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The consumption of sugar is universal in every civilized country. It is no longer considered as a mere luxury, but has become a necessity in every family, whether rich or poor.

There were imported into the United States for the year ending December 31st, 1885, 1,318,326 tons of sugar, valued at $59,197,494. The previous year, 1884, the imports amounted to 1,269,948 tons, valued at $76,419,926. The decreased value of sugar in 1885 was caused by the market having become overstocked on account of the large production of beet sugar in European countries, where that industry had become comparatively profitable. The following table compiled from the price current of the Wholesale Co-operative Society, Manchester, England, for December, 1885, indicates that the beet sugar product for the year 1886 will be greatly reduced :

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2,545,888 Deficiency in year, 568,920 tons. Of Russia's excess, only 29,000 tons now remain available for export.

The beet sugar industry, which has now reached such proportions, was kept alive in its early stages by government assistance, both in France and Germany. This aid, together with the employment of the highest chemical and mechanical skill, both in the process of manufacture and the application to the soil of the proper fertilizers to secure the best results, has placed the industry upon a basis which

in Germany, at least, is now turning into the government a considerable revenue.

The soils of New Jersey, in the lower part of the State especially, were judged to be so well adapted to the cultivation of the sorghum sugar cane that the Legislature of 1881, having in view the encouragement of new productive industries in the State, passed an act entitled "An act to encourage the manufacture of sugar in the State of New Jersey.” This act, which was to remain in force for five years, provided for a bounty of one dollar per ton for every ton of sorghum cane raised in the State which should be converted into sugar, and one cent per pound upon every pound of merchantable sugar made therefrom within the State. This act becomes inoperative February 16th, 1886.

Charles M. Hilgerth, of Philadelphia, established a plant at Rio Grande, in the county of Cape May, in the year 1881, and entered into contracts with farmers in the vicinity of the works for a supply of sorghum cane. These farmers sent in their certificates, in legal form, to this Bureau for cane furnished, and received the bounty to which they were entitled, as will appear in the table following ; but Mr. Hilgerth made no claim during the season for the sugar he had manufactured, and getting into pecuniary trouble before the close of the year, turned the works over to the “Rio Grand Sugar Company," a corporation which had been organized under the general manufacturing law of the State, for the purpose of manufacturing sugar under the provisions of the bounty act before referred to. Mr. Hilgerth was general manager of the new company, but disappeared about the first of April, 1882, without making a claim for bounty upon the surgar he had manufactured, about 200,000 pounds.



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During the session of Congress for 1884–5 the Department of Agriculture received an appropriation of $50,000 for “ necessary expenses in conducting experiments, including experiments in the manufacture of sugar from sorghum and other vegetable plants.”

The Commissioner of Agriculture, desirous of obtaining as speedy results as possible from the process of diffusion on sorghum, authorized the chemist of the department, H. W. Wiley, to make arrangements for purchasing the proper machinery and supplying the necessary apparatus for conducting experiments with this end in view. Negotiations were begun with the Franklin Sugar Company, of Ottawa, Kansas, which resulted in securing the use of their plant for the purpose; but, owing to the delay in getting the machinery upon the ground and in working order, work was not begun till October 8th. A heavy frost on the morning of October 4th had killed the blades of the cane, but did not damage the stalks that were fully matured. It was so late in the season, however, that but a few days were left for work, and only 70 cells of 1,400 pounds each were diffused, or a total of 98,000 pounds of cane. The result showed that sorghum cane diffused with great readiness, and in this respect appeared to have the advantage over the beet. A detailed account of these experiments will be found in Bulletin No. 6 of the Department of Agriculture, Division of Chemistry. Professor Wiley succeeded in getting 95 pounds of worked and dried sugar from a ton of cane worked, a considerable advance over the product of the milling process. This was secured, too, under most disadvantageous circumstances. · The Rio Grande Sugar Works commenced this year on September 2d, and finished working up the cane by November 21st, making a season of 80 days, thus confirming the opinion expressed in former reports of the Bureau with regard to the favorable climatic conditions of Cape May county for the sugar industry.

The law which authorized a bounty from the State will only apply to the product of the present season, as it will have expired before the next crop can be secured. The friends of the sugar industry throughout the State had hoped that the business would have been placed upon such a profitable basis before the expiration of the bounty law, that no further State aid would be necessary. In this, however, they have been disappointed, for the parties who established the Rio Grande works, although they have worked indefatigably to overcome

unforeseen obstacles which from time to time have made their appearance, do not find the business a profitable one.

The outlook at present is more encouraging, as the drawbracks to the business are being gradually removed out of the way. During the present season, through the combined exertions of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and Mr. Henry A. Hughes, the indefatigable superintendent of the sugar works, obstacles which hitherto had seemed insurmountable, have been overcome.

In former numbers of the Bureau reports reference has been made to the deep interest taken by Professor George H. Cook, Director of the Experiment Station in the experimental work going on at Rio Grand, and quotations have been freely made from reports of that station upon the subject. During the present season this interest on the part of Professor Cook has been renewed, and the chemist of the station, Dr. Arthur P. Neale, was allowed to spend several weeks at the sugar works, where, assisted by Superintendent Hughes, valuable experiments were carried on both with mill product and by diffusion. The most of their experiments have been so satisfactory that it really appears as if the turning point in the sugar industry had been reached ; certainly if the suggestion made by Dr. Neale can be carried out during the next year there will be a greatly increased production of sugar, and there is every reason to believe that the industry will become a profitable one in the State.

The work accomplished at Rio Grande is of such importance that we do not feel willing to rely upon the publication of extracts, but will reproduce Bulletin XXXVIII. of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in December 21st, 1885, upon that subject.


I. Brief history of the Rio Grande Plantation for the season of 1885.
II. The effects of Commercial Fertilizers.

1. Upon the growth of sorghum.

2. Upon its yield of sugar, per acre and per ton of cane. III Milling and diffusion compared, as methods of separating sugar from sorghum.

1. Mill products from unstripped cane compared with diffusion products

from stripped cane. 2. Diffusion products from stripped cane compared with diffusion products

from unstripped cane. IV. General summary of results.


The history of the past season at Rio Grande is essentially the same as that of previous years. There has been the same honest effort to reduce working expenses, to discover and avoid wastes, to improve processes and, in brief, to do every thing possible to place this huge experiment upon a strict business basis. The success has been quite as marked as could be expected and at no time in the history of this plantation have its prospects appeared so bright.

In 1884, phosphates were used upon the crop; in consequence it ripened much earlier than had been expected, and throughout the season the fields were in advance of the sugar house, over-ripe cane only being delivered at the mill.

In 1885, the opposite course was followed, no phosphates were used and during the first half of the milling season the sugar house was in advance of the fields, the cane at times being so green that more than once it was almost decided that the house must be closed until ripe cane could be secured. The marked improvements in the clarification of mill juice not only prevented a failure, but even kept the average yield of merchantable sugar, per ton of unstripped and untopped cane, quite up to that of the previous year.

At present the mill is the greatest drawback to the sorghum sugar industry ; an experiment upon a large scale, published later in this report, indicating that it fails to secure at least one-half of the sugar existing in the cane. A similar record was made in the last annual report of this Station.

That report also contained the results of an experiment showing that diffusers were much superior to mills, as they wasted approximately five per cent. only of the total sugar. Unfortunately, however, diffusion extracts dark colored and bitter tasting compounds from unstripped sorghum, which make the product almost unsalable; it seemed necessary, therefore, for the present at least, to retain the mill.

It was, however, surmised that both color and taste came from leaves and leaf sheaths. Superintendent Hughes therefore devised a machine by which the cane could be thoroughly and rapidly stripped. His model and plans were submitted to a number of mechanical engineers, whose verdict was that the machine should be constructed. This for various reasous was not immediately undertaken, and the past season has been devoted to proving that such a machine is essential to success. The details are given upon subsequent pages.

Although, from previous trials, it was reasonably certain that the product would be of low grade, it was still deemed best to again operate the diffusion battery upon mill bagasse, for defects in the apparatus, errors in its manipulation, and all other drawbacks could be discovered by diffusing almost worthless material quite as well as by working valuable cane; the regular "run" of the house, too, would not be disturbed by this arrangement.

The diffusers were therefore used for twenty-six days, and two hundred and twenty-nine barrels of heavy syrup was secured; as expected, it was of medium quality only, but still merchantable for enough to more than pay experimental expenses. It was found, by experiments with a ton of bone black, that the dark color and bitter taste could be removed, the undesirable bone black flavor, however, was substituted. The exhaustion of the bone black also was judged to be too rapid to admit of its profitable use.

A practically automatic apparatus for filling diffusers was devised, tested and found

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