Letter from Co. Ward, on the Big Grain Rice Brook Green, Nov. 16, 1843
The following brief remarks, relative to the big grain Rice, I send you, in compliance with your request.
In 1838, my overseer, Mr. James C. Thompson, a very judicious planter, residing on my Brook Green Estate, accidentally discovered in the Barn yard, during the threshing season, a part of an ear of Rice, from the peculiarity of which, he was induced to preserve it, until he had an interview with me.
It was so very different from any other Rice I had attentively examined, in point of size, that I requested him to take care of, and plant in the Spring on one of the Rice-field margins, which had not been cultivated for several years. This, however, proved to be an unfavorable spot for in long watering, the trash settled on and about the experiment Rice—and after the ‘long water.’ The rats injured it no little. The causes reduced the number of plants which matured to only six, the grain of which appeared the same as that which was planted.
Our want of success in procuring the quantity of grain expected, induced us in the Spring of 1839, to plant the rice in a large tub, filled with swamp mud, and placed in Mr. Thompson’s garden, where it could be watered an attended to every day. But here another misfortune befell it. The careless servant who had it in charge, left the garden gate open, and a hog getting in, destroyed the greater part of the rice. The remaining shoots were carefully taken up and transplanted in a pond; from which we obtained three pecks of rotten light rice—the fact of its being light was attributed to the want of water at the critical time of its maturing.
In the year 1840, we planted with this seed not quite half an acre of new land, at ‘Long Wood,’ which yielded in the Autumn, forty-nine bushels and a half of clean winnowed rice.
In the year 1841, this product was sown in a twenty-one acre field, at Brook Green, which yielded in the Autumn, on thousand one hundred and seventy bushels of sheaf rice, clean winnowed. Of this quantity, from one hundred ad fifty to two hundred bushels were milled, and sent to market. My Factors disposed of it at a considerable advance beyond the highest market price.
In the year 1842, I planted four hundred acres with this seed, and being so perfectly satisfied with both the product and the improved quality of the same, I was induced in the succeeding year, (1843) to sow with it my entire crop. The first parcel when milled, consisted of eighty barrels, netted fifty cents per cwt. Over the primest new rice sold on the same day.
Such is a hurried account of the origin of the big grain Rice, which I have been solicited to furnish. I earnestly trust that his improvement in the seed, will be of incalculable benefit to the entire Rice-growing region.
Joshua John Ward
SOURCE: The Proceedings of the Agricultural Convention and the State Agricultural Society of South Carolina from 1839- 1846 inclusive (Columbia: Summers & Carroll for the State Agricultural Society of South Carolina, 1846), pp. 56-57.