Posted on March 14th, 2011
Dear Country Gentleman & Cultivator:
Although I have been an enthusiastic subscriber for the past six years, I was unsettled to read your correspondent’s article in the Winter volume titled “Champion Wheat Variety Product of Opium Wars.” The discovery of this variety of Triticum emerged in our own humble county and stems from an acquaintance’s connexion to his Scotch relations and not, as you asserted, in the sordid world of the opium trade. It can be fairly said that this story is not well-known, but being privy to the facts of the matter myself, I must ask that you correct this error in the coming volume. Woe betide this newspaper if it leaves its readers with the impression that one of the most weighty agronomical discoveries of this decade was the product of the Orient’s thirst for morphia, and not the cleverness of one of our neighbours.
In or about 1862, Mr. Albion Bindle of County Kent procured, through his wife’s Glaswegian cousin, a quantity of wheat which arrived in port direct from Dantzic, Prussia. While its ultimate provenance is unknown, the cargo likely originated in the Ukrainian wheat belt—a rough peninsula of land formed by the Black Sea and the river basins of the Bug and Dnieper. This fact Mr. Bindle inferred from Cyrillic lettering he espied upon the sacks of grain which read Черкаси. [Cherkasky, Ukraine]
As this wheat came to hand immediately prior to the spring sowing time, and, not knowing whether it was a fall or spring variety, Mr. Bindle proceeded to sow a part of the grain and awaited a result. It proved to be fall wheat and none of it ripened save for five ears. Two of these ears were eaten by his own (sadly unfettered) ox and it was only through the timely intervention of his most astute wife (truly a modern Demeter!) that the three remaining ears were spared and preserved. Although sowed the next year under every manner of unfavourable circumstance, that is to say very late in the year and in a shady place, the wheat proved at harvest to be much more fecund than that which is grown locally, and, entirely free of the Wheat Rust. This in a year when all his neighbours’ produce was badly afflicted with this dread plague.
Bindle saved these, the glutinous fruits of his perseverance, and from them sprung the variety of wheat that is today known throughout the Home Counties and the Dominions by the different names of Bindle, Scotch Grover and Glasgow. As the facts occurred in my immediate neighbourhood, and being intimately acquainted as I am, not only with Mr. Bindle, but with the circumstances of his Providential discovery, I can vouch for the correctness of his claim and, if called upon to do so, produce incontestable proofs.
Mr. Oliver Ewell-Minnis
Badgers Mount, Kent