Tobacco might be grown profitably over a large part of the state, but in reality very little is grown. The strong, black perique of the delta—cultivated very generally in the lower alluvial region before the Civil War, but now almost exclusively in St James parish—is a famous leaf, grown since early colonial times. Bright or yellow plug and smoking leaf are grown on the pine uplands and pine “flats,” and a small amount of cigar tobacco on the flats, prairies and “bluffs.” The total value of the tobacco crop of 35,000 ℔ in 1907 was only $10,000, an amount exceeded by each of the other 24 tobacco-growing states, and the crop was about one-twentieth of 1% of the product of the whole United States.
Rice farming, which had its beginning immediately after the Civil War and first became prominent in the ’seventies, has developed enormously since 1880. From 1879 to 1899 the product increased twenty-five fold. Formerly the grain was raised by preference in the river bottoms, which still yield, almost invariably, the earliest rice of the season and perhaps the finest. The “buckshot clays” of the backlands, which are so stiff that they can scarcely be ploughed until flooded and softened, and are remarkably retentive of moisture, are ideal rice soil; but none of the alluvial lands has an underlying hardpan, and they cannot as a rule be drained sufficiently to make the use of heavy harvesting machinery possible. In 1880 the prairies of the S.W. were opened to settlement by the railway. These prairies are traversed by ridges, which facilitate irrigation, and are underlaid by an impervious subsoil, which facilitates both effective storage and drainage. Thus the use of machinery became possible, and this revolutionized the entire industry. The year 1884 may be taken as the initial date of the new period, and the grain is now harvested exactly as is wheat in the west-central states. Previously the grain had ordinarily been cut with sickles and harvested by hand. The farms were also small, usually from 5 to 10 acres. They are now very much larger. All the prairies district—the centre of which is Crowley—is becoming one great rice field. Some rice also is grown on the lowlands of the Mississippi valley, notably in Plaquemines, Jefferson and Lafourche parishes. In the decade 1881-1890 Louisiana produced about half of the total yield of the country, and from 1891 to 1900 about five-sevenths. In 1904 and 1906 the Louisiana crop, about one-half of the total yield of the country, was larger than that of any other state; but in 1905 and in 1907 (6,192,955 ℔ and 7,378,000 ℔ respectively) the Louisiana crop was second in size to that of Texas. Carolina and Honduras rices were practically the only varieties until after 1896. Since that time select Japanese species, chosen for superior milling qualities, have been widely introduced, as the market prejudice in favour of head rice made the large percentage of broken rice a heavy handicap to the farmers. Hundreds of varieties have been tested by the state and federal agricultural experiment stations. A strong tendency to run to red rice (hardier, but not so marketable) has been a second great difficulty to overcome.
Irrigation is almost entirely confined to rice farms. In the prairie region there is abundant water at depths of 100 to 400 ft. beneath the surface, but this was little used for irrigation for the first few years of the development of this field, when water was pumped from the streams and canals. In 1902 nearly one-eighth of the acreage irrigated was by systems supplied from wells. The irrigated rice area increased 92.9% from 1899 to 1902, and the construction cost of irrigation works ($4,747,359 in 1902; $12.25 per irrigated acre) 87.7% in the same years. This increase was almost wholly in the prairie parishes. Of the total irrigated area for rice of 387,580 acres in 1902, 310,670 acres were in the parishes of Calcasieu, Acadia and Vermilion. In the Mississippi valley water is taken from the river by flumes in the levees or by siphons. The danger of floods and the difficulty of drainage make the extension of the practice unprofitable, and the opening of the prairies has made it unnecessary.
Many of the fruits of warm-temperate and semi-tropical lands, whether native or exotic, including oranges, olives, figs, grape-fruit, kumquats and pomegranates are cultivated. Oranges are grown especially on the coast. There are many fine groves on the Mississippi below New Orleans. The fig is a common door-yard tree as in other Gulf and South Atlantic states, and is never killed down by frost. Louisiana produced in 1899 only a fifth as great a value in sub-tropic fruits as Arizona and Texas combined. Orchard fruits are fairly varied, but, compared with other states, unimportant; and the production of small fruits is comparatively small, the largest crop being strawberries. Oranges and pears are seriously damaged by insect and fungus pests. The total value of fruit products in 1899 was $412,933. Among nuts the native pecan is exceptionally abundant, the product (637,470 ℔ in 1899) being much greater than that of any other state save Texas.
The total value of cereal products in 1899 was $14,491,796, including Indian corn valued at $10,327,723 and rice valued at $4,044,489; in 1907 it was more than $27,300,000, including Indian corn valued at $19,600,000, rice valued at $7,378,000 and oats valued at $223,000. Indian corn is grown only for home use. Dairying interests are not largely developed, and in Texas and the adjoining states the “Texas fever” and “charbon” have done great damage to cattle. Forage crops are little grown, though soil conditions are favourable. Cowpeas are a common fertilizer. Garden trucking is very slightly developed, but has been successful where it has been tried. The state maintains a crop pest commission, the duties of which include the inspection of all nursery stock sold in the state.
Manufactures.—The state’s manufacturing interests have during the last few decades grown greatly in importance. From 1890 to 1900 the capital invested, the cost of materials used and the value of output (in 1900, $121,181,683) increased respectively 225.4, 147.3 and 109.6%. The value of the factory products in 1900 was $111,397,919; in 1905 it was $186,379,592. Slightly above one-half of the product of 1900 was from New Orleans, and in 1905 about 45.4%. A constitutional amendment of 1902 exempted from parochial and municipal taxes between 1900 and 1910 practically all factories and mines in the state, employing at least five hands. Manufacturing industries are for the most part closely related to the products of the soil, about two-thirds of the value of all manufactures in 1900 and in 1905 being represented by sugar and molasses refining, lumber and timber products, cotton-seed oil and cake, and rice cleaned and polished.
Rice is milled at New Orleans, Crowley, Abbeville, Gayden, Jennings and Lake Charles. Ramie fibre and jute are available for coarse cloth; cotton weaving is almost non-existent. The lumber industry is centred chiefly in Calcasieu parish. Lake Charles, Westlake, Bogalusa, Bon Ami, Carson, Fisher, Fullerton, Leesville, Oakdale and Pickering were the leading sawmill towns of the state in 1908. Of the rarer woods particular mention may be made of curly pine, yielding a wood of beautiful figure and polish; magnolia, hard, close-grained, of fine polish and of great lasting qualities; and cypress, light, strong, easily worked and never-rotting. The timber cut of 1900 was officially stated as 1,214,387 M. ft. B.M., of which two-thirds were of yellow pine and most of the remainder of cypress. In some localities, especially in the “Florida parishes,” small quantities of rosin and turpentine are taken from the long-leaf pine, but this industry was unimportant in Louisiana before 1908. Sawdust, slabs, stumps and large quantities of logs are wasted. Other manufactures with a product value in 1905 of between $4,000,000 and $1,000,000 were: bags (not paper); foundry and machine-shop products; planing-mill products; railway cars, construction and repairs; malt liquors; men’s clothing; cooperage; food preparations; roasted and ground coffee and spice; fertilizers; cigars and cigarettes; cotton goods; and manufactured ice.
Communications.—The length of railway in the state was 1740 m. in 1890 and 4943.55 m. at the end of 1908. By the state constitution of 1898 and by amendments of 1902 and 1904 tax exemptions for ten years were granted to newly-built railroads completed before 1909. The principal roads are the Missouri Pacific (St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern, New Orleans & North-western and St Louis, Watkins & Gulf), the Southern Pacific (Morgan’s Louisiana & Texas Railroad & Steamship Co. and the Louisiana Western), the Texas & Pacific, the Kansas City Southern, the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific, the Louisiana Railway & Navigation Co., the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley, the Illinois Central, and the Louisiana & Arkansas. The Illinois Central, the first railway giving Louisiana connexion with the north, and of immense importance in the trade of New Orleans, has only about 100 m. of double track in the state. The problem of inland waterways has always been a most important one in northern, eastern and southern Louisiana, where there are systems of improved bayous, lakes and canals which, with the levees, make this region something like Holland, on a greater scale. Many bayous are convertible by improvement into excellent drainage and irrigation canals. The canal system is especially well developed in the parishes of the Mississippi delta, where, at the close of 1907, there were about 50 m. of these waterways of decided commercial importance. They serve the trade of Lake Pontchartrain and the Florida parishes, the lumber, coal, fish, oyster and truck trade of New Orleans, and to some extent are the highway of a miscellaneous coasting trade. The most important canal is probably the new Atchafalaya Bay canal (14 ft. deep), opened in 1907, connecting the Atchafalaya river and Morgan City with the Gulf of Mexico. In 1907 active preliminary work was begun on the Louisiana section of a great interstate inland waterway projected by the national government between the Mississippi and Rio Grande rivers, almost parallel to the Gulf Coast and running through the rice and truck-farm districts from the Teche to the Mermenton river (92 m.). The competition of the water lines is felt by all the railways, and the importance of water transportation is rapidly increasing. A state railroad commission, organized in 1899, has power to regulate railway, steamer, sleeping-car, express, telephone and telegraph rates within the state. Foreign commerce is almost wholly centred at New Orleans.
Population.—The population of the state increased in the ten decades from 1810 to 1910 successively by 100.4, 40.6, 63.4, 46.9, 36.7, 2.7, 29.3, 19.0, 23.5 and 19.9%. In 1910 it was 1,656,388 (36.5 per sq. m.). In 1900 47.1% was of negro
- The population was 76,556 in 1810; 153,407 in 1820; 215,739 in 1830; 352,411 in 1840; 517,762 in 1850; 708,002 in 1860; 726,915 in 1870; 939,946 in 1880; 1,118,588 in 1890; and 1,381,825 in 1900.