Page:Journal of botany, British and foreign, Volume 9 (1871).djvu/240

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218 CINCHONA CULTIVATION IN JAMAICA.

tive result of this close plantino; is the securing of rapid returns ; a few years sufficing to cover the intervening spaces. Each alternate tree is then cut down and the bark sent to market. The operation of cutting down makes room for the spread of the surviving trees, which in a few more years again approach and impede each other, and in like manner have to be thinned as before. This extremely thick planting of trees is objectionable, inasmuch as the trees possess a spreading habit. For ex- ample, those planted at 5 feet or at ? feet apart occupy the interspaces in three or four years. At this state of growth the plant would hardly, I conceive, be worth stripping, as tlie yield per plant, probably, could not exceed one pound of dried bark (value, say 2s.). Whereas trees six or seven years old, under favourable circumstances, must each yield five or six pounds of dry bark. On the other hand, however, this system of thick planting has its advantages. The close planting costs but little additional, and the plants are readily propagated. When found too close, they are easily cut down to allow for the expansion of the remaining trees. When thus planted close they keep down the weeds, and hence their culture expenses are lessened.

The entire area of ground planted with chinchonas is nearly ninety acres. The severe rainy weather of the ])ast year prevented the enlarge- ment of this area by at least 20 acres, for which plants were in readiness. Including these 20 acres, about 80 acres of the forest Avere felled and partly cleared for the extension of the plantations. This land will be completely ]n'epared for the reception of the plants in a few months.

In May I hope to have 40 acres planted — about 1000 plants per acre, with C. succiriibra ; and near the end of the year the other 40 acres, together with 50 additional acres proposed to be cleared, planted with C. Calisaya, the two most precious species. The number of plants per- manently planted out is 60,000 ; the numi)er of seedlings in pots 40,000, and of seedlings in nursery beds 10,000 — total, 110,000. I had intended that the plants required for the extension of the plantations, to the extent of 130 acres, above alluded to as under preparation for being planted out in the year 1871, would be propagated chiefly from cuttings. But most fortunately two fine trees, at Cold Spring, of C. snccirubrn, one of which is a magnificent tree nine years old and 30 feet high, yielded seeds for the first time in Jamaica, from which, through the generosity of Mr. John M'Lean, I procured, in the beginning of September, nearly 50,000 ex- cellent seeds; the result being now 40,000 healthy seedlings. Better plants are produced by seeds than from cuttings. Several young trees in the Government ])lantations have a good crop of seeds ripening, and others are coming into flower. The number of seeds likely to be obtained from these young trees in a few months can hardly be under 100,000. Thus the 50,000 seedlings in course of treatment, and those now ripening on the trees, will suffice to plant all the land proposed to be prepared to the end of 1871, making a total of 320 acres containing about 200,000 plants.

I expect shortly to submit samples of chinchona bark, of the different kinds, to the island chemist for analysis, in order to ascertain the per- centage of alkaloid, more accurately performed when the bark is in a fresh state. It has been discovered that the sun's rays, falling on the bark while in a green state, is prejudicial to alkaloids.

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