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“ the average fall of rain during the several months of “ the growing period, and this was particularly the case " in the season of 1834, the one of the most extraordinary productiveness.”
Before considering in detail the characteristics of the several months making up the harvest year, I show in tabular form the mean temperature and rainfall of each month as recorded at Greenwich, with the difference in each case from the average for the last fifty years.
The above table shows at a glance how much above the average in temperature the year ending the 31st August was, no less than ten months out of the twelve having a temperature above the average; and when the rainfall for the twelve months is examined, it will at once be apparent that with nine months in which the rainfall was below the normal amount, the total amount falling in the twelve months must have been considerably below the amount usually recorded in such a period.
The fine weather of September, 1895, with its succession of days on which the temperature recorded was 80° or over, enabled the farmers to get on with their autumn ploughing, and followed as it was by welcome rain and much cold weather in October, the seed-wheat, which was of most excellent quality, was put in under the most favourable conditions; and this fact, coupled with the rise in price which had taken place, as appeared when comparison was made with the price obtaining in October, 1894, when the average price of English wheat fell to 178. 6d. per quarter, may account for the partial recovery in the extent of the area devoted to wheat, which, as shewn in the table on a previous page, was 500,000 acres less in 1895 than it had been in 1894.
November was a fairly warm month, with a rainfall above the average ; wheat-sowing operations were checked, but when the seed had been got in under the favourable conditions previously prevailing, a strong plant appeared which was able in all probability to make good root-growth by the assimilation of the nitrates which might otherwise have been washed out of the soil by the somewhat heavy rains of this month.
In December, although there was little frost, owing to the absence of sunshine in many districts the day temperatures kept low, and there were many days on which some rain fell, so that the total amount registered for the month was a little above the average. Owing to the comparatively mild weather, it is most probable that in this month also root-growth was making active progress.
The new year opened under cheerless conditions in point of weather, but the sullen skies were associated with high temperatures for the time of the year, and in the absence of any severe frosts the effects of the mild weather were seen in the sturdy, not to say luxuriant, growth of the wheat crop. In January there were remarkably few frosty nights; there were no frosty days recorded at Greenwich, and the rainfall for the month was considerably below the average.
February, like its predecessor, was very mild and dry, the rainfall registered at Greenwich being little more than one-third of an inch, as against an average for the month of an inch and a half.
In March, although the temperature was considerably above the average, the rainfall was also above the average, and these conditions must have further stimulated the growth of the wheat plant, which even at the beginning of the month was in that forward condition termed “winter proud,” and it was in many instances benefited by the sheep going over it in the early days of the month.
April was a month in which a fair percentage of sunshine was registered, but owing to the prevalence of cold winds the temperature for the month was only slightly in excess of the average. Very little rain fell during the month, and the wheat crop did not make any striking progress, although at the end of the month its appearance was decidedly healthy.
May was dry, hot, and dusty, and the rain registered at Greenwich only amounted to a quarter of an inch for the whole month. The unseasonable winds, coupled with the absence of rain, had a most injurious effect
upon vegetation generally, but probably had a beneficial effect upon the wheat plant, which seemed to flourish to a remarkable degree, and possibly it could not have stood any large amount of rain without “ going down.”
In June there was a continuance of the warm weather, accompanied with some welcome rain, which was not sufficiently heavy to damage the wheat, which was generally in flower in the early part of the month.
The advent of July found the wheat crop rapidly ripening for harvest, in fact in some parts of the South of England wheat was cut in the first week of the month. The fine month enabled wheat-growers in the South of England to make rapid but steady progress with the harvest, so that by the middle of August many farmers were able to congratulate themselves upon a most excellent wheat harvest cut and stacked under the most favourable conditions. It is possible that the adverse conditions of the latter part of August and the month of September militated in an unfavourable manner against the wheat harvest in some of the northerly parts of the kingdom, and this fact may have reduced for the United Kingdom as a whole the average yield of saleable corn, which I venture to think has rarely been excelled in the South of England as regards both quantity and quality.
Such then is the record of the weather for the twelve months ending August 31st, and in my remarks I have attempted to show that available seed of more than average excellence; a most favourable seed time; a mild and open winter in which the plant was able to make vigorous root-growth without any check; a spring-time in every way suitable for its growth both below and above ground; an early summer, dry with plenty of sun, enabling the plant to stand up strongly and the ear to become well filled; and, in the South of England, glorious weather for the harvest, were
some of the conditions under which last year's wheat was grown, which combined to produce a result so satisfactory both in quality and quantity.
T. A. DICKSON, Fellow.
From time to time letters appear in the agricultural newspapers (generally from landlords disappointed with the amounts awarded to them by valuation on letting farms on which they have expended considerable sums), complaining that agricultural valuers as a class do not make sufficient difference in their awards between clean farms and foul, or good farmers and bad ones. so far as to say that this is so notably the case that no agreement will practically make any difference. While very much agreeing with the former I altogether dis. agree with the latter; indeed, I think, in nine cases out of ten the agreement is more to blame than the referees.
In support of this opinion I venture to submit the two following valuations on farms of similar acreage and rental, situated on similar land within six miles of one another, and let this last Michaelmas to two new tenants under the same agreement.
No. I., which consists of 129 acres arable and 169 pasture, or 298 in all, exclusive of roads and buildings, has been in the landlord's hands for four years, during