Page images
PDF
EPUB

and that the efforts of this association of seed growers, in an endeavor to further encourage the production and more general use of high-class seed of all kinds of farm crops, will meet their hearty approval and support.

Mr. L. H. Newman, B.S.A., Ottawa: At the present time there is a great deal of scientific thought centred in the cultivation of the soil, but much less stress is laid on the value of high-class grain for seed. The seed producer has been slow to recognize that plant life is in a large measure within his control. During the past number of years much valuable work has been done by Mr. Zavitz in establishing good vari. eties, and in many cases farmers have taken advantage of that knowledge. But this is not enough; there is no guarantee that when good varieties are introduced they will continue to be good varieties in general cultivation on the Ontario farms, for no selection is made between inferior and high-class grain for seed. That is the reason why in so many cases we hear that seed has run out, that a change is wanted, etc. Farmers should be taught to select their seed right in the field. There they have the advantage of having a large number of plants to select from, and of knowing the plants themselves, which is of primary importance. The principles governing the selection of seed are similar to those employed in selecting live stock. It is safe to assume that such characteristics as vigor of growth, and productiveness, etc., are transmitted from the parent to the seed, just as surely as in the case of animals. It is safe to assume that by systematic selection the yields of our present varieties may be increased very largely from what they are at the present time.

What does this work mean to the Province? The present census gives 110,000,000 bushels of oats for the past year, which, at 30 cents per bushel, would

mean about $33,000,000 If the highest class seed had been used, we may easily suppose that the yield would have been increased by twenty per cent., which, at the same price, would mean a total value of about $40,000,000, instead of $33,000,000. When we consider what has been done in plant breeding, and in building up varieties in this and other countries, it is safe to assume that there is no limit to the betterment of plant varieties. We now have a number of farmers in the Province who are endeavoring to produce highclass seed. During the past summer I had charge of the work of inspecting the plots in the district west of Toronto. In most cases the men are becoming very enthusiastic and are doing excellent work. One man said: “I am making quite a reputation for myself. When I started this work, my neighbors laughed at me, but now they are coming to me for seed, and I have sold over 200 bushels during the past year at 75 cents per bushel, and could sell almost any quantity." But it is only by a process of education that the farmers over the country generally can be induced to produce such seed. Even if you do not wish to produce high-class seed for sale, the profits you will reap from sowing such seed on your own farm will be very apparent.

Dr. Jas. Mills: It was with great pleasure that I listened to Mr. Clark's remarks regarding the attempt that is being made to secure improved varieties of seeds by selection and breeding. The Union has done a great work in testing varieties. It is a work that is worthy of more attention both here and elsewhere. I believe it is possible to improve the standard in plants by selection and breeding, just as it is in live stock.

SEED INSPECTION BILL.

Mr. T. H. Mason: During the last two or three years we have heard a great deal about the defects of the seed trade in Ontario. When the seed laboratory wa's éstablished at Ottawa, samples of seeds were obtained from all over the Province and analyzed, and the results were a revelation to the farmers. At the last session of 'Parliament the Minister of Agriculture introduced a bill, which was pretty thoroughly threshed out in the House, and was laid over for future consideration until the coming session. One section of the seed trade has given the bill the strongest possible opposition, while another section of the trade is in favor of it. The feeling of the people is very strongly in favor of the measure. I do not think we should let an opportunity like this pass without placing ourselves on record on the subject.

After the provisions of the bill had been explained by Mr. G. H. Clark, the following resolution was moved by T. H. Mason, seconded by W. B. Roberts: "That we, the members of this the Ontario Agricultural and Experimental Union, hereby express our approval of the principles embodied in the bill respecting the 'Inspection and Sale of Seeds,' that was recently introduced into Parliament, and ask the Honorable, the Minister of Agriculture for Canada, to urge upon Parliament, without unnecessary delay, the necessity for the adoption and application of those principles which we believe will materially serve to protect the farmers of this Province from evils connected with the commerce in agricultural seeds.

THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF SOME INSECTICIDES FOR THE PO

TATO BEETLE.

By Prof. R. Harcourt, Agricultural College, Guelph. It would appear that the number of enemies of cultivated plants is either increasing or the attacks are much more energetic than formerly. This may be due to the greater ease with which most of the injurious forms can pass from one part of the country to another, or to the fact that in many cases the plants are not as strong and vigorous as in former years, and thus less able to withstand the attacks of their enemies. Whatever may be the cause for the greater ravages of insect and fungous pests, the farmer and fruit grower of to-day finds the use of insecticides and fungicides indispensable to the production of a crop of good quality, or, indeed, in many cases to the production of any crop at all. It is impossible for him to fence out the many forms of pests which seek to share with him the products of his labors. In many cases his foes are invisiblefoes which he does not understand and which he is at a loss to know how to combat. In other instances his enemies may be visible enough, but swarm over the field in such immense numbers that he must have some quick, effective method of dealing with them or his whole crop will be destroyed. This condition of affairs has brought into the market a very large number of insecticides and fungicides, all of which are said to produce wonderful results. Without a doubt, many of these substances will fulfil, at least fairly well, the claims of the manufacturers. There are some, however, that contain so small an amount of anything that will destroy either insects or fungi that they are practically worthless, and for that reason commerce in them should be discouraged.

It is not the intention in this paper to deal with all the insecticides and fungicides that have come into general use; but simply to treat a few of those used in fighting the potato beetle. One of the most important of these is Paris green. Paris green, if perfectly pure chemically, is a compound made up of three substances—arsenious acid, acetic acid and copper oxide-in chemical combination called copper aceto-arsenite. These three substances should be present in the following proportions : Arsenious acid.....

58.65 per cent. Copper oxide..

31.29 per cent. Acetic acid..

10.06 per cent. Because of faulty methods of manufacture, however, and also because arsenious acid cheaper than the other constituents of Paris green, large amounts of this substance are sometimes present in an uncombined condition. The free arsenious acid is soluble in

.

water, and will cause great damage to the foliage by scorching. To overcome the injurious effect of the free acid, lime is usually mixed with the Paris green in water. Very frequently, however, the two substances are not left long enough in contact with one another to allow the lime to combine with the arsenious acid, and scorching of the leaf follows its application to the plant.

Another method of adulterating Paris green is by the addition of gypsum or clay. It is hardly necessary to state that these substances are absolutely worthless

as insecticides, and are only added to give weight. However, in Bulletin No. 88 of the Inland Revenue Department, Ottawa, dated July 31st, 1903, Thomas Macfarlane, Chief Analyst, states that out of 161 samples of Paris green collected in various parts of the Dominion, only 4.2 per cent, were adulterated. He also states that it seems that an improvement has been taking place during the last ten years in the quality of the Paris green sold in Canada. The percentage of the total number of samples collected at diiferent dates found to be pure were as follows :

1894. ...
1895.
1902-'03.

72.2 per cent. genuine
89.1 per cent. genuine
95.8 per cent. genuine

On the other hand, we found as a result of work done in our own laboratory on 23 samples of Paris green, collected principaliy from country stores in the early part oi this year, that 82.6 per cent, of them were more or less adulterated.

London purple is another arsenical insecticide sold in considerable quantities in this country. This substance is prepared by boiling a purple residue from the dye industry, containing free arsenious acid, with slacked lime. In case not enough lime is added to the dye residue or the boiling not continued long enough, some of the arsenious acid will be in the free condition, thus causing the foliage to be scorched. Because London purple is made from a by-product, therefore, not as pure a poison as Paris green, and because too much lime used in neutralizing the arsenious acid becomes an adulteration, and too little allows free acid to be present, it is not

as reliable as poison as Paris green. Lead arsenate is probably the most insoluble of all the arsenicals used

as insecticides, and, consequently, is the least liable to scorch foliage. The lead arsenate is mixed with a quantity of organic matter, principally sugars, to cause it to stick to the leaf. Practical tests with this insecticide show that its action is excellent, and that on account of its almost .entire insolubility it seldom scorches the leaf. It requires about four pounds of this substance, as usually found in the market, to furnish as much arsenious oxide as one pound of Paris green.

During the last few years there has been a number of insecticides, depending on arsenic for their poison, placed on the market. Some of these are said to act both as an insecticide and a fungicide, and to supply plant food. As these substances may be bought for much less than Paris green, they have found a ready sale. We gathered a number of these mixtures from merchants in Guelph, and submitted them to analyses for the purpose of ascertaining just what they do contain. The results obtained correspond very closely with those reported elsewhere.

The sample of Black Death examined was found to contain copper oxide and arsenious acid equivalent to .43 per cent. of Paris green. The balance of the material was sand, charcoal, gypsum, and limestone. In other words, there was less than a halfpound of Paris green in 100 pounds of the mixture. It would therefore require over 200 pounds of this insecticide to furnish one pound of Paris green. It is sold for 2 cents per pound, or 15 pounds for 25 cents.

Bug Finish, another of these insecticides examined, contained copper and arsenic equivalent to 1.06 per cent. of Paris green. No other substance that would destroy in

sum.

sects was found. The principal materials used for "make weight” were sand and gyp

This insecticide is sold at the same rate as Black Death. Kno Bug is the name given to another mixture which the manufacturers claim will not only kill the bug, but, unlike Paris green, it acts as a vegetable tonic and stimulates the growth of the plant. The sample analysed contained copper and arsenic in sufficient quantities to amount to 2.49 per cent of Paris green.

It also contains 4.50 per cent of potassium nitrate. The latter is certainly a plant food, but, as we understand the physiology of plants, none of it would be absorbed by the leaves, and must fall to the earth and be taken up by the roots before it would be of any benefit to the plant. Under these circumstances it would seem better practice to keep insecticides and fertilizers separate. Kno Bug is sold in 20-pound boxes, at the rate of 6 cents per pound.

Slug Shot was found to be composed almost entirely of crude gypsum, with copper and arsenic equivalent to 2.13 per cent. of Paris green. There is also present small quantities of sulphur, carbolic acid, and tobacco. The latter substances are of value as insecticides and fungicides, but 10 cents per pound, or 3 pounds for a quarter, seems like a big price to pay for such a mixture.

It may not be fair to value Slug Shot solely on the basis of the Paris green it contains, for carbolic acid is a poison ; but, for the sake of comparison, let us see what Paris green costs in these four mixtures. Calculating on the basis of the percentage of this poison as given below, we get the following figures :

Cost of Paris Green in the Various Insecticides F.xamined.

[blocks in formation]

* Also contains 4.5 per cent. of potassium nitrate for which no value is here shown. + Also contains carholic acid and tobaron for which no value is here shown.

Another insecticide, not depending upon arsenic for its poison, that has been sold in large quantities in the Province during the last few years was analysed. This insecticide, known as Bug Death, is said to kill bugs, feed the plant, increase the yield, and improve the quality of the potatoes. It is practically an impure or commercial zinc oxide. The only constituent present of any fertilizing value is nitrogen, of which there is less than two-tenths of one per cent. It, therefore, cannot supply any material amount of plant food. It appears to have a very strong fungicidal action, and has given good results in actual practice. It is sold at 15 cents per pound, or in 100-pounds lots at 7 cents per pound. It would appear from the above facts that some of the insecticides now

on the market are not of sufficiently high quality to be recommended for general use.

Q.: What is Paris green adulterated with?
Prof. Harcourt: Most commonly with gypsum, road dust, etc.

Q.: Is there a preparation used in the United States called White Arsenic, that is perfectly soluble?

Prof. Harcourt: I do not know of White Arsenic being used by itself as an insecticide. White Arsenic in water forms arsenious acid, which would scorch the leaves of the plant to which it may be applied. The destruction of foliage by Paris green is due to this substance. White Arsenic has been used successfully when boiled with lime, formAs a

ing calcium arsenite, thus neutralizing the acidity of the acid. Prof. Taft, of Michigan,
suggest boiling one pound of white arsenic and two pounds of lime in two gallons of
water for forty minutes, and then diluting as required. One pound of arsenic com-
bined in this way may be used as a substitute for two pounds of Paris green.
matter of precaution, it is better to add an additional pound of lime for every pound of
arsenic when diluting for the spray tank.

Q.: Have you had any experience with chemicals 'for the destruction of weeds?
Prof. Harcourt: You refer to the use of copper and iron sulphates?
A.: Yes, and arsenic, too.

Prof. Harcourt: I have had no personal experience with the use of chemicals for this purpose. The Biological Department has demonstrated, both in this neighborhood and in various parts of the Province, that copper sulphate will destroy mustard. They have also used chemicals successfully in destroying other weeds; but I do not know the details of their experimental work.

Q.: You spoke of Bug Death; how does it compare with Paris green in cost?

Prof. Harcourt: It costs more than Paris green. I think last year Mr. Zavitz reported that the Paris green applied in his experiments costs 60 cents per acre, and the Bug Death $7.65 per acre.

Q.: As a fungicide is it as good as Bordeax mixture?

Prof. Harcourt: In some experiments carried on here it has given better results than Paris green and Bordeaux mixture combined.

Q.: How much Paris green would you use to the acre?

Prof. Harcourt. About a pound. Some complain that they have of late years had to increase the quantity, saying that years ago they had to use only eight to twelve ounces. When Bug Death first came out across the line, several of the experiment stations tested it. One State reported that they used 100 lbs. per acre and got no results. Since then the same State has reported favorably of it, using 20 to 30 lbs. to the acre.

Mr. Zavitz: We started eight years ago to experiment with insecticides for the potato beetle. We now have the results of eight years' tests, which are interesting and very suggestive. Two years ago we added the Bug Death to the list of insecticides which had been tested previously. The average results are as follows:

[blocks in formation]

Q.: Is there any more labor in applying Bug Death dry than with water?
Prof. Zavitz: Rather more labor than where we used the spray pump.

Q.: Can you give the comparative cost of treating an acre of potatoes with Paris green and Bordeaux mixture? I notice that in the report of the Experimental Farm at Ottawa, the cost appears to be about $9 per acre with Bordeau mixture.

Prof. Zavitz: At our Union meeting last year, Mr. Macoun stated that it had cost them about $8 per acre for the material, while Mr. Harold Jones reported the cost of material used by him at about $3.75 per acre. Mr. Mason: In a wet season it is neces

essary to make more applications than in a dry one, which would make considerable difference in the cost.

« PreviousContinue »