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liraska or Iowa; Sonora wheat in California; and hard spring wheats in the Dakotas or Minnesota.
Dealers in seed may be divided into three classes according to the methods which they pursue. One class buys seed in the open market and sells it as that variety for which it was bought. Such dealers should be required either to improve their methods or to seek a new occupation, for usually the most advantageous disposition that can be made of their seed is at the nearest grist mill. Another class buys by sample in the open market, using all care possible under the circumstances to secure correctly named seed of good quality. They make germination tests, reclean the seed if necessary, remove light and injured seeds, and offer for sale only those which are good and sound. There is a small class of dealers each of whon makes a specialty of some variety which he has grown under contract. Two points of great importance in regard to their seed is that it is usually of the highest quality and almost always true to name. The grower, in looking for a wheat with the proper origin and history, should have a knowledge of the main facts and laws set forth in this and the previous chapter, and should select seed according to the needs of his environment. He should buy by sample in the fall or winter before sowing: Its purity he can have determined, and a simple home germinating test will give its capacity in germination. Many farmers may not yet be able thus to procure intelligently the seed best suited to their environment, but they have a number of institutions at their command whose business it is to dispense information of exactly this nature. Some experimentation must always be engaged in.
It is only within a few years that the quality of commercial seeds has been subjected to any tests other than those made by the reliable seed firms. This shows a great lack of appreciation of one of the essential factors of agriculture. It is one of the most remarkable and unaccountable facts in connection with the development of tlie United States Department of Agriculture that it spent a neat fortune in distributing seeds for over a half century, and never once tested the quality of the seeds sent out. In 1895, “for the first time in the history of the department did its authorities know the real quality of the seeds they had distributed.”
1 Yearbook U. S. Dept. Agr., 1897, p 94.
There are no statistics to show how great is the loss resulting from the impositions of unreliable seed firms, but it must be millions of dollars. The loss from sowing poor seed grown on the farm is also great. Frequently, especially among the uneducated classes, any wheat which is injured too badly for market purposes, either by such diseases as smut, or by improper harvesting or storing, is used for seed purposes. Many experiments with immature seed wheat have been made. While its germinating powers may be greater, the conclusion is that smaller and less vigorous plants are produced, resulting in a lower yield.
It is very questionable whether wheat frozen in ripening, or burned in the stack or bin, can be safely used for seed. It certainly should not be sown if badly affected, and the only way to determine its value is by a germination test. A low germinating power often means a lack in quality as well as in quantity, which makes the use of such seed very hazardous.
Whether seed will "run out,” and whether it is profitable occasionally to "change seed” or not, has long been a mooted question. A change of seed, especially if the change is between very distant sections, is almost invariably accompanied by some disadvantages. If it is merely a promiscuous exchange, as is so often the case, it is very likely that the disadvantages will greatly outweigh the advantages. The principles above pointed out throw some light on this question and show that there is one case in which a change of seed is advantageous, namely, from an environment unfavorable in certain conditions to one more favorable in these same conditions and having no new disadvantages which counterbalance the good results. It is obvious that if the transfer is from a favorable to an unfavorable environment, the wheat must, by a selective process, adapt itself to the new conditions before it can yield as much as that which is already adapted. This, of course, has reference only to the one variety which is under consideration. There are also other considerations, however. In the first place, the custom of changing seed is a costly one in actual expenditure of cash. Farmers purchase annually many thousands of bushels of seed wheat, paying fancy prices and freightage
1 Rept. N. D. Agr. Col., 1902, p. 32; Yearbook U. S. Dept. Agr., 1896, p. 306.
from distant points, and also paying duty on foreign varieties. Then, too, injudicious seed exchange is a source of weed and disease dissemination, as well as a powerful influence against proper methods of plant breeding. Selection cannot be successfully practiced in improving the quality of grain if the seed must be given up every few years for a strain grown upon other land.
Nothing has been found in the principles of wheat development which would indicate that wheat “runs out,” or deteriorates, if continually grown on the same farm under rational methods of culture. Undoubtedly, any seed may deteriorate because of injuries arising from disease, improper cultivation or selection of seed, or from many other causes which militate against the production of a normal type of kernel. Grass wheat formerly grown in Kansas is a case in point. Experiments at different stations have shown that seed may be sown on the same land for many years, and yet give no appearance of running out.
The idea that a change in seed gives good results has always been founded more upon opinion than upon well ascertained facts. It was doubtless first advanced by Columella shortly after the Christian era, and has been widely held ever since. The most striking argument in favor of the idea is put forth by Darwin, who reasons that since a change of residence is of undoubted benefit to convalescents, it may be that a change of soil is advantageous for wheat. This is only reasoning by analogy, however, and involves the comparison of abnormal animal life with normal plant life, certainly not a strong argument at best. Some good authorities still hold that wheat will run out if sown continually on the same land. A great and preponderating amount of evidence has accumulated, however, to show that farmers should rely chiefly upon locally developed seed, and that they should give more attention to the production of their own seed. The importation of seed is profitable only when differences in the rigors of soil and climate exist. Such importations have greatly improved the standard of American wheats and have also extended the industry of raising them. Foreign wheats are one of the most important fac
1 N. D. Bul. 17, p. 98.
2 Saunders, Evidence 1903, p. 46; Rept. Kans. State Bd. Agr., Vol. 21, No. 81, p. 7.
tors in hybridization, supplying precisely those qualities in which American wheat is deficient.
So far the most valuable importations have been made from Russia. The now world famous red winter wheat grown in the section of which Kansas is the center was originally imported by the Department of Agriculture from the Crimea in Russia. So successful has it proved that in 1901 Kansas growers individually imported over 15,000 bushels of this variety for seed. Its superiority consists in higher yield, hardiness to winter cold, better milling qualities and great rust resistance. Four or five winter varieties obtained from eastern and southern Russia were tested by the department in 1901 and 1902. They were much hardier than any varieties grown in this country, and extended the winter wheat area farther north and west. The better Russian varieties are late in maturing, while, as a rule, Japanese sorts are early. Hybrids from the two ripen early and possess the good qualities of the hardy Russian sorts.
Drought-Resisting Durum varieties adapted to alkali soils have been introduced from Russia. They have proved themselves admirably suited to the region west of the 100th meridian, from Texas to Dakota, where wheat growing was supposed to be practically impossible. The area on which they may be grown is shown on the accompanying map."
Some Hungarian wheats have also been introduced, as well às white wheats from Australia, Europe and the Orient, to obtain a higher grade of wheat with which to replace deteriorating white wheat of California. The Weissenburg, a very promising variety from Hungary, is the source of the flour that sells on the Liverpool market for $1.00 more per barrel than any other flour.
The introduction of spelt and emmer must also be mentioned here, both for a crop and for hybridizing wheats. In all this work of introducing and breeding wheat, disease resistance is kept in mind, and some sorts remarkably free from rust have been procured. There are two needs which are common to the whole country. Greater yielding power is, of course, always desirable, and for one reason or another, the same is also quite generally true of earlier maturity, whether it is to escape drought, rust, insects or frost. The new environment may
1 See p. 48.