The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
Clover: Since the introduction of the humble-bee into New Zealand, growing clover for seed has become a lucrative page 35 industry, adding materially to the farmers' income. Clover is sown with a spring crop, usually of corn, lightly grazed in the following autumn, and then reserved for a crop of hay, which, according to the season, yields from two to three tons per acre—cut in November or early in December. The after-growth is then allowed to flower and seed, which it does very freely. Thousands of humble-bees may be seen in the clover-fields during the months of January and February. The seed ripens in March, and is then cut and dried, and threshed out by machines known as clover-shellers. From 200lb. to 300lb. of seed per acre is considered a fair crop, and sells readily at 5d. to 6d. per pound. Thus, an acre of clover may yield in hay and seed quite £10 or £11, as well as a considerable amount of feeding, since clover-haulm is much sought after by stock of all kinds.
Grass-seed saving: All the most valuable of the strong-growing grasses flourish throughout New Zealand. Cocksfoot has been a staple product of Banks Peninsula for many years, the soil for the most part consisting of decomposed volcanic rocks and vegetable mould. The seed is of the finest description, frequently weighing 20lb. to the bushel (12lb. being a standard bushel). This grass thrives on a very wide range of soils, from the richest to the poorest, preferring, of course, the better soils. It may be found on the dry stony plains of the interior green and healthy, while the surrounding herbage has yielded to the heat of the summer sun. Large quantities of the seed are grown in the North Island as well. Out of the total of 572,425 bushels of cocksfoot seed produced in 1891-2, 255,825 bushels were grown in the North Island. This seed sells readily at from 3d. to 4d. per pound.
Growing ryegrass for seed is also an important industry. During the season 1891-2, 864,511 bushels were gathered. Of this the North Island contributed 191,746 bushels. The seed is usually secured by stripping; sometimes it is cut and tied. The average yield is from 15 to 20 bushels per acre. A common practice is to graze the land till midsummer; to take the stock off for a few weeks, and then to run the stripper over the ground. By this primitive method 10 bushels per acre is sometimes secured. Ryegrass-seed is usually in good demand, and sells readily at from 3s. 6d. to 4s. per bushel.
Meadow-fescue, one of the most valuable of all the grasses for permanent pasture on good land, is grown in the North and Middle Islands, but not very largely as yet. There can be no doubt but that the growing of grass-seeds, including the finer page 36 varieties, must become in the near future a very lucrative industry.
Small Seeds: New Zealand, from the nature of her soil and climate, offers a fine field for growing all kinds of farm and garden seeds. It has already attracted the attention of some of the larger seed-merchants of Great Britain, whose agents have recently visited the colony with a view to negotiating with farmers and others to grow certain kinds of seeds. This is an industry peculiarly adapted for small holdings.
Pulse: Peas and beans are largely grown for pig-feeding and for export, and also form an excellent preparation for wheat. An extensive trade in peas of a certain description is done in the manufacturing towns of Great Britain; and efforts are now being made to secure a share of this trade by producing peas suitable for human food. The business is likely to prove a most remunerative one. Thirty bushels of peas is considered a fair crop, while 40 to 70 bushels of beans are often secured.
Cape Barley: The demand for early spring-feed has resulted in the growing of this plant for forage purposes. Its extreme hardiness renders it peculiarly adapted for autumn sowing. If sown in March it is ready for feeding off in May; it may be fed off again in July, and on till the beginning of October, when, if allowed to run to seed, it will produce 40 to 60 bushels per acre, or it may be ploughed in for turnips. It is equally adapted for dairy stock, horses, and pigs.
Tares are also grown, but not so largely as they deserve to be, especially for dairy stock. Mixed with oats, barley, or rye, they are excellent milk-producers; and when grown luxuriantly, they destroy all kinds of weeds, and leave the land in fine condition for a spring corn-crop.
Lucerne: This permanent fodder-plant thrives admirably in most parts of New Zealand, yielding three to five cuttings in the year; and, if properly attended to, it will continue to yield liberal cuttings for seven or eight years. This is a most excellent crop for the small or large farmer, furnishing, as it does, an abundant supply of succulent fodder during the drier months of midsummer, as well as in the early spring.