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THE literature issued on the subject of potatoes during the past three hundred years would form a large library, many works having been published in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other countries. It is safe to say that no plant has aroused a deeper interest than “the noble tuber.") Its very existence to-day is largely due to the efforts of enthusiasts. Several of the older writers were keen observers and acquainted intimately with the history and character of the potato, and modern authors include the names of men who are eminent in the scientific world. The vast amount of research and demonstration carried out by, the experiment stations of this country during the past ten years, and the fact that every station has done something in this line, show the breadth of the subject and furnish material hitherto unobtainable. The excellent research work now being carried on in Europe, especially in France, Germany, etc., and more recently established in Ireland, indicates a demand for more information about this crop. We feel that the “science of agriculture” is a reality ; that, like every past generation, we are on the eve of great discoveries; that something of the laws governing plant nutrition and growth will shortly be revealed, that we may be able to prevent rather than cure the troubles which assail our plants. To be of any use, scientific research must be rigidly accurate in its observation and merciless to fallacy in logic. Once a principle is proven it is of no use unless applied, and the man to apply it is the farmer.
At the present time it behooves us to divest ourselves of prejudice, whether of tradition or custom, which might tend to warp our judgment and treat as debatable assumptions which long-established association have made shameful to doubt, but which, undisturbed, would make the discovery of truth impossible. To-day theories are no longer revered because our fathers believed in them. The search-light of all; prying Science illuminates the whole field of agriculture, and has led men to doubt and call in question even truth itself, in order that they might expose those things which are not true. It is by this means alone, by this attitude of questioning all statements and theories, both the truth and the untruth alike, that we can form a just estimate of what is true. That which cannot stand the fire may rightly be esteemed dross.
In this book the endeavor has been to collect many scattered facts from many sources, and present thesealong with experience derived by growing potatoes for several years, commercially and experimentally, in two continents—in the hope that these data will be of value to the reader.
Ithaca, N. Y., 1905
Note. With the exception of Figs. 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 43, and 44, which were kindly loaned by the makers of these implements, and those in which credit is given in the text, all illustrations have been prepared by the Author.