George Washington Papers

Planting Plans, 11 July 1790

Planting Plans

New York, 11 July 1790. Charts a proposed eight-year cycle of crop rotations involving clover, corn, wheat, buckwheat, and rye1 on fourteen fields of GW’s French’s and Ferry farms.2


GW recorded that he spent 11 July, a Sunday, “At home all day dispatching some business relative to my own private concerns” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:94). For background to his interest in improved British systems of crop rotation, see ibid., 1:xxvi-xxviii.

1GW drafted these two charts on the verso of a blank cover addressed to “the President of the United States.” On the front, he wrote the following note: “If the within system is pursued, the indifferent parts of the fields which are in Corn must be sown with Rye, if any should be deemed inadequate to the produce of Wheat. And, as there will be no ground particularly appropriated for Sundries, the Corn in future must be planted in drills, as formerly, and Potatoes Carrots &ca be raised between them.

“The Crop of Oats may well be dispensed with—1st because they are an uncertain Crop—2d because they are considered as a great impoverisher of the Soil—and because it would be more œconomical to buy than raise them as a bushel of wheat in price is, generally, equal to 4 bushels of Oats; and the land in a good year will rarely yield a quadruple proportion.”

2There also exists an undated page in GW’s hand setting forth the “Rotation of Crops for Dogue Run Farm” and “Rotation for the other Farms.” The latter differs from the Dogue Run and Ferry and French’s plans in that it never specifies planting clover, and its seven-year cycle ends with two consecutive years of penned pasturage instead of one as at Dogue Run (ViMtvL).

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