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FARMING NOTES., (From the "Farmer and Stock-Breeder") THE WHEAT CROP. We have again arrived at that. interesting point when the popularity of the chief cereal must be voted upon. And farmers are greatly exercised as to what extent they may advisedly entrust the candi- date with their favours. Though reluctant to forsake an old and good friend they cannot lightly overlook the curious and inexplicable behaviour of king wheat in recent years. The decline haa been sustained, and goes on even now at an accelerated rate. Recent prices have touched an unprecedently low level, and the prospects of an early or tangible improvement are nowhere visible. In the midst of gloom of unparalleled density the British wheat grower may be forgiven—nay, he may lay himself open to reproach by acting contrarily-if he largely with- draws his patronage from a crop at once so extra- vagant in its demands, and so immoderately limited in its returns. f Sentiment, however plausible and persuasive, can- not be allowed to sway the affairs of the farm nowa- days. The wheat break has ever been a prime favourite with the English farmer, and in years gone by, though all else on a cultivated farm dwarfed and failed, if the wheat remained and prospered the toiler felt tolerably secure. Now, however, all this ihas sadly changed. Indeed, the position is as nearly ireversed as may be. Whatever the condition of other crops, in the case of wheat the matter simply resolves itself into a struggle to restrict the loss accruing from Its production to the narrowest limits possible. It jCalls for no elaborated statement to show that wheat 'cannot possibly be grown profitably at a market price of 20s. per quarter. When some years ago its value touched the modest figure of 30s. several enterprising economists strove with commendable pluck and per- severance to prove that that price was capable of leaving the grower a surplus. But almost before the debate had reached a decisive stage it was robbed of its chiefest interest and value by a further recedence in the realising value of the product. Since the standard price has fallen below 30s. the wheat crop from a profit yielding standpoint has had no defenders. It is now universally branded a losing Speculation, and those who sorrowed heavily when the critical and argumentative point referred to was «ached, would now rejoice exultantly if they could but receive the despised 30s. per quarter. What iq to become of the accustomed wheat grower is a problem of the most interesting and prplexing sort. That he can continue to sow wheat on the former extensive scale is utterly impossible, unlæs, of course, he is careless regarding the "financial result. Substitutes have been suggested in abundance, but this is precisely one of the numerous instances in which it is easier to advise than to Ctirry into effect. For ov part we confess we cannot plainly perceive how tue farmer can wholly dispense with the wheat crop. Substitutory crops in the form of what have become known under the Comprehensive but appropriate term of "small Culture," might have been employed were our railway Companies more considerate—or may we say more Just ?-in formulating and administrating their tran- sit tariff. But under existing conditions these crops can only render inconsiderable relief. Other grain and green crops could be produced on an extended scale, or mope land might be laid out in permanent pasture but there is no geat encouragement to stimulate development in either direction. We fear farmers can only afford to minimise their dependence on wheat. They cannot very wisely relinquish the business altogether. WHEAT SOWING. AH hands will now be closely occupied in com- mitting the seed wheat to the seed-bed. The opera- tion is now very seasonable, and should be prosecuted with all speed. Little worth as the matured crops may be if wheat is to be grown at all, it must bo selected and cultivated on the most approved prin- ciples. For instance, the land should be prepared with scrupulous care as to seasonable work- ing and adequate manuring. Assuming that the ploughing and the application of farmyard manure, so far as the wheat break is concerned, are tflready finished, attention will have to be directed to the securing of a properly-made seed bed. Pre- paratory harrowing and sowing can be prosecuted to most advantage when the soil is dry on the surface and in a friable state. A wet seed-bed is not at all relished by the grain, and if planted under adverse Circumstances a partial or total failure of the crop may be expected. The bitter experiences of 1892-3 supplied a striking example of the truth of this remark. It will be remembered that the fall of 1892 was excep- tionly wet, and seasonable sowing was next to impos- sible. The result was thatawide extent of theseededarea proved barren, and had to be ploughed up in spring and resown with some other crop. It may be remarked here that this undesirable but necessary Operation largely accounted for the unexpected dis- parity between the wheat areas of 1893 and 1894. The best method of depositing seed is by the aid of the drill sower. The seed is more evenly dis- tributed, as well as better protected from the ravages of winged enemies and frost, when this useful imple- ment is employed. It also effects a considerable saving in seed, and altogether is greatly preferable to hand distribution. The selection of seed is another matter that de- mands careful investigation. This year particularly the seeding quantities must be chosen with strict regard as to the wholesomeness and maturity of the grain. Discolouration will probably not affect* the germinating power of the sample, but it is highly essential to ensure that it has suffered no other and more vital harm. Whatever artificial manures are considered needful are not applied until spring. The best dressing under average conditions is about lcwt. of nitrate of soda per acre, either alone or in conjunction with 2cwt. of slag or superphosphate. HARVEST WAGES. In an article on the cost of the harvest labour the Labour Gazette says In the Eastern Countie^f Lincolnshire, Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, labourers have had full employment, and generally the rates of wages have been higher than last year. In Norfolk the contract price for the harvest has been from £6 to E7, lads and youths getting from 13 10s. to £ 3 15s., according to age. But most farmers appear to be paying at least EG 10s. In Essex one farmer is paying between 15s. to 18s. an acre for harvesting, as compared .with 12s. for last year. Another farmer (2000 acres) has paid up to 2Os., and for a few acres, 22s. for cutting wheat, as compared with 10s. in 1893, and has also paid 4s. to 5s. for carting. A gang of seven men on this farm has earned JE70 18s. between them by piece work in five weeks, or about £2 a week each. In Suffolk, harvest wages usually vary from £ 6 10s. to £ 8, some- times with malt and hops extra; on piece work rather more can be earned. Harvest wages in Cam- bridgeshire, particularly in the north, are higher than usual, especially for piece work. 17s. to 20s. an acre for mowing has been paid in many cases. A farmer near Peterborough states that some of the best men have earned 50s. a week, working from four a.m. to seven p.m. CANADIAN CROPS. The Canadian Gazette assures us that there can be n. doubt of the excellent harvest which has been gathered in the North-West generally, and there is also, happily, no doubt that this excellent harvest Is not the result of mere haphazard cultivation, as have been so many harvests in the past. During the first year or two the prairie-farmer's one thought is to obtain an immediate cash return from the soil, and he is often such a noviee in farm- ing that it is only by the hard teaching of ex- perience that he is brought to pay close attention to the methods he employs. A correspondent of the Canadian Farmers' Advocate has been driving through some of the best sections of Manitoba, and he reports a striking contrast between old and new modes of farming. On one aide of the road you might see a fine clean piece of wheat promising 25, 30, or even in some cases 40 bushels to the acre; while on the other a crop, grown under pre- cisely similar conditions of location, soil, and climate, would be found to be thin, poor, and dirty. A few years ago the fine clean piece of wheat was hard to find in very many districts. On the whole the correspondent reports the prospects on the prairie to be improving, and he looks forward now to a period of home making." "Everywhere," he says, even in the least favoured districts, where men have settled down with the intention of making homes and not fortunes, and where the careful economic, intelligent methods pursued in other agri- cultural countries have been adopted, success is written in plain letters across the gateway of such farms." As yet these are not, it must be confessed, in the majority; but each year sees the area of better farming extending, and the genuine home-making must extend too.


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