George Washington Papers
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Notes on Spurrier’s Rotation of Crops, January 1794

Notes on Spurrier’s Rotation of Crops

[Philadelphia, circa January 1794]1

Spurriers—Rotation of—Crops.

1st As soon as harvest is done, plow in the Stubble, & lay it up in one bout ridges, to remain in that rough state till the Spring following; then, as soon as the weather will permit, give it a good harrowing; in May obliquely plow it; the latter end of June give it another good harrowing; then haul on the Manure, spread, & plow it in, Sow Turnip seed, broad cast, every day what is plowed. These Turnips to be fed off.

2d The following spring, give th⟨i⟩s field two plowings, the first as shallow as possible, the secd obliquely deeper, which will turn up the Sheeps dung: Then harrow it as flat as possible, to lay it even, fit for mowing. Sow spring Barley pretty thick in drills, at a foot distance in the rows, 6 pecks to the acre; & clover broad cast 6 lbs., with 4 lbs. of trefoil to the acre, harrowed in at once, with light harrows. The grass that grows after harvest to be left, to keep the roots warm in winter. In the succeeding spring sow ashes, & roll the field. Take two crops of Hay.

3d As soon as the last Crop of Hay is taken off, give one deep plowing, and sow wheat in drills, at one foot distance (one bushel of Seed to the acre)—The beginning of May following hoe with a running hoe, & pull the weeds out of the rows.

4th Immediately after harvest plow in this Wheat stubble; and let it remain in a rough state the Winter. In the spring early, harrow it, give it a deep plowing, & sow Oats in broad cast (2 bushls to the Acre). In May weed them. This compleats the rotation, & the field is ready to begin with fallowing & manuring again; which will continually keep the land improving, instead of impoverishing; and as it is 5 years going through its regular succession the land under tillage, should be divided into 5 parts—for instance, there will be one fallowed every year, one under grass, one under Barley, one under Wheat, and one under Oats.2 viz.

No. of the field 1794 1795 1796 1797 1798
1 Fallow with Turnips Sprg Barl. & Clover Clover Wheat Oats
2 Oats Fallow with Turnips Sprg Barl. & Clover Clover Wheat
3 Wheat Oats Fallow with Turnips Sprg Barl. & Clover Clover
4 Clover Wheat Oats Fallow with Turnips Sprg Bar. & Clover
5 Spr: Bar. & Clover Clover Wheat Oats Fallow with Clover
    Culture for the above accordg to Mr Spurrier
Wintr Mar. Aprl May June July Augt Sep. Total
Fallow &
Turnips 1794  }
Plowing stubble 100                 100
  1 Bout ridges                   50
  Spring—1st plow         75         75
  Summer           75       75
Barley &
Clover 1795  }
1st Plowing
2 Ditto
Clover 1796                      
Wheat 1797 1 Plowing               100   100
Oats 1798 1st Ditto             100     100
  2 Do     100             100
    100   200 75 75 75 100 100   775

Probable (annual) produce of the foregoing Rotation of Crops


75. In fallow & Turnips, the latter uncertain      
75. Barley—& Clover @15 Bls 1125 B. @3/6 £197. 7.63
75. Clover uncertain      
75. Wheat 10 750  5/  187.10.0
75. Oats 12½ 937½  2/   93.15


1GW’s notes are based on John Spurrier, The Practical Farmer: being a new and compendious system of husbandry, adapted to the different soils and climates of America. Containing the mechanical, chemical and philosophical elements of agriculture. With many other useful and interesting subjects (Wilmington, Del., 1793). Although the book was advertised as “Just Published” in 1793, it was not until 7 Jan. 1794 that an advertisement announced that “The Subscribers’ Books are ready to be delivered to them in boards at one dollar each, at the respective places where they subscribed their names” (Dunlap’s Daily American Advertiser [Philadelphia], 24 Aug. 1793; Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 7 Jan. 1794). GW’s name is listed among the subscribers, and a copy was in his library (Spurrier, Practical Farmer, x; Griffin, Catalogue of the Washington Collection description begins Appleton P. C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends , 192).

2These four paragraphs are based on text found on pages 94–99 of Spurrier’s book.

3This number should be £196.17.6, thus making the total £478.2.6.

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