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AGRICULTURE I RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE. I January is mostly regarded as the dullest month in the year as far as farming matters are concerned, and the month on which we have entered forms no exception, whether we look backwards or forwards. The last year of the nineteenth century was scarcely a remarkable one, except, perhaps, for the adverseness of the seasons and months of contrary weather. Yet on the whole it might have been considerably worse. The cereal crops have not turned out so well as was at one time anticipated, and there is a heavy shortage in the store stock of the country, although we may have to look for other causes to account for the latter item. The potato crop was a partial failure, while fresh outbreaks of foot-and-m'outh disease have been responsible for much uneasiness as to what the future is likely to bring in this respect. That the war has spread a gloom over matters agricultural there can be no question, as witness the diminished interest taken in almost all of the agri- cultural exhibitions, with consequently diminished funds of the different societies. In fact while little is to be said in favour of farming matters during the old year, it must be candidly admitted that not much can be urged on the other side. Cheshire, after all, is one of the last counties to feel the pinch of a bad season on account of its being devoted to grazing and dairying. But from the east and south-east, where corn is largely grown, there is great complaint of the out-turn now that the threshings are on, and we are cautioned in respect to still further contrac- tion in the area of wheat sown. As some counter- action to this, however, the poisoned beer scare is reported to be giving now impetus to barley- sowing in view of compulsory pure beer brewing. Meanwhile ley-ploughing is going on steadily, and the outlook for stock-breeders is more en- oouraging, except, perhaps, in those districts which have suffered severely from the late rains and heavy floods. These will take some time to recover, even if the weather should keep dry and propitious. The change to winterly weather is distinctively encouraging. The cheese markets during the week have been absolutely devoid of any new feature and prices are practically unchanged. There was slightly more stirring on the Liverpool market, but pur- chases were of a hand to mouth character. I THE SHRINKAGE IN THE WHEAT CROP. I he continual shrinkage in the area of land devoted to wheat in this country is not a pleasant theme to contemplate. It certainly furnishes a subject for serious reflection for the future of the country; but farmers cannot be expected to go on cultivating crops that do not pay. According to the returns of the Board of Agriculture, the total production of wheat is smaller than in any year previously recorded except in 1893 and 1895. A deficient yield per acre has been coincident with a substantial reduction in the acreage. The great corn-growing districts ot England are accountable for this decrease. The yield of Wales is above the normal, and that of Scotland a little less. The estimated decrease is over 12,000,000 bushels. The yield of barley is also much smaller. EXHIBITION HEIFERS: A CURIOUS POINT. An important point affecting exhibitors and buyers at fat stock shows was raised at the council meeting of the Scottish National Fat Stock Club. The question brought up at the instance of a butcher had reference to the exhibition as fat animals of heifers in calf, l or, perhaps more correctly, to the practice of allowing to be put in calf heifers in training or intended for fat stock shows. The complaining butcher pur- chased at the recent Edinburgh show a heifer which, when slaughtered, was found to be "con- siderably gone in calf," and the animal being. in consequence, materially depreciated in value for his purpose, he naturally and very properly sug- gests that steps should be taken to prevent the exhibition of pregnant heifers at winter shows designedly held for fat stock only. The Scottish Club were prompt to see the fairness of the appeal, and at once agreed that when the prize schedule for the next show came up for revision a proviso should be inserted by way of preventing a recurrence of such a case. They might have gone a considerable step further and ascertained the exact circumstances connected with the exhibit, for if the case in question was not an accidental slip in the entry it was bound to have been a fraud. No other word would ADDIV. FRUIT FARMING AND GRASS ORCHARDS. In the course of an instructive article in the current number of the Journal of the Board of Agrioulture upon the experiments made in the treatment of apple trees by the Duke of Bedford and Mr. Spencer U. Pickering, F.R.S., at the Woburn fruit farm, some interesting results are ropresented as having been obtained in regard to the effect of growing grass round the trees. The grass-grown trees, it appears, are scarcely bigger than when planted five years ago, and the actual increase in weight is about eighteen times smaller than with trees in tilled ground. Grass does almost as much damage as careless planting, weeds, and total neglect combined. ylantin. does not impoverish the ground by competing for food, but causes a large increase in the evapora- tion from the soil, the trees being thereby made to suffer from drought with consequent depriva- tion of other nourishment as well. It is believed also that the grass acts by preventing the access of air to the roots of the tree. The trees never recover from the backwardness occasioned by the grass, whereas careless planting and neglect, if afterwards remedied, may not permanently affect the trees. THE CANADIAN WHEAT CROP. Latest official reports make the wheat crop of Ontario, in round figures, 29,000,000 bushels, or 8,000,000 more than last year's deficient pro- duction. But the Manitoban crop is estimated at only 13,000,000 bushels, against 27,922,000 for 1899, and 25,300,000 for 1898. No official figures, unfortunately, appear for the rest of Canada. IMPORTANT TO AGRICULTURISTS. With the advent of 1901 there came into force two new Acts of importance to agriculturists, viz., the recast Agricultural Holdings Act and the Workmen's Compensation Act. A NEW PRESIDENCY FOR THE PRINCE OF WALES. The Prince of Wales, who for some years has been a successful breeder of Dexter cattle, has been pleased to accept the presidency of the English Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society for 1901. It will be remembered that his Royal Highness won the championship of the small cattle classes at the recont Smithfield Show with a prime Dexter steer bred and fed at Sandring- ham. ESSEX FARMERS AND BARLEY GROWING. The farmers of Essex and other parts of the eastern counties anticipate that there will shortly b3 a greater demand for barley than there has been for some years past owing to the agitation for pure beer. As a result, a number of fields which, since the agricultural depression have only grown grass, are now being ploughed up for the purpose of being sown with barley. DAIRYING EDUCATION IN FRANCE. The French Government has taken a new de- parture which ought to awaken an interest in those in authority in this country and furnish food for reflection as to their future attitude towards agriculturists and agricultural teaching. Cheese and butter-making schools are being opened by the Government in different parts of France. The British Commercial Attache in Paris, writing on the subject, states that at Poligny, in the centre of the Jura cheese-making district, there is a school where tuition is gratuitous, and where cheese and butter- making is so well managed that the school is a model for the local landowners and farmers. Another school at Mamirolle has a farm with cows and plant attached. It was started with the avowed object of perfecting the methods of making Gruyere cheese, and has been extended, until now the pupils are taught everything con- nected with the manufacture of butter and the different classes of cheese for the French market. In Tunis there is a school which has connected with it an experimental garden, a farm, an olive- tree plantation, and a model olive-oil factory. The system is being extended. TITHE COMMUTATION FOR 1900. I the Editor of "Willich's Tithe Commutation Tables," published by Messrs. Longmans, Green and Co., writes:—"As a result of the corn averages for the seven years to Christmas, 1900, published in the 'London Gazette' of January 1st, 1900-viz., wheat, 3s. 4!d. per imperial bushel; barley, 3s. Od. per imperial bushel; oats 2s. Oid. per imperial bushel-I beg to state that each £100 of tithe rent-charge for the year 1901 will amount to L66 10s. 9;kd., being on the commutation about per cent. less than last year. The fol- lowing statement shews the worth of £100 of tithe rent-charge for the last seven years:-For the year 1894, JB74 3s. 9!d.; 1895, L73 13s. Oid. 1896, £71 9s. 6id.; 1897, B69 17s. llid. 1898, B68 14s. lid.; 1899, £ 68 2s. 41d. 1900, 266 15s. 9d. The average value of £ 100 of tithe rent-charge for the sixty-five years which have elapsed since the passing of the Tithe Com- mutation Act of 1836 is £ 96 Is. llfd.

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