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Two hundred and forty grains of cane juice gave
0.219 phosphate of lime and magnesia,
0.310 alkaline carbonates, mostly potash, 0.069 sulphuric acid,
0.079 phosphoric acid,
0.742 grains, which correspond with 0.309 per cent. of inorganic compounds, of which 0.13 per cent. are to be counted as pure alkalies.
It is well known in all sugar producing countries that the presence of saline matters in the juice should be avoided; hence it is desirable to grow it on soils where these salts are absent, and to precipitate such as exist in it as soon after the juice is expressed as possible, since they antagonize all the processes of defecation and crystalization. One equivalent of common salt, for example, 60, will combine with two equivalents of sugar,= 342, and thus cause a loss of sugar 6 times greater than the weight of the salt in the compound. The phosphates are deemed the least objectionable of all the salts.
Dr. Goessmann is very certain that no other kind of sugar than cane exists in the sorghum plant. All the grape sugar, therefore, that is found adhering to the cane crystals, and in the syrup is formed by the degradation of the cane sugar, in consequence of defective processes in defecation and evaporation. He farther asserts that the fresh sorghum cane juice is quite free from the compounds of ammonia. Should they be observed during the process of making sugar, it may be known that they are either brought into the solution as such by carelessness, or originated from the decomposition of albuminous matter left in the juice by imperfect clarification.
SOILS ADAPTED TO THE GROWTH OF SORGHUM.
There were very striking differences of opinion, elicited by inquiries, respecting the soils best adapted to the growth of sorghum. Mr. O. N. Brainerd, a gentleman of great experience, derived from observation and experiment in Iowa and Illinois, and who is personally interested in the produce of over 3,000 acres of the Chinese sugar cane, says that the syrup from rich bottom lands is always poorer than that from the less fertil uplands, and that clayey soils are as well adapted to its growth as sandy or gravelly soils. Indeed, he says, the richest juices he ever manufactured were yielded by cane grown upon clay soils.
The members of the Sorghum Convention, held at Dayton, Ohio, generally agreed that the most desirable, was an upland soil resting upon a calcareous subsoil; but there was no approach to an agreement upon the question, as to whether clay or sand was better adapted to the sorghum.
At a Convention held at Columbus, Ohio, in January, 1863, it was decided that a good wheat soil was the true soil for sorghum, and that a good wheat soil "should be sandy, inclined to limestone, with a sufficiency of clay to hold the soil tolerably compact."
Mr. Cory, of Indiana, who has had a very extensive experience in the. business, at the Convention held at Rockford, Ill., said: "I will merely say, give me good clean, rich land, having all the desirable qualities for growing Indian corn, and if in some particulars it is not right, I will correct and subjugate it to my liking. Rich soil of a sandy nature is my preference in distinction from a heavy clay soil."
S. Penguite, of Clinton, Ohio, "finds that cane grown on yellow clay, moderately rich, makes the most and best molasses. Rich, black land produces the largest cane, but not so sweet."
Edward F. Newberry, in a premium essay, says that he "prefers poor soil to that which is extremely rich, my own experience establishes satisfactorily to myself, and to all in my vicinity, the superiority of a bright clay soil over all others, such as is usually found on the skirts of our timber lands, particularly where the post oak groves exist." He says that he has a piece of land, part of which is a poor sandy loam, facing the south; the rest is bottom land, very rich in vegetable mould. The cane grown upon the upland makes an excellent, though uncrystalizable syrup, the bottom lands produce larger stalks, but the juice is very inferior, and requires twice as much to make a given amount of syrup as the upland
I believe that there is a general agreement amongst all experienced per. sons upon the following points:
1st. That good cane cannot be expected when grown upon soils abounding in black muck; nor
2d. Upon soils standing over cold, wet subsoils, or upon undrained lauds generally; or
3d. Upon soils abounding in soluble saline constituents; and
4th. That other things being equal, calcareous soils furnish the best
John J. Douglas says in Ohio Agricultural Transactions for 1861, that "the soil best adapted to the culture of the cane is a warm, sandy limestone loam, upland preferred." John L. Gill, in the same volume, remarks that "the richer the land without manuring the better, though a good upland is preferable to a black muck, as the latter will produce a large stalk but not rich in juice. A limestone soil is desirable, and should the soil be deficient in lime, a light dressing of lime should be applied."
These conflicting opinions might easily be reconciled by a few well directed experiments. It is to be hoped the agricultural societies of the States of Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio will, during the present year, secure the services of competent, reliable men, who should weigh samples of cane from equal areas of various soils, reducing their juice to syrups of equal density. A comparison of these syrups with respect to quantity and quality, and an accurate description of the soils from whence they were taken, would settle the controversy about soils at once and forever.
After the most careful inquiry, orally and by letter, I am unable to find that any such experiments have ever been made. In their absence I venture to express my own opinion, derived from the observations I was enabled to make, without pretending that they are less liable to error than those of the gentlemen whose opinions I have recorded above.
The most abundant growths of cane from equal areas that I found during my journey, were on the river bottoms, such as those of the Illinois, the Wabash, the Great and Little Miamis, the Scioto and their tributary streams. The cane was more solid, less pithy, and contained fewer red streaks on the average than those growing on contiguous uplands. The quality of the syrup, so far as I had an opportunity of testing it, was quite
equal to that of the uplands, although the two choicest specimens that I obtained grew on the uplands. The greatest advantage, however, of the plantations on the river bottoms, is their greater exemption from the early frosts. While the uplands of Illinois had been almost destroyed by frost, I found Mr. Belcher's fine plantation of four hundred acres, situated on the Illinois river bottom, in La Salle county, fresh and green, and quite unharmed. Whenever a frost had occurred on the uplands, there had been a dense fog on the river bottoms, and no injury had ensued.
If the culture of the Chinese sugar cane is introduced into the State of New York, I should recommend that the first trials should be made in the vallies of the Mohawk, the Chenango, the Genesee, or similar ones.
In general, farmers will understand that any soil which will produce forty bushels of Indian corn to the acre will yield a remunerative crop of Sorghum, provided there are works in the vicinity where it can be converted into syrup. I would not advise that it should be planted on any land less fertile than this. Such land will yield from sixty to one hundred gallons of syrup, if the cane can be well ripened. Lands which will yield 60 bushels of corn to the acre will give from 120 to 160 gallons; those which give 80 bushels of corn, may be expected to yield from 180 to 200 gallons.
In the neighborhood of Quincy, Illinois, an acre is said to have yielded 500 gallons of syrup. An acre is reported from Belmont county, Ohio, as having yielded 420 gallons in the year 1857, and one in Muskingum county, Ohio, is reported as having given 600 gallons in 1860. If these maximum crops are correctly reported, they must have been produced by a combination of unusually favorable circumstances, which must not be used as the basis of ordinary calculations. The correctness of these reports is, however, very seriously doubted by practical men. Mr. Isaac Hedges assured me that he knew all the localities, and that he was very confident that no such amounts had ever been obtained.
The largest production that I was able to verify was 320 gallons, which were obtained from an acre of land in Henry county, Indiana. The average production of syrup at 41 deg. Beaume, produced from an acre of land in Ohio, is 90 gallons; in Indiana, 100 gallons; in Illinois and Iowa, 180 gallons, and in Pensylvania, 80 gallons.
It must always be kept in mind that the true home of the sugar cane is beneath tropical skies, and that for the complete conversion of starch into sugar, both heat and sunshine are indispensable. The west India cane requires from twelve to eighteen months to bring it to maturity, according to the irrigation applied to it. The ordinary Chinese cane will ripen in five months, but it will not come to perfection unless these months are very hot, and there is a great preponderance of clear, sunshiny days over cloudy ones. Much of the cane in the western States is immature and of small value, not from any want of fertility in the soil, but for lack of a suitable temperature.
If the farmers of New York enter upon the cultivation of this plant they must keep this consideration steadily in view, it will lead them to select their grounds on fields facing towards the south, to choose dark soils rather
than light ones, since these absorb more of the sun's rays and are therefore warmer. Above all, it will induce them to select lands which are thoroughly drained either naturally or artificially; any attempts to produce it on wet soils or cold sub-soils will certainly end in bitter disappointment.
The cane will bear drought better than almost any other plant. A heat which curls all the leaves in the corn fields will have no effect whatever upon it; if the dews are copious it will grow luxuriantly though all other plants are stunted and withered. It grows better of course, if watered by an occasional shower, but if the other conditions of its growth are fulfilled, there is little danger of its suffering from dryness. The hotter the season, the richer is the juice; foggy nights and clear hot days in the month of September are especially propitious to the elaboration of its juices.
In the section of Illinois which yields the richest crops of sorghum the annual average amount of rain is 42 inches. The average heat of summer is 72 deg. F. The average winter heat is 25 deg. F. and the average for the whole year is 50 deg.
In the best sorghum growing region of Ohio the temperature of the three summer months averages 71 deg. F. and differs very little in its climate from the corresponding region of Illinois, except that it receives about four inches more rain annually.
I have no meteorological tables for Indiana and Iowa at hand, but they probably do not differ very materially in their climates from Illinois and Ohio, at least, I was so informed. by scientific gentlemen residing in those States.
The average period of the occurrence of the latest frosts in the southern part of Ohio (which is the best sorghum region) is the 10th of May. The average period of the earliest frost is the 28th of September. I have no tables showing the average number of clear days for any part of Ohio, except for Marietta, but I suppose this is a fair type of the district. At this place they have on an average of twenty years, 220 clear days and 145 cloudy days.
The average temperature of the summer months in the valley of the Genesee is 66.5 deg. F. Average temperature of the year 46.4 deg. Average fall of rain for the year 31.2 inches. Average number of clear days 179. Of cloudy days 186. Average time of the occurrence of the first frost in autumn, September 18th.
The average temperature of the summer months in the Mohawk valley is 66.4 deg. F. Annual mean 46.7 deg. Average fall of rain 41.9 inches. Average number of clear days 196, of cloudy days 169. Average occur rence of the 1st frost in autumn, September 16th. I have no means of ascertaining the latest frost in the spring in either of these valleys.
It will be seen from the foregoing statements that the valleys of the Genesee and the Mohawk, which for other reasons I have supposed to be the best adapted to the sorghum culture are decidedly inferior in all the conditions of climate for successful sorghum growing to the valleys of the Ohio, the Wabash and the Illinois.
This comparison of the facts of climate in the two regions are very adverse to the latter, and would seem to forbid us to hope that we can obtain as much saccharine matter from equal areas as those more meteorologically
favored regions. Thus the first frost is ten days earlier on the Genesee than it is on the Ohio. The latter has forty-one more clear days than the former, and the summer temperature is five deg. warmer; these differences may make all the difference between saving or loosing a crop. It is only in the favorable regions of Ohio and Indiana that the cane assumes that yellowish green color which indicates the complete transformation of the starch into sugar, without which great loss accrues to the cultivator. At all events these meteorological indications will strongly admonish the farmer of New York to make the most of all the artificial means which compensate for an unfavorable climate.
The cane planters with whom I conversed, very generally concurred in the opinion that fresh manures were injurious to the cane; they think that the juice is weaker and contains salts which prevent crystalization. I was told that sulphur, salt and soft soap had been tried upon the soil, and had communicated their flavor to the syrup to an extent which made it quite useless. A few persons recommended the manure of sheep and cattle, who professed to have seen large augmentations of syrup from its use, which they said was as sweet and as good in all respects as that made from the juice grown on unmanured lands. Horse manure was uniformly condemned; great numbers had tried it fairly and found it very injurious. Messrs. Brainard & Hedges, who are probably as rich in experience in all matters pertaining to sorghum, as any men in the United States, condemned its use in the strongest terms. The former assured me that the juice from the cane that he had treated with horse manure was as sour as lemon juice, this amount of acidity must therefore have converted all the cane sugar into grape sugar.
The testimony upon this point was so strong that I supposed the question was entirely settled, but when I visited Wm. Edgerton I questioned him upon the subject, rather because it stood upon my memorandum, than from any interest I felt in the answer; I was, therefore, much surprised when he assured me that he had spread horse manure thickly through the centre of one of his cane fields, for about five rods in width, and that the strip of land thus manured yielded a much larger amount of juice, and of a better quality than was obtained from the unmanured portion of the field, in fact the beautiful specimen of sorghum sugar now in the museum of the society at Albany, was obtained from that very strip of manured land. I think, however, that this was an exceptional case; the experiments have been quite too numerous, and the results have been too uniform, to be overthrown by a single experiment attended with opposite results.
Mr. Hedges informed me that he had used gypsum and lime extensively and successfully. Mr. J. L. Gill had found lime to improve the crop in quality though not in quantity. Several other gentlemen recommended these manures on the authority of others, but they had not tested them themselves. I could not ascertain that any other mineral manures had ever been tested at the west.
I had no opportunity of verifying any of the conflicting statements, or of supplementing them by my own observations. I saw several thousand