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subsoil. In tending corn, the earth should not be turned away
from the hill in the day-time, since this would increase the chance of its drying through; and in throwing the earth up to the hill, the part of the stalk above the bulb, from which the supporters put out, should be prevented from being covered.
One of the best cultivators known to us is that one which has the general form of the common dray-shaped cultivator, except that it is just as long and wide again as that, and the two iron bars are made like the beam and knees of a sleigh. Its steel teeth run very flat in the ground—it runs with the broad end forward, straddles a row, and requires two horses to draw it, but will perform twice as much work as can be done by any of the common methods.
Indian corn is frequently sown as the first grain on newly-broken land; but as there is no reliance to be placed upon sod corn, many farmers prefer to leave the broken land lying fallow, until September, when it is sown with wheat. The planting of sod corn is done by sticking an axe or a spade between the layers of sod, and after dropping the corn apply the heel of the boot freely. Some farmers prefer to drop the seed into every third furrow, and turn a furrow on it. If the latter plan is adopted, the ground must be well rolled to ensure a good crop. To corn put in on the sod, usually no further attention is paid till harvest. The times of planting and harvesting depend upon the northern or southern exposure, and the harvest will often last until the end of November.
In 1835, Mr. Jpo. Schoonhover raised an ear which gave one quart and one gill of the shelled corn.
We have just enumerated the different varieties of maize, which are cultivated, and before concluding this chapter we cannot forbear to point out a new variety, the cultivation of which has but just begun, viz., the Wyandott Corn. The seeds of this were obtained three years ago, from the Wyandott Indians, and first cultivated by a farmer in Waverly, Morgan County, who produced a crop of 150 bushels per acre, and who, at the Agricultural State Fair, at Chicago, in the fall of 1855, sold the single ears of this variety at twenty-five cents each. The ears are from five to nine inches long. It is a fine, pearly white, bas but little chit, and grinds nearly all into meal. A chemical analysis of its properties proves it to contain a large portion of
glutinous, starchy qualities, and less of spirit and strength than the Great Yellow Dog Tooth Corn, for which Suckerdom is famous. This corn is planted one kernel to the hill, and sometimes in drills. The one kernel forms a mass of rooty fibres, often as large as a man's hat, and from these start up from four to nine shoots or stalks, and each of these stalks will bear from one to five ears. A hill of this corn was grown in Upper Alton, from one kernel, which multiplied to the extent of over eight thousand kernels.
The kinds of wheat mostly cultivated in the State of Illinois, are the Canada Club, Italian, Hedgerow, White Flint, and the Rio Grande. Spring Wheat succeeds well, but has been blighted for a few years past. One ploughing is deemed sufficient, and better than two, even on a summer fallow. No manures are used on this or any other crop, except that from the barn-yard, which is usually spread on the corn-field. With special regard to Spring Wheat, it may be of importance to say, that for preparing the ground, fall ploughing is best, since the land is in better order, and can be sown one or two weeks earlier, which is a great advantage. The earlier it is sown the better, if the ground is in order for the harrow, no matter how cold, the frost will not hurt young wheat. The land should by all means be ploughed, although some may be for ploughing in the cornstalks, and harrowing in. Experience has taught, that in this latter case, the crops at harvest have been so full of weeds, that the usual average proceeds were considerably diminished. Plow your lands not over two rods wide, and in a direction to lead off the water best; cut cross furrows in every slough or sag, so as to let no water stand on the wheat. Old land ought to be ploughed in the fall, but if ploughed in the spring, should be ploughed deeper.
Corn stubble is preferable to wheat or oat stubble.
The Canada Club is as good a kind as can be found. It is a good plan to change seeds frequently, as it has appeared that by continuing the same seed on the same land, it becomes diseased and sickly. To prevent smut wet your wheat and mingle slaked lime with it, at the rate of one bushel to twenty of wheat. If there are oats in the seed, the whole may be put in strong brine, and the oats skimmed off. It
is in fact necessary to examine the seed well, for it will not grow if it has heated, or become musty; but this cannot always be detected by the eye,
and it will therefore be better to try a sample, and see what portion will germinate; this will give you the quantity needed per
Of good seed, one bushel and a third to one and a half is about the right quantity. The “disease” it takes on, comes from sowing much imperfect seed, which never can produce vigorous, healthy plants. Let only the best seed be used, that which is free from all light, imperfect grains, and there will be found little “disease” or degeneracy. Spring Wheat is liable to grow too rank; it should be sown as soon as the frost is out of the ground, that the straw may have a stunted growth. The winter crop may be got in at a time when other labor does not press, and the whole preparation for it may be so managed as to interfere with no other work. It is easier sown therefore than Spring Wheat, and moreover it is easier harvested; from the fact that it ripens from two to four weeks earlier, the harvest season is prolonged to that extent. It will undoubtedly be both of great use and unparalleled interest to wheat growers and others who are engaged in farming, to listen to the advice and hints on the subject of the culture of wheat of an Illinoisian farmer, who has been engaged in the business in the fertile prairie sections for many years. He
says that manures for the preparation of the soil are no more necessary than the application of any other substance. The land is turned over in June, and ploughed deeply and thoroughly. Immediately after ploughing, the whole springs up into a dense and vigorous growth of “Pigeon Grass." The land may be left in that condition until the middle of July, when you give it a single harrowing, letting all the stock you can command, run and tread upon it till a week before sowing. Then harrow it till the surface is sufficiently mellowed to cover the grain; this is best done with a drill. Onefourth or half an inch is enough to cover the grain. This should be done in the middle of September, and a plough should not be allowed to touch the land afterwards. The very best mode would be, to put it in with a cultivator, and then run a roller over it. The treading with the feet of cattle on the loose prairie soil, before getting in the seed, is something very necessary, and should therefore not be looked upon with indifference and carelessness. The soil in those regions is loose, and therefore must be packed together, to hold the roots of the wheat plants; and for the same reason it would not be a good practice to give the land more than one good ploughing. As confirmatory of this, at least as far as the packing of the soil is concerned, the same farmer adds, that every farmer must notice places about his fields, where there is a road, or the land has been tramped bard from some cause, where there is no killing of his wheat, even though all the rest of the field may be killed. He happened to put in part of a crop on some summer-fallowed land, without the usual ploughing before sowing, and his surprise was great, when harvest came, to find that here was a splendid crop, while all the rest of his wheat bad either failed, or turned out badly.
It is supposed, that the common fault must be to put in the wheat too deep, and as usually cultivated, it is very likely the fact, that the depth is too great if the ground can be made to stay where it is put. A half inch, if the kernel is made to stay, and also the ground above it, is about the right depth.
In the north of the State wheat should be sown broad-cast, and barrowed both ways, or drilled in by a proper machine about the beginning of September. Wheat sown upon such land, in this manner, rarely fails to produce an excellent crop. The best way I think, to raise Winter Wheat on new prairie, is to break it in June very
shallow, and cross-plough it a little deeper than it was broken, about the end of August, then sow and harrow it well, and leave it as rough as you can.
If among corn, sow about the last of August, or first of September, and put in with a double shovel-plough, by going twice in a row. Cattle must not be allowed to run on it and tramp it, unless the ground is covered with snow. The stalks must be broken down or cut, in spring. To break them, one takes a pole, ten or twelve feet in length, and hitches a team to it, so as to draw it sideways, when the snow is off, and the ground and stalks frozen, and break three rows at once. One man with a team will break thirty acres in a day. I roll all my small grain in spring, thinking that it grows more evenly, and knowing that it is better harvesting.
A surprising fact, which deserves to be mentioned is, that many good farmers in the State of Illinois have often looked upon growing Winter Wheat as an enterprise which is not always attended with the best success, or which comparatively affords but little profits; while it may be derived from very reliable sources, that at the time when the country was first settled, some farmers in the neighborhood of Rock River did not seldom produce over forty bushels of wheat to
For fear of ill success in growing Winter Wheat, they mostly depend upon Spring Wheat, and there can certainly no failures of the crops occur, if the soil is but properly tilled, that is to say, if you plough deep enough, not only three inches, but from three to six inches deep, which practice, though requiring more labor and expense, will amply recompense, and be of incalculable advantage to those who do not object to it. The result of the first crop is of greater importance to the new settler or beginner, than any of the subsequent ones, because at the beginning such heavy expenses will arise, that no one should neglect the somewhat exhausting labor of tearing open the sod turned round. Winter Wheat will then yield a splendid crop. On older land the culture of Winter Wheat deserves a particular attention, where the seed cast between the corn rows still on the field, is ploughed in with a three-shovel cultivator. Seldom as this last method is adopted, several years' practice have shown, that such winter seed is least exposed to freezing, because the dropping corn-leaves screen it exceedingly well, and the wheat soon overtops the stubble, so that at barvest-time, it forms no obstruction. One could certainly put in a great deal more wheat in this manner, if there would not usually be too much weed amongst the corn-rows, or if as it frequently happens, the wind had not broken or bent so many corn-stalks. Adother fact which should not be left unobserved, is, that seed wheat should never be threshed with a machine, but should be carefully shelled to prevent its cracking; from a continued use of threshed wheat for seed, it becomes more and more degenerated every year, and the blasting or sickening in general, of the wheat designated for seed, may really be derived from the wrong method of threshing the same, it becoming spoiled by the thresher. Many kernels are broken or partially mashed, and can never produce a perfect crop, but on the contrary, render poorer and poorer every succeeding harvest.