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THE HARVEST IN MONTGOMEKYSHIRE. INTERVIEW WITH A LOCAL FARMER. We are enabled to give this week the substance of an interview a representative of the Express and Times had with a local farmer, who has had quite forty years' experience in his craft, has carefully followed the course of agriculture during the whole of that time, and has devoted special attention to the difficulties which a lengthened course of depression in prices has made it neces- sary for him and his brother-farmers to face. Inquiring, in the first instance, as to the char. acter of the harvest, our representative received the following reply:— Clovers this year were cut and harvested in good condition. The crop of Meadow Hay was in most instances a light one, although, person- any, I had some meadows with an average crop. The whole, however, has this year been harvested well, except, perhaps, by those who were in too great a hurry, and carted it too soon. Was the harvest at all late ? It commenced late, but it was finished earlier than last year on account of the better weather, which, although good, was not forcing weather. On the average farms the harvest finished about a fortnight or three weeks ago, but in the outer districts it was, as usual, later, because growth on the more rural holdings is so much slower. As to the Grass Keep ? The grass keep, I am afraid, is very scarce, and the creatures have not recovered from the thin state in which they went out in May, and they are not likely to do so this summer. Feeding cattle are putting on little or no flesh, and the cows milk badly. Is there any particular reason you can assign for this ? Nothing but the cold husky dry weather, and the fact that this season we have had far less than the average rainfall. Now as regards Roots ? Well, in the first place, there are no 3Ianyolds grown in this neighbourhood. With regard to Sivedcs, the earlier sown did well, and will be heavy crops. The later ones are very gappy," and will be very small. Common Turnips are doing well. Potatoes appear healthy, and likely to produce an abundant crop. Then the grain harvest-how is thzz likely to turn out ? There was but little Wheat sown in the autumn on account of the excessively wet weather con- sequently the acreage of wheat must appear very much less than the average. The prospects I should say are fair; probably the Times estimate will be the correct one—" 12 per cent. under average." It is very backward, and there will be very little cut until September. It will probably, too, be late in that month, as most of the fields as yet are green. Barley ? There are some good crops of barley, the cutting of which has been already commenced. There will probably this season be some good samples. Oats ? Oats is a good average, and appears likely to yield well. The greater part has been already cut, or will be in the course of a few days. Peas are a good crop also, and with a fortnight of good weather, will be harvested well. They are not grown for sale, but for home feeding. Ecans are not grown much in this neighbourhood. Is the cultivation of grain still falling off ? There is undoubtedly a reduced area under cultivation-due to the low prices it now obtains and the increased cost of labour. Will it be a good season for Fruit ? No; on the contrary, fruit is again a failure. Bush fruit did fairly well, and plums are expected to be good but apples and pears are practically a failure. We have really had only two good fruit years in the last twelve. What about the prospects for the coming winter as regards keep, etc.? In consequence of farmers being over-stocked keep is likely to be rather scarce, especially if we have a hard winter and if roots should not yield satisfactorily, we may have a repetition of last winter's experience. Is there any particular reason for the largeness of the present stock ? Well, the reason is that a few years ago store cattle were at a premium, which caused farmers to breed largely. Now they are unsaleable and remain upon their hands. The cause, shortly stated, is over-production on the part of the farmers and scarcity of grass keep on the part of the buyers. We have more and they want less. Consequently those who are compelled to sell have to take very low prices, as those who have attended the recent local fairs unfortunately know too well, and we are not likely to have any improvement until the early part of next summer, even if then. May I say that on the whole you have had a good average season ? Yes, I think you may, considering the character of the seasons. You must bear in mind that there 1 has been a distinct retrogression in the character of our seasons for the last fourteen years. Since the disastrous season of 1S79, they seem never to have returned to what taiy were before that period. We have scarcely a day now without thick clouds, cold chilling east winds, alternating with occasional sunshine and warm sultry weather. "N e have scarcely any of that hot clear weather, which we enjoyed previously. One portion of the day we have warm, sultry, developing weather, and then the growth is blighted by cold weather afterwards. Of course, there are some kinds of I grain which do better in humid rather than clear hot weather. For instance, oats has done better, but generally there has been a decline from the time I have mentioned. Once again, on the whole you have had and will have a good harvest, so far as you can judge ? Yes, a good average harvest. Then I suppose you farmers v.-ill now cease to grumble and be satisfied ? Cease to grumble and be satisfied Why the prospects of farmers (speaking with an energy which somewhat alarmed tile present writer) were never worse within the memory of the present generation. But doesn't that seem somewhat of an incon- sistent position to take up ? Here you have had. as you freely admit, a good average harvest, and anyone would naturally presume that this meant a satisfactory state of agriculture generally. If anyone does presume that, then the pre- sumption, like many another, is entirely a mistaken one. If you can spare me a little time I will very soon convince you of the truth of what I say. In the first place-- My agricultural friend was about to give me a lengthy dose of statistics and arguments, for which I was not just then prepared so, gently declining to be convinced at that moment, 1 left, promising to call in a day or two to take for publication a few further notes as to "1 he general position of the farmer at present," which shall appear next week. LW e shall be glad if any other farmers will favour us with their opinions on the points dealt with above.—ED]




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