CHAP. 54. (24.)—HOW TO ASCERTAIN THE QUALITY OF SEED.
The best seed of all is that which is of the last year's growth.
That which is two years old is inferior, and three the worst of all
—beyond that, it is unproductive.1
The same definite rule
which applies to one kind of seed is applicable to them all:
the seed which falls to the bottom2
on the threshing-floor,
should be reserved for sowing, for being the most weighty it
is the best in quality: there is no better method, in fact, of
ascertaining its quality. The grains of those ears which have
intervals between the seed should be rejected. The best grain
is that which has a reddish hue,3
and which, when broken
between the teeth, presents the same4
colour; that which has
more white within is of inferior quality. It is a well-known
fact that some lands require more seed than others, from which
circumstance first arose a superstition that exists among the
peasantry; it is their belief that when the ground demands the
seed with greater avidity than usual, it is famished, and devours
the grain. It is consistent with reason to put in the seed
where the soil is humid sooner than elsewhere, to prevent the
grain from rotting in the rain: on dry spots it should be sown
later, and just before the fall of a shower, so that it may not
have to lie long without germinating and so come to nothing.
When the seed is put in early it should be sown thick, as it is
a considerable time before it germinates; but when it is put
in later, it should be sown thinly, to prevent it from being
suffocated. There is a certain degree of skill, too, required in
scattering the seed evenly; to ensure this, the hand must keep
with the step, moving always with the right foot.
There are certain persons, also, who have a secret method6
their own, having been born7
with a happy hand which imparts
fruitfulness to the grain. Care should be taken not to
sow seed in a warm locality which has been grown in a cold
one, nor should the produce of an early soil be sown in a late
one. Those who give advice to the contrary have quite misapplied their pains.