An Account of the Husbandry of Scotland, 1: 262-263 (1813)
Sir John Sinclair
Though not strictly connected with the subject of Scotch husbandry, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of inserting the following note, containing some particulars transmitted to me by that celebrated farmer, George Culley, regarding the spring culture of winter wheat.
"Respecting the sowing of winter wheat in the spring, after turnips, I can speak in a very full manner, as I am persuaded very few farmers in this island have had more experience of that practice. I believe that spring-sown winter wheat, had not been much tried in this county, before my late brother and I settled in Northumberland in the year 1767. We had made some small trials of it in the county of Durham before coming north; immediately on our taking Fenton farm, however, we tried it upon a pretty large scale, namely, from 100 to 200 acres in the year. But for many years after, having extended our farming concerns, we seldom grew fewer than 500 acres and upwards annually, and with never-failing success, one year excepted, when a partial mildew took place, and until those last three fatal years, when most of the wheat in these northern parts of the island, have been more or less affected with that dreadful malady! Not that spring-sown wheat was more hurt than the winter-sown, but perhaps less injured upon the whole. Nevertheless, I do not know, whether I ought to recommend it to be much sown in the southern counties or not, because, in the trials we made in the county of Durham, we had nothing like such plentiful crops as we produce here.
"Besides, in the county of Durham, and all the way from thence to the southward, they can grow more barley in quantity, and better in quality, than we can by much, and it is also always much higher sold; consequently the growing of spring-sown winter wheat after turnips, becomes not so much a matter of consequence to them. Allow me to remark one thing, which I cannot account for; we can perhaps produce the best oats of any in Great Britain, and yet we grow very indifferent barley. Perhaps, not only the friable fertility of our turnip soils in Glendale Ward, but the vicinity of the mountains, may be favourable to the production of spring-sown wheat. Perhaps a more rapid vegetation takes place in the vales adjoining mountainous districts, than at a distance from them. It is very proper in you to say, 'winter wheat sown in spring,' because a discrimination is highly necessary between winter wheat sown in the spring, and the Siberian, or real spring wheat. We tried the real spring wheat several years; but in both quantity and quality, it was invariably much inferior to the winter wheat sown in spring.
"Prior to our coming into this district, no wheat was grown in Glendale, except in the haughs by the river sides, or some particular pieces of strong land, unfit for turnips. But now, and for many years, thousands of acres of spring-sown wheat have been grown with the greatest success, which had never produced any wheat before; and until these last unfortunate years, we seldom produced less than from three to four quarters per acre after turnips, and frequently more. Upon the weaker turnip soils, we ourselves sow a red wheat, the seed of which we got several years since from a village called Burwell, in Cambridgeshire, an excellent and productive kind."
Mr Culley adds, that he has known winter wheat do pretty well, when sown even in the beginning of April, but he does not approve of it. There is no fear of a plentiful crop, but it is so late in ripening, that six times in seven it suffers from the equinoxial gales; and he is decidedly of opinion, from long experience, that the best time, or season for sowing autumnal wheat in the spring, is February, and the first ten days in March.