« PreviousContinue »
afterwards. When he has got rid of the grass he goes back to alfalfa. He sows alfalfa and brome grass and uses it for pasture. It will keep six times as much stock to the acre as blue grass.
Q: How much seed is required?
Prof. Spillman: Twenty pounds to the acre; a little more in the Eastern States.
Mr. Spillman: I have seen it a good many times and have grown it a few times; in general I regard it as a failure in the United States. Sweet clover is one of the best honey plants.
MACDONALD-ROBERTSON SEED GROWERS' ASSOCIATION.
By G. H. Clark, B.S.A., Ottawa.
Good work has been done along various lines by the Dominion Department Agriculture, and by some of the Provincial Departments of Agriculture in Canada, with a view to encouraging the use of high-class seed of the best varieties of farm crops. From what I have observed. I believe that for a large share of the improvement in field crops in the Province of Ontario, much credit is due to the efforts of Mr. Zavitz. The total value of agricultural crops grown in this Province-which is now estimated to be in the neighborhood of $150,000,000-has been increased, to a great extent, through the work carried on in connection with this Agricultural Experimental Union; but there is yet room for a considerable increase in the average yield of common field crops in Ontario by the use of better seed grain.
I expect that the object of forming associations of seed growers is not perfectly clear to all. The idea may be new in Canada. but there are associations of seed-growers in other countries that have done good work. Many of you, doubtless, are acquainted with the operations of the "Illinois Seed Corn Growers' Association." The benefits derived from associations of breeders of live stock are also pretty well understood. Those associations have rendered valuable service in the improvement of live stock. The advantages to be derived from organized efforts on the part of seed-growers are not dissimilar to the advantages which breeders of pure-bred live stock get through the medium of their associations, and the general operations of an organization of seed growers may be carried on in a manner similar to those of live stock associations.
Associations of breeders of pure-bred live stock fix a minimum standard which must be attained in order that animals produced will be recognized by the association as being pure bred. In fixing standards of perfection for pedigreed animals the principles which underlie improvement are recognized. The same principles that are applied in the improvement of animals are also applied in the improvement of varieties of farm crops. Heredity is the lever by which improvements are made, and on which breeders of either plants or animals depend to fix desirable characteristics; but this law that like begets like must be taken in its broad sense, because it would not be possible to make improvement if it were not for the tendency toward variation. Heredity, and a tendency towards variation, can be turned to good account in the improvement of plants equally as well as in the improvements of animals, but, unfortunately, few farmers make any attempt to systematically apply those principles in the improvement of things that are smaller in size than a hog.
Heredity and variation in improved varieties of field crops tend toward reversion to the wild types from which they evolved; but when improved sorts of field crops are provided with environment best suited to their growth and a continued selection of the most desirable ones be applied, then this natural tendency toward reversion is overcome. It follows then that our improved field crops, as well as our highly-bred ani
mals, must have kindlier treatment in order that they may yield their powers of selfdefence with which nature endowed them. Though it is highly important that the variety of grain be well suited to the locality where it is to be grown, too much faith has been pinned on the names of varieties, with out due attention being given to the quality of the seed itself. It is not always recognized that there may be as much difference between two strains of seed of the same variety of grain as there is between two distinct varieties, as far as the capacity of the seed to give a large yield of grain of good quality is concerned. It is therefore not only important to use seed of the best variety, but it is also equally important to use seed of that variety that has had kindly treatment and continued selection for several years. In the production of good paying crops the cost of the seed is small, but the influence of the seed is great. The mere fact that grain is plump and free from impurities is not sufficient proof that it is seed capable of giving a good crop. Breeders of poultry do not pay much attention to the size of eggs for incubation; they want, first of all, to know something about the good qualities that the germ in the egg has inherited from the parents, and not only from the parents, but from the bulk of the ancestors. It is equally important that seed be taken from a crop in which the individual plants have had an opportunity to attain a maximum vigor and yield per plant, and it is just as important to have definite information about the crops. and how the work of selection was carried on for several preceding years, as it is to have a knowledge of the ancestors of breeding animals. In consideration of these principles which underlie improvement in common grain crops, and in view of the limited supply and growing demand for high class, pure seed grain, an effort is being made by the Department of Agriculture at Ottawa to unite the efforts of farmers who make seed growing a special industry in their farm operations and form an association that will operate for the mutual benefit of seed producers and seed consumers.
The general plans of procedure which led up to the formation of the MacdonaldRobertson Seed Growers' Association were outlined to me in April, 1900, by a man whom I know to be given to habits of meditating on matters pertaining to the progress of agriculture and of the people of Canada. I refer to Prof. Robertson.
To go back to the beginning of the association, a seed grain competition was started in the spring of 1900 among farmer boys and girls, who, during a period of three years. each operated a seed grain plot of one-quarter of an acre, according to a system outlined for their guidance by Prof. Robertson. Over fifteen hundred competitors commenced growing seed of wheat or oats, according to that system, but before the competition was finished more than one-half of them had tired of the work and dropped out of the competition. I have visited many of those who continued with the work throughout the three years, and can say that, with some few exceptions, the competitors were encouraged in their work of selecting seed grain by parents who are among the best class of farmers in the localities where they live. Many of those farmers are now members of this association.
The Macdonald Seed Grain Competition closed with 1902, and in the spring of the present year Prof. Robertson invited those farmers who were directly interested in that competition, and also other farmers who were interested in seed growing. to form themselves into an association of seed growers. Provisional rules were drafted for the guidance of members for 1903; these will be considered and revised at the first meeting of the officers of the association for the Dominion. Copies of these rules may be had on application to the Seed Division, Department of Agriculture, Ottawa.
There are now seventy-four farmers in the Province of Ontario who are members of the association. With a few exceptions they have been visited and their work inspected during the past season. Each of them produces seed for his general crop on a small, specially cultivated plot, ranging in size from one quarter of an acre to two acres of
land. It is recommended that in sowing those plots the seed be sown thinly. The individual plants are thus given more room to "stool out"; the plants get more moisture and more food, and they are more vigorous and have larger and better filled heads of grain. When a grain drill is used in sowing those small plots, it is advisable to plug every other tube of the drill, thus making the drills of grain fourteen, instead of seven, inches apart. The object is to obtain the maximum vigor and large heads of grain. From these small seed plots enough of the largest heads of grain hand each year to get seed to sow the seed plot of the succeeding year. pose forty-five pounds of wheat, twenty-five pounds of oats, forty pounds of barley, or ten pounds of corn are considered sufficient for an acre of land. It should not take more than four hours, with two persons, to select by hand enough good seed for an acre seed plot, and the grain so selected can be threshed by hand.
are picked by For this pur
The members of the association use the grain that is harvested in the regular way from the hand-selected seed plots to sow on a large field after a summer fallow, after a hoed crop, or following in rotation after clover or other leguminous crop. They have the grain produced therefrom to sell for the purpose of seed. In this way the rules of the association require of seed growers that they provide, as far as possible, a favorable environment for the growing crop, and also that they turn the natural tendency toward variation in plants to good account by following a continued system of handselection.
According to the provisional rules of the association, seed grain that is pure, true to variety, and has had the benefit of this system of careful growing and continued selection for three consecutive years, is recognized as improved seed. The operations of members who are seed producers are closely inspected and records are kept of the amount and pedigree of the seed they produce each year. It is proposed to issue a catalogue for general distribution each year, in which the names and addresses of members may be given, together with the kinds and varieties of seed produced by them, the pedigree of the seed, the amount of seed for sale, and the price per bushel. It is also proposed to supply members with association certificate forms. having printed thereon the rules of the association, with which members are required to comply in the production of seed. Purchasers of pedigreed seed may obtain one of these certificates of registration with seed bought from a member; the signature to the certificate of registration would be a guarantee, on the part of the member, that the seed supplied had been produced in accordance with the rules printed on the certificate. The purchaser would then have an opportunity to verify the pedigree of the seed by having it registered.
selected from general regularegistrations of
The work of organizing this association has, to some extent, been retarded by the illness and consequent absence of Prof. Robertson. According to the present plans, the organization will consist of an advisory board, comprised of men each of the Provincial associations. The advisory board will make tions and direct the operations of Provincial associations, control the pedigreed seed, and otherwise advance the interests of associations. The more important work of the organization will, however, be carried on through the medium of Provincial associations; their scope for useful work is practically unlimited. The operations of producers of pedigreed seed require to be carefully studied by some competent persons acting in the capacity of superintendent. It is expected that the superintendents of Provincial associations will have direct charge of enforcing the rules, preparing annual catalogues, arranging for holding seed fairs, and otherwise advancing the interests of seed producers.
I trust that the farmers of the Province of Ontario appreciate the need for a few farmers to make a specialty of growing high-class seed in every agricultural locality,
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 varieties, 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 was established 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 'Par
liament 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 POTATO 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 :
Because of faulty methods of manufacture, however, and also because arsenious acid is 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