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NOTES OK AGRICULTURE. | I

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NOTES OK AGRICULTURE. | [BY MR. EVAN JONES, M.A., T.C., OLD COLLEGE SCHOOL, CARMARTHEN ] Tut a..Ax i' It is very important 10 a'! °iir Welsti ta: nicrs that they should know something about the proper and successful cultivation of the crop in question. Adverse weather and agricultural depression during the last few years have almost ruined hundreds of those who devote their lives entirely to the improvement of the soil. Un- doubtedly, foreign competition and increase of population have forced us all to adapt ourselves to our environments, and have caused an immense reduction in every department of commercial and agricultural pursuit. In the face of all these difficulties every son of the soil ought to make himself acquainted with the secrets and mysteries of nature, in order to cope with the distressing times. No farmer is capable of growing an excellent crop of wheat, unless he knows what soils will suit that crop best, what manures must be applied, and what varieties of wheats can be cultivated en our soils. The scientist may cry- look at nature, and listen to a lecturer"—when we know by experience that both have often fallen short, and mocked our anxious expectations. Before the farmer can do anything to his satis- faction he must possess a fair knowledge of both the practice and the theory; yet, intuitive knowledge, close observation, and years of experience have often proved faithful guides. It is generally admitted that wheat is only an improved grass brought to its present state by the incessant labour and care of man. All the wheats which we are familiar with may be divided into two classes, viz., the white and the 'red varieties. The red wheats are hardier, more suitable to poor soils, rougher in nature, and less liable to disease than the white species. This classification is very wide and infinite, yet, it includes all the varieties of wheats found in Europe. Some contend that the best known species are the following The Sheriffs Bearded wheat, the Hunter's wheat, and the King Richard's wheat. Each differ in appearance and quality. Now, I shall mention few points which may benefit the reader, and must be carefully observed to secure an excellent crop of wheat. THE STATE OF THE SOIL FOR WHEAT. The soil must be well prepared, because we learn by experience that the wheat crop requires a firm seed-bed — "not hard, nor tough, but firm and steady." If the soil be naturally loose in character, it can be made firm by means of a heavy roller, and similar implements. The farmer must take precaution not to harden the soil too much, or else the roots will not be able to penetrate deeply enough for food, support, and nourishment. There is another very practical way of consolidating the soil the growth of clover. This crop has a very strong tendency to bind the soil, render it firm, especially so it the animals be allowed to feed on the field. The soil will naturally acquire firmness by being constantly trampled upon. THE TIME TO SOW THE SEED. The farmer must not disregard the right time of sowing. Some species must be sown in the autumn, others in the spring. The former is the general custom among the Welsh farmers of the hilly districts. In not observing the proper time and the suitable seed, the result would be detrimental in the extreme. The hard and severe weather would kill the one, and the other would not get sufficient time to become ripe. The wheat is a native of the temperate zone. THE MODES OF SOWING. Care must be taken not to sow the seed too deeply in the ground, because such a custom (though often followed) impedes germination. Our best farmers are of opinion that the seed should be buried some two inches or a little less below the surface, if the soil be a heavy one. There are two modes of sowing very prevalent in our country, viz., the 'broadcast' and the 'drill' systems. The 'broadcast' system is generally followed among the ordinary class of farmers, especially so if the soil be very strong, and the farmer unable to buy the best working implements. True, it has its disadvantage be- cause the growth must be irregular and uneven. The advantages of the 'drill system can be gathered from the following quotation — 'Drilling seed' (1) secures an equal distance of seed, and so equal growing room to each plant in the soil and air (2) The seeds are sown at equal depths, and therefore we get an equal growth (3) The work being done in straight rows, the horse hoe may be used, and the land cleaned during the growth of the plant (4) A clean stubble is secured, because the weeds may be got rid of during the growth of the crop by means of the horse hoe (5) The quantity of seed used can be carefully regulated; and (6) because of the stronger and more equal growth which results from the adoption of this system, the produce is increased in weight and quality." The reader can judge for himself which is the better of the two systems. THE DISEASES TO WHICH THE WHEAT CROP IS SUBJECT. Everything in the vegetable kingdom is subject to a disease. The wheat crop is mostly attacked by the bunt" the 'rust,' and the 'mildew.' Each of these are quite familiar to the farmer, and their deteriorating effects ire too well-known during the last three or four years The bunt' works so powerfully on the wheat crop that the grain is transformed into a kind of black powder, and is entirely robbed of its albumen. This disease can be detected by its disagreeable odour. The rust' is more extensive in its operations than the 'bunt,' and affects the whole of the plant. The stem and the leaves are marked with white spots, and at times get quite black. By close examination we find that the straw is brittle, and the amount of grain is greatly lessened. The mildew affects the wheat crop in the same way as the rust,' and consequently it would be useless to describe it at present. THE TIME OF CUTTING THE WHEAT CROP. Some ignorant people are very apt to believe that the wheat crop ought to be thoroughly ripe before introducing the sickle or the machine into the field. Experience teaches us that some of the grain will fall to the ground by the blow of the sickle or the machine, and that the quality will be reduced in value. The best plan is to cut the wheat" hile it still retains a 'greenish tint.' The result is evident when we know that the skin' of the wheat in that state ceases to thicken that the bran in consequence is finer; and that the flour is increased in quantity. In order to secure a good and strong seed-wheat, the farmer ought to allow it to get thoroughly ripe. THE CHARACTER OF THE WHEAT-STRAW. Under this head I cannot satisfy the reader better than by quoting the remarks of Professor Tanner on the subject. He says As we find variations in the form and character of seed, so do we find variations in the straw. These differences arise from a series of causes. The seed-wheat used, primarily influences the character of the straw it may predispose it to be along straw, a white or a red (tinted) straw. The climate' also exerts its influence, for it may encourage or cheek the progress. The soil also may prevent a straw predisposed to be strong, really becoming so, by reason of some necessary material being absent. On the other hand, the soil may give z, unusual strength to a naturally weak straw. The quality of wheat- straw differs with the degree of ripeness at the time of cutting, for any nourishment remaining in the straw, instead of being drawn into the grain, necessarily adds to the feeding value of the straw. Hence we tind, as a very general rule, that those conditions of climate which favour the corn-producing powers of the wheat crop yield the poorest feeding straw. On the other hand, if the climate favours the grassy character of the plant, and only feebly assists the production of the grain, then we find wheat-straw which is often quite as good for feeding purposes as any oat-straw." It behoves every farmer at the end of the 19tli century to give a liberal education to his children. A theoretical and a practical knowledge of farm- ing are very essential to tight the battle of life. SAPO-LINI," containing Linseed Jelly, is a per- fumed Emulsive Toilet Soap, 4d.; post free, 6d. Of Chemists.

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