Friday, July 27, 2018

George Washington and cultivation of oats

Before the American Revolution, tobacco was the crop most Virginians grew and sold to English and Scottish merchants. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, however, many farmers began growing grains like wheat, corn and oats. These crops took fewer workers to grow, did not deplete the nutrients in the soil the way tobacco did, and were in great demand in Europe and the West Indies

George Washington was born in Virginia on February 22, 1732. Washington very much loved his home at Mt. Vernon. There he enjoyed farming the land and caring for his livestock.

Washington tried ideas and methods in agriculture that were new and different. Some of the most important and fundamental aspects of American agriculture were first developed by George Washington. George Washington in his diary for 1764 recorded that he sowed “a few oats to see if they would stand the winter.”

In 1786, 22 years later, he seeded 580 acres of oats, presumably at Mt. Vernon, Virginia. It possibly was of the Winter Turf type. Winter Turf is considered a gray oat in America, but often is somewhat variable in intensity of coloring, depending on weather conditions and stage of maturity at harvest.

Although most winter oats in the United States were derivatives of "Red Rustproof," one notable exception exists. This is Wintel Turf, or "Virginia Gray," an A. sativa type, apparently introduced into Virginia from England some two centuries ago. Growing grains like oats took less time, and the growing season was much shorter. Oats required little attention between planting in early spring and harvesting in June and July.
George Washington and cultivation of oats