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Harvest Prospects

The advent of July brought with it weather more suitable to the maturing of the crops than had been experienced in June, when cloudy skies, frequent showers, and an unseasonably low temperature prevailed. Farmers were getting alarmed as to the effect of such weather upon the cereals, and especially upon wheat, which was in the critical blooming stage; and no wonder, for it is not too much to say that an additional fortnight of such weather would have rendered another very defective yield of grain inevitable. For a week we had warm sunny days and warm nights too, and the progress made by the crops was wonderful; but since then heavy and frequent showers have fallen in nearly all parts of the country, beating down the stoutest of the corn, spoiling a great deal of hay, and seriously retarding the maturing of the crops. This is very ominous for the wheat crop, which has had a bad blooming time with the exception of a few days. Spring corn has not suffered so much, and indeed has improved, in spite of the rain. The temperature, although occasionally low, has been much higher than it was in June, and warmth was needed above all things for the cereals. Sunshine would do a great deal for the crops yet, though it would be a mistake to expect too much from fine weather so late in the season. From the end of March, up to the end of June, the weather was generally unfavourable to the cereals. Wheat, which had at one time looked remarkably well, had never had a chance of recovering the check which it received in April, when red-rust suddenly because alarmingly prevalent; while barley was put into a shallow, hard, and cold seed-bed, and never from the first had good opportunities of free and luxuriant growth. Without tracing the life-histories of these two important crops, it is sufficient to say that at the beginning, of the present month wheat, as a rule, was putting forth small ears on stems weakened by rust, or starved through the cold and water-logged condition of the soil, while barley was thin, short, and "staring." There were many exceptional fields, some exceptional farms, and a few exceptional districts. On rich, light, and medium soils there were fine crops; but on the poor, heavy land, which prevails so extensively in our principal wheat-growing counties, the appearance of the wheat and barley crops was as above stated. Oats, beans, and peas were much more promising. Hay crops were very abundant, but early cut grass and clover had been injured by rain. Mangels were thin and very backward; while turnips were generally thick in plant, and fairly vigorous. Potatoes were generally looking well, though fears of disease, after a wet June, were expressed, and some indications of the dreaded pest were already apparent. Hops were in a bad way, covered with "fly," and weak from the lack of genial temperature.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2256—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 29, 1882, p.119

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