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SUGAR CANE, BEET ROOT, AND SORG HUM, WITH REFERENCE TO THEIR CONSUMPTION AND CULTURE. SUGAR, wbich enters so largely into the food of civilized people of the present day, and is so important an element of modern commerce, has only in the last two centuries begun to exercise a political influence, and, in some degree, bias the destinies of nations. The use of sugar in the East dates from time immemorial, but the barbarians of Western Europe acquired a taste for it only when the returning Crusaders brought it back among other of the marvels which they had encountered when invading the country of the Saracens. In the twelfth century the awakened de. mand had promoted traffic, and the Saracens introduced its culture into Rhodes, Cypress, Sicily, and the south of Spain. In the rich lands of Andalusia it found a genial soil, and became one of the elements of Spanish greatness, and it added to the commercial importance of the Portuguese. With the enterprise of those nations it passed into the Canaries and Maderias, and followed the fortunes of COLUMBUS to St. Domingo. Its culture there rewarded the labor of the planter in a manner to astonish even those who had been familiar with the rich yield in the fields of Andalusia. With the increased supply of sugar the market widened, and the people of Western Europe were yearly more anxious to purchase, while the increased prosperity that followed the discovery of America and the opening of the mines of precious metals, gave them the means to indulge in the luxury. From St. Domingo the culture was not slow in finding its way to the other West Indian islands and to the Spanish Main. The Portuguese introduced it into Brazil, and with a good supply of labor the product there reached some 75,000 tons per annum in the middle of the sixteenth century. The nations that had sought the American continent in search of gold, found their greatest source of wealth in the “sugar islands," of which St. Domingo remained the chief. The leading WestVOL. XLVIII.-10. I.
ern powers were not long in coveting these possessions, and they changed hands frequently in the course of subsequent wars, through which, in the middle of the 17th century, England became possessed of Jamaica, there being then but three sugar works on the island. The severe labor of the canefield demanded many robust laborers, and England undertook, in a treaty with Spain, to supply those laborers for a given number of years from the coast of Africa. The laborers did not seem to multiply, but were kept up by importation into the islands, from the rich soil of which they extracted that wealth which poured into the laps of Lisbon and Havre and London. The blacks of Africa were mostly purchased with the wares of Lancashire, and were, so to speak, wrought up with the soil of the West Indies into sugar, which swelled the volume of European wealth.
It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century that, under French rule, the first plantation was established in Louisiana; and when that great country became a part of the United States there were eighty-one sugar plantations there, which, in some degree, supplied the growing wants of the Western States. Up to that time the sugar used in Europe and America was cane sugar, drawn from the tropics, and its culture had spread into most of the known tropical regions of the earth. The market for sugar had become so extensive, and the people of Europe so accustomed to its use that it had become a necessity. When, therefore, the wars that grew out of the French revolution gave the supremacy of the Beas to England, that power held the supply of sugar in her grasp, and Europe depended upon her for a supply, as it has latterly upon the Southern States for cotton. That accident of war, however, revolutionized the sugar trade in Europe. The great demand for the article stimulated invention, and the French Emperor offered a liberal reward for a substitute for cane sugar. A great number of substitutes presented themselves, but none proved successful except that made from beet root, and this, in the course of a few years, has become a rival to the cane sugar in the consumption of Europe. In France, particularly, the consumption of sugar is of three descriptions : that of cane, produced in the French and in foreign colonies, and beet root sugar made in France. The consumption of the latter in 1831, was 10,000 tons against 81,651 of cane. At present it is 120,000 tons against 80,000 tons of cane. In other words, the whole increase of the consumption of sugar in France has been derived from beet root. This mastery of the latter article over the former was attended by a long struggle between the opposing interests. At first beet root was protected against cane. They were then placed on an equality, and finally government favor leaned upon the side of cane sugar, without, however, staying the success of the beet root manufacture, which has spread into all the countries of Europe. The great success of the beet root culture led to numberless experiments upon other vegetables, in order to develope some still cheaper and more effectual method of producing the desired article, and these efforts were more or less successful. Chemistry distinguishes two leading sugars. That furnished by cane is found to be identical with that yielded by many other vegetables, such as certain trees of the palm family, the chestnut, the maple, Indian corn stalks, and many roots, of which the chief, in point of value, is the beet. The other sugar is contained in grapes, pears, apples, melons, and most kinds of fruit. This species of sugar (glucose) will not granulate or crystalize like that of cane; but it is made in considerable quantities for certain uses, of which the most important is to mix with grape juice in those seasons when that fruit has less than the desired quantity for the production of good wine. The first mentioned sugar is that generally known to commerce. It is in the United States largely produced from the maple for home use of families. The production of it has in the last few years been greatly stimulated by the advanced price of all sugars. The quantity of maple sugar produced in the United States at the date of the last census was 34,252,436 lbs. Of this, one half was produced in the States of New York and Vermont. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan produced nearly the remaining half. This sugar is manufactured from the forest trees, and cannot properly be called a culture which can be extended at will, although it affords large employment in the districts where it exists in winter months.
The attention of French science was devoted to the other vegetables which were likely to be available for the use of sugar boilers. The success of M. BRACONNET, of Nancy, at one time caused a great sensation. He had, by the aid of concentrated sulphuric acid, transmuted flax, hemp, certain woods, and straw into that description of sugar called “glucose," pound for pound. The news of this discovery, like that of Paine's invention to make illuminating gas out of water, set the public aghast. Sugar was to be within the reach of all, and the imagination found ma.. terial for sugar in the strangest associations-old sails, ropes, furniture, and cast-off summer clothing were to be turned into frost-work for wedding cakes, into confectionary for the old and sugar plums for the young. Coffee was to be sweetened with straw and candy sucked out of old shirts. A practical turn was given to the expression, a “sweet sleep,” since the linen sheets and the straw bed were both waiting transmutation into the sugar, bowl ; after baving made sleep peaceful it was to make food palatable, and the fancy ran riot in the wealth of sugar that abounded, but only to be disappointed, since no valuable results have yet flowed from the experiments then considered so important.
There were also efforts to vary the objects of sugar culture. Melons and corn stalks were used with some success, but the yield of juice was not sufficiently large to be profitable. In 1851, M. DE MONTIGNY, French consul in China, had his attention drawn to the plants from which sugar in the North of China is extracted—sorgho, or holeus saccharatus—and he sent some of the seeds to his government. These were planted in Algiers and Provence, and subsequent experiments excited great hopes from the culture. The Toulon Agricultural Association subjected it to numerous experiments, from which it resulted that the plant was capable of producing a crystalized syrup that might rival that of the cane and the beet. The juice of the sorgho furnishes three important products: sugar identical with cane, alcohol, and a fermented drink analogous to cider.
The plant grown in France was said to be richer in saccharine principle than any known plant except the vine. Beet root contains 8 to 10 per cent of sugar, and sorgho 16 to 20 per cent, from which 10 per cent of pure alcohol could be produced. The refuse was regarded as very desirable food for cattle. On the strength of these researches the culture was greatly extended in France. On trial, however, on a large scale it was not found to answer expectations in respect to sugar. It was determined, nevertheless, that it could yield alcohol 30 per cent cheaper than
Cane sugar. bhds. 108
beet root, consequently it supplanted to some extent those factories which bad devoted themselves to alcohol rather than to sugar, and they turned their attention exclusively to sugar.
The seeds of twenty-one varieties of the sorgho plant were received in 1854 at the Patent Office at Washington, and were distributed through the country for use. The peculiarities of the plant, its resemblance in appearance and babits to Indian corn, led to the inference that it would flourish in any region where that plant would thrive. This inference has been justified in the results. The plant is cultivated much in the manner of corn. It grows from 7 to 14 feet high, and, it is asserted, gives a heavier weight of fodder from the same piece of ground than any other plant. There are a great many varieties of it, the most conspicuous of which is the African, or imphee; but it is supposed that the apparent variation arises only from climate and location--tbat sorgho, imphee, broom corn, and dourah are all of the same origin, andropogon sorghum. There are, as in corn, many varieties, which require longer time to ripen than others, and those which mature at the earliest time are the most desirable, since it is requisite that the plants should fully ripen their seeds to produce granulating juice abundantly.
According to the last census, the production of sugar in each State was as follows:
Sorgham Maple Maple molasses. molasses.
sugar. molasses. States.
gallons. pounds. gallons. Alabama......
3,097 115,673 California
1,761 435,890 Georgia, 1,167 546,770 102,450
797,096 131,751 21,423 Indiana
827,777 1,515,594 203,028 Iowa.
1,993,474 248,951 97,751 Kansas
365,861 380,941 139,036 Louisiana 297,816 14,585,157
266,609 2,988,018 384,521 Minnesota..
14,974 370,947 21,829 Mississippi...
22,305 776,101 142,450 18,289 New Hampshire.
2,255,012 New Jersey
8,088 New York
265 10,816,458 131,841 North Carolina..
12,494 263,475 30,845 17,759 Ohio .......
707,416 3,323,942 392,932 Oregon
9,605 2,768,965 127,455 Rhode Island.... 15
5 South Carolina..
294,322 485,828 117,359 6,754 Texas 690 388,937 115,051
50 221,017 937,643 100,139 Wisconsin. 283
19,263 1,584,406 83,003 Total.... 302,205 16,337,080 7,176,042 38,863,568 1,944,299
The column of cane sugar is in hhds. of 1,000 lbs. each. The column of sorghum“ molases” is very indefinite. It does not appear whether it is "juice,” or “syrup," or molasses.” If it means juice, then it will be equal to 7,000,000 lbs. of sugar. If it means syrup, it is equal to 49,000,000 lbs. of sugar, which would be an enormous production. It is probable that it means syrup-giving a very satisfactory result. It would seem that Iowa was by far the largest producer. Nevertheless, it will be observed that considerable amounts of the Chinese sugar cane syrup were made in the Southern States-103,450 gallons in Georgia, 365,861 in Kentucky, 263,475 in North Carolina, 51,041 in South Carolina, 485,828 in Tennessee, and 115,051 in Texas.
The many advantages of the crop here have caused its culture to extend in the Western States, and in the last two years, when circumstances have given such high value to sugar, the production of sorgho syrup in Jowa, Illinois, and Indiana has been sufficient to interfere with the sale of other
syrups. It will be seen that the estimated crop this year in Illinois is from two to 3,000,000 gallons, against only 797,000 in 1859.
Recently, in pursuance of an invitation from the Winnebago County Agricultural Society, a convention of the sorghum growers and manufacturers of the Northwestern States assembled at Rockford. The attendance was quite large, and the samples of syrup and sugar also exceeded in number and quality any previous exhibition ever made. There were a variety of opinions in relation to the seeds used in planting, and some inability to distinguish between imphee and sorghum, many thinking them to be identical. The convention finally adopted the following:
Seeing there are so many names given to the diferent kinds of cane, according to color and seed, or any other peculiarity, to have a more uniform designation we offer the following:
Resolved, That in the estimation of this Convention there are only three kinds of cane, viz. : Chinese sugar cane, having black seeds, growing a prong from two to seven inches long; the second or tufted variety, to be known as African ; and the third variety, lately introduced, known as the Otabeitan, long heads, from seven to twelve inches in length, and from one to two in thickness.
There was much discussion in relation to the deterioration of seed. Some of the members asserted that they had used the seed several years in succession, and that it maintained its virtue ; others that in the second year it lost its sugar; some of the members prefered sorghum, and others imphee. In some cases black imphee would not granulate, but yellow and sorghum would. It seemed to be a condition that the seeds must be quite ripe to granulate. The following facts seem to have been established by the debates: First. The fact was certainly established that there is no difficulty in growing the Chinese sugar cane, the implee cane, and the Otaheitan in this latitude. Second. That the successful manufacture of either or all into syrup is a fixed fact. Third. That the granulation of these kinds has been successfully accomplished, specimens of sugar having been exhibited at the convention proving this. Fourth. Taking the evidence of Mr. Cory, of Indiana, whom we regard as a pioneer in the business, the Otaheitan will granulate and make bandsome sugar beyond a peradventure. Fifth. That the seed from the Chinese sugar canewhich has been hitherto regarded as useless except for planting purposes -can be employed in feeding cattle, hogs, horses, &c., and also can be