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- all grew this year from white kernels, which I shelled with my own hands from a white ear, and planted far off from any other corn, so that there should be none with which they might mix. Here is the result; and I expected that result, for this reason: My little boy found an ear of white corn, and he planted it in the field, and brought me the crop; and about half the ears were red, and half white. He assured me that he planted nothing but white. But I wanted to be sure: * I planted the kernels from one white ear and the kernels from one red ear. I examined all the kernels, and planted them myself; so that there should be no possibility of mistake. Now, I have these ears; and they vary in their structure, in the form of the kernels, and in their color. Do you not see, that, in that variation, you have the basis of producing any number of varieties? I doubt not any man could take that ear, and, by careful selection, in ten years he might have a Very wide range of varieties of corn. From that one ear he can have large and small corn, red and white corn. You will observe that the mother-stalk of corn in this case has a peculiar power, because here is an ear that is all colored red. That color comes from the mother; that is, the stalk on which it grows. I think it was partly fertilized with white pollen, because these red and white ears were all picked from the same hill, growing side by side, and they ripened at the same time; and therefore it is fair to infer that those two ears were fertilized with pollen of exactly the same kind. You see that ear is red, and this is white, and has a very different form from the other. That shows, that, in this case, the mother, or the stalk upon which the ear grew, had a wonderful effect upon the color. In some other instances which I have observed, I have found that the pollen has very much more power than the mother-corn. But I made another discovery, which was quite unexpected to me, and which was to me very interesting, and I think I shall make it so to you, as bearing practically upon our work in agriculture. All these red ears that I hold in my hand were raised from kernels that came from one ear. I selected an ear of red rice-corn, shelled it myself, examined the kernels, and planted them ; and I raised all red corn. But what else did I find 2 I found certain ears entirely distinct from the others. There is one of them entirely distinct in the form of its kernels from the others; and, when I came to look at it, I found that nearly half of those kernels were shrivelled kernels; that is, they have the form of sweet-corn; and, if you pick one out and bite it, you will find that it is sweet-corn. You will say that that was fertilized by sweet-corn pollen. I tell you “No." These ears grew side by side on the same hill. You would pick one of those ears (I have a great many of them), with part of the kernels large and full, and part of them shrivelled, and you would also pick from the same hill one of these ears of pure rice-corn. How do I account for that? This rice-corn, last year, happened to grow in a part of my garden where the pollen of some sweet-corn was wafted over on to it; and that pollen of sweet-corn fertilized the seeds. But the mother-plant was so strong, that the pollen did not change the color, and did not change the form of the seeds: they remained exactly the same in form and color as those fertilized by their own pollen. But the next year, when I came to plant this corn, then it produced a form that showed that poison, if I may use the word “poison '' in this connection; that is, showed the influence of the pollen that fertilized the kernel the year before. Now, here is an ear that was produced from that little rice-corn from the effect of a grain of pollen fertilizing one of those kernels the year before.
If our corn is so sensitive as this to every grain of pollen which falls upon it, and if we cannot tell, by looking at a kernel, by what sort of pollen it was fertilized, it seems to me that we have much to learn in regard to the production of seed-corn.
Here is an ear that was raised by my friend Hon. Asahel Foote (many of you know him), a very shrewd observer. He brought this to me as a new thing. But it is exactly the same thing that I had raised in my own garden ; that is, it illustrates the same principle. He says, “Last year I had some corn growing near some sweet-corn, and I used some of it for seed-corn; and, behold, this year, although I planted. as I supposed, fine, plump corn, here I have ears with clusters of two, three, four, and five kernels of sweet-corn mixed in with the others. There was no sweet-corn, that I know of. within half a mile of it this year. These sweet kernels are the effect of the sweet-corn pollen that fertilized that corn last year.”
There is a curious thing about this result. It shows that the effect will appear in one kernel, and not in another, just as you may see, in a family of children, one that will take after neither father nor mother, but will take after some ancestor far removed.
Now, we are very particular in regard to raising animals; but we do not take sufficient pains, it seems to me, to procure good seed for our crops. We have growing in all our fields a large amount of very inferior corn. We have some that produces very small ears. We have suckers coming up that may not produce any corn: they will put out tassels, and produce pollen ; and some of our corn is fertilized by that pollen. We pick out the large ears that grow on large stalks, and we say, “We will take these for seed.” That is doing well. But then those large and plump kernels may have been fertilized by very inferior stalks of corn : they may have been fertilized by some suckers even, that were unable to produce corn at all. Don't you suppose those kernels from ears that have grown on large stalks will have a tendency to produce those small, insignificant ears of corn, such as the stalks by which they are fertilized, bore ? I have no doubt of it. My judgment is, that in order to raise good, prolific seed-corn, it will be necessary for a man to plant the best seed he can procure; and before the corn tassels, before it produces pollen, to go along the rows, and cut out every mean, miserable stalk, so that every ear shall stand on a proper stalk (that is, have a proper mother), and shall be fertilized by pollen that has come from a strong, healthy, corn-producing stalk. If you will follow that up for years, I believe you will have corn of a size and quality that you cannot produce by the common method of selecting seed.
I told you I should come back, by variation, to the corn. That is the point from which I should have desired to start, had I not been informed that another man is to take that as his starting-point to-morrow night. Now, Mr. Flint wrote me, that, if I would come down and do this very ungracious work, I might stop just when I pleased. I have come to the Point where I propose to stop this purely extemporaneous speech. But there is one thing more I want to present. Look at these flowers and fruits, and see what the vegetable kingdom is to-day; think of that power that has been lodged in every plant out of all these useful plants to man,— the power of constant variation. Let it be remembered, that although we may have the most beautiful rose, or the most beautiful flower here, next year some one may produce, by virtue of this law of which I have spoken, a still more beautiful one ; that although you may have the most delicious grapes, strawberries, oranges, peaches, pears, next year some one may have something better than those. That is, in all these plants that we have for beauty and for utility, there is lodged a principle that is exactly in keeping with the nature of that mind which God has given us. He has given us a mind that is capable of indefinite improvement. There is no end to the knowledge that man may gather and use ; and in the nature of the plants with which this earth is clothed we have the same law. They may go on improving indefinitely. No man can place a limit to the improvement of fruits and flowers. There is no limit to the operation of that law placed in them, of indefinite improvement, corresponding exactly to the law which God has given our minds, that we may improve indefinitely. And it is here, in my judgment, that we have the best pay that we possibly can have, as we go on from day to day earning our living from the soil, that we can use these grand laws which God has impressed upon the plants we cultivate, to increase their beauty for our delight, as well as their utility for our comfort and support. The enjoyment that comes from the contemplation of such laws and such results is a rich reward for a rational being. Major PHINNEY of Barnstable. I feel that it is but due to Professor Chadbourne to say that he has always been prompt to respond to every call of the Board of Agriculture, as he has done in this emergency. I would move that a vote of thanks be tendered to him for his useful, interesting, and instructive lecture this evening.
This motion was carried unanimously, and the Board adjourned to Wednesday morning at half-past nine o'clock.
The meeting was called to order at half-past nine o'clock by Capt. MooRE, who introduced as the chairman for the day Mr. Avery P. SLADE of Somerset. The discussion opened with a paper on
THE BREEDING, TRAINING, AND MANAGEMENT OF HORSES.
BY JOHN E. RUSSELL OF LEICESTER.
The gentlemen who have assigned to me a subject so broad and comprehensive as the breeding, management, and training of horses are well aware that its thorough treatment would require volumes: they must therefore intend, in the necessary limits of such a paper, that I touch it with a light hand, and merely suggest points for discussion. It is generally conceded that horse-breeding in New England, as a business, is not successful; that it is not the legitimate occupation of the farmer, but only the pleasurable pursuit of those who can afford to breed without regard to profit. We have the testimony of breeders of all classes, who agree upon this point. I may add to this conclusion, that New-England horse-breeding, for twenty years past, has not only been without profit, but it has been discreditable, inasmuch as the great proportion of horses produced have been of poor quality, neither fit for genteel service, nor for the labors of the farm. Many reasons are assigned for this failure. Long arguments are made to show that we neglect certain mysterious laws of selection, that, if understood, would lead us to results as positive as are obtained by those who successfully breed sheep, hogs, or horned cattle.
People ignorant of their business, or careless in it, commonly fail; but it cannot be said that our horse-breeding has been attempted merely by the heedless and the ignorant. It has been attempted by men successful in other pursuits; it has enlisted great enthusiasm; it has commanded large capital; it has had intelligent exposition; and it has been the theme of constant discussion. Men of high social position and wide personal influence have engaged in it, and been cordially supported in their sales; but the summing up is financial loss, disappointment, and disgust.