« PreviousContinue »
13. What is the best way of using swamp muck, and on what soils should it be used ?
14. What is the worth of dry swamp muck, per cord, for agricultural purposes
15. What is the average cost of raising and storing one acre of Indian Corn, Rye, Wheat, Oats, or Barley, in your town, the average yield per acre, and the price per bushel :
16. How many pounds of Indian Meal are equivalent to one hundred pounds of good English Hay, as food for stock:
17. What is thought to be the value of Apples, either for flesh or milk, for stock, and the value of Cooked Apples for Swine?
18. To what extent have the ravages of worms affected the orchards this season?
19. What number of mowing machines have been used in your town, and with what success ?
20. What is the cost of raising a Horse up to the age of three, four, or five years, and what is the average value at those ages?
22. What proportion of the farmers of your town derive their entire support from the farm?
23. Has the number of farmers in your town increased or decreased within the last ten years, and how much?
You will greatly oblige me by sending a reply before the first of November.
Very truly, your obedient servant,
CHARLES L. FLINT,
Secretary of the Board of Agriculture.
As this was my only means of procuring these important statistics, it was hoped that the farmers would cordially coöperate with me, and that the returns would be complete from nearly every town to which the circular was sent. It is but justice to say that my expectations have generally been answered. These returns, coming as they do from every section of the Commonwealth, imbody the opinions of the most intelligent portion of the agricultural community upon the most important interests of their occupation, and are second in value only to accurate official statistics. The returns will be found condensed, and arranged for convenience, in the form of a table, showing the estimated average yield and cost per acre of the staple products of Massachusetts, as follows:
- Conc-fourth under 33 8 50,0nc-fourth under 18 8 63 slightly under. 2345 9 50 one-third under. 17 11 00 slightly under. In
some sectio!)s &
failure. average. 30 14 00 average. 20 13 67 average. 15 13 00 somewhat under
good average. 17117 09. one-third under. 9
7 00 one-third under. 15
6 50 one-fourth under -|
one-sixth under. 22 6 00, somewhat under 86 00 a little under.
This table is designed to show how much the crops have been injured by the drought in different sections of the State. It would have been more strictly accurate to give the returns as made from each town; but the great space which would have been required made it impossible, and they have accordingly been condensed, and given for the counties, by means of the average of all the towns in each county. This will be found to be a very near approximation to the truth.
It appears from this table, which has been very carefully prepared from the original returns made by the farmers themselves, that the estimated average yield of Indian corn for the whole State is thirty-one bushels per acre. Some counties suffered more than others; and the cost of raising per acre is of course greater in some counties than in others, according to the nature of the soil, the local prices for farm labor, and other local circumstances. .
No crop, on the whole, withstands the drought so well as Indian corn. This plant possesses a wonderful flexibility of organization, which adapts it to a great variety of climate and soil. The yield the past year has been somewhat under the average; but, judging from the tone of the returns, it is of good quality. A farmer of Middlesex County says, “ Corn is quite sound this year, and, with a little more rain in July, would have been uncommonly heavy, as we have had uncommon heat."
For the last three years, this crop has been more extensively cultivated than formerly, and it has now become the prime staple product of New England. Owing to some cause at present unknown, the disease which has attacked the potato for the last few years has not made its appearance the past year. This crop has therefore turned out better than for the last nine years, notwithstanding the fears which were entertained of its failure. But two or three instances of the disease appear in the returns. But for some cause or other, still unknown, the yield per acre, where not affected by the rot, is far less than it was in former years, when it was not uncommon to get from 300 to 400 bushels from a single acre. An experienced farmer of Middlesex County says, “For twenty years or more there has been a gradual decrease in the potato crop. Under the same treatment for some years past, I have been unable to obtain more than one-third the number of bushels from the acre I had in former years, admitting them all to be sound. The present year, my Long Reds, which were of good size, required twenty-four hills to fill a bushel basket. I formerly filled my bushel from eight hills, a little later from ten, then from twelve; and so on, up to the present time, gradually diminishing in yield.” This has been the experience of most farmers, some ascribing it to the exhaustion of the soil, but most confessing an entire ignorance of the cause. Another farmer of Worcester County says, “ The decrease is at least one-fourth within the last ten years, or since the disease commenced. The decrease per acre, arising from unknown causes, has been, within thirty years, more than one-half, saying nothing about the disease; i. e., one-half the potatoes in the hill.”
There was probably a somewhat larger number of acres planted the past season throughout the State than for a few years past. This is alluded to by correspondents in different parts of the State. A practical farmer of Worcester County says, “Owing to there being a much larger area planted than usual, and no rot, it is believed that twice as many potatoes have been raised in this town and vicinity as in any year for the last ten years. The decrcase, on account of the drought, I have already given as from 30 to 35 per cent. The quality of potatoes was never better.”
From another part of the State an intelligent farmer writes as follows: “No complaint is made this year of diseased potatoes; in fact, they have not been so good and sound for many years as they are this season. The quantity of potatoes raised now is not more than half of what it formerly was. Then 250 or 300 bushels to the acre was not considered an uncommon crop; but now 150 bushels is called a good yield. The diminution in quantity may be attributed in a measure to the uncertainty of the crop, in consequence of the prevalence of the disease or blight." A farmer of Essex County writes as fol. lows: “Probably there has been a decrease of nearly one-half in the number of acres planted with potatoes, and about the same decrease in the yield per acre. Formerly, before the rot made its appearance, our farmers used to manure highly, and the yield on good lands was about 200 bushels to the acre; since then they have had an idea that manure increased the rot."
Although the trees of the forest had generally made their growth for the year before the drought commenced, yet our returns show that they suffered greatly from its effects; and here we have another proof of its severity. When a drought is prolonged, the leafy organs of all vegetables, not finding their usual nourishment, and losing many of their own juices by evaporation, must cease to carry on the processes of life with vigor; in extreme cases they wither and die, and their loss may even cause the death of the plant. In a very dry atmosphere, the evaporation from the leaves of trees sometimes has a similar effect. These effects, the falling of the leaves, and the check, to a considerable extent, of the growth of the tree, were observed on shallow soils in all parts of the State during the hot weather of the last season. One farmer of Worcester County says: “It has retarded their growth, and caused their foliage to fall prematurely. The mountain ash seems to have been more seriously affected than any other tree that I have noticed. The leaves were actually dead, and most of them fallen, by the first of September.” So in Essex County, an observing farmer writes: “ We feel confident that forest trees have suffered to a considerable extent by the drought. In some instances a whole acre looked as if a fire had passed over it. This is not common.” In Middlesex County, “ The trees on hills having a rocky substratum, had the appearance given to a forest where a fire had been in its near vicinity, but had not passed directly through it. The leaves turned early, not assuming the usual autumnal tints, but a dingy brown or chocolate color.” Another says: “The drought appears to have been very injurious to the walnut in particular. Very many of these withered, and probably the coming season will tell a sorry account of the influence of the drought on trees." The results, except so far as they may be inferred from these extracts, cannot now be known.
I have already enumerated the most injurious droughts which have occurred in Massachusetts since its settlement, including that of the last year, and referred to the sufferings which arose