[Glorantha]Re: Sun County crop yields

From: ALISON PLACE <alison_place_at_yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 2 Oct 2004 18:08:47 -0700 (PDT)

        Chris Graham was wondering what the SC crop yields might be. I've taken some RW yields (medieval or Roman, take your pick), and you can modify from there to try to allow for the effects of beneficial magic, and (since I'm using mostly English stats), perhaps a warmer climate. Anybody who's got Italian or Spanish stats is welcome to provide them! You might also try http://www.minarsas.demon.co.uk/harn/farming/calendar.htm for a calendar of medieval farming duties, including a table of yields.

        Following is some other general info on Roman and medieval agriculture, (some yields included), and speculation on what would be relevant to Sun County.

        At the Domesday reckoning, one hide (also called a carucate, roughly 120 acres) was deemed the historical quantity of land needed to feed an extended family. A two- or three-field system would be used, so that at least one-third, and in some cases up to two-thirds would be fallow in any given year.

        Yields range widely. Fields were sown with 2-4 bushels/acre, depending on the grain. In the Domesday period, the ratio of grain reaped:grain sown was roughly 3:1. Yields for barley, rye, wheat and oats were stated to be 8, 7, 5 and 4 respectively, roughly 200 years later. These could vary significantly, with average yields for barley, wheat and oats on the estates of the Bishop of Winchester between 1200-1350 being 3.8, 3.8 and 2.4. Very fertile lands could yield as much as 7.5-15 (a record!) bushels/bushel sown. To compare, modern methods in the region of Neufbourg, Normandy, (1970's), gave 20:1, whereas in the early 15thC it was only 3.8. Much of that yield was brewed. (Source: The Medieval Machine, 1976, by Jean Gimpel.)

        More terms. An acre was defined as the area ploughed by an ox team in one day. Then there's the bovate, or oxgang. This is the land for one ox, which is an eighth of a hide, because the hide is defined as the amount of land that the team of eight oxen (the ploughgang) will plough in one year (even though oxen didn't plough alone). An administrative land measure only, I believe. The ploughgang was needed to pull the heavy wheeled plough needed on some soils. It contributed to the establishment of very long fields, to avoid having to turn the oxgang frequently.   

        It's pointed out in another reference (Medieval England, Bracken Books, ed. by H.W.C. Davis) that since no peasants owned their own ploughgang, the necessary routine imposed on the whole group makes most agricultural innovations difficult to impossible - you just couldn't upset the schedule without risk of starving.

        All these terms are somewhat elastic, since land varies so much in arability and productivity. E.g. a demesne might be rated as five hides large, but only taxed as three, to allow for the discrepancy.

        The old Roman system seems very similar, with land granted in centuria (= 125 acres), consisting of 200 iugera (from iugum, yoke). One iugerum was roughly 5/8 of an acre. Again, they are defining land in terms of amount ploughed/day, and amount needed to feed a family. 25 iugera was the amount of land granted to a retired veteran with a single pair of oxen. Vineyards and olive groves were rated differently, just to confuse matters.

        Roman taxation could get very painful, with over a quarter of the gross value of the crop levied. This drove much marginal land out of production in Roman times. Possibilities for Lunar rates?

        Our lot always considered that Garhound and Sun County would work with roughly the same systems, with irrigation a must in Prax. Whether Sun County is partial to oxen ploughteams isn't stated, but since horses fare poorly in Prax, it seems likely. The warm climate in Prax is also not suited to growing oats (which prefer colder, heavier soils), needed to keep horses in good condition when worked hard.

        Minor note: according to Gimpel, the first animals harnessed using the modern collar were actually camels, with the technique being invented in the steppes between Siberia and China. High Llamas as draught animals, anyone?

        I would think that average yields are generally what one would get, unless the Sacred Time and Aldrya's Day omens are very favourable. Bless Crops, which I suspect many SC farmers or their wives are keen to sacrifice for, is supposed to guarantee a reasonable yield from every field on which it's used.

        If they don't need to use the full four yokes of oxen to plough in SC, richer farmers who can keep their own team may have been more adventurous in designing crop rotations that suited Sun County. OTOH, the need to cooperate in farming when you're sharing oxpower might be something that a GM would prefer to have. And doesn't the Solar troop unit have eight soldiers in it? Coincidence? Perhaps not!

        Hope this helps,

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--__--__-- Received on Sun 03 Oct 2004 - 06:57:18 EEST

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