Page:Canterbury Papers.djvu/33

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25
CANTERBURY DISTRICT.

almost every week of their continuance; this season, however, may be said generally to include a large proportion of fine warm weather, with some very hot days, and occasional gales of wind. February, March, and April are autumn months, and during these we have always experienced the finest weather of the year—mild, calm days, with frequent showers, are the general characteristics of these months, but at a distance from the sea coast, and in the neighbourhood of swamps, there are usually slight frosts towards the latter end of autumn. The winter includes the months of May, June, and July. We have likewise experienced a considerable difference in these months during each season we have resided here; fine calm days, and frequent frosty and cold nights and mornings, and an occasional gale of wind from the south-west, with heavy rain, may be said, however, to be the description of this season, with a greater or smaller proportion of each in every year. During each winter we have had two or three falls of snow, but it never has exceeded four or five inches in depth on the plain—never interferes with cattle or sheep feeding, usually disappears in the course of twenty-four hours, and has never lain more than two or three days at any one time. The frosts generally disappear before 11 o'clock, a.m.

2nd. 'As to crops, times of sowing, &c.' Every description of crops should be sown in April, May, or June; artificial grasses should likewise be sown during these months, or earlier, if the ground be moist. Potatoes may be planted from the end of August till the end of November, or even December, if near the sea-coast, but it is not desirable to plant them either so early as the first, or so late as the last mentioned months, as the stalks of very early or late crops are liable to be slightly nipped by frost, but we have never observed any material damage the crops have sustained through this cause. We have always had early potatoes ready to dry by Christmas, and pease and cabbages at the same time, never getting less than seven tons, and once nearly twenty tons to the acre, and except a few early ones planted in the garden, we never now manure this crop, which is generally of excellent quality. The harvesting of wheat, barley, and oats takes place in the months of January or February. We have had remarkably fine crops of each of these both as regards quantity and quality, never having had less than twenty bushels of either to the acre, and we have had above sixty bushels, the difference in the quantity being attributable to the greater or less care with which the land has been prepared for the crop, and whether the season was favourable or unfavourable.

3rd. 'Opinion as farmers upon the open land of the plain generally.'

Except our garden and orchard, all our cultivations have been on an open, unsheltered part of the plain, which showed evident traces of having been heavily timbered at no distant period; but which, immediately previous to the time we broke it up, was covered with grass. Our opinion is, that in no part of the New Zealand Company's territories can equal crops of grain be grown at so small an expense as they can here on the open plain. The greater part of the plain is very little more difficult to break up with the plough than is old pasture land in England; and we feel confident that, taking an average of seasons, it will produce, one year with another, at least thirty bushels of wheat, barley, or oats to the acre; and that it will grow in perfection every grain and fruit common in England. You are aware that Van Diemen's Land and South Australia at present grow most of the grain used in the colonies in these seas; and it is a well ascertained fact, that in these two colonies the average crop of wheat does not exceed twenty-five bushels to the acre; so that we must confidently anticipate that the open land here will grow larger crops than can be produced in either of these colonies. Our opinion is, that you will be able to select in a block 1,000,000 acres of land, no portion of which need be distant from Port Cooper more than sixty miles; that of this 1,000,000 acres not more than one-third is unfit for present cultivation, and that a considerable portion of this one-third could be rendered available at a very slight outlay. The portions we consider not available are those near the sea beach, on the north and south of the high lands of the Peninsula, in the vicinity of the Waihola Lake, and a portion of the land adjacent to the banks of the Waimakarivi, near its mouth, and a few other portions scat-