The Family Magazine 1841 p. 436


THERE is too great remissness among farmers in making a proper selection of seeds. Much of the success of the crop, not only as regards the quantity and quality, but the early or late maturity, is determined by the choice of seed. Let any farmer carefully examine his fields of wheat, corn, or other grain, and he will find some plants distinguished by their luxuries, productiveness, or early maturity, above the others. If these plants or seed are preserved, and the same course followed with them, almost any desired quality may be made permanent, and the most essential benefit conferred on the cultivator. Some remarkable instances of these results are on record.

The early Essex pea was discovered by a friend of Dr. Anderson, who, observing among his early peas, one stem much earlier than any of the others, marked and preserved it carefully for seed. The plants produced the next year were also early, and were saved. From this beginning sprang the celebrated early pea, which in a short time spread over the most of England. In the United States, its qualities remain the same, but the name has been changed, and it is now generally known as the Washington pea, one of the earliest peas yet known.

The celebrated Baden corn is another instance of the effect which care and attention can produce. More than twenty years since, Mr. Baden, of Maryland, commenced a system using for his seed corn, none except ears from stems producing two or more ears of corn. This practice he followed with the closest punctuality for several years, when he discharged two ears to a stalk, using only three or more, and by patient perseverance succeeded in raising the usual number of ears to five or six, and in some extraordinary cases, to ten or twelve on a single stem. Early maturity was not, however, a quality of this corn, and it is evident that corn of such bulk could not come forward sufficiently early to suit our northern climate. It is now extensively disseminated over the middle and southern states, and on the rich corn-producing alluvial of the western rivers, has proved a most important acquisition.

In September, 1805, Dr. Freeman communicated to the Massachusetts Agricultural Society the result of an experiment made by him, to hasten the ripening of beans. The earliest pods were preserved; the fullest, fairest beans planted, and this course followed for several years. The following table shows how much the ripening was accelerated by the process:—

Planted Gathered No. of days
1801, May 10, Sept. 9, 221
1802, May 11, Aug. 21, 201
1803, May 10, Aug. 8, 90
1804, May 8, Aug. 4, 88
1805, May 6, July 31, 86

At this point, the beans seemed to have reached the shortest period of their ripening in four years. Dr. Freeman planted some of the beans a week later than the other, to try the effect of the heat of summer and later planting, and the result was a ripening as before, in eighty-five and eighty-six days.

These instances, although but a few of the many that might be selected, are sufficient to show, that in the selection of seeds, the farmer has in his own hands the means of not only adding to the quality of his crop, but materially accelerating its maturity, a point in some plants, corn for example, of the greatest consequence.