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The Gem state rural. [volume] (Caldwell, Idaho) 1895-1910, January 03, 1907, Image 1

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Gem State Rural
Vol. XII
Caldwell, Idaho, January, 3, 1907
No. 5
, An Idaho Wheat Problem.
(By Prof. J. Shirly Jones, Chemist
of Idaho Experiment Station) .
I When Prof. Crosthwait asked me
to speak before the members of the
Idaho Agronomy Association, upon
the topic before you, "An Idaho
Wheat Problem," I hesitated some
what before giving my consent to
this arrangement. Not but what it
is apparent that we are face to face
with a problem relating to wheat
culture and improvement in this part
of the country, but because it seems
to me that we have not much more
than entered upon its solution and
I at first thought it best not to bring
the matter up for discussion at this
meeting. However, upon further re
flection, it seemed apparent that the
more matters of this nature are dis
cussed in gatherings of this kind,
the broader will become our views
and the more quickly can we look
for results from what work is being
done or is in contemplation. Indeed
it is conceivable that the problem in
Its broadest possible form (i. e..
from seed selection to marketing, in
one form or another, of the finished
crop) might very profitably be open
ed up here. However, I do not in
tend to deal with the question so
comprehensively. My remarks have
two objects in view, first to bring
to your attention a certain phrase of
the problem (that of improvement
in quality) and to ask your co-oper
ation in its solution, and second, to
outline as briefly as possible certain
lines of investigation w'hich are to
be taken up by the department of
chemistry. Investigations which we
hope will prove to be of value to
wheat growers in general and of
Northern Idaho in particular.
That part of the problem before
ns, briefly stated, is this, a substan
tial and permanent improvement in
the quality of w'heat raised for flour
making purposes, w'hile not allowing
a decrease in the average yield or
the loss of any of the desirable qual
ities our wheats already have,
present, the greatest part of
wheat grow'ers here is intended for
flour making purposes, but it should
be borne in mind that while the
yields are for the most part entirely
satisfactory, the quality of the flour
made from it is not quite what our
The mill
millers desire nor w'hat we believe
it can be made by proper methods of
seed selection and culture,
ers want a "stronger" wheat, simply
because the trade demands a "strong
By "stronger" we mean
er" flour.
a wheat that will not only yield a
higher percentage of gluten in the
flour made from it, but one whose
gluten shall have the characteristics
which enables the bakers to get,
from a given w'eight of the flour, the
of good
highest possible number
loaves of bread.
It should be the
pride of every wheat growing local
that its wheat yields a high
But if your miller
grade of flour.
has to have wheat shipped in from
other sections and uses it in prefer
ence to yours, something is wrong,
You should try to ascertain what it
is and seek for a remedy. By so
doing you "will undoubtedly be able :
to do 'something towards the soin- 1
flour is poor. But at present there
is far too much of our wheat that
is being ground into flour for export
ation to the Orient, simply because
it can't be profitably sold on the
home market.
There are evidently a good many
factors to be taken into considera
tion if we are to get the best possi
hie results from our wheat crops,
Climate, altitude, soil ingredients, all
doubtless exert an influence upon the
quality of wheat produced. So far
as I am aware, however, no one has
yet been able to say that this or
that factor always predominates in
the making of a good strong wheat,
Just as some of the older wheat
growing sections of the country had
to experiment for a number of years
before finding the varieties best suit
ed to their conditions, so we will
have to pass through similar stages
of experimentation before finding the
solution of the particular phase of
the question which confronts
The reason for this is found in the
simple fact that wheat, not being a
native of the United States, its intro
duction into this country has been
tion of this problem. Not all of our
waiting upon the introduction of new
plants, that of acclimization, etc.
If, when the seed is transported to
its new home, it finds soil, climate,
etc., to its liking, i. e., similar to
i those it was accustomed to in its old
; home, no great difficulty is experi
■ enced in getting it started and it
will soon do as well in its new' as in
its old home. When, if the selection
has been a wise one, wheat growers
may soon profit by whatever merits
But should the new
it possesses.
there is almost sure to follow a re
I condition be not similar to the old,
that region justly famous as the
producer of most excellent brands of
trogression in quality, yield, etc.
The introduction of Turkey Red into
Kansas and Southern Nebraska some
eighteen or twenty years ago, was a
most fortunate occurrence for those
states and has resulted in making
flour, for the wheat took very kindly
to its new' environments and was A1
from the start. On the other hand,
other sections which are also pro
ducers of good milling wheat now,
were not so fortunate, for after the
of certain varieties
to be improved upon by tireless se
which were fairly good, these had
lection and crossing. Blue Stem and
Fifes of the Dakotas and Minnesota
are examples in point. This is true
of other sections, for the most part
the best wheat that is grown in any
locality is the one that has had the
greatest care taken in seed selection,
as the one that has been originated
from stock, also carefully selected,
which had certain good qualities, but
was not quite all that was wanted in
a milling wheat. My point is this:
Every section that is adapted to
wheat growing at all has of necessity
to introduce seed to start with. Now
should none of the varieties intro
juced prove to be all that is desired
in the mat ter of quality, improve
men t based upon the most desirable
G f these has to be resorted to. This
Is done by seed selection from that
So far as I am aware (if we leave
out of consideration the macaroni
wheat which is being extensively ex
perimented with at present) neither
w'hich is being grown, and breeding
up new strains from them.
Now Idaho is facing just these con
ditions, having been settled by peo
ple from all parts of the country, we
naturally find wheats being raised
here now' that were favorites in the
older wheat growing sections of the
East and South. Of the varieties
now growing some need no improve
ment in regard to yield, hardiness
and similar characteristics. But in
many cases the tendency is for the
nitrogen content, the element that
goes toward the making of a strong
wheat, to decrease from year to year.
Our problem, again stated, is to
stop this retrogression and if possi
ble to get the nitrogen content to
There are apparently certain sec
tions of this country which cannot
grow a strong wheat without con
stantly bringing in new' seed from
more favored localities. This is said
to be true of the southern states,
and more or less so of California.
has been able to introduce or origi
nate a wheat that will, year after
year come up to the exactions of the
millers. It is possible that the rea
son may be found in the soil compo
sition. We have good reason to be
; thankful that we are by no means
the producers of the poorest grades
of wheat,
î cussion I would sum up by saying:
! We have some excellent
Blue Stem and Red Turkey being
In concluding this part of the dis
; perhaps the best.
While Club, being
a more prolific yielder, and really
not so far behind the others in qual
ity, is not to be omitted. Thus far
we cannot tell exactly what causes
the tendency to deteriorate in
"strength" taking the same varieties
some sections, viz: the Lewiston
country, produces a stronger product
than do others. It is possible that,
like California people, less favored
localities will have to turn to this
one for their seed wheat. I believe,
however, that eventually every lo
cality will solve the question for it
self by choosing a variety which will
adapt itself to and lend itself to im
provements in that locality. It has
been my experience in wheat grow
ing that on almost every farm, cer
tain parts of the field will grow a
better grade of wheat than others.
The grain is heavier and darker in
color. It is an easy matter for any
grower to select his seed wheat from
such areas. The chances are in fa
vor of a better quality the succeed-!
ing season, other conditions being
equal. It appears to me that the
most feasible thing for the wheat
grower to do now is to exercise !
(care and attention in selecting his j
seed wheat. Either bring it from a
more favored locality or do as sug
The de
gested on your own farm,
partment of agronomy has been ex
perimenting with varieties and will
probably make certain crosses in or
der to develop a new strain better
suited to this section as a whole,
The probabilities are that we already
have enough varieties,
should hesitate to experiment in a
small way w'ith anything new while
he has the characteristics wanted
But no one
The second object in discussing
this question is to bring to your at
tention and consideration certain
lines of work which the department
of chemistry is taking up. Most
growers have a pretty good idea
concerning the relative merits of
whatever varieties they are growing.
The millers can tell if the farmer is
in doubt. But in order to get to the
bottom of the w'hole matter, the
chemistry department expects to
keep this question uppermost for a
time. We propose to analyze sam
ples of wheat from as many parts
of the state as show' a radical differ
ence in altitude, climate, methods of
cultivation, or any other difference
which might possibly cause a differ
ence in chemical composition of the
wheat grown there. The samples
are to include as many different va
rieties as will fairly represent those
being grown in this state. A record
of such analysis for a term of years
ought to, and probably will, shed
the of de
some upon
terioration in quality.
This will undoubtedly open up a
still broader field of work. The ef
fect of soil ingredients upon the
composition of the grain grown upon
it. The influence of rotation of
crops, for certainly we want to do
away with so much summer fallow.
Will the nitrogen added to the soil
by the grow'th of clover or other
the grain following it and all of these
points ought to be investigated. And
leguminous crops be made use of by
finally the examination of the milling
offer for its feeding value, will come
up for consideration. And will un
doubtedly be a valuable addition to
our knowledge of the subject as a
Lucid and Comprehensive Review of
States Horticultural Interests,
Judge Fremont Wood, president of
the Idaho Horticultural Association,
delivered the following able address
at the annual meeting at Payette:
"Ladies and Gentlemen and Mem
bers of the State Horticultural
Association: —
"It is not necessary for any of us
to state that we are more than fav
orably situated with reference to
soil, climate and natural surround
ings to make this one of the great
fruit producing regions of the coun
try. This fact has already been
demonstrated, and all that is needed
for the future is the ascertainment
of the best-methods, from the point
of selecting the site for the fruit
orchard until the product of our la
bors is placed upon the market in
the most attractive form.
It is less than 90 years since the
first work on Horticulture was pub
lished in this country. The work
refered to was "A view of the Culti
vation of Fruit Trees and the Man
agement of Orchards and Cider." It
was published by one William Coxe,
esq., of Burlington, New Jersey, in
In his introductory observa-

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