The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
The Use of Sprouted Wheat for Seed
The Use of Sprouted Wheat for Seed.
Owing to the very large amount of wheat which, suffered injury during the late very wet harvest season in Canterbury, and the difficulty in consequence of procuring sound grain for seed, the minds of our farmers have been much troubled as regards the propriety of using the damaged article for that purpose.
It is believed that only a comparatively small portion of the crop was secured in a perfectly sound condition, and this was eagerly bought up by the millers, who, keenly alive to the necessity of providing flour of a marketable quality, were thus induced to offer prices which were highly remunerative to the growers.
The question of seed for the ensuing crop naturally forced itself on people's minds, and in view of the enormous amount of damaged grain in the country, was the cause of much anxiety to all those who themselves possessed, no wheat which could be pronounced perfectly sound. Much discussion took place, and many hasty speculations were ventured as to the safety of using the sprouted grain for seed. In order to test its fitness, some trifling experiments were undertaken, and in every case that has come to our knowledge where a few of the damaged grains were sown a large per centage succeeded. So far, this was satisfactory, and was calculated to dispel the fears of our farmers. There arose, however, a rumour that a more carefully conducted trial where the damaged grain had been pickled in the usual way, was sown, and had utterly failed. The pickling process appeared to have quite destroyed its vitality.
As might have been expected, this intelligence caused great dismay, and in consequence we have heard of several persons who have sown their wheat without subjecting it to the precautionary process of pickling.
We have reason, however, to fear that those persons have exposed themselves to greater risk from smut than would have been the case had they treated their seed wheat in the usual way.page 183
We are able to state one or two facts which certainly have set our own minds at rest as regards the question of sowing sprouted wheat. In one instance a large paddock—over one hundred acres—was sown with wheat, none of which could be pronounced sound grain. The seed was dressed with the usual solution of bluestone, the field was finished on the 23rd May, and now it appears looking as well as any person could desire. The next case was that of grain very much grown which was also dressed with the bluestone solution and sown, nearly every grain succeeded.
These are no doubt hasty experiments, and perhaps do not justify us in pronouncing an authoritative opinion on the question. Another season may add to our information on this important subject. We content ourselves with stating the facts as they have come to our knowledge, trusting that they may be the means of disabusing the minds of some of our farmers of the impression that sprouted wheat is totally unfit for seed.
R. L. H.