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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/528

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

but many are sown year after year. These experiments are carried on not only at the central station at Ottawa, but at other stations as well, chiefly in the northwest. Plots one fortieth of an acre in size are found most convenient for the preliminary tests. When varieties are tested for productiveness the condition of ground and cultivation and seeding are made uniform and it has been found that productiveness is in a large degree persistent. Thirty-one varieties of wheat were grown year after year for five years, and of these a select list of the best twelve was made each year. It was found that there were only sixteen varieties that entered this list during the five years, the varieties that were superior in one year being for the most part superior always. Productiveness is, of course, an important consideration, for, other things being equal, an additional bushel per acre means an annual increase of four million dollars with Canada's present wheat acreage, and a correspondingly larger increase as more land is brought under cultivation.

Eed Fife is the standard variety of wheat in Canada. It was imported in 1842 by Mr. David Fife, of Otonabee, Ontario, and was part of a cargo brought from Danzig on the Baltic, to Glasgow, and there transshipped to Canada. Dr. Saunders found that during the nearly fifty years that Red Fife had been cultivated there had been no deterioration, the quantity and quality of crop were as good as ever and in the northwest appeared even to improve. But it is rather later in ripening than is desirable where frosts set in early, and one of the great objects aimed at has been to cultivate a variety having the good qualities of Red Fife and at the same time maturing earlier. If also increased productiveness, quality of grain, strength of straw, or ability to resist rust could be attained, so much the better. The value of early ripening is evident when one realizes that two or three weeks' gain in this respect enables a variety to be grown several hundred miles farther north.

One of Dr. Saunders's first measures was to import varieties from all parts of the world where wheat was grown and to test their development under the new conditions. The United States, Japan, Australia, Russia, and even India, contributed many varieties. It was fortunate that the collection was so world wide, for the unexpected happened. It was found that several varieties from India were among the earliest. This proved to be because they were grown in the Himalayas. Thereupon special attention was paid to India, and at a height of 11,000 feet a variety was obtained, the Gehun, that has since been the subject of much experiment. This, along with the Ladoga variety, obtained from the district surrounding the lake of that name, and the Onega variety, from near Archangel, has proved the most promising of