Sugar and Indigo.

American Farmer, 12.12.1828. 307

(From the Southern Agriculturist.)

On the Culture of Sugar and Indigo - by T. Spald jng, Esq. of Georgia.

Sapello, (Geo.) Aug. 1828.

Herewith you will receive some memoranda, made by myself, upon a sugar plantation in Louisiana of fair repute, in the spring of 1825. It gave two hundred and eighty thousand weight of sugar from three hundred acres, laboured by from seventyone to seventy-three persons, mostly men, say fifty of them. The mill, a six horse power steam engine, high pressure, a double set of copper kettles, for fear of accident to a single set.

The crop was at least an average one. It gave four thousand weight of sugar to the hand; you may rest assured that this was more than an ave rage crop for Louisiana, in any of its districts; and would be about $250 to the band; but we must re mark that the capital invested in land, and the ma chinery, was estimated at about $60,000; five hun dred acres of sugar land, with a portion of morass which gave limber for plantation purposes and fuel.

Mr. Williams, whose estate is about twenty-five miles below New Orleans, on the river, and who is respected in that country as a distinguished planter, and highly informed gentleman, stated to me, that he considered six thousand weight of sugar might be made in a favourable season to the land. Mr. Williams' crop would be from four to five hundred thousand; but his lands were fresh, reclaimed by himself, and possibly would be valued at 80,000 or $100,000.

Colonel Proctor, formerly of South Carolina, has been perhaps the most successful planter in Louisi ana. His lands are quite fresh, situated between two lakes, thirty miles below New Orleans, which tempers the climate more than upon any other estate I saw in that country. He has made two thousand weight to the acre, which is as much again as the old lands produce annually. But Colonel Proctor plants short to the hand, and would not exceed Mr. Williams' estimate of six thousand weight, proba bly four hundred dollars; but this four hundred dol lars is purchased by great labour, by great expen diture upon land and upon machinery, and could not possibly be reached by any person upon a small scale, without much expeniiilure. Col. Proctor has a million of bricks in his sugar works, and a twelve horse steam engine for expressing his cane. I give you these details in order to put down the extrava gant reports which are circulated by transient visiters from the west, than which nothing can be more injurious to the real agriculturist. His expectations are excited to an extravagant degree, feverish in clinations are generated in his mind to flee to this land of promise. The reality is widely different. Of all that have gone, (and I know many of them,) two out of three have been totally ruined.

Sugar may be cultivated from Charleston to St. Mary's, with reasonable expectation of a moderate result The winter of Charleston is as mild, at least, as the winter of New Orleans. The alluvions of our tide rivers can be drained as deep as the alluvions of the Mississippi, which are an inclined plain at the river, eight feet above the mo rass water, but ending about a mile back at nothing. Thus, generally, the mean height of their fields above the water, is four feel; this elevation our river lands have, but they have this elevation more conveniently distributed, because equal, instead of being eight feet at one end of the field, and on a level with the water at the other.

The ribbon cane, which is so much talked of, Louisiana owes to the late Mr. John McQueen, of Savannah. He brought it from Jamaica, and dis tributed it among his friends in Georgia; from whence it has been carried, within four years, to Louisiana. With steam mills to express the juice, it is certainly the best cane; but animal power is not sufficient for a radical expression of its juice, as I have proved to my great loss these ten years past.

I think you should procure from some of the elder planters, a carefully prepared paper on Indigo. My father cultivated indigo until I was sixteen; memory is far from furnishing me with any evi dence of its being an unhealthy culture; it gene rates flies, but not more than a livery stable or a manure pen. I have questioned, upon the subject of the quantity to be expected to the hand, our two last indigo planters, both gentlemen of intelligence, of character, and of truth. They say, a set of indigo works that cost $120, would work off thirty acres of indigo; would require to attend eight good hands, or ten ordinary ones; would give in a bad year, one hundred pounds of indigo; in a moderate year, one thousand five hundred; in a year of great crop, two thousand pounds. The house of David son & Simpson, of London, have twice written me that the copper indigo, which was formerly produced in Georgia, would command now in London, from 7s. To 7s. 6d. per pound. Take the negroes at the highest, say at ten; take the medium crop, one thousand five hundred: this gives one hundred and fifty pounds of indigo to the hand, which, at 7s. would be $225. What could be more profitable?

As to our enemies at the north, the woollens men, they would not buy our indigo for years; their prejudices are too deeply fortified, and I rejoice at it; for I trust in God, there does not live a man in either state, that would directly or indirectly wil lingly receive one cent from a tariff, whose only support before Congress, was in the simplicity of corruption, bargain and sale.

A Mr. Gray, who had, before the revolutionary war, been the manager of an indigo plantation for Mr. John Bowman, on Skidaway island, near Savannah, and who was discharged for his violent political opinions, was patronized by Gov. Wright, and sent to England, and from thence to Bengal, for the purpose of introducing the American mode of manufacturing indigo - that is, by large stecpers and beaters.

As far as I can see, the Bengal Indigo, manufactured in our American manner, owes its superiority to two circumstances: settling the water of the Ganges in large tanks before it is used for steeping, and from passing the mud, or colouring matter of the indigo, from the beaters, after it has subsided, into copper boilers, where it is allowed to simmer for twelve hours, or until all the watery particles are dispersed, before it is put into the press. This prevents vegetable fermentation, and gives solidity and firmness to the indigo, and perhaps a more uni form colour. But both these improvements might be adopted with great ease, and at trifling expense.

I remain, dear sir, with esteem, &c.


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