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If any State of the Union is adapted for agriculture, and the other branches of rural economy relating thereto, such as the raising of cattle, and the culture of fruit trees, it is pre-eminently Illinois, whose extremely fertile prairies recompense the farmer at less trouble than he would be obliged to incur elsewhere, in order to attain the same results. Her virgin soil, adapted by nature for immediate culture, only awaits the plough and the seed, in order to mature within a few months golden ears of the most beautiful Indian corn, the heaviest wheat, and such other species of corn as are indigenous in the temperate zones. Here the husbandman is not obliged for whole years to squander his best strength in clearing the primitive forest, hewing down gigantic trees, and rooting out stumps and weeds, in order to gain after each and every year of toilsome labor, in the sweat of his brow, another patch of arable ground; but the soil only wants common tilling; here the farmer is not obliged to gather the stones from his acres, so that the halms may have a large scope for development, for the soil is so little encumbered with them, that, if you should require a proprietor of some twenty acres of prairie land to collect from them a cart-load of stones, in return for which he was to receive a cartload of the purest gold, he would be compelled to decline accepting this handsome offer. Here no manure is wanted to fertilize the soil; it consists here of a rich black mould, several feet deep, that wants no dung, but is almost inexhaustibly fertile, and capable of producing the richest fruit, year after year, for entire generations. The Illinoisian farmer who cares not to improve the land, or enhance its fertility, as he should, has nothing to do but to plough, sow, and reap: less labor is here required than at other places where the usual demands of agriculture must first be satisfied. Hence a man of small means can more rapidly acquire wealth in this State, than at places where
he must waste his best time and strength in occupations not required here.
The vegetable products of Illinois are especially-Indian corn, which is the staple commodity; wheat, which thrives well in all parts of the State; and also oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, flax, hemp, peas, clover, cabbage, rapes, and the ordinary pot-herbs, tobacco, and the bean from which the castor-oil (ol. ricini) is obtained, are cultivated here; of the latter enough is raised for home use.
The culture of fruit-trees, though securing a handsome profit to the farmer, is chiefly confined to that of apples and peaches, most excellent varieties of which are grown here; besides these there are already several vineyards yielding a very good wine. The culture of fruittrees and of the vine will be treated of in a special chapter, whilst in this present chapter we shall speak of agriculture particularly.
The amount of bushels raised per acre, first claims our attention, for the comparatively smaller or greater amount reaped by the farmer, in connection with the market prices of the produce, will naturally exercise a great influence in diminishing or increasing his revenue, and thus impair or enhance his prosperity.
As already mentioned in the preface of this book, we have received from a number of gentlemen, for many years resident in Illinois, among whom are also many practical farmers, information concerning all matters, so that the statements subjoined here may be relied upon as the results of a practical experience for many years. We quote here the testimony of several in regard to the amount of the various products per acre.
F. A. Arenz, Esq., of Beardstown, Cass Co., states the amount of produce, as follows: Indian corn, 50-70 bushels per acre; wheat, 18– 25; rye, 35-40; oats, 40-45; potatoes, 150-200.
James G. Loulard, Esq., of Maple Lawn, Jo Daviess Co.; Indian corn, 30-100 bushels, per average 60; wheat, 15-40, per average, 22; oats, per average, 45; barley, 25-60, per average, 35; rye, 20– 50, per average, 30; potatoes, 100-300, per average, 150.
Heinr. Funk, Esq., of Stout's Grove, McLean Co.; winter wheat, 20-30; spring wheat, 20-28; oats, 40-50; Indian corn, 45-70.
Stephen Feussner, Esq., of Marissa, St. Clair Co.; Indian corn, 30 -50; wheat, 18-30; oats, 30; potatoes, 100-200.
Rev. F. Will. Holls, of Centreville, St. Clair Co.; barley, 40-45; wheat, 15-20; Indian corn, 50-55.
Michael Kleinhenz, Esq., of Henry, Marshall Co.; Indian corn, 50-70.
Wm. Ross, Esq., of Pittsfield, Pike Co.; Indian corn, 50-70; wheat, 20-40; oats, 40-50.
Dr. Danl. Stahl, of Quincy, Adams Co.; Indian corn, 60-70; wheat, 20-40.
Dr. Welsch, of Mascoutah, St. Clair Co.; Indian corn, 70-75; winter wheat, 22-25; barley, 40-45; castor beans, 30; oats, 40; potatoes, 50-80.
Geo. Bunsen, Esq., of Belleville, St. Clair Co.; Indian corn, 40100; wheat, 16-25; barley, 40; rye, 16; oats, 40-60; potatoes, 100. Isaac Underhill, Esq., of Peoria; Indian corn, 30–60; wheat, 15 -25.
A. Collins, Esq., of Hadley, Will Co.; Indian corn, 50; oats, 40 -60.
Thus, according to these observations, which were made in nine different counties of the State, throughout her longitudinal extension, from her northern boundary to St. Clair County, in her southern portion, we receive the following average numbers, per acre :-Indian corn, 56 bushels; wheat, 24; oats, 44; barley, 41; rye, 29; potatoes, 143.
Let us now listen to a well known authority, with respect to agriculture in Illinois. Mr. J. Ambrose Wight, of Chicago, who was for many years the accomplished editor of the "Prairie Farmer," an excellent journal, largely diffused, which, however, should not be wanting in the house of any Illinoisian farmer, and which should be studiously perused by every new settler,—in a letter dated Jan. 9, 1855, and addressed to John Wilson, makes the following statements:
"At your request, I would state, that, from an acquaintance with Illinois lands, and Illinois farmers, of eighteen years, during thirteen of which I have been engaged as editor of the 'Prairie Farmer,' I am prepared to give the following as the rates of produce which may be had per acre, with ordinary culture:
'Ordinary culture,' on prairie lands, is not what is meant by the term in the Eastern or Middle States. It means here, no manure; and commonly but once, or, at most, twice ploughing, on perfectly smooth land, with long furrows, and no stones or obstructions; when two acres per day is no hard job for one team. It is often but very poor culture, with shallow ploughing, and without attention to weeds.
I have known crops, not unfrequently, far greater than these, with but little variation in their treatment; say forty to fifty bushels of winter wheat; sixty to eighty of oats; three hundred of potatoes, and one hundred of Indian corn. 'Good culture,' which means rotation, deep ploughing, farms well stocked, and some manure applied, at intervals of from three to five years, would, in good seasons, very often approach these latter figures."
It will be seen that Mr. Wight's statements are in perfect harmony with the above observations, made for several years by practical Illinoisian farmers; hence these numbers may be considered the exact rates of average produce.
For Indian corn, in Joliet..
"Wheat, in Aurora and Batavia
"Rye, in Freeport......
15 to 25 bushels.
1 to 3 tons.
In another chapter we have noted the market-prices of corn, and other farm produce, as the newspapers stated them to rule during the first half of January, 1856, in 51 different places, scattered all over Illinois. According to this account the highest prices in the places mentioned before (with the sole exception of Chicago, which cannot be considered as a place of production), have been the following:
While the average price
"Potatoes, in Springfield.....
"Oats, in Cairo, Moline, and Ottawa.........
"Barley, in Quincy.....
Of Indian corn, was.....
Let us now calculate in money, the probable produce of an acre. Basing our calculation upon the average ruling prices of the various products, during the first half of January, 1856, and upon the above given average rates of bushels per acre, we should estimate every acre to be worth, if planted with
Basing our calculation, however, upon the above mentioned highest prices, we find every acre to be worth, if planted with
Having shown by the preceding, how much an acre of land at an average rate of produce, and at average prices, must yield, and how much at those highest prices, paid in the first half of January, 1856, (which latter calculation is also based on the average rate of produce), we now turn to the profitableness of farming itself.
Profits of farming.-Here, also, we cannot do better than to refer to the observations and statements made by practical men.
Edward Bebb, Esq., of Fountaindale, Winnebago Co., in a letter addressed to us, gives the following account of his first crop, on newlybroken land:
"In the summer of 1851, we had sixty-five acres of an eighty acre lot broken. In the spring of 1852, we fenced the whole eighty and sowed it with oats. The following is a statement of the crop: