Calhoun Experimental Station

The recent controversy over what to do with the land that was once the LSU Research Center in Calhoun, got me to thinking about what is known about it. The following description and photo engravings were included in the 1893 Worlds Fair Edition of the Monroe Evening News.


            Owing to geographical and other equally as good reasons, the Experiment Station for North Louisiana was located at Calhoun, in this (Ouachita) parish, and is distant from Monroe fifteen miles.  This Experiment Farm is one of three in this State, and they are supported by money appropriated by act of Congress and an additional appropriation from the State.

            The Calhoun station was established in 1888 for the purpose of testing all kinds of field and forage crops, fruits, vegetables, the different breeds of domestic animals, including sheep, hogs, cattle and poultry, as well as to make experiments as to the qualities of the different soils of the State, and the qualities of fertilizers, the different forms and combinations of same, and their effects on the different kinds of crops grown on the various kinds of soil; to analyze soils and fertilizers, water, etc., for the people of the State, and to ascertain the value of different crops for feed; to test the value of the rotation of crops, the benefits of diversified farming, etc.

            In this farm there are 333 acres, 150 under fence, 100 in cultivation, 50 acres in experimental plots, containing grains, grasses, field and forage crops and fertilizer experiments; ten acres are at present devoted to testing the different varieties of fruit trees, vines, etc.; five to vegetable or truck farming, and thirty-five acres are used to raise feed for the stock on the farm.

            The improvements on the farm at this time are worth $10,000.  The range of their experiments cover a wide field, the results being embodied in periodical reports published in pamphlet form, and sent free to all applicants.

            In the department of fruits the results in 1892 were unsatisfactory from the fact of an exceptional late frost.  However, they report that the General Jackson, Griole, General Lee, Early Rivers, Alexander, Newington, Old Mixon Cling, Sylphide Cling, Picquett’s Late, Early Crawford, Stump the World, and Pineapple peaches are all good and adapted to this soil and climate, and are recommended in the order named.

            Of apples six varieties bore last year, most of their trees being too young to bear.  Nine varieties of plums, six of nectarines, three of Japan persimmons and six of figs were reported on.

            The cattle are represented by Holsteins, Jerseys, Guernseys and Devons.  It is believed that from these four breeds of cattle the farmers of North Louisiana can find one or more adapted to their wants, and the surplus stock finds ready sale at fancy prices.  The sheep and hogs raised here are also in demand by breeders.  In the ten varieties of chickens kept they find that the Bronze Leghorn has the best record for three years.  All their poultry are confined in close pens.

            Their experiments in the line of grasses and grains cover a very wide range of varieties and the results cannot fail to be of great value to the people of this section if their conclusions reached at the station are acted on, on the farms.  The experiments in tobacco culture carried on here for the past two years have proven conclusively that this (the northwest) part of Louisiana is particularly well adapted to the culture of a fine quality of “the weed,” suitable for cigars, as well as the other grades of chewing and smoking tobaccos.  The continuation of these experiments this year are attracting a great deal of attention in this and other Southern States.  However, this year’s work is not needed to prove the success of tobacco raising as a business here; that fact has already been demonstrated.

            The experiments with fertilizer have been made in every possible form and combination of materials, on every kind of soil and in every conceivable mode of application, and the conclusions reached are that the proper application of fertilizers containing nitrogen is profitable with all crops.  Phosphoric acid is less needed than nitrogen, and potash is not needed at all, the soil being naturally rich in the latter element.

            It is pleasant to relate that while the lessons learned at the several stations in the country are not always heeded, that their influence is felt and acted on by a great many, and that the good results far exceed the cost of this station, is beyond the shadow of a doubt; and when Ouachita parish made the appropriation that secured the location of the station at Calhoun they made a very profitable investment.

            The North Louisiana Agricultural Society holds its monthly meetings at the station in a hall provided by the State.  These meetings are of much importance by bringing together the most progressive farmers and stock raisers in this section, sometimes in very large numbers.

            This year they will hold a sort of an agricultural meeting lasting three days, during which a large attendance of noted men from other parts of the State, including the governor, are expected.

            The programme of exercise, list of subjects for discussion, etc., is a good one, and no doubt the occasion will be enjoyable and productive of much good.

            The officers of the station are:  Wm. C. Stubbs, Ph. D., director:  J.G. [L]ee, assistant director in charge; Maurice Bird, chemist; W.F. Clarke, tobacco expert; T.I. Watson, farm manager; E.J. Watson, in charge of orchard, garden and stock.

            Prof. Stubbs is worthy of more than casual mention.  He is a native of Virginia, and prior to coming to Louisiana, filled the chair of chemistry in the A. and M. College at Auburn, Ala., and was also State chemist.  Since his coming to this State in 1886, he has occupied a similar position and stands high in his profession, not only here but in all the Southern States.

            Major Jordan Gray Lee, the assistant director, chemist and botanist of the North Louisiana Experiment Station, is a native of Union parish, his ancestors having been among the early settlers in that part of the State.  He was raised on his father’s farm near Farmerville, and did his share of the work done on the farm.  He attended the high school in Farmerville, laying the foundation for the education subsequently acquired at the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, from which institution he graduated in 1886 with the degree of B.L.

            In his case the Agricultural and Mechanical College served the intended purposes of its founders by making him a practical and scientific farmer, instead of (as is too often the case) a second-rate lawyer or doctor.

            During his last term at the University he was honored by an appointment as assistant commandant of cadets, a position for which he was eminently adapted, his merits being still further recognized by his appointment on the staff of Gov. McEnery, being the youngest man who ever held such a position in the State.

            The Station experiments have already borne fruit, and if the farmers of North Louisiana will take advantage of the facts demonstrated so forcibly, they cannot fail to be largely benefited.

            Major Lee is married to Addie, a daughter of Gen. John McGrath, of Baton Rouge, a lady, by the way, of fine literary abilities as well as personal accomplishments of a high order.  Newspaper men and women all over the State have a kindly feeling for Gen. McGrath or any of his family, consequently Mrs. Major Lee is a favorite in press circles, and popular everywhere.

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