« AnteriorContinuar »
fully ripe. It is very healthy; and large quantities are eaten by the people, both in the fresh state, and preserved in sugar. In passing through the forests, the bark of the large trees whose tops are covered with this vine is frequently seen to be scratched by the sharp claws of the bears, which are very fond of this as of other sweet fruits. .
If this species should prove to be hardy in Massachusetts, of which there can be little doubt, it will not only be a most valuable ornamental plant, but the fruit will be worth cultivation even in its present wild state. If, however, it should prove as susceptible of improvement as our native grape has done, it will certainly become a most delicious addition to our list of fruits for the dessert and for cooking. An attempt has been made at Sapporo to manufacture kokuwa-wine; but it is hardly likely to prove a formidable rival to that from the grape. In Japan, however, it has only to compete with saki, or rice-wine, which it may easily surpass in every respect. The wild grape of Yezo is a most luxuriant vine, attaining a diameter of ten to twelve inches; but the fruit is utterly worthless, being very sour, and consisting chiefly of seeds. The enterprise of the Japanese is well illustrated in the fact that thirty thousand Concord vines and one hundred thousand American fruit-trees of all sorts were planted at and around Sapporo in the spring of 1877, all of which had been grown from imported stock on a government farm seven hundred miles distant.
WANTS OF THE MASSACHUSETTS COLLEGE. The apparent indifference of recent legislatures, as well as of wealthy citizens of the State, in reference to the welfare of its Agricultural College, contrasts strangely with the enthusiastic and enterprising spirit of the “ Yankees of the East.” Nevertheless, the Trustees are unable and unwilling to believe that the present condition of affairs can long continue, and confidently expect that the funds will soon be furnished from some source, not only to render the College very useful in its present form and condition, but also to greatly enlarge and improve it.
The farm during the past year has been under the charge of Superintendent Southwick, whose report is appended to this, and shows what he has accomplished. Though he has bad no money for carrying on a farm of nearly four hundred NCTEs, except in the form of temporary loans, and though even a portion of his moderate salary has been the gift of a member of the Executive Committee, he has labored courageously and faithfully. He has raised some good crops, made some permanent improvements, and kept the estate in fair condition. It is, however, most unfortunate, both for his own reputation and that of the College, that he should be compelled to work with such limited means.
It is also a great defect in the equipment of the agricultural department, that a much larger number of sheep, dairy COWS, ox and horse teams, and machines for economizing labor, are not provided as means for instructing the students in practical farming. While the idea that the farm ought to par expenses seems very plausible, yet it cannot be put into practice without ignoring, to a very large extent, the special ohjeets for which the College was established, and for which the farm has, by act of the legislature, been connected with it. Hitherto, the theoretical instruction in agriculture and horticulture in the lecture-room has been tolerably satisfacloff, not withstanding the great want of diagrams, models, specimens, implements, and machines for illustration. Those students who have been brought up on well-managed farms, and have acquired skill in manual labor, have been able to improve their time in the culture and discipline of their minds, and in the getting of valuable scientific and agricultural information. But the opportunities afforded to young men who have seen nothing of farm-life before entering College have never yet been what they ought to be. A large part of the operations on the College farm should be for purposes of experiment and instruction, without any special reference to immediate profit; and, until suitable provision is made for such management, the Institution cannot properly accomplish its mission.
ine horticultural department has been well managed the plast year by Professor Maynard, whose report will give the
calls of his efforts and the results achieved. There is much reason to expect great improvement in the practical
uction and profitable working of this department under new arrangements which have recently been made. 5. John W. Clark, a grad
graduate of the College, after spend
instruction and pro
ing some years in extensive nurseries in the West, has returned, and associated himself with Professor Maynard in such a way as will largely increase the business of the department in raising and selling seeds, bedding, vegetable, and hardy herbaceous plants, and fruit and ornamental shrubs and trees. The erection of a new propagating-house will enable instructive and profitable work to be carried on in winter, and do much to render the department self-sustaining.
The Hills Fund of ten thousand dollars, which was generously subscribed some years ago by Messrs. L. M. and H. F. Hills, for the promotion of botanical science, has, during the year, been paid into the treasury. It is hoped this may be so invested as to produce a somewhat larger income than heretofore, and that important practical results may be attained by the investigations which may be prosecuted under the stimulus and assistance afforded by it. Similar funds would prove exceedingly valuable in connection with the departments of agriculture and chemistry. Mr. J. B. Lawes of Rothamsted in England, after maintaining and conducting in the most admirable manner an experimental station at his own expense for more than thirty years, has recently given the establishment, with a cash endowment of five hundred thousand dollars, into the charge of trustees, to be carried on in perpetuity. Who will imitate his noble example so far as to enable a similar work to be successfully inaugurated at Amherst ?
A generous friend, who evidently appreciates the importance of such a station, has communicated to the Trustees, through Professor Stockbridge, his willingness to pay into the College treasury the sum of one thousand dollars to defray the expenses of agricultural experiments to be carried on upon the College farm during the year 1878. Though one year is a very limited period in which to accomplish results of the most valuable sort, yet it affords ample time and opportunity to begin operations, and demonstrate the necessity of a permanent fund for this purpose. The Trustees have, therefore, gladly accepted the proffered money, and appointed a committee, with full power to determine what shall be undertaken, to see that the work is properly done, and to report upon the results of their investigations. This committee consists of President Clark, Professors Goess
mann and Stockbridge, Hon. Richard Goodman, and Secretary Flint.
It has been decided to plant two acres of land, near the north-east corner of the College estate, with forest-trees the coming spring. Among the species which have been tried, the European larch and the Scotch pine have seemed to be the most promising. The white-ash and hickory have not been tested, but are deemed specially worthy of trial.
The recent extraordinary development of the beet-sugar industry in Europe urges with renewed force upon our attention the probable advantages of its introduction into Massachusetts. The farmers of the Connecticut Valley, since the successful experiments with the sugar-beet were made at the College in the years 1870 and 1871, have found the tobaccocrop becoming less and less profitable, and would now gladly engage in some new agricultural enterprise. During the past year Professor Goessmann procured seed from Germany, and furnished it to several parties who desired to raise an experimental crop; and he has kindly determined for them the percentage of sugar in the different lots of beets. Nothing new has been discovered by these experiments; but the extreme differences of size and quality show, that, for the best results, the well-established rules of culture must be observed. The only practical obstacle in the way of producing all our sugar upon our own soil lies in the first cost of a factory. For the most economical working of the beet-roots,
is necessary to use not less than fifty tons per diem; and, as the sugar must be refined in the process of manufacture, the requisite apparatus is costly. A well-equipped beet-sugar factory would require for the plant and the working capital abont one hundred thousand dollars, but, under judicious management, would, in all probability, prove a good invest- . ment.
It is proposed to raise on the College farm the ensuing season an acre of a new sorghum, which ripens well in Minnesota, two hundred miles north of Amherst. It is called the * Early Amber Cane,” and produces one hundred and sixty gallons of excellent syrup per acre. From the syrup a good quality of sugar may be obtained, a gallon yielding from five to seven pounds. As the cane simply requires crushing between iron rollers, and the juice may be evaporated in open
pans, just like maple-sap, no costly factory is neeaed. It seems, therefore, altogether likely that a beginning may be made in the home-production of sugar from sorghum of this new northern variety. The transition from this crop to the more profitable sugar-beet will then be comparatively easy.
Mr. Seth H. Kenney of Morristown, Rice County, Minn., a former resident of Amherst, has kindly furnished much valuable information upon this subject, and has generously given the College seed sufficient to plant an experimental acre. So promising does this new variety of sorghum appear, that the commissioner of agriculture at Washington has bought five thousand pounds of the seed for gratuitous distribution.
The chemical department of the College has been skilfully and economically managed by Dr. Goessmann, who has not only given the usual instruction, but also done a large amount of important work as State inspector of fertilizers, and chemist to the Board of Agriculture. The results of his official labors will be found in the Report of Secretary Flint.
It will be seen, by reference to the course of study, that a long-desired change has been made, by which the time assigned to practical chemistry has been somewhat increased, and transferred from freshman and sophomore years to junior and senior years.
Appended to this Report will be found a valuable paper by Professor Goessmann, giving the results of his experiments upon the relation of the ash constituents of plants to the growth of the organs of vegetation, and the quality and ripening of fruits. · In the department of physics there is great need of additional apparatus; and it is very desirable to have a laboratory where students can learn by practice the structure and use of the apparatus and machines by which the great forces of nature are measured, observed, and illustrated. Formerly the extensive and costly apparatus of Amherst College was available for the instruction of the agricultural students ; but, since the decease of Professor Snell, it has not been practicable to continue this plan. It has become, therefore, very important for the College to procure as soon as possible at least three thousand dollars' worth of apparatus for the illustration especially of electricity, optics, and acoustics.