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EXPERIMENTS IN THE MANUFACTURE OF SUGAR

FROM SORGHUM.

ASSIGNMENT OF WORK.

W. Demiug.

The bill making an appropriation for experiments in the manufacture of sugar did not become a law until the 19th of July, 1888. At that time it was manifestly impossible for the Department to make any arrangements of its own for the conduct of experiments during the present manufacturing season. It was necessary, if any experiments were to be made at all, that they should be arranged for in connection with work already in progress either by individuals, private corporations, or State experiment stations. The following arrangements were therefore marle for the experimental work:

(1) A continuation of the experimental work at Rio Grande, N. J., under the direction of Mr. H. A. Hughes.

(2) A series of experiments at Kemer, La., under the direction of Prof. W. C. Stubbs. (3) Experimental work at Douglass, Kans., under the direction of the Donglass Sugar Company. (1) Experimental work at Conway Springs, Kans., under the direction of Mr. E.

(5) Experiments in the improvement in the varieties of cane at Sterling, Kans., under the direction of Mr. A. A. Denton.

In addition to the above work arrangements were made for analytical researches under my direction at Douglass, Conway Springs and Sterling, Kans. It was deemed wadvisable at the late date mentioned for the Department to suggest any experimental work or assume any control thereof. Having been authorized to arrange for such work in a manner which seemed most advantageous the following directions were given. The work at Rio Grande was placed exclusively in charge of Mr. II. A. IIughes, to be conducted in such a manner as he saw fit for the benefit of the industiy. The work which Mr. Hughes proposed to do was on a small scale, with the ultimate idea of making it possible for farmers and others to manufacture sugar without the expense of apparatus usually considered necessary for that purpose. The results of Mr. Hughes's work have been reported by him further on in this bulletin, and a discussion of them will be given in connection with his report.

Prof. W.C. Stubbs having commenced preparations for experimenta! work with sorghum at the experiment station at Kemer, he was au. thorized to complete this work under the auspices of the Department. No instructions in regard to the method of performing the work were sent Professor Stubbs, except to do that which seemed best for the promotion of the industry. Ilis report of the results of the work and the discussion thereof will follow.

The experimental work at Douglass, Kans., was placed under the coutrol of the Douglass Sugar Company. The object was to test thorouglıly the method of open diffusion practiced on a small scale by Mr. Hughes, at Rio Grande, and they conducted the work under the general instructions to give that system of diffusion and the apparatus a thor ough and impartial test. The general results of the experimental work at the station are given in the report of Mr. Edson, with a discussion of the data there recorded.

The experimental work at Conway Springs consisted in the trial of a new system of preparing the exhaused chips for fuel; and certain new arrangements of apparatus connected with the diffusion battery and ot a new system of handling and storing the cave. No specific instructions were given to Mr. Deming in regard to the conduct of the work, but he was left free to use his own judgment in every particular in regard to what was best to be done. Mr. Deming's report and the discussion thereof will follow'.

The experimental work at Sterling was of an entirely different order. The Sterling Sugar Company had commenced a thorough examination of all obtainable varieties of the sorghum plant. By an arrangement made with this company, the Department assumed this work in the condition in which it was found the latter part of July and carried it to completion wder the supervision of Messrs. Dentou and Crampton, whose report and observations thereon will follow.

The following assignment of the chemical force of the division was made for the purpose of securing analytical data of the season's work.

Mr. Hughes having expressed an opinion that he could get along in dependently of any chemical assistance from the Department, no assignment was made to Rio Grande. Mr. Edson was placed in clarge of the chemical work at Douglass, assisted by Mr. John L. Fuelling. Prof. E. A. von Schweinitz was placed in charge of the chemical work at Conway Springs, assisted by Mr. Oma Carr. Dr. C. A. Crampton was placed in charge of the work at Sterling, assisted by Mr. Karl P. McElroy.

In the latter part of July I visited the three localities last named, and arranged with the proper persons for the establishment of the laboratories and perfected the arrangements for the chemical control which was desired. In September and October I visited each of the laboratories above mentioned, and spent some days with the chemists in charge iu consultation concerning the progress of the work and any changes or

alterations therein which seemed necessary. The results of the chemi. cal work in each case will be found in connection with the reports of the respective stations.

EXPERIMENTS AT RIO GRANDE, N. J.

The result of the work at Rio Grande is disappointing in its nature. For some reason the cane grown in that locality has failed to improve, although it appears that it has had the benefit of careful attention and fertilization. There has been upon the whole, as indicated in Bulletin 18, a deterioration of the cane at Rio Grande, the crops which were raised six or seven years ago showing a higher percentage of sucrose than those of the present time. This deterioration lias been caused either by admixture of a non-saccharine variety with the seed, by the method of culture, or by the influence of the soil and climate of that locality. I am inclined to attribute much of the depreciation to a fault of the seed; whether or not it has been mixed with broom-corn I am unable to say.

The almost total failure of the amber cane at Rio Grande would seem to indicate that some sucli accident had happened to it. While amber cane in other localities has continued to show a high percentage of sucrose in the juice, at Rio Grande it has become a worthless variety for sugar-making or even the production of sirup. The importance of seed selection is emphasized by this fact, since there is every reasou to believe that if seed of the early amber, such as was planted at Rio Grande seven or eight years ago, were again planted in that locality it would produce an equally rich crop of cane. It would be a useless task, however, for any one to attempt the successful manufacture of sugar by any process from juices no richer than those reported by Mr. Hughes during the present year; such canes at best could only make molasses, and that probably of an inferior character. These agricultural results are the more discouraging because of the systematic attempts wbich have been made at Rio Grande in conjunction with the New Jersey experiment station for the production of a high-grade cane; these are not, however, sufficiently discouraging to justify abandopment of similar attempts in other localities. In respect of the cli. mate at Rio Grande, I can see nothing which would lead me to believe that it is unfavorable to the growth of sorghum. On the other hand, the climatic conditions appear extremely favorable, unless it be true that sorghum will not develop a maximum content of sugar in localities favored with abundant summer rains. Aside from this, the favorable conditions for growth and the practical immunity from early frosts renler the locality a most favorable one for the production and manufacture of a crop of sorglum cane. The soil of this locality, it is true, is not naturally as fertile as the soils of Kansas, but with the judicious fertili. zation which has been practiced, the tonnage per acre has been fully as great, if not greater, at Rio Grande than in most other localities.

In regard to the methods of manufacture employed at this station, it is pecessary to speak with some degree of caution. In the report of Mr. Hughes we have, from his stand-point, a brief but graphic descrip. tion of the method employed. I have never been of the opinion that sugar waking from sorghum could be successfully practiced on a small scale, and the experiments carried on by the Department of Agriculture for two successive seasons at Rio Grande have only served to confirm me in this belief. The nature of the processes employed, the character of machinery required, and the kind of skilled labor needed, all combine to render the manufacture of sugar on a small scale commercially unsuccessful. I do not see any favorable result in this direction from the two years' trial at Rio Grande. For the present manufacturing season Mr. Hughes does not give the total amount of sugar made, except from a portion of the crop, and this is no evidence whatever that its cost has been sufficiently low to enable it to be put upon the market in competition with otlier sugars. I should have been glad had the re. sult been otherwise, for the successful inauguration of an era of sugarmaking conducted by farmers would have been a great blessing to vast agricultural regions.

In regard to the machinery employed my opinion has already been expressed. I have said repeatedly, both in official publications and in other places, that I regarded the system of cutting and preparing the cane devised by Mr. Hughes, and now in use in every sorghum factory in the United States and in at least one cane sugar factory, as the very best which has yet been invented. I have long been convinced that for the extraction of sugar from cane of both kinds the greater the degree of comminution of the chips the more successful the process will be. The system of double shredding inaugurated by Mr. Hughes during the past season tends to secure this end. It was in this direction also that I urged last year for sugar cane the construction of a slıredding. machine on the principle of the shredder built by the Newell Universal Mill Company of New York, for the purpose of preparing the pieces of cane properly for the diffusion battery. This shredder I suggested should be furnished with very fine steel knives, of the general pattern of the shredder now in use, with short cylinders of large diameter, driven at a very much higher rate of speed. Last year I suggested to Mr. Fiske, the inventor of the machine above mentioned, the advisability of building such a machine in duplicate for the purpose of reducing the cane to as fine pieces as possible. The advantage of such a shredder as this over the one used by Mr. Hughes would be principally in its greater strength, and in the assurance that it could be run for days, and pe: haps a whole season through, without any necessity for repairs. It is of the highest importance that the apparatus for cutting and pulping the cane should be as effective as possible and built in two sets, so that if one shoulıl be out of order the second coulil still be used.

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