Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/369

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SELECTION IN GRAIN-GROWING.

During these investigations no single circumstance more forcibly illustrated the necessity for repeated selection than the fact that, of the grains in the same ear, one is found to excel greatly all the others in vital power, as in the case of the Bellevue Talavera. The original two ears together contained 87 grains; these were all planted singly. One of them produced ten ears containing 688 grains, and not only could the produce of no other single grain compare with them, but the finest ten ears which could be collected from the produce of the whole of the other 86 grains contained only 598; yet supposing that this superior grain grew in the smaller of the two original ears, and that this contained but 40 grains, there must still have been 39 of these 86 grains which grew in the same ear. So far as regards contents of ears.

The next year the grains from the largest ear of the finest plant of the previous year were planted singly, twelve inches apart, in a continuous row; one of them produced a plant consisting of fifty-two ears; those next to and on either side of it of twenty-nine and seventeen ears respectively; and the finest of all the other plants consisted of only forty ears.

The following are the chief points of the standard in the order of their importance, but all have to be duly considered:

1. Hardihood of constitution.
2. Trueness of type.
3. Quality of sample.
4. Productiveness.
5. Power of tillering.
6. Stiffness and toughness of straw.
7. Earliness of ripening.

The system of selection here pursued is as follows: A grain produces a plant, consisting of many ears. Then are planted the grains from these ears in such a manner that each ear occupies a row by itself, each of its grains occupying a hole in this row, the holes being twelve inches apart every way. At harvest, after the most careful study and comparison of the plants from all these grains, the finest one is selected, which is proof that its parent-grain was the best of all, under the peculiar circumstances of that season. This process is repeated annually, starting every year with the proved best grain, although the verification of this superiority is not obtained until the following harvest.

The subjoined statement will illustrate this system of selection, as the facts given are due to its influence alone: the kind of seed, the land, and the system of culture employed were precisely the same for every plant for four consecutive years; neither was any manure used, nor any artificial means of fostering the plants resorted to.

The following table shows the character of each additional generation of selection: