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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
EXPERIMENTS WITH SUGAR BEETS IN 1890.
PURCHASE AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEEDS.
From Mr. Henry T. Oxnard, the Department purchased 3 tons of sugar-beet seed, of which the greater portion was the variety known as the Klein Wanzlebener, grown by Dippe Brothers, of Quedlinburg. In addition to this, however, smaller quantities of the White Improved Vilmorin were purchased, together with the varieties of beets grown by Lemaire, Simon Legrand, Florimond, and Bulteau Desprez. These different varieties were put in one-pound packages and sent to over one thousand different persons who had made special inquiry for them. Accompanying these packages were directions for preparing the soil and planting and cultivating the beets. Directions were also sent for barvesting and sampling the beets and for sending samples to the Department for analysis. Nearly one thousand samples of beets were received by the Department, of which the analyses were made and the results communicatell to the farmers sending them. In addition to this work a large number of the beet plots were personally inspected by agents of the Department, and particular inquiry was directed to a large number of farmers in regard to the methods of cultivation which they had pursued.
Only in a few instances were the directions of the Department fol. lowed out to the letter. In most cases the planting and cultivation of the beet seed were conducted according to such methods as the agriculturist might bit upon at the time. From the information gathered it was found that the chief variation from the instructions was in the preparation of the soil. In very few cases was a subsoil plow used and most of the beets which were sent to the Department were evidently grown in soil of insufficient depth. In some cases, where the exact directions for cultivation were carried out, the character of the beets received showed by contrast with the others the absolute necessity of employing the best methods of agriculture for their production.
It was not thought best the first year to make any effort to obtain from the farmers the exact yield of their beets per acre. The difficulty of securing such information is almost insurmountable. In the first placas the amount of land under cultivation is usually guessed at, and in very few cases are exact measurements made. The results, therefore, at best are only estimates unless the absolute control of measurements and weights can be secured. It was thought best, therefore, to depend for estimates of yield upon the actual quality of the beets produced, since it is well known that about 40,000 beets of fair quality can be produced upon an acre. It is therefore fair to presume that the yield per acre would be, within ordinary limits, the weight of the average beet sent for analysis multiplied by 40,000. When, however, it is necessary to speak of the beets weighing over one pound the rule no longer holds good, as it would be evidently impracticable to grow 40,000 beets of such a size upon au acre. It is fair, however, to estimate the yield upon beets weighing about 1 pound at 40,000 per acre or 20 tons. It is not meant by this that a yield of 20 tons can be obtained by farmers at the beginning, for this is not the case; it is only exceptionally that such a yield can be secured. When, however, the exact methods of beet culture are thoroughly understood and the method of fertilizing and preparing the soil studied, it will not be difficult, with favorable climatic conditions, to secure a yield of beets equal to 20 tons per acre.
EXPERIMENTS AT FACTORIES.
By the courtesy of the managers of the company the Department was permitted to station a chemist at Grand Island, who had charge of the sampling of the beets as they came to the factory in wagons or carloads. Nearly three thousand analyses of samples were made and the full tabulated reports of these analyses will be found following. The proprietors of the factory were so encouraged by the season's work that they have decided to erect another large factory at Norfolk, Nebraska, and at the Chino Ranch in southern California, and work on these factories is now going on.
Manufacturing experiments, on a small scale, with sugar beets, were also carried on during the season just past at Medicine Lodge, Kansas. About 80 acres of beets in all were harvested for the factory, and a summary of the work done will be given in another place.
FINANCIAL RETURNS TO BEET-GROWERS. In general, the following remarks may be made concerning the last season's work in the beet-sugar industry, from a commercial point of view, in Nebraska and Kansas.
The summer in both localities was exceptionally dry. For this reason and on account of lack of knowledge among the farmers in regard to the proper methods of raising beets the average crop was very short. In Nebraska the exact tonnage can not be known, but probably it would not average more than 2 or 3 tons of beets per acre; in Kansas the average seems to have been somewhat higher. In many cases farmers obtained 10 and even 15 tons of beets per acre, showing that even in adverse conditions of season a reasonably large crop may be harvested when all other conditions necessary to the proper growth of the crop are attended to.