GRIST TO THE MILL

One of June Sutherland's books is GRIST TO THE MILL

And what follows is a summary of what you will find there.

The adventure of wheat breeding.

The science of wheat-breeding before the days of copyright and intellectual property rights was an open process beyond the borders of nations.

Australia’s place in the world as major wheat exporter grew out of the initiative of one man, William Farrer, experimenting on 3 acres on his farm. From here, between 1886 and 1906 a world-wide-network of scientific gardeners with whom he exchanged seeds and from whom he sought advice. Here he developed a methodology of plant breeding for creating new varieties of wheat which would be rust and drought resistant and produce a good loaf of bread.

Dr Nathan Cobb, an American recruited to the new Department of Agriculture in New South Wales in 1890, began to co-operate with Farrer. He went to live with his family on Farrer’s farm for six weeks in the summer of 1892-93 so that he could work beside Farrer photographing as the wheats were harvested and noting the careful detailed notes which were recorded on each one.

By 1897 The Department of Agriculture built Cobb a laboratory to his specifications to house his microscopes and photography materials. F.B. Guthrie the chemist worked with both men developing a testing mill to select the best variety for the commercial mills.

Farrer’s most famous wheat, Federation, was used in many places in the world and became the foundation stock for many more improved varieties.

This book is available from me for $AUD30 (includes GST, postage and handling).