The Silk Industry
the dealers (factors, but most generally the "Filandas" and reeling mill proprietors) who employ many hundreds of workpeople all the year round, and have special facilities for wholesale drying, storing, &c., of the fresh cocoons, or to reel them at once as far as may be practicable.
The value of mulberry leaf to the grower (the "plantation" value) may be roughly estimated at about £3 or £4 per acre so soon as ready for use, increasing with age to £7 or £8 and upwards.
By local experience it is known the produce of one acre of mulberry property grown and fed to silkworms will realise by sale of the cocoons from £15 to £25, and still more if skilfully and economically used.
Although somewhat premature, arrangements being far from complete at Booral, opportunity was taken of the Agricultural Society's show in Moore Park for displaying some of the living silkworms raised at the Government Silk Station - thus beginning in part a demonstration of the capability of the Colony for raising cocoons at almost any time of the year - in fact whenever and wherever mulberry leaf is available for feeding the worms.
Upon requisition the Officer-in-charge forwarded a collection for this exhibition consisting of a daily succession of silkworms (in separate lots) hatched on the days of exhibition as well as on many previous days, showing a lot of every day's growth, and through every-daily stage to full-grown; mature caterpillars daily "mounting" the "bush" each day its separate appropriate lot then due, and actually making their cocoons; also moths emerging from cocoons every day, and finally accomplishing their life round of existence by each day's moths laying fresh eggs. There was displayed the whole process and life history of the mulberry silkworm insect in all stages at once, at the same place, all different, yet contemporaneous.
It is true similar demonstrations have been witnesses in the Colony for years, but the scene of operations formerly of that novel and till then unexampled process being at private establishments, the evidence failed to gain adequate attention from the general public, though many leading citizens recognised its value and prospective importance. Hence the present action of the Department of Agriculture, with a view to institute a better understanding not only of the benefit that would accrue to an intelligent public by much enlarged fields of profitable work, but also to demonstrate the immensely extended scope arising from our capabilities here of cheaper production, economy of labour and material, by frequent repetitions of rearings, the same "plant" and utensils, &c., serving again and again, using up much good mulberry leaf hitherto wasted but which can now be converted into silk.
The exhibits were taken in hand by Mr. George Valder, who had passed a short time at Booral for a little preparation. Mr Valder's report is as follows:-
"I left Booral on 9th March with exhibits of silkworms for the Royal Agricultural Society's show, consisting of 30 trays of silkworms of various ages, from 1 to 30 days, each day being represented by one tray, and a card of eggs. The worms were all reared at the Government Silk Station, Booral, from eggs obtained from Italy and the card of eggs was from Japan. The Italian worms were stated to be of the Gransosso, Novi Ligure, Fossombrone, and other races.
"The show took place on 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 26th March. By this time the older worms brought from Booral were spinning and supplemented