Remembering the Past Australia

General Report of Agriculture, Stock and Gardening in Van Dieman's Land in 1828

First published in the Colonial Advocate, and Tasmanian Monthly Review and Register, March 1, 1828


WHEAT.—The harvest is now nearly in; and notwithstanding the outcry which was raised by the alarmists, it seems that the crops are not so bad as was anticipated. They are by no means abundant, it is true, but sufficient, with the wheat already on hand of the last and preceding seasons, to preclude the possibility of scarcity. At Pitt water, once the tinest agricultural settlement on this side the island, it is said there have been the worst crops; so much so, that some, it is reported, will scarcely pay the expences, much less return any profit to the grower. — In some parts of the interior, in the Cornwall districts especially, the crops have not been so bad, more particularly with regard to the early sown wheats. The principal complaint there is, that the grounds have not been sown thick enough; but this we take to be an error; as we do not conceive it politic to throw too much seed in the ground, being of opinion, that it is more to the stooling of the wheat, that a thick crop is to be attributed, than to a plenitude of seed. Some Settlers affirm that their crops are better this year, than last, but these must have been on farms in very marshy situations. In the elder Colony, from the excessive draught also experienced there, it was during the early part of last month, expected that this grain would fetch a guinea a bushel; but, several vessels having been laid on for Valparaiso  and Rio, for cargoes of wheat and flour, it is probable that what wheat we have to spare, will not obtain a much greater price in the Sydney market, than in Hobart Town, if not sent immediately, so as to be there before the vessels return from Valparaiso. Much difference of opinion exists as to the ultimate price of wheat here. Speculations, in consequence, have commenced with spirit, one individual having purchased 4000 bushels at 8s. while the average price is 7s.

ENGLISH BARLEY.—In consequence of the increased demand for this corn, by the brewers and distillers, it has been meeting a ready sale, and even sought for up the country, at 7s. 6d. per bushel. Very little has been, we believe, sown and the crops generally are not very good, but tolerable.

CAPE BARLEY.—A pretty good crop; but in consequence of not being used in distilling and brewing, is not in great demand. 

OATS, BEANS, &C—We are sorry it is not in our power to say much on this subject, little attention having been paid to these things. 

POTATOES.—From the effects of the January rains, an average crop of this useful root may be expected, notwithstanding the apprehensions which were entertained in the early part of the season There has been a great many planted; therefore they may be expected to be abundant in the market. Average price here, 7s. per cwt; at Sydney, 21s.

HOPS.—Only one established hop-garden in the Island, to which we are indebted to the unwearied exertions of the enterprising Mr. Shoobridge. This plantation only wants rain to produce an abundant crop: the vines, old and new, have preserved their colour hitherto; from which the proprietor, formerly an experienced hop-grower in Kent, augurs favourably. It is a singular coincidence, that when the crops of the grape are abundant, it is the same with the hop, in England; and this year it appears probable that it will be the same in this Colony.

HAY.—Owing to the want of rain, no great crop this season. Hay, from English grasses and clover, averages from £12 to £15 on the spot, near town. This is a valuable feature in our Colonial agriculture.

STRAW.—Not abundant, but on the contrary —fetching £0 per ton.

TURNIPS.—We are happy to find, that these are more and more cultivated, for the purpose, of winter-feeding stock; one individual in the interior having upwards of 50 acres sown with turnips at the present time. — Farmers will never grow rich until they fence their lands, and crop their ground after the English fashion.

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