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INFLUENCE OF SEED UPON CROP.
Years and years ago wise men who studied common things
and worked in the great laboratory of nature began improv
ing a scrafny dwarf, the head of which contained a grain or
two of wheat, and by the most careful and skillful hybridiz
ing, selection and cultivation lifted the plant by successive
steps, first, to the head containing from six to a dozen grains;
then a step higher to the spelt; another step to the Polish
wheat (sometimes called giant rye), and finally through skill
ful breeding and selection to the full wheat in the ear as we
have it in the best varieties today.
Through the delicate process of cross-fertilization and the
careful selection and propagation of sports, new varieties
are being yearly added to the list, though it takes more than
one year's selection to thoroughly establish valuable traits.
Our best varieties having been thus brought to a high and,
we might say, artificial degree of perfection, it is not to be
wondered at that under the less thorough and often careless
methods of wheat growers generally they show a constant
tendency to degenerate in the direction of their former lower
levels. Even our most thorough farmers seldom go beyond
the ordinary method of seed selection, which method is to
choose a variety having a local reputation as a good yielder,
and, when threshed, remove light and foreign seeds with
fanning mill. This is commendable and should never be
neglected. It is the busy farmer's method, and in many
cases the only one practicable.
Experiments have shown that larger yields may be se
cured from selected seed than from light seed. But import
ant as this form of selection is, experiments have also shown
that a much greater gain may be secured in many cases by
discarding inferior varieties and selecting the best. These
two lines of selection must go together in order to secure
best possible results. The following brief summary of results
obtained at two stations will serve to reinforce the above
The average of four years' experiments at the Kansas sta
tion in seeding with light and heavy seed of fall wheat shows
a difference in yield of one and one-half bushels per acre in
favor of the heavy seed. At the same station six years' trial
of 35 varieties, under practically the same conditions, shows
an extreme variation of over 11 bushels per acre, the average
yield running all the way from 22.20 to 33.30 bushels per
acre. Similar results have been obtained elsewhere.
At the Ontario station four years' tests in spring wheat
gave an average difference in yield of three bushels and three
pecks in favor of large, plump seed over shrunken seed. At
the same station, nine varieties in seven years gave an aver
age yield of about 2TV 2 bushels, while the best one of the
nine varieties gave an average yield of about 33% bushels
As before stated, the grading of seed is commendable; but
it does not provide for that system of careful individual se
lection practiced by those who originate our best varieties,
a system identical with that followed by our best corn grow
ers, who enter the fields ere the crop is gathered and choose
with reference to the "points" developed in the entire plant.
In this connection we wish briefly to refer to the work of
Mr. Hallett in England. In one instance this eminent wheat
breeder selected the largest and best heads from the tallest
and heaviest stalks, those coming from strong, vigorous
roots, which had tillered or "stooled out" well. These were
threshed, and he was then ready to proceed with the ordinary
method of selection, by removing all imperfect grains. By
repeating this process through a series of some four years,
he was enabled to produce heads that were twice as long and
contained three times as many grains; and roots that pro
duced five times as many branches as the variety with which
The foregoing may serve to suggest the true secrets of suc
cess in the improvement of varieties by seed selection; also
the reason why the best new varieties yield so well at first,
often even increasing in productiveness during the first few
years, as they become better adapted to local environment,
and why it is that even in the hands of our best farmers they
finally run out, become unprofitable and are superseded.
Since the introduction of the erstwhile popular favorites,
as Mediterranean, Fultz, and others, themselves on the wane,
many varieties have come and gone and many farmers have
been deceived and suffered loss by relying upon imperfectly
developed new sorts, carelessly—we might almost say crimi
nally foisted upon the public before their desirable traits had
become fixed, and without a well authenticated record to
support the claims of their introducers. It is not so much
great yields in a single favorable season as it is hereditary
RANCHE AND RANGE.
vigor, hardiness, purity and an inherent tendency to produce
large yields under varied conditions that we must look after
carefully if we would grow wheat more profitably.
At this writing the so-called visible supply of wheat is re
ported lower than at any time since 1891, and if the govern
ment estimates for the 1897 crop are approximately correct,
high prices should prevail for some years to come. Taking
this view of the situation, the advice to sow more wheat
would seem timely (though we could change it to grow more
wheat, for this can be done without increasing acreage).
Sow only the cleanest, plumpest and purest seed of the most
prolific varieties obtainable. If you would grow the best
wheat, sow the best seed, thus enhancing your chances of ob
taining a larger yield.—Epitomist.
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September number of the BUYER'S GUIDE now ready. It
contains SIXTEEN pages of valuable information; the latest
prices on all articles for the home;
Future Crop Prospects
All of interest to the produces of farm products.
Sent Free to any address on application.
Send in your name. Our article on "Wheat ami Wool"
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