The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
The Canterbury Plains, the great wheat-growing area of the Middle Island, extend inland forty miles to the commencement of the ranges, by 150 miles running north and south, or an area of about 8,000,000 acres. The greater portion of this vast plain is admirably adapted for the production of wheat of the best page 32 quality, the growing of which is carried on extensively, more especially since the introduction of the reaper-and-binder. The .area under this cereal in 1891-92 was 279,150 acres, with an estimated yield of 6,952,819 bushels. The land for the most part is free from stones or impediments of any kind. Single-furrow ploughs are now rarely seen, double-and three-furrow ploughs being in general use. Three horses, occasionally four, with a man or boy, can turn over 3 acres per day, at a cost of 6s. per acre. A stroke of the disc or other harrow followed by the seed drill and light harrow completes the operation of sowing.
Seed-sowing commences in May, and can be continued as weather permits through the winter, and on into September and even October. From 1¼ to 1½ and 2 bushels of seed per acre are usually sown, increasing as the season advances.
Good results are usually obtained by feeding-off the early-sown grain with sheep, followed by the harrow and roller. The usual average on the better class of soil is from 40 to 60 bushels per acre of dressed grain. The general average of the whole colony is 25 to 26 bushels. This discrepancy is accounted for by the fact that so much wheat is grown on the lighter soils.
Several varieties of wheat are grown, but Hunter's White, Pearl, and Velvet Chaff are the favourite kinds for winter sowing. Red and White Tuscan are usually sown in spring.
Dressing the seed with genuine bluestone is found to be a certain specific for smut in its various forms.
The Oamaru (North Otago) district is famous for the quality of its wheat, grown on limestone soil.
Otago and Southland also grow wheat, but they excel in the production of oats, the acreage being 84,895 acres of wheat, yielding 2,830,484 bushels, and 168,939 acres of oats, yielding 6,410,325 bushels, this last season, (1891-92) while Canterbury only produced half this quantity of oats.
The usual yield of oats in Otago and Southland is from 30 to 60 bushels per acre, the cost of production being about the same as wheat—viz., £2 per acre when grown out of grass-land, and £1 10s. from stubble. The varieties of oats most in favour are Winter Dun, Canadians, Sparrowbill, Tartary, and Danish.
Malting barley, of very superior quality, is grown in Nelson and Marlborough, where the soil and climate appear to be peculiarly adapted to its culture.
The total area and yield of cereals grown in New Zealand during 1891-2 was—Wheat, 402,273 acres, yielding 10,257,738 bushels; oats, 323,508 acres, yielding 11,009,020 bushels; barley, 24,268 acres, yielding 688,688 bushels; maize, 5,447 page 33 acres, yielding 238,746 bushels; rye, 4,780 acres, yielding 91,271 bushels; with peas and beans, 9,552 acres, yielding 245,910 bushels.