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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi



The red clay soils on improved lands of the Pontotoc Ridge area yield about three-fourths of a bale of cotton per acre, about thirty bushels of corn, and about forty bushels of oats.  Since, as a rule, the lands are not improved, the average yield is below these figures, but the trend is upward, and larger fields have been obtained.  Wheat and other small grains produce well upon these soils.  These soils are also well adapted to the growing of peaches, plums, and pears, and other fruits, and the climatic conditions are more favorable to the growing of fruit than those of the lower lands of the latitude.  Alfalfa could probably be grown on the red clay soils by the addition of from two to four tons of ground limestone.  Suitable limestone for this purpose is easily accessible to this soil area.

Only a small percent of the residual Flatwoods soil is in cultivation.  The principal crops that have been grown are cotton, corn, sugar cane, cowpeas, sorghum, and grasses.  The yield of cotton is about one-half bale per acre, but higher yields have been obtained.  Because of the heavy nature of the subsoil this type of soil is much affected by extremes of moisture.  The sub soil prevents sufficient drainage during exceedingly wet seasons and by its density, prevents proper root development during dry seasons.  The soil, because of its putty-like tenacity is difficult to till.  The texture of the soil may be improved by cultivation.

Those who have seen cultivation of this type of soil for a number of years have noted a gradual improvement in its texture, which is due partly to the washing out of the finer clay particles, and partly to the incorporation of more organic matter.  The texture could be still further improved by the addition of ground limestone as the lime would cause a flocculation of clay particles.  The flat areas of this type of soil may be greatly improved by drainage.  Slightly rolling lands may be drained by laying off the rows in the direction of the slope.  Open ditches will serve the purpose in many instances, but for some areas tile drainage will produce more effective results.

The alluvial Flatwoods soils are more generally subject to overflow and as yet only small areas have been put in cultivation.  By the use of the dredge boat for straightening the meandering courses of the streams these lands may be relieved from serious overflows and their cultivation extended.  The crops usually grown are cotton and corn, and the yield is much higher than on the residual type.  Cotton yields as much as a bale per acre; corn, as much as fifty bushels per acre.  The soil is easily tilled and is a very promising type.  Its principal needs are better drainage, the addition of a few hundred pounds of ground phosphate rock, a crop or two of leguminous green manure, and ground limestone, the amount depending upon a like quantity already present in that particular soil. (1)

(1)  William N. Logan, Soils of Mississippi, pp. 55-59.

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