On naked Barley, or Barley Wheat—Report and Opinions of Warren Hastings Esq., and of Sir Hugh Inglis, on the Utility and Importance of this valuable Corn—Singular Account of its Introduction at St. Helena.

IN this island, where the intemperate use of spirits had raged for more than a century, and where now the breweries are successfully established, and a change introduced, from which the most salu­ tary effects have already resulted, upon the character and conduct of the garrison, the blacks, and others, by the substitution of wholesome beer for an abominable and deleterious Indian spirit, that had cost the Company more in the lives of their soldiers than all the revenue supposed to have been derived from it—it is undoubtedly of much importance, in the present pursuits in agriculture, to be informed of the very best sort of barley for malting.

In the sixth volume, part 2, of the Communications to the Board of Agriculture, that distinguished character, Warren Hastings Esq. ; writes to the President of the Board, “that he has cultivated naked barley, about twelve years ; having received the first seeds of it from Mr. Pacey, an eminent farmer in Glou­cestershire, under the name of black barley ; though, from its resemblance to wheat, lie would rather have called it barley wheat; but lie adopted the name of the head of the communica­tion, out of deference to the Board of Agriculture. The original stock was 53 grains, which were sown in the fruit garden, and the first record of its produce was 10¼ bushels in 1799, which had increased to 36 bushels in the following year, since which time it has been sown instead of common barley. The quality of the grain is asserted not to have degenerated, but the assertion is made in 1809, with a confidence something abated from that of the preceding year; and the only change of soil has been from the higher to the lower lands, and vice versa, on the domain at Dayelsford. It was sown at the same seasons with other barley, but no trial to ascertain the relative quantity of produce has been made with any satisfactory result; but in 1805 it was believed to be rather superior. The straw is said to be as good, if riot better, for cattle, than that of common barley, and the weight of an equal measure to exceed in the proportion of 5 to 4 ; and as an exhausting plant it is not deemed worse than common barley; and all the grasses are found to thrive well under it. Naked barley has not found a purchaser when offered in market, but Mr. Hastings cultivates it for the sole purpose of converting it into malt, for which he considers it particularly adapted, as he Las seldom known one grain to be defective in vegetation at the malt-house.

The writer concludes by expressing his decided conviction of the great utility and importance of the grain, and declares his intention of extending his culture of it beyond the quantity required for his own use, that the surplus may be for sale at the disposal of the Board. He considers it to be the corn, which, next to rice, gives the greatest weight of flour per acre, and it may be eaten with no other preparation than that of boiling, and requires little or no dressing at the mill, having no husk, and consequently producing no bran."

The superiority of this kind of barley has been further extolled in some observations that follow the preceding communication.—“When barley wheat is more widely cultivated, it will be better known, and we have no hesitation in pronouncing that the desire of extending the cultivation of it will be beyond the power of Mr. Hastings to supply the seed."

The wheat barley now growing here, is from Mr. Hastings's stock. I received it from Sir Hugh Inglis, who has been indefatigable in every thing that relates to our improvements. At the time he sent it, he informed me that a gentleman in Devonshire having occasion to plough up four acres of a lawn, they were first sown with turnips ; and he had a very poor crop. Early in April he again sowed the four acres, with four bushels of barley wheat, which came up very thin, but at the end of June, when Sir Hugh Inglis saw it, it was the wonder of the country, and at harvest the four acres yielded two hundred and forty bushels, or 60 bushels per acre.

Some experiments I have lately made with this valuable corn, will be found to coincide with the statements given Icy these respectable authorities. They will likewise shew that both hexagonal barley, and barley wheat, are rather improved in this soil and climate, because from comparative weights of one hundred grains, (the produce of the island crops,) I have invariably found them much heavier than the English seed.

Of the two casks of barley wheat I received from Sir Hugh Inglis, in 1810 and 1811, unfortunately not a grain would vegetate : the whole was damaged. Relying on the casks, I gave ten pounds of seed, which were contained in a bag that accompanied the cask in 1810 to Colonel Broughton. This seed was perfectly good. It was sown at Long Wood, and had a fine appear­ance, but as it approached to maturity, it was attacked by Canary birds, and none was saved. Fortunately, however, I reserved a few grains. taken out of the bag, for one of the numbers of an experiment bed in the front garden at Plantation-house. These were sown in a square, rather less than three feet, and of 81 different kinds of seeds, the barley wheat was the first that sprouted. The progress will be seen by the following Table.

Table of Experiment in Barley Wheat.

1810, July 31st.—Sowed a few grains in a bed about 3 feel square.

August 11th.—Young plants appeared. The time of sowing was a month too late, the weather cold, and only one heavy, shower, since the seed was sown.

Sep. 25th.—From the ground to the top of the leaves 2 feet.

Oct. 14th.—Strong: but not in ear.

20th.—Ears appearing.

Nov. 15th.—Handsome round years—counted 96 grains in an ear.

29th.—Approaching to ripeness—Canary birds so greedily de­vour it, that we are obliged to cover the bed with nets.

Dec. 28th.—The ears were collected, some were bearded, and others were without beards—I concluded at this time they were of different species—and accordingly separated the plain from the bearded grains.

Two ears of the bearded sort yielded 138 barley corns, which weighed 48½   Aps. weight.
Two ears plain, containing 109 barley corns, weighed 51½   ditto.
           Total weight of the produce of 4 ears 100     
      Average weight of 100 barley corns 40½   grains.

The total quantity saved of both kinds, was 2850 barley corns, which I have since ascertained would fill three common sized wine glasses.

From this fresh seed I hoped to establish a sufficient quantity for extensive cultivation : and I have not been disappointed. I accordingly prepared a spot in the garden, measuring 108 links by 37, or about the 25th part of an acre. It was marked out in rows 12 inches asunder, and the seed dibbled three inches deep at 9 inches apart in the row. The number of dibble holes was 2280 ; but as 570 holes had two seeds in each, the number of grains dibbled was 2850 : the following is the result.

1811. March 16th.—Dibbled 2850 grains of barley wheat in 2280 holes, of which 570 had two seeds.

21st.—Plants appeared.

31st.—Promising crop.

May 15th.—Remarkably exuberant.

26th.—Some in ear.

June 4th.—Many in ear.

9th.—Almost all in ear, a very fine crop.

July 25th.—Nearly ripe.

28th.—No difference between the produce of the plain and bearded seed. In each there are some with beards and some plain. The beards fall off as the crop ripens.

29th.—Cut the crop. Produce 135 pounds from the 25th part of an acre, is at the rate of 56¼ bushels, at 60 pounds per acre.

On the 3d of August this small quantity was spread over about four acres and ploughed in. It is now a strong and exuberant crop, full in ear, and promises a very abundant produce, even more than sufficient to sow all the cultivated lands at present on this island.

Justice indeed has not been done to any of these experiments ; they have all been too late in sowing. If the first had been sown about the end of June, 1810, the second about the end of December, and the last, now in the ground, in the end of June, they would all have haft the full benefit of the rainy seasons, and a better produce might have been expected. To these seed times I shall, in future, pay the strictest attention ; having seen numerous instances of the bad effects of being too late in putting plants, or seeds, in the ground.

Barley wheat is of a darker hue than wheat in general : the grains are smaller; and its relative weight with other corn appears by the following comparison :

  Weight of 100 Grains of
English Seed.
  Weight of 100 Grains of
St. Helena Produce.
Wheat 65    grains Apoth. Weight    
Hexagonal Barley 62        71½ at Plantation-house
Barley Wheat 47¼   [1] 50½ second crop
Hexagonal Barley       78½ at Long Wood

I have already stated, that the produce from 2280 dibble holes weighed 135 pounds (or 2160 ounces) ; this being the 96/100 part of an ounce, is very nearly one ounce from one seed.

Very different from this was the result of Mr. Arthur Young's experiment in the year 1791, with common barley ; he found that 9½ seed grains produced no more than an ounce, whereas in my second experiment 9½ seed grains of barley wheat must have given 7 2 /10 ounces, or about seven times the weight yielded from common barley.

An acre dibbled in rows, in the same manner as my second experiment, would contain 58,080 holes ; wherefore, if 2280 holes yielded 2160 ounces, an acre would have produced 55,900 ounces ; or 3494 pounds avoirdupoise.

Let us now compare this produce with Mr. Young's experiment above alluded to.

On the 25th of April, 1791 , he dibbled 198 grains of four rowed barley, one seed in each hole. On the 29th of September “he reaped them ; and, clipping off the ears,” weighed them ; the produce was 20¼ ounces. He does not state whether this be the weight of the ears, or of the clean grain : but, afterwards, he infers that 9½ grains of seed produced one ounce of corn.

Hence, it follows, if 198 seed grains gave 20¼ ounces, 58,080 would produce 6013 ounces, or 376 pounds.—Thus we find that the weight of my produce, from an acre of barley wheat at St. Helena (being at the rate of 3494 pounds) ; is about nine times the weight of that of common barley, according to Mr. Young.

But, quitting these minutiæ, I will take a more enlarged view of these comparisons, and proceed by a different mode of investigation.

The average acreable produce of common barley in England , according to Mr. Donaldson, is about 30 bushels : but rating it 40, and the medium weight of a bushel, at 48 pounds ; this average produce will be no more than 1920 pounds; or 1574 pounds less, in weight, than from the second barley wheat experiment.

In short, whether we consider the comparatively small quantity of barley wheat seed required to sow an acre, its more weighty produce than common barley, its naked, instead of husky grains, and its equality with other barley, in the produce of straw ; and, if these circumstances are combined with Mr. Hastings's opinions on the various uses to which barley wheat may be applied ; it seems to be, in every respect, infinitely superior to the common sorts of barley. It is probable too, from its near resemblance to wheat, that it may yield a flour superior to that from common barley ; and although this is a point which has hitherto not been ascertained ; yet from what is already known of the barley wheat, it certainly bids fair to become an invaluable corn on this island.

By the comparisons of the weights of English seed, with that produced from the first and second St. Helena crops, it has been seen that the second crop yielded heavier and larger corn than the English, in the proportion of 47¼ to 50½, and that the first crop, gave only 40½ grains weight to the 100 barley-corns. Further trials may determine in what respects the barley wheat may be affected here by the climate and soil ; for having beheld so extraordinary a change, as has taken place in the quality of fir timber, (to a resemblance of pale mahogany) from pineaster trees raised from English seed, who can tell but other vegetable productions may likewise undergo (though less perceptibly) a similar change ? In the weight of common barley, I have stated that the St. Helena produce has been found more weighty than the seed from which it was raised ; and the following notes will prove that it maintains this superiority.

1809. March 14th.— 100 English barley-corns weighed 62    grs.
    100 St. Helena ditto 71½  
    Difference 9 ½  
The above were kept in a dry place, and again weighed nine-teen months afterwards.
1810. Nov. 1st.— 100 English barley-corns weighed 61    grs.
    100 St. Helena ditto 69     
    Difference 8     

Barley wheat is therefore in every point of view, a grain that merits the attention of all our cultivators ; for by common industry it might be raised in sufficient quantity to supply the island breweries, by which, those sums that are now remitted to England (from £6000. to £8000. annually for malt,) might be retained here and participated among the landholders. Surely persons who duly reflect on these important facts, and who compare the magnitude of the prospects that the extension of agriculture holds out, with the small supplies annually furnished to the shipping, must be convinced, that the present system of limited cultivation is a bad one ; and that the profits that are received from the lands of St. Helena, are trivial indeed in comparison with those that are attainable.

November, 1811.

  1. 100 grains of the first crop weighed only 40½.

 Section XII