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55
LOUISIANA

in the south. Only a fourth to a half of the days of the different months are wholly or partly clear even in the north, and in the same district the monthly means of relative humidity vary from 65 to 70.

Fauna.—The entire state is included within the Austro-riparian life zone; the higher portions fall within the Carolinian area and the lower portions, including the Gulf and the Mississippi embayment almost to the N.E. corner of the state, constitute a special semi-tropical region. The native fauna of the state resembles in its general features that of the other Gulf states. The feral fauna was once rather varied. Black bears, wolves and deer are not yet extinct, and more rarely a “wild cat” (lynx) or “panther” (puma) is seen in the swamps. Of smaller mammals, raccoons, squirrels and opossums are very common. Every bayou contains alligators; and reptiles of various species, such as turtles, lizards, horned toads, rattlesnakes and moccasins are abundant. Shrimps, frogs (of great commercial importance), terrapin, clams and oysters are common. Only in very recent years have oysters, though plentiful, become of competitive importance in the national market; they are greatly favoured by state protective legislation. In 1904 a state oyster commission was created to supplant the independent control by the parishes. An important boundary dispute with Mississippi arose over beds lying near the state line. The state leases the beds at a low annual rental in tracts (limited for each person, firm or corporation to 1000 acres), and draws from them a considerable revenue. The avifauna is varied and abundant, comprising eagles, vultures (protected by law), hawks, owls, pelicans, cranes, turkeys, geese, “partridges” (called quail or “Bob White” elsewhere), ducks, &c., besides numerous smaller species, many of which are brilliant of plumage but harsh of voice.

Flora.—Heavy rainfall, high temperature and fertile soil combine to cover the greater part of the state, and particularly the alluvial regions and the coast swamps, with a most luxuriant subtropical vegetation, both arborescent and herbaceous. Louisiana is justly celebrated for the beauty and fragrance of its flowers. The range of temperature is not sufficient to give the variety of annual wild flowers of more northern climates; nevertheless flowers cover the bottom lands and uplands in great profusion. The upland flora is the more diversified. Flowering annuals are mainly aquatic. Water lilies, water hyacinths, which are an obstruction in many streams, and irises in rich variety give colour to the coast wastes and sombre bayous. Notable among the flora are roses, japonicas, hibiscus shrubs of various species, poinsettias, tea olives, crepe myrtle, jasmines, magnolias, camellias, oleanders, chrysanthemums, geraniums and plumbagos. The value and variety of the timber are very great. Much of the river swamp region is covered with cypress trees festooned with Spanish moss. The most common species in the alluvial regions and, to a less degree, in the drier portions of the swamps and in the stream bottoms of the prairies are various oaks, black, sweet and tupelo gum, holly, cotton-wood, poplar, magnolia sweet bay, the tulip tree, catalpa, black walnut, pecans, hickories, ash, beech and short-leaf pine. On drier and higher soils are the persimmon, sassafras, red maple, elm, black haw, hawthorn, various oaks (in all 10 species occur), hickories and splendid forests of long-leaf and loblolly yellow pine.

Forestry.—These forests are the greatest and finest of their kind remaining in the United States. In 1898 it was estimated by Henry Gannett (followed by the Federal census of 1900) that the timbered area covered 28,300 sq. m. Professor C. S. Sargent estimated in 1884 that the stand of short-leaf and long-leaf pines aggregated respectively 21,625 and 26,558 million feet. The timber product of 1900 ($17,294,444) was almost ten times that of 1880 ($1,764,640); and in 1905 the product value ($35,192,374) was more than twice that of 1900. Nevertheless, in 1900 the cypress forests remained practically untouched, only slight impression had been made upon the pine areas, and the hard-wood forests, except that they had been culled of their choicest oak, remained in their primal state (U.S. census). Between 1900 and 1905 furniture factories and planing mills became somewhat important. Pond pine occurs only near the Pearl river. Curly pine is fairly abundant. The eastern pine belt is composed of the long-leaf pine, interspersed with some loblolly. It covers an area of about 3900 sq. m. The south-western pine belt contains the heaviest growth of long-leaf pine timber in the world, covering an area of about 4200 sq. m., and occasionally interspersed with short-leaf pine. The short-leaf growth is especially heavy in the north-western portion of the state, while the long-leaf is found mainly in large masses N. and S. of the Red river around Alexandria as a centre. The cypress forests of the alluvial and overflowed lands in the S. of the state are among the largest and the most heavily timbered known. The hard-woods are found in the river bottoms throughout the state.

Agriculture and Soils.—Agriculture is the chief industry of the State. In 1900 26.2% of the land was in farms, and of this area about two-fifths was improved. The size of the average farm decreased in the two preceding decades from 171.3 to 95.4 acres. The percentage of farms operated by owners (i.e. owners, part owners, owners and tenants, and managers) fell from 64.8 to 42.1% from 1880 to 1900, and the percentage operated by cash tenants increased from 13.8 in 1880 to 24.9 in 1900, and by share tenants from 21.5 in 1880 to 33.0 in 1900; the percentage of farms operated by white farmers was 49.8 in 1900. The value of farm property, $198,536,906 in 1900, increased 79.8% in the preceding decade. The value of live stock in the latter year was $28,869,506. The total value of all farm products in 1899 was $72,667,302, of which $59,276,092 was the value of the distinctive crops—cotton, sugar and rice. The state bureau of agriculture in 1903 estimated that of the total area 14.9 millions of acres were timber land, 5.7 millions pasture and marsh, and 5.0 millions cultivated farm land.

In the N. there are many sandy districts in the uplands, also sandy clays; in the “second bottoms” of the streams fertile sandy loams; abundant tertiary marls in the north-central region; some gypsum in the cretaceous “islands”; and some fossiliferous marls with decomposed limestones. The prairies of south-western Louisiana have much yellow marl underlying them. Alluvial soil and bluff, the location of which has been indicated, are of primary agricultural importance. Reclaimed marsh-land and fresh alluvium (the so-called “front-lands” on rivers and bayous) are choice soil for Indian corn, sugar-cane, perique tobacco, semi-tropical fruits and cotton. The bluff lands are simply old alluvium now well drained and above all floods. The prairies of the S.W. are devoted almost exclusively to rice. On the hills yellow-leaf tobacco can be grown. Cereals and forage plants can be successfully grown everywhere, and varied and profitable agriculture is possible even on the “pine-barrens” or uplands of the N.; but more intelligent and more intensive farming is necessary than that practised by the average “piney-woods” farmer. The alluvial section of lower Louisiana is mostly devoted to sugar, and farther northward to Indian corn and cotton.

Cotton is the principal crop. In 1907 Louisiana ranked eighth in acreage of cotton (1,622,000 acres) among the states of the United States, and in 1907-1908 the cotton crop (675,428 bales) was eighth among the crops of the states. The average yield per acre varies from about .45 to .75 bale according to the season. In good seasons and exceptional localities the yield may approach a bale per acre, as in Assumption parish, and in the Mississippi valley at the junction of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. For many years there has been a reaction against the all-cotton farming system. In general, the small cotton farmer was at the mercy of the commission merchant, to whom he mortgaged his crops in advance; but this evil has lessened, and in some districts the system of advancing is either non-existent or very slightly developed.

In 1907-1908 all the sugar produced from cane grown in the United States came from Louisiana (335,000 long tons) and Texas (12,000 tons); in the same year cane sugar from Hawaii amounted to 420,000 tons, from Porto Rico to 217,000 tons and from the Philippines to 135,000 tons; and the total yield of beet sugar from the United States was 413,954 tons. Of all the cane grown, an amount between one-sixth and one-quarter—and that the best—must be reserved for seed every other year, and this is a great handicap to the state in competing with other cane regions and with the sugar beet. Of the total sugar consumption of the country in 1899-1904 Louisiana produced somewhat more than a fifteenth. Since about 1880 there have been central factories, and their increase has been a very prominent factor in the development of the industry, as it has been in Cuba. Though very much of the region S. of the Red river is fairly well suited to sugar-growing, it is still true that sugar cannot, over much of this area, be grown to so great advantage as other crops. Its hold upon the delta region is, however, almost unchallenged, especially since the rice farmers have found in the prairie lands that excel the delta for their purposes. Sugar is grown also in St Landry and the eastern part of Attakapas—a name formerly loosely applied to what are now St Mary, Iberia, Vermilion, St Martin and Lafayette parishes. Though introduced with success from Santo Domingo about the middle of the 18th century, the sugar industry practically dates from 1796, when Étienne Boré first succeeded in crystallizing and clarifying the syrup. Steam motive power was first introduced on the plantations in 1822. The average product of the ten seasons 1894-1904 was 299,745 tons. A state sugar experiment station is maintained at Audubon Park in New Orleans, its work embracing the development of seedlings, the improvement of cane varieties, the study of fungus diseases of the cane, the improvement of mill methods and the reconciliation of such methods (for example, the use of sulphur as a bleaching and clarifying agent) with the requirements of “pure food” laws. Good work has also been done by the Audubon sugar school of the state university, founded “for the highest scientific training in the growing of sugar cane and in the technology of sugar manufacture.”