Letter from South Africa.
During the 1928-29 wheat harvest my grandfather (E.H. Edmonds) put a note in a bag of wheat prior to delivering it to the Pygery wheat stacks. The following is an exact transcription of a three-page letter he received in reply, postmarked 17 APR 1929 5.30PM SOUTH AFRICA and addressed to Mr E.H.Edmonds, Hundred of Pygery, Eyre Peninsula, SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Mr. E. H. Edmonds,
We were interested, when receiving a cargo of Australian wheat, to find in one of the bags a note from you dated the 5th January this year, and in compliance with your request, we have pleasure in giving you the following particulars
'We received by the s/s "Trewidden" shipped by Messrs. John Darling & Son from Port Lincoln, a cargo of about 83,00O bags of wheat. This was landed partly here and the balance at Cape Town for our Mill there. The cargo on the whole was very satisfactory - the bag in which your note came especially so.
You will understand that this wheat to purchased for the manufacture of Flour, and, as we have said before, the quality was quite satisfactory. The only fault that we, or rather the Bakers have with Flour milled from Australian wheat, is that it is too weak; in other words is deficient in gluten. For this reason we have to import Canadian and Argentina wheat to mix with it to get the desired strength. The proportions in which we mix the wheat are approximately: 50% Australian, 20% Canadian , 30% Argentine . This makes a very desirable bread Flour.
. You may perhaps be interested to see the Mills where your wheat was ground, and we had pleasure in mailing you one of our Wall calendars. This gives illustrations of our Mills at Port Elizabeth and Cape Town (Salt River) and, as you will see, they are quite considerable Mills . Between the two of them we mill about 750,000 bags of Australian wheat every year. In addition to these two Mills we have also 5 or 6 country Mills, but these confine themselves to the milling of South African wheat grown In the districts where the Mills are situated.
We have a considerable sized farm as well where we grow wheat ourselves. This you will find also illustrated.This farm is in a very arid district - about 4 1/2 inches of rain a year. The cultivation is done on the basin system, locally known as "Basidam". This means that when the river is in flood, we divert it over the land and retain it for about 3 ft. deep, and allow it to absorb into the ground. After It has so absorbed we sow the wheat on it. Generally speaking one flood will give us a fair crop, but If we are fortunate enough to secure a second flood when the wheat is flowering this enables us to secure a bumper crop. Last year we reaped some 35,000 bags, returning us about 30 bushels to the acre. Unfortunately we had a late frost in October which militated against ideal results. Some years owing to the failure of floods we are not able to sow, and consequently get no returns, so that wheat growing is rather of a precarious nature in this particular district.
We are always very interested to hear from growers in Australia, as it enables us to understand conditions over there, of course, are interesting in view of the quantity of Australian wheat that we mill.
SOUTH AFRICAN MILLING CO. LD