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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/102

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and fixed the export bounty at two cents and two and a half cents per pound on raw and refined sugar respectively.

During the past year large capital has been attracted toward the development of the sugar-beet industry in the United States on the Pacific coast. Although that section of the country, with its peculiar surroundings, does not generally present the meteorological and climatic conditions necessary to secure the best results in the cultivation of the beet-root for sugar-making purposes, yet a factory was started last October, with equipment and machinery capable of reducing three hundred and fifty tons of beets per diem, and has proved a great financial success. A full supply of beets, cultivated by the wheat-growers of California, kept the works fully employed, and a boom was given to the town of Watson ville. The factory consumes seven tons of lime daily in the chemical processes of extracting the sugar, which is distributed pro rata to the grower of beets free, and can be returned to the soil. Besides, the farmers averaged over eighty dollars per acre for their beet products, while the recent report of the Agricultural Bureau estimates the returns from the total production of the five principal crops—oats, corn, rye, barley, and wheat—in the United States to be less than twelve dollars per acre as an average.

The beet-root, deriving its fertilization from previous crops of annuals, can not rotate effectually with the cereals, except in the third season; and of course the comparative estimate of increased profit over wheat is not as large as it would be if the plant admitted of continuous culture, and thus may be misleading.

When we take into consideration the elements—organic and mineral—of which all plants are composed, and that each variety requires for its perfect development certain meteorological conditions, peculiar characters of soil, and combinations of the various leading constituents of plant-food, which have enlisted the energies of scientists for years in continued investigation, we are struck with admiration and wonder at the progress of agricultural chemistry—not only in revealing the chemicals as they exist, replacing them in the soil when exhausted by cultivation, but in transforming a root and making almost a new creation, by extracting the noxious minerals which had retarded its development, with simply special culture.

It is admitted that the new appliances of steam and electricity and the inventions of the past quarter of a century have changed the commerce of civilization, but, as economic factors, these can scarcely prove more far-reaching in their influence than those discoveries of science, in the same period, which have made it possible to open a new industry in a northern latitude for the