Method of Preparing Seed Wheat to Prevent Smut

[ Method of Preparing Seed Wheat to Prevent Smut ] Arnold Shaw

Contributor Role
Contributor Name
Arnold Shaw

Date: 1791/04/30

Publication Format


wheat seed

Hants County
Nova Scotia

Source: Weekly Chronicle
Institution: Nova Scotia Archives | Source Origin: Nova Scotia Newspapers on Microfilm


Letter dated 8 February 1791 describing how to prepare wheat seed with a salt "pickle" to prevent smut. Vol. 5, No. 25. Microfilm Reel 8165.


Method of preparing Seed Wheat to prevent Smut, in a
  Letter from Mr. Arnold Shaw of Newport, to the
  Secretary of the Agricultural Society for the County of
  Hants, dated 8th February, 1791.

IN compliance with the request of our society, I
send you an account of the method I have for
some time past pursued in preparing my wheat for
seed; which is as follows---I take a bushel of my best
wheat and pour it slowly into a wide vessel nearly
filled with water,* then stir it and skim off whatever
arises to the surface. The wheat being thus cleared
of light grains and seeds of weeds, I pour off this wa-
ter and put on fresh, leaving it to soak for twelve
hours, unless in very warm weather, when ten hours
will answer. After this I put the wheat into a pickle
as strong as it can be made with salt dissolved in
cold water; [t] in this situation I leave it twelve
hours.--It is to be observed that in the above relati-
on I am supposed to possess but one vessel, should I
have more, more bushels of wheat would be under the
operation at the same time. The wheat having stood
in pickle for twelve hours as above, I then put it in
baskets to drain for a few minutes, after this I spread
it about three inches thick on a floor, sifting lime
over and stirring it until each grain is coated over
with lime; I then shovel it into a heap, in which
situation I leave it for twenty four hours at least. It
is now sufficiently prepared for sowing. Should any
thing prevent its being sown for two days, I again
spread and expose it to the air for about five minutes,
heaping it immediately afterwards, as before; this I
repeat every day until it is sown.
    I have pursued this mode for eight years with the 
greatest success, previous to which my crops were as
subject to smut as any of my neighbours. At the first
time, not having any great faith in the method, from
the bad success of those who had limed their seed but
imperfectly, I prepared only half of my seed in this
manner, the other half I sowed without any prepara-
tion; the result was that the limed seed produced a
crop entirely free from smut, the unprepared on the
contrary, one, smutty to a great degree. The year
following I intended to have limed all my seed, but
at the close of my sowing (wanting some) I sowed a 
few ridges without previously preparing it, this pro-
duced some smut, the other was entirely free from it.
--Since this I have always prepared my seed in the
abovementioned way, and to such effect, that there
has not been the appearance of smut in any of my
crops, although it prevails to a great degree in those
of my neighbours.
    I have the honor to be,
        With my best wishes for the Society,
            Your most obedient servant,
                ARNOLD SHAW.

Defined by the OED as "A fungous disease affecting various plants, esp. cereals, which are spoiled by the grain being wholly or partly converted into a blackish powder."