .yield being tho Early Bunch yam, f philo tho lowest is tho Delaware, X Last se.isoii was favourab'e to tho growth jj f tho °wt!fjt potatof aat the Taiiranga expsri- 'c, jnntal Farm, baing dry and hot; but, owing |- i tlio faofc that most of the crop was grown ?'■ i a gully to prcfciot it from tha winds, the f. nrly frosts in March cut the planfn baok S; ofore the tubera were matured. Some of \\ ir varieties did not mature, This year it is roposod to grow the crop between the fruit ees, to take advantage of tho gelt of shelter £ ees. Later there will bo a small quantity ". ' tho more promising varieties available for <\ stribution. *

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Bibliographic details

KUMERAS OR SWEET POTATOES., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXI, Issue 4353, 2 December 1913

Word Count
1,604

KUMERAS OR SWEET POTATOES. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXI, Issue 4353, 2 December 1913

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