Page images
PDF
EPUB

of seed is tested for germination two or more times before and after shipment, and a sample of each lot is grown on the trial grounds of the department under the direct supervision of expert horticulturists to determine its trueness to type. Many thousand pounds of vegetable and flower seeds which do not meet the requirements of the department are rejected every year and returned to the seedsmen by whom they were shipped. Where seeds are contracted to be grown for the department the fields are inspected at the proper season by specialists, who see that the plants are uniformly true to type and that a proper system of roguing out variations and mixtures is followed. This system has resulted in steady improvement in the quality of seeds distributed by the department, as shown by the results obtained on the trial grounds and by hundreds of reports from all sections of the country.

The work of packeting, assembling, and mailing the vegetable and flower seeds was done under contract at a cost of $1.10 per thousand packets, which included delivery of the packeted seed in mail sacks direct to the Union Station. A new contract has been entered into for putting up and mailing the seeds for the coming distribution at a saving over the former contract of 1 cent per thousand packets.

Approximately 12,000 pecks of four improved varieties of Upland cotton developed by the department were distributed in the cottongrowing States last season. The continued distribution of these improved cottons, with the accompanying circulars which contain detailed instructions for the home selection and improvement of seed, has resulted in widespread interest in seed selection in the South.

The propagation of Dutch bulbs in the Puget Sound region in connection with the congressional distribution is progressing favorably. Trial sets of narcissus and tulip bulbs propagated near Bellingham, Wash., were planted at Washington, D. C., with sets of bulbs of the same varieties imported from Holland, and the Bellingham bulbs produced better blossoms 10 days earlier than the imported bulbs. The early blooming period of American-grown bulbs is of importance to all professional florists, because of the saving in time and fuel where bulbs are forced for market.

BUREAU OF CHEMISTRY.

FIELD WORK AND SCIENTIFIC STUDIES ON HANDLING POULTRY AND EGGS.

The Food Research Laboratory has for another year pursued its policy of working out in the laboratory the fundamental scientific facts pertaining to the handling of poultry and eggs and of applying these facts to industrial problems by practical work in the field with all the branches of the industry. No problem of gathering, killing, chilling, shipping, holding, etc., is without meaning in this investigation, and all the work done has been of value to the consumer and to the industry in the betterment of the product and in securing more stable financial returns. Throughout the industry there is not only the spirit of cooperation, but an effort to push the inquiries and obtain information as rapidly as possible because of the growing appreciation of the value and the necessity for work on the betterment and conservation of perishable foodstuffs. The specific problems attacked this year have included a comparison of the effects of " dry packing” with water chilling and “ice packing,” extensive field and shipping experiments having been made from plants in Atchison, Kans., and in Nashville, Tenn., to New York, with careful inspection and laboratory examination from the killing until marketing is completed. The results obtained are of the utmost practical value, and in the course of the work a mass of scientific data on the composition of fresh chicken flesh and the bacterial and chemical changes in same due to temperature have been obtained. The same data under conditions of routine marketing have been determined. Other problems of handling have included methods of killing and a comparison of the rate of decomposition of drawn and undrawn poultry, based on experimental work and bacteriological and chemical examinations, while some of the transportation and storage features of the problem have been discussed.

The practical results of the scientific work and the industrial application of the same are given to the industry as promptly as the facts become a certainty. Publication of the details of all the work is made according to the class of readers to which it especially applies. But the essential facts, which will help at once to get better poultry to market, are given to individuals or organizations or in answer to inquiries whenever they can be helpful, since this work is essentially for immediate betterment all along the line.

A demonstration of killing, picking, chilling, packing, and shipping poultry and also of the details of candling and handling eggs was given at the present field laboratory, which is in a packing house at Nashville, Tenn. The interest manifested by the shippers, their keen appreciation of what the work meant to them, and especially of its value in the development of the poultry and egg industry in Tennessee and Kentucky, was extremely encouraging. This demonstration was followed by an illustrated talk in New York, that the receivers might know of practices prevailing in the producing sections and have a more definite knowledge of the reasons for the condition of their poultry receipts. As a practical supplement to this talk a shipment of poultry killed 1,000 miles from New York, dressed in various ways and shipped under refrigeration, was exhibited in

one of the chill rooms of a refrigerated warehouse, the birds showing, even to a casual observer, the difference in condition due to different modes of handling.

The studies of the handling of eggs and the preparation of the frozen and desiccated products are proceeding along lines similar to those followed in the poultry investigation, but as yet they are in an incipient stage. The frozen-egg investigation has met with the hearty support and cooperation of the progressive men of the industry. Everyone familiar with weather conditions and egg handling as at present conducted in the Central West knows that the waste of this most valuable foodstuff is appalling. It is imperative, in the face of the growing shortage of our food supply, that this waste be lowered by every means possible. Many eggs wholesome when received by the shipper are rotten after the long railroad haul to the center of consumption. Such eggs should have been wholesomely conserved for food, and, on the other hand, eggs which have deteriorated below the food line must not be packed for food purposes by the careless, incompetent, or greedy packer. This, like the general poultry and egg handling problem, is a problem of, first, scientific investigation, and, second, practical education and application of scientific principles. The present efforts are “breaking prairie” in the broad expanse of work to be done on the betterment and conservation of perishable animal products. So far the results have amply upheld the methods used. The plans for future work are comprehensive, and because of a growing understanding of the problems to be met and the methods available the results to come should be increasingly valuable, both economically and from the standpoint of public health.

FRUIT PRODUCTS.

Economic studies on the utilization of surplus fruit juices and the yields obtained by preparing the juices of various fruits in different ways have been made in collaboration with the Bureau of Plant Industry on a scale rendering the results commercially practicable. Special points considered were the effect of sterilization on the flavor of citrus fruits, the preparation of dried sugared pineapples on a large scale, and a laboratory investigation of the ripening of persimmons without softening, which is to be extended to field work, since the results indicate that instructions for commercial processing may be given which will greatly increase the market for this fruit. The studies on fruit respiration have included this year the effect of temperature on vital processes, the results being of economic value in their bearing on the storage and transportation of fruit.

23165°-AGB 1911-6

The manufacture of citric acid, oils, etc., from waste citrus fruits has been made the subject of a laboratory investigation, mechanical devices for lessening the cost of production have been planned, and the results will now be tested by experiments on a commercial scale.

In the Enological Laboratory economic studies in the utilization of waste apples and grapes and the improvement of the by-products of these crops are made. To this end the composition of American grapes and apples in the different fruit districts of the country is determined, and a critical study is made of commercial samples in comparison with pure products of known history. The study of yeasts and the preparation of pure cultures for practical use in producing high-grade ciders, etc., is an important item in improving quality. These yeasts were distributed to 13 of the chief fruit-growing States during the year for experimental use by persons interested in the production of fruit by-products. A permanent laboratory at Charlottesville, Va., and a field laboratory at Sandusky, Ohio, make it possible to perform this work in a practical as well as a scientific manner, insuring results of value to the growers and manufacturers.

INSECTICIDES AND FUNGICIDES.

The investigations to discover new insecticides and improve those in use so that their efficiency may be increased and the injury to trees and fruits diminished may well be included among the important economic chemical investigations, inasmuch as the saving to the farmer, both in initial expense and in protection of the crop, is enormous. Exhaustive investigations along this line have had to do with the solubility of Paris green and lead arsenate in water, involving 3,500 arsenic determinations; the problem of fumigation with hydrocyanic acid gas, the results of the study, which are of considerable economic importance, being already published as Part III of Bureau of Entomology Bulletin 90; and the accumulation of toxic compounds in the soil as the result of using poisonous elements, especially copper and arsenic, in sprays. A new phase of this work, which should result in marked improvement of the commercial insecticides and fungicides found on the market, is the chemical and microscopic examination of these materials under the insecticide act, which went into effect on January 1, 1911, and aims to prevent the misbranding and adulteration of these commodities. In connection with this work about 418 samples were examined, involving some 2,800 determinations, the greater part of these being made at the request of the Bureau of Entomology. The improvement and discovery of suitable methods of analysis for the perform

ance of this work is of fundamental importance, and much time is devoted to researches of this kind, about 600 determinations having been made to this end during the year.

CONSERVATION OF TURPENTINE, ROSIN, ETC.

The work which has been in progress for several years on wood turpentine and other products obtained in the distillation of wood has been so far advanced that its publication is deemed advisable. This work shows how the number and value of the products obtained in the distillation of wood can be increased, how the quality of the products may be improved, and the cost of the products decreased. Properly refined wood turpentine has been found to be a suitable paint and varnish thinner for all but the highest grade varnishes, and it may safely be used by the worķman in well-ventilated places.

The work on the misgrading of rosin has developed the fact that such misgrading is largely due to the practice of cutting the samples on which the rosin is graded too large, and also to the fact that the standard type samples with which the rosin to be graded is compared rapidly bleach out and become lighter in color under the severe climatic conditions existing in the South. The indications are that in the neighborhood of 400,000 barrels of rosin are annually misgraded from the above-mentioned causes, and the loss occasioned by such misgrading is chiefly at the expense of the rosin producer. In order to prevent this as far as possible, a simple device has been prepared with which the producer of rosin can himself accurately grade his product and in this way check the subsequent official grading.

EXAMINATION OF CONTRACT SUPPLIES.

The testing of deliveries to the various Government departments of paper, textiles, leather, turpentine, rosin, and other materials has steadily increased, thus showing a gratifying appreciation of the help which the Bureau of Chemistry can render the other departments. Frequent calls for advice in the purchase of the above-mentioned materials and for service on inspection committees are received, and the assistance which has been rendered in the preparation of specifications and in the testing of supplies has saved thousands of dollars annually to the Government. These specific materials are examined in the Leather and Paper Laboratory, all other contract supplies being examined in the Contracts Laboratory, devoted exclusively to such work. A total of 2,309 samples were examined in the Contracts Laboratory last year. Of these over 1,300 were colors,

« PreviousContinue »