The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62
|Acreage of Land in Crop.||Acreage of Land broken up but not under crop.||Acreage of Land in Sown Grasses.||Total Acreage of Land in Cultivation.|
|New South Wales||8,40,383||*||3,33,238||1,179,621|
This table shows the great superiority of New Zealand from an agricultural point of view.
It will be observed that the oat crop in New Zealand comprised nearly 66 per cent., and the area under oat crop 56 per cent, of that for the whole of Australasia.
Cost of Working a Farm in New Zvealand.
It may be thought, because remuneration for manual labour is higher in the colony than it is in Great Britain, that therefore fanning operations must cost more.
This is, however, erroneous. It is within the mark to assert that five hundred acres or more can be worked at less cost than probably it would take to work a hundred-acre farm in Great Britain, for the following reasons: firstly, the genial nature of the climate is such that it is not necessary to house stock during the winter months, saving thereby the cost of attendance; secondly, farming operations may be carried on uninterruptedly throughout the ploughing and sowing season; thirdly, the paddocks are so large, and usually level, that the double and treble-furrow plough may be worked by one man or youth. The colonial farmer has availed himself of all the most modern labour-saving machinery.
The hay crop is simply cut one day, raked into windrows next, and, in a couple more, it is ready for stacking.
Wheat is cut and tied by machinery, and stooked, requiring no capping. It is frequently threshed out of the stook in favourable seasons, thereby saving the cost of stacking and thatching, but this system is not advocated except in hot, dry seasons.
The manure bill, which is such a heavy item of annual expenditure with the British farmer, is unknown or nearly so to the colonial farmer. From 1 cwt. to 1½cwt. of superphosphates per acre is used with the turnip and other root-crops, and even this is not used in a large number of cases. It will thus be seen how many advantages the colonial farmer has over the farmer of the old country.
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.
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.
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.
From the North Cape to the Bluff Hill, in the extreme south of the Middle Island, the climate and soil are eminently adapted for the growth of a large variety of fruits. In the Auckland District, oranges, lemons, and limes flourish: many groves are page 37 now coming into full profit, and afford light and pleasant employment to a large number of persons. This employment will go on increasing as the trees become older. The olive flourishes, bearing heavy crops of fruit, and the manufacture of oil will one day become a very important industry.
Vine-growing is also carried on successfully in many districts, tons of fruit being sold in the Auckland markets annually.
Away in the far north the banana grows and ripens its fruit, but it is not thought that it will ever enter into successful competition with those imported at so cheap a rate from the Pacific Islands.
Extensive orchards of apples have existed in Auckland for more than half a century, producing abundance of fruit of excellent quality, yielding returns equal to £40 or £50 per acre, provided they are kept free from pests. Orchard-planting is progressing rapidly, and must one day become a very important industry.
There were 19,627 acres returned as being in orchards in 1892, an increase of 2,580 acres.
Now that the problem of landing the fruit in good condition on the London market has been satisfactorily solved, considerable quantities have been shipped Home, with varying success. It is satisfactory to note that fruit of the proper varieties, and which were properly packed, have invariably realised remunerative prices. Much has yet to be done in the way of arriving at the best methods of packing and the best treatment on the voyage, the best varieties to grow, and the exact stage of ripening at which the fruit should be picked. Up to the present the trade with the United Kingdom has been mostly of an experimental character. Shipments have been sent Home as ordinary cargo, at little more than half the cost for freight in the cool chamber, and have realised as much as 16s. per case, leaving a fair profit. The present cost of shipping apples in the cool-chamber is 4s. 4d. per case, the other expenses bringing it up to nearly 8s. per case. Shipped as general cargo the charges would be, approximately, 5s. 6d. per case. If shipping as ordinary cargo is found successful the industry will at once become a most profitable one, adding immensely to the general prosperity of the colony. Pears, plums, quinces, apricots, figs, walnuts, cherries, gooseberries, currants, strawberries, and raspberries grow luxuriantly, producing abundant crops of fruit.
Little has yet been done in the way of bottling or drying fruit for home use. This is an industry which only awaits development.page 38
Cider is manufactured, and fruit wines are gradually finding their way into consumption.
A considerable trade is also done in colonial-manufactured jams.
Before planting of fruit trees was commenced on a large scale, with a view to the export trade, little attention was paid to the varieties selected. The result is that many bearing trees have proved unsuitable to the new requirements, and are now being cut down and regrafted or replanted. According to latest advices, the following varieties of apple are said to be in most request in the London market, always commanding a quick sale at good prices—namely, Ribstone Pippin, Cox's Orange Pippin, Waltham Abbey, Sturmer Pippin, Scarlet Pearmain, Adam's Pearmain, and New York Pippin. The soil best adapted for growing apples is a strong loam with a clay sub-soil; but they will thrive in almost any kind of soil, provided it is in good heart and that water does not stagnate in the subsoil.
One of the peculiarities of the climate of New Zealand is that all kinds of fruit-trees are forced into bearing at an earlier stage than is the case in Great Britain.
Only 639 acres were under hops in 1892, giving a total produce of 6,810 cwt., but even this comparatively small area is more than sufficient to supply local requirements, the imports in 1891 having been slightly over 266 cwt., while the exports amounted to 2,646 cwt. In 1890 the total quantity used by the breweries in the colony amounted to 3,940 cwt. Of the land under hops in 1892, 524 acres were in the Waimea County and 77 in Collingwood, both in the Provincial District of Nelson.
The cultivation of tobacco does not progress in New Zealand. In 1889, 34 acres were being cultivated; in 1890, 25 acres; in 1891, 16 acres; and in 1892, only 6 acres.
|New Zealand-grown tobacco manufactured in the colony||1s. the pound.|
|Imported manufactured tobacco||3s. 6d. the pound.|
|Imported unmanufactured tobacco||1s. 6d. the pound.|
|Imported tobacco manufactured in the colony||1s. per pound.|
If the New Zealand-grown leaf was of sufficiently good quality to be manufactured by itself the practical protection would amount to 2s. 6d. per pound, (i.e., the difference between the duty on the imported manufactured tobacco, 8s. 6d., and the excise duty on the New Zealand-grown tobacco manufactured in the colony, 1s.). But, in order to produce a marketable commodity, New Zealand-grown leaf is mixed with imported unmanufactured tobacco, on which a duty of 1s. 6d. the pound is levied. The difference in duties is not apparently sufficient to encourage the cultivation of tobacco to any extent.
Above are enumerated a few of the salient points which go to prove conclusively that, as a country for settlement, New Zealand is not surpassed by any part of the British possessions, being one where the industrious man, with moderate means, can settle down with much comfort. The land, it is true, is perhaps dearer in some districts than that which may be found in South America, South Africa, or Canada, but this difference in price is far outweighed by other considerations, such as the superiority of climate, and security to life and property; beside which there are all the privileges of living under a stable system of government. Pit these advantages against the insecurity of life and property in South America and South Africa, and the rigour of Canadian winters, the balance will be immensely in favour of New Zealand. Another great advantage enjoyed by the agriculturist of New Zealand is that he is nowhere far from the seaboard giving him the advantage of cheap water-carriage for his produce to the markets of the world.
* No Information.