The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
Potatoes: Potatoes are largely grown throughout New Zealand. On suitable soils very heavy crops are raised, it being no uncommon thing to dig from eight to ten tons per acre, although the general average is much lower, for the reason that unsuitable land is frequently devoted to this crop. The bulk of the crop is planted without manure, but, where used, bonedust and superphosphate (from 1cwt. to 2cwt. per acre) is applied with good results. The potato is, however, an expensive crop to grow, costing from £5 to £6 per acre, and many farmers are now devoting their potato-land to grass. The land is usually broken out of grass, skim-ploughed in autumn, ploughed deeply in spring, and thoroughly tilled. The seed—15cwt. per acre—is then ploughed in under every third furrow, the after culture consisting of harrowing just as the crop is appearing over ground. By this means myriads of seedling weeds are destroyed, drill grubbing, hoeing, horse-hoeing, and earthing-up being the subsequent operations. A heavy crop of wheat, beans, or any other cereal can always be relied upon after potatoes.
Turnips: The turnip crop has now become one of the most important in the colony, ranking next to wheat and oats. The area under this crop for the season 1891-2 according to the agricultural statistics, was 422,354 acres, as against 402,278 acres under wheat, On virgin soil turnips can always be relied upon as a certain crop, even on a single furrow and a couple of strokes of the harrow. But as very much of the soil in Canterbury has already been cropped, turnips cannot now be grown successfully without the aid of manure. In the nature of things, farm-yard manure cannot be procured; artificial manures are therefore largely used, from lcwt. to 1½cwt. of superphosphate per acre being now applied with the best results, securing ample crops of sound roots, from 15 to 30 tons per acre. The seed is sometimes sown in drills on the flat, the manure being dropped in front of the seed by the same machine, from ½lb. to 1lb. per acre of seed being used. Sometimes the manure is sown in a liquid state by machines manufactured for the purpose: this system invariably secures a rapid and vigorous braird, forcing the young plant into the rough leaf, after which it is secure from the attack of the turnip-beetle. So soon as the turnip-plants reach the third or page 34 fourth leaf, they are thinned in a primitive and yet in a thoroughly-efficient method. A scuffler, made for the purpose, is drawn across the drills, hunching the turnips and loosening the soil in a thorough manner. The drill-grubber and scuffler are used as required till the leaves meet. This kind of culture produces capital crops. A very large extent is also sown broadcast, and, if found too thickly sown, the harrows are run through them; in any case a stroke of the harrows is a great help to the growth of the plant. The varieties used are Devonshire Grey for early and very late sowing; Purple and Green-top Aberdeen are the most generally grown. Swede turnips, from their proneness to the attack of the blight aphis, are not so much sown; they, however, produce enormous crops in suitable soils. The turnip-crop is invariably fed-off by sheep intended for freezing. It is estimated that an acre of good turnips, with a little hay or chaff, will fatten from eight to fourteen sheep. Turnip-sowing commences in November, and may be continued till the end of December. Stubble turnips may be sown in March, but this can only be considered as a catch-crop. It, however, often proves of great value, supplying an abundance of green feed for ewes with early lambs. Turnip-land is usually sown with spring wheat, oats, or barley.
Rape is largely grown as sheep-feed, and may be sown either in early spring, or immediately after harvest, the stubble being skim-ploughed. This crop is invaluable in the early spring, and may be fed-off in time for oats or barley.
Mangolds and Carrots are extensively grown in some districts. They cost more money than turnips to produce, as they must be hand-hoed; nor are they so suitable a crop for cleaning the land. Turnip-sowing does not commence till November, affording ample time for the destruction of seedling weeds; this important opportunity is largely lost in the culture of the mangold, which should be sown in October. The mangold is, however, an invaluable crop on a stock farm, as they have only reached their primest condition when the turnip-supply is exhausted. From thirty to sixty tons per acre is not an uncommon yield of these roots.
Carrots are also a valuable crop, especially for horses; on sandy loam the crop reaches fifteen to twenty tons per acre.