Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/374

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Taking this as the relative rate of wheat-growth, when it is up, then wheat which is up on the 1st of September makes in the first fifteen days of that month a growth equal to that of the whole of October; in the next ten days a growth equal to that of the whole of November; and, in the last five days of September, a growth equal to that of the first twenty days of December; or, in other words, wheat up on September 1st has a double autumn for growth before winter sets in; and, indeed, the case is in reality much stronger than this, for, if winter were to set in early, there would be for wheat sown at the end of October little or no autumn growth above-ground. The importance of every day (especially the early days) of September growth can not be overrated. To illustrate this, Miss Hallett made two very accurate drawings, which her father produced publicly. They were taken on December 30th, of two plants of wheat, each from a single grain, one of which was up on September 1st, the other on September 19th, and had thus lost the growth (after having come up) of the first nineteen days of September, the development of the earlier being double that of the later. These facts clearly point to the necessity of sowing in August. Nature, too, in shedding the grain in August, seems to indicate it as the proper time, or rather as a not unfit time, or the species would not be perpetuated. Within the present century it was the custom of many English farmers to go to wheat-sowing whenever it rained during harvest.

In determining the space to be assigned to each grain, we must deal with seed the result of continued selection, for the vital powers of the different grains of ordinary wheat are so very unequal that it would be impossible to fix upon any uniform distance. In planting grains of wheat in August, singly and twelve inches apart each way, all the requisite conditions of time and space seem to be best fulfilled, as will be seen further on. Wheat has been planted September 9th, 9 inches X 9 inches, and produced at the rate of 108 bushels per acre. It must be borne in mind at all times that it is a matter for mature study and judgment to correctly apportion the quantity of seed to the time of sowing, and to all the existing surrounding circumstances. A large quantity of seed sown early is just as much opposed to reason as a small quantity of seed sown late, and in fact more so, as in the first case it will become winter-proud and can not succeed, while the season may be such as to enable the last to do so. As a general basis, the drilling of wheat on a large scale might be conducted between the end of August and the 10th of September, at the rate of two to three gallons per acre; for each week later to the end of September, a gallon extra. When observing the unimpeded growth of cereals, there is seen to exist a striking variation in their modes of growth and powders of production. The superiority of some individuals over others is so marked in various ways as to lead irresistibly to the conclusion that