Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/370

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YEAR. EARS SELECTED. Height. Containing
Number of
ears on
finest stool.
1857 Original ear 4⅜ 47 . .
1858 Finest ear 79 10
1859 Finest ear 91 22
1860 Ears imperfect from wet season . . . . 39
1861 Finest ear 123 52

Thus, by means of repeated selection alone, the length of the ears has been doubled, their contents nearly trebled, and the "tillering" power of the seed increased fivefold.

The following table gives similar increased contents of ear obtained in three other varieties of wheat:

in original
in improved
45 Original Red commenced in 1857 123
60 Hunter's White commenced in 1861 124
60 Victoria White commenced 1862 114
32 Golden Drop commenced in 1864 96

It was supposed by ancient writers that the powers of grains differed in relation to their positions in the ear. This Major Hallett investigated in 1858, by planting the grains of ten ears on a plan showing their several positions in the ear. The only general result, among most conflicting ones, was that the smallest grains, those most remote from the center of growth, exhibited throughout, most unexpectedly, a vigor equal to that of the largest; and that the remarked worst grains, in one or two instances, did not by any means fall so far short of the good ones as had been expected. Frequent trials have also been made of the comparative power of large and small, plump and thin grains, and, in the case of oats, which produce a small grain attached to a large one, trials as to their respective powers—with uniform results, viz., that, in good grains of the same pedigree, neither mere size nor situation in the ear supplies any indication of the superior grain.

Very close observation during many years led to the discovery that the variations in the cereals which Nature presents to us are not only hereditary, but that they proceed upon a fixed principle, and from them has been educed the following law of development of cereals:

1. Every fully-developed plant, whether of wheat, oats, or barley, presents an ear superior in productive power to any of the rest on that plant.

2. Every such plant contains one grain which, upon trial, proves more productive than any other.

3. The best grain in a given plant is found in its best ear.