Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/373

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359
SELECTION IN GRAIN-GROWING.

Thus in the increased size alone we get an increased crop of forty to fifty per cent.

The saving of seed from such a practice is immense. The wheat area of the United States is not less than 40,000,000 acres, and the average seeding is very much higher than two bushels per acre. But, if these figures be taken as a basis, we shall not err on the wrong side. To plant grain at the rate of one berry to each square foot would be equal to 43,560 grains per acre of 4,840 square yards, or less than two English quarts. This shows that the farmers of the United States have it in their power to reduce their consumption of seed-wheat from 80,000,000 bushels to 2,500,000. Good seed-wheat ought certainly to be worth a dollar a bushel out West, and is worth very much more in the East; but on this showing we have a possible saving of $77,500,000 in seed only for the wheat-crop alone. One dollar and a half per head of the population is worth attention.

The roots of wheat sown in August become by the middle of October so developed as to render it quite safe from lifting by the frost, and attacks of wire-worm would be almost unknown. If winter wheat were all drilled by the 10th of September, the entire fall would be at the farmer's disposal for clearing the land and sowing spring crops early. The crop could not become winter-proud, or be laid by the summer rains. The harvest would be from two to three weeks earlier. The harvest being over at least a fortnight earlier, would be of immense advantage in clearing the land. Seasons are frequently most unfavorable to late-sown cereals, but they are scarcely ever so to early-sown ones. On well-farmed lands, on the common practice, the average contents of the wheat-ears must be from 20 to 30. Were it grown on Major Hallett's system, the average contents would be, at the very least, from 40 to 60, and far more likely from 60 to 90; for under such a system so small an ear as one of 40 grains is quite the exception. And this increase of the contents of the ears would be obtained without any diminution of their number; the crop, in fact, would be doubled where now fairly good farming yields 30 bushels to the acre. These promises are not illusions, since a good many men in European countries, and in the United States also, have accomplished great results in agriculture by the application of commonly accepted principles of science. Major Hallett has himself grown 216 bushels from three acres with one bushel of seed, or 72 bushels to the acre; and over a whole field 82 bushels of barley, weighing 57 pounds to the bushel, from only two gallons of seed per acre.

In reference to the point of time of sowing, it must be borne in mind that the rate of growth for wheat during the different months in England is as follows:

Wheat sown on September 1st comes up in 7 days.
"" October 1st In a mild
autumn
"" 14 "
"" November 1st "" 21 "
"" December 1st "" 28 "