J Hered 13:103-107 (1922)
Batavia, New York

Mr. N. A. Jones and one of his hybrid wheats. Men like Jones in New York and Etter in California are necessary for agricultural progress and prosperity, the basis of our civilization. Is it not just and expedient that a system of plant patents be perfected to protect breeders, and insure their reaping a sufficient reward from their lifelong labours to prevent pecuniary difficulties and other worries interferring with their work?

MR. A. N. JONES of Batavia, N.Y., began his work in hybridization in 1869 at LeRoy, N.Y. By 1876 he had secured, by crossing seedlings, many promising hybrids of the potato and the strawberry. Among these were the Early Gem, Genesee County King, and Tioga potato, and the Laural Leaf strawberry, still found growing in his garden true to type. The Amber Cream sweet corn was originated in these early days, being catalogued first in 1879.

In 1878, Mr. Jones began his work in cross-fertilization of wheat, then considered a most difficult plant to cross. In this work he secured many hundred distinct hybrids of winter wheat. Careful selection was practiced and only those of marked excellence or distinct difference were introduced to the seed trade of the United States and Canada.

Mr. Jones, in an elaborate series of experiments in his plats, demonstrated the tendency of certain characters to perpetuate themselves. At that time comparatively little was known concerning the facts of inheritance. "Mendel's Law" formulated in 1865, by Gregor Mendel, an Austrian Monk who had experimented extensively with garden peas, was not known by the world at large. In his experimental work Mr. Jones evolved his own method of which he was justly proud. I am confident that dominance, segregation, and recombination were observed by Mr. Jones and were impressed upon his memory by hundreds of his own experiments. In all his cross-breeding he realized the importance of heredity; the "silent force which acts without expense" but so steadily, so surely. The pedigree of all his named varieties was worked out with infinite care and precision; note that of Early Genesee Giant as it appears in "the Basis for the Improvement of American Wheat" by Mark Alfred Carlton, Bulletin No. 24, Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department of Agriculture. (Fig. 4).

In 1886, he introduced to the trade his first named wheat hybrid, Golden Cross, this being a cross of Mediterranean and Clawson. This was followed in 1888 by two other named varieties, New Early Red Clawson (a cross of Golden Cross and Clawson) and Jones' Square Head (a cross of Landreth and an unnamed hybrid) known in Canada as Harvest Queen by permission of Mr. Jones. These three varieties proved to be the vanguard of a series of wheats introduced over a period of years. In 1889 the first of Mr. Jones' hard gluten sorts, Jones' Winter Fife was sent out. Of this he had great hopes and said: "It is a boon to farmers and millers." This variety resulted from composite crossing of No. 87 and Mediterranean. In 1919 it was estimated by the U. S. Department of Agriculture that nearly half a million acres of this variety were grown in the United States, principally in Washington, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Idaho, and Montana in the order named. (Fig. 6.)

In 1889 he wrote as follows, "My most successful cross-breeding has been from combination (composite) crossing, as in crossing Mediterranean Longberry upon American wheat, progeny of which is crossed with Russian Velvet. A smooth chaffed wheat is sometimes used, progeny of which is again crossed with American wheat. This cross gives a strong healthy growth, deep root, thick walled stocky straw, and grain of a fine milling quality in a compact head."

In addition to developing over a score of wheat varieties of great economic value Mr. Jones did a great deal of work with beans, and introduced many important varieties. Some idea of the persistence and keen powers of observation required in this work may, be gained by calling attention to the fact that Mr. Jones had as many as 1500 strains of hybrid wheat and beans growing in his experimental plats in one year. From this great number of hybrids grown each year, 50 or possibly 75 were selected as being of economic importance in the course of 35 years intensive work. (Fig. 3.)


In 1919 more than a million acres of Red Wave wheat were grown in the United States. On a basis of ten bushels per acre, at $2.50 per bushel, the crop was worth twenty-five million dollars. Had the originator received a royalty of only one hundredth of one percent, he would have an income of $2,500 from this variety alone. On such a basis the originator of two or three varieties of commercial importance would be financially independent, and able to give his whole time, and an unworried mind to his work. (Fig. 5.)
Here the complexity of the plant breeder's work is somewhat visualized. From this series of crosses Jones' Genesee Giant was derived. No indication is here given of the great number of unsuccessful crosses made at the same time. Mr. Jones was able to hasten the development of desirable kinds by the process of root separation; from a single seed sown in August 1888, 27 pounds of wheat were harvested the following summer. (Fig. 4.)

In 1890, No. 8, or American Bronze, a variety adapted to poor or light land was catalogued. This hardy sort was a parent of some of the most desirable later varieties. Two superior varieties appeared in 1892, Early White Leader and Early Genesee Giant. The first mentioned was the result of a complicated composite cross, and was pronounced by millers "one of the whitest flour-making sorts grown."

In all his cross-fertilization of wheat Mr. Jones aimed to accomplish certain definite results, viz., to originate varieties best suited to a given soil; those best suited to certain climatic conditions; to secure increased size of spike and strength of straw; to secure those immune to attack of weevil and rust; and also to secure high gluten content.

In 1893, Mr. Jones removed to Newark, N.Y., in order to test the effect of change of soil upon his breeding stock. Pride of Genesee, having for one parent the old reliable Jones' Winter Fife, was introduced in 1893. It was named for the County in which it was originated, as was Early Genesee Giant.

In 1894, three new varieties were listed in the United States and Canada, (1) Bearded Winter Fife, a variety believed to possess increased gluten content, (2) White Seeded Golden Cross, recommended for dry or gravelly soil, and (3) Long Amber, recommended as "The Ice and Waterproof" wheat. These were all results of composite crossing of Mr. Jones' hybrids.

Early Arcadian introduced in 1895 was a beautiful wheat named for the town of Arcadia, N.Y., in which it was originated, it was a cross of Early Genesee Giant and Early Red Clawson and partook of all the good qualities of both parents.

In 1896, Oatka Chief, a wheat recommended for cobblestone land such as is found in the lake region, appeared. It was given the Indian name for its place of origin on the bank of the Oatka.

Mr. Jones considered this the finest of his hard gluten varieties. More than half a million acres were planted to this wheat in 1919, the year for which this map was made. Although it is one of Mr. Jones' earlier introductions, dating from 1889, it is still an important and widely grown variety. (Fig. 6.)

Diamond Grit or Winter Saskatchewan was also introduced in this year. In Diamond Grit he believed that demand for high gluten content was met, for he wrote of it, "It is a worthy rival of the hard spring wheat of the Northwest."

In 1897, Early Red Rover and Jones Longberry No. 1, both most promising varieties, were listed. The latter was the result of several years' experiments in crossing this Longberry type. This sturdy sort made a record of 54 1/2 bu. per acre, sown Sept. 22, on light cobblestone land, and in plat, of 63 1/4 bu.

Longberry Clawson of 1899 was also a result of composite crossing. It was adapted to strong clay loam, and upon such soil was inclined to club headedness. Mr. Jones had many hybrids having this form of head but owing to limited demand for such, few were sent to the trade. From examination of old breeding stock I find none with less than 60 grains to the spike in these varieties with club square head.

Jones' Early Reel Chief of 1902 originated in the historic Seneca Indian region and this sturdy red progeny was named accordingly. Of it Mr. Jones wrote "It is strong at all points." Silver Sheaf Longberry (a cross of No. 8, Lancaster, and No. 91 Longberry), was first listed in 1902. This has a flinty grain almost as long as rye.

A plat of Paris Prize of 1904 was grown on the exposition grounds at St. Louis and attracted much attention. The spike of this wheat is immense, as is that of Mammoth Amber of the same year. Mr. Jones' exhibit of 500 hybrid wheats at the Pan American Exposition was awarded the Gold Medal and his exhibit at St. Louis won the Grand Prize. Mammoth Amber was one of the 43 crossbred wheats sent by Mr. Jones to Paris Exposition, 1900, in charge of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and awarded the Gold Medal.

In 1906 Red Wave was introduced. It has an unusually long spike sometimes measuring 5 1/2 to 6 inches. The U. S. Department of Agriculture estimates that over a million acres of this variety were grown in 1919. (Fig. 5.)

St. Louis Grand Prize of 1908 was a progeny of a new Russian wheat crossbred with a seedling. It was thought to be practically "fly proof" and was called a rough and ready sort.

The entire stock of Jones' Climax and a new Club head was sold in 1914. An observer said of the former variety "A field of the Jones' Climax is about as fascinating a sight as human eyes can look upon."

The above varieties comprise the list of authorized introductions of the Jones' wheats, with the exception of an unnamed stock sold to a firm in Canada. It is possible others reached the seed trade in devious ways. Mr. Jones was of the opinion that No. 6, a variety widely grown in New York, was really one of his wheats.

Had Mr. Jones been less conservative, or had he been able to increase stock sufficiently fast, he could have introduced a score of varieties each year instead of from one to three as was his rule.


See: Palmer: Great Division of Wheat by its Roots (1843)

It was seldom he could practice root separation to a great extent in propagating his strains as it required more time and space than he could give it. His most notable experiment in 1888, created much interest. The soil of the experimental plat was prepared a year in advance and the surface was kept mellow. July 12th he planted one kernel of Jones' Winter Fife wheat. July 31st he separated the root, making four hills from the side shoots. August 17th he divided again making 15 roots from the four. Sept. 4th he obtained 75 roots and by Sept. 24th these were increased to 300. Oct. 10th there were 505, October 31st they had increased to 900. Nov. 22nd he divided again having 1140 roots. Thirty-six of these winter-killed leaving 1104. Some of these had from 18 to 24 large heads. From this plat 27 1/2 pounds of wheat was threshed. Mr. Jones wrote of this as follows "The grain was very plump, bright and heavy and would have taken first premium at any agricultural exhibit."

From such small beginnings came the splendid hardy wheats that in a few years covered thousands of acres of our land.


At one time his trial plats contained more than 1500 hybrid wheats and beans. Among the latter were the following named varieties sent out to the trade: Jones' Ivory Pod Wax, 1881; Lemon Pod Wax, 1881; Jones' Round Pod Wax, 1898; Golden Crown White Seed Stringless Wax, 1899; Garden Pride Stringless Green Pod, 1902; Green Pod Stringless, 1902; Jones' Marrow Pea, 1909. The Jones' Ivory Pod Wax was a parent of many of the later sorts.

As Mr. Jones never delegated to others any important work connected with his experimental plats it is readily seen how much work he accomplished. Possibly his heritage from sturdy English ancestors enabled him to endure this painstaking labor for thirty five years.


Mr. Jones was born in 1843, at Cookham, situated upon the Thames River, England. At the age of five years he came with his family to America, and located in Rochester, N.Y. The three Paper Mills at the Lower Falls were later owned by the Jones Bros. when much of Main Street was a common. None of the processes of the trade of his youth were of use to him in his chosen work, with the exception of finishing, which at that time was done by hand, and required a certain dexterity in counting, best learned in early youth.

The secret of his ability to produce such a great number of desirable hybrids is found in his unbounded enthusiasm, unlimited patience, painstaking care, and absorbing love for his work.