Farmers' Register, Volume 6(5): 356 (Sept 1838)

SELECTION OF SEEDS.

The August No. of the Southern Agriculturist contains an editorial general notice of the contents of the July No. of the Farmers' Register, with the kind and approving tone of which we have reason to feel gratified, and find no exception to that feeling in the following comment upon our (alleged) heterodox opinion, and the vain attempts to defend that opinion from the attacks of assailants. We have often enough, in these volumes, readily confessed mistaken opinions, to free ourselves from the charge of holding obstinately to any, for the purpose of maintaining a claim to consistency. An agriculturist, more especially than other men, who never changes his opinions on the subjects of his profession, must necessarily remain as ignorant in the end, as his "consistency" would show him to be narrow-minded in the beginning; and one who does not frequently change his views of the relative advantages of practical details, must profit very little by investigation and by experience. It may be supposed, that the farmer or the politician who changes his opinion, is at least wiser than he had been before; and we have never valued the virtue of consistency of opinion so much as to defend our claim to it, if our brother editor had correctly understood and reported either our first declaration, or the alleged "unsaying of it." We shall not here repeat again at length what we have several times stated; but merely refer to all that has been said on this subject, to show, 1st, that we did not in any sense "venture a sweeping condemnation of those who look for profit in the selection of seeds;" and 2d, that we maintain now, as stoutly as before, that the principle and manner of selection which were condemned are worthless.

The following is the passage referred to:

"The Editor ventured a sweeping condemnation of those who look for profit in the selection of seed; he is met by one of his correspondents on the question, which it seems has two sides, and the strongest against him. Our unhappy brother finds himself involved in the necessity of unsaying his rash opinion; while he insists upon his consistency as sturdily as a politician who may happen to prefer the reputation of far-sighted wisdom, to a frank confession of mistake. The examples of benefit from the selection of seed, are too numerous and too familiar to daily observation, to leave a doubt that much depends upon it. Sometimes the opinion has been placed in unnecessary contrast, with the acknowledged advantage of an occasional change of seed from one climate or kind of soil to another. Which is productive of the greatest good, is not very easily determined. But there is no very plausible reason why both means of improvement should not be combined. For example, corn very fruitful in ears, or bearing ears of an extraordinary size, may be simultaneously cultivated in situations distant and differing from each other, and mutual exchanges profit both parties."

Change of Stock/Seed/Conditions