TO THE EDITOR OF THE CORK EXAMINER.
Liverpool, July 9th, 1847.
SIR– I have read with considerable attention the carefully selected accounts you have given of the favorable state of the potatoe crop in your country, and its freedom from disease. Your numerous correspondents appear to judge of the soundness of the crop by the external appearance which, you say, shows in every case health and vigour, and the tubers keep pace with the stalks and leaves. I wish I could agree with you, that sound external appearance is always indicative that the disease does not exist, but unfortunately I cannot, from what I witnessed in this country during the last 8 days. I will merely give you an account of what I witnessed, and allow your numerous correspondents to judge how far my facts will bear their test for accuracy.
I dined on Monday last with a particular friend, Mr. H—–, residing in the neighbourhood of Crosby. This gentleman has during the last three years turned his particular attention to the cultivation of the potatoe, and watched narrowly every tendency it exhibited to disease, in the different stages through which it has passed. He took me through the different portions of his land under potatoes, which to me appeared in a very healthy condition, but which he said were mostly diseased. In the most luxuriant beds, he pulled several stalks, in every one of which the disease– as he explained it– existed.
There appeared in different parts of the roots, protruding tubers, a small fissure about a quarter of an inch long. This fissure in a little time bursts, and there exudes from it a portion of sap or moisture, which was essentially necessary for the support of the plant. The consequence is, that the tuber is immediately stopped in its growth, for want of its necessary nourishment, and the stalks and leaves begin shortly to wither. There were some portions of this crop that appeared very flourishing a few days past, that on this day lay prostrate on the beds, like plants that were exhausted for want of water. On examining them, the symptoms of decay above described appeared manifest, and must have been the cause of their exhausted appearance.
Mr. H—– attributes the disease in his potatoes to no other cause, than the worn out state of the producing root; and so satisfied was he of the necessity of having it renewed from the original seed, that he was in communication with Sir Robert Peel on the subject. It is only a Government that could well do so, the expense being about one thousand pounds, but for a national benefit– no Government ought to hesitate to expend so much, by which millions would be benefitted.
In giving you the above facts as I witnessed them, I have no object in view but one of public good. Your correspondents will see, if their plants possess the same symptoms of disease and yet remain any considerable time apparently uninjured. If so, I shall feel delighted in believing that this decaying tendency is confined to England, and does not extend to the over-afflicted country you live in.