Flax for Seed and Fiber in the United States. Page: 6
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PREPARATION OF THE SOIL.
In many instances too little attention is paid to the importance of
deep plowing and reducing the seedbed to the proper tilth. Many
foreign flax growers urge that the land should be fall plowed, though
there are some who are of a different opinion, but it is recognized by
all that the land should be brought almost to the condition of garden
soil before the seed is sown. On small tracts of a few acres ill Europe
this is accomplished by spading over the land, although such laborious
methods will never be practiced in this country, nor are they necessary
with the improved implements available on every American farm.
For this country I would advocate deep fall plowing, with a cross
plowing in the spring. Where heavy clay loams are chosen two plowings
in the spring will give better results than one. The number of
harrowings will depend wholly upon the lumpiness of the soil, as all
clods must be broken up and the soil made fine and even. The roller
should be used to make the ground as smooth and level as possible,
and to press into the soil any small stones that may be upon the surface.
Heavy lands that from their situation are liable to be more or
less covered with surface water during the winter should be avoided. On
account of the extra labor necessitated upon heavy laud, it is better,
therefore, to choose the medium soils that will yield readily to the
action of the elements, and to the plow and harrow.
Flax has been called an exhausting crop. Any crop is exhaustive
to the soil that is grown year after year on the same land-where everything
is taken away and nothing returned. This means that a crop of
flax that will scutch out good fiber can not be produced on impoverished
lands. In Belgium and other flax-growing countries, where land
has been under cultivation for generations, no halfway measures are
followed in this matter of keeping up the fertility of the soil. Here is
an extract from my report upon Belgian culture bearing upon this
Where stable manure is used it is generally put on before winter sets in. Then in
spring before sowing time the ground is heavily treated with fertilizers, or nightsoil
in solution is poured over it. A great deal of the material is brought from the
towns and kept in closed receptacles or reservoirs until the time for using it on the
ground. Stable manures are used in connection with chemical fertilizers. Of the
latter it is common to employ from 600 to 800 kilograms per hectare, or roughly,
from 500 to 750 pounds per acre, and to go over the ground with the liquid night soil
On the new lands of the West good crops may be grown for a
number of years without manures, though in time fertility must be
exhausted and poor crops will inevitably follow. The flax crop, of all
crops, makes heavy demands upon the soil, and for this reason it is fre.
quently called an exhaustive crop. The stem of the flax plant is tall
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United States. Department of Agriculture. Flax for Seed and Fiber in the United States., book, 1895; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6344/m1/6/: accessed August 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.