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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 aud 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 had 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 harrowed 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
Cattle must not be allowed to run on it and tramp it, unless the ground
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 bitches 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 exceediogly 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.
Oats are extensively grown in almost every part of the State, and never fail to produce a remunerating crop. In order to prevent their lodging or falling out, which they are apt to do soon after heading out, the farmer sows on corn land, and harrows in the crop, without using the plough, putting from two to three bushels on the acre. Mr. Jas. N. Brown, former Secretary of the State Agricultural Society, in a letter to the above named institution, says, that in his judgment, farmers are in the habit of putting too little seed of oats or other grain upon the acre ;
he thinks that if the land is too thinly sown, the deficiency resulting will be supplied by noxious weeds. The accounts of persons for many years engaged in farming, show that in some locations, only from 40 to 50 bushels of oats per acre have been obtained, while in other parts of the State, for example, in the vicinity of Springfield, from 60 to 80 bushels per acre, are obtained. It may not be a wrong suggestion that much depends on the quantity of seed oats planted in an acre; three bushels of seed will undoubtedly yield a more plentiful crop, than one and a half or two bushels, provided that the soil is well tilled.
Barley is commonly sown after Indian Corn. It seldom thrives on newly-broken soil. A gravelly soil, which is light, warm, and sandy, is best fitted for it. It should be prepared as early as possible in the
The ground for barley, more than for any other grain, must be deeply ploughed and finely pulverized. Twice ploughing is necessary, and unless the soil is very light, it would be an advantage to have one ploughing done in the fall. Barley may be sown after corn, potatoes, or beans; it is sometimes sown after wheat or oats, but though the grain in this case is always finely colored, it is bad farming, and, except under peculiar circumstances, should never be done. The earlier it is done the better, but it is sometimes sown as late as the last of May.
No crop, perhaps, is benefitted so much by rolling as barley. Wood ashes are an excellent manure for barley. Fresh barn-yard manure should not be used. Well rotted manure from the yard, thoroughly mixed with the soil, will give the tender grain a quick and vigorous start, and add greatly to the yield. Dry weather, after sowing, is highly favorable to this crop, but wet weather is injurious.
On new prairie-land barley is not a profitable crop, unless the soil be deeply broken up in the fall, and then thoroughly worked in the spring, with a cultivator, or by light ploughing, so as not to disturb the sod. Barley is one of the best crops to sow grass-seeds with, and ranks among those species of grain which are much cultivated, and very successfully, in a portion of the State.
Although rye is not extensively raised in Illinois, it cannot be denied that if the culture of it is properly managed, pretty good crops may here and there be obtained. Some farmers in St. Clair County and neighborhood, have, for some years past, been pretty successful with it. The farmers who live in the neighborhood of towns in this State, generally devote part of their land to the cultivation of it, in order to meet the demands of bakers.
Is an excellent crop, as far as it goes, and for the uses required. It is easily raised, requiring neither an over rich soil, nor a culture more particular than good management would demand for any crop. The best time for sowing it is the advanced part of the summer, when it will also work the destruction of the weeds ; so that the culture of this crop is favorable for cleaning the fields.
It may be sown in the course of the month of June, and it has even been put in as late as the 4th of July, and good crops have been obtained. It is usual to sow about one bushel per acre, or a little less, broadcast, and cover with the harrow. It is better to roll the ground after sowing. By so doing the crop grows slow; but without careful management, will be liable to become foul with sand or earth, and thus injure the flour made from the grain. The ground should be well tilled; there is no other difficulty in the culture. The crop is cut with the cradle before frost, and should be raked very carefully on a dry day, to avoid dirt. It is advisable to set up the gavels on the beds for drying, and to carry them to the floor and thresh immediately. The crop is liable to heat if staked or packed closely in a mow, and