Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/792

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decreased nearly one fifth, yet the price of wheat fell in more than the same proportion. The supplies obtained from European countries fell off in quantity, and would, indeed, have fallen to nothing had it not been for Russia. With her black-earth region, rapidly settled by her own population, she was in nearly the same position as the United States, and responded for a time freely to the demands of the English market.

The economic movement thus fixed upon English wheat interests by adverse conditions proceeded rapidly in the ten years following 1880, and the great changes occurrerd not in England itself, but in the development of competition among outside growers of wheat for export. In 1880 and 1881 it seemed as if the United States held a practical monopoly of the British wheat market. In these years nearly two thirds of the total imports came from the United States, and British India was the only competitor in sight, but far behind America in importance. The quantities of wheat taken from our producers have never since been equaled, and still stand as the record years in this one line of exports. For the rest of the decade the movement fluctuated within wide limits, and it seemed at times as if the position of American wheat in England was seriously threatened. Russia showed a remarkable increase in an ability to export, while British India, its own population not being consumers of wheat, was thought to offer an almost unlimited field for wheat culture and commerce, limited, in fact, only by the difficulties of assuring certain water supply and ready means of transport. A new and not unfavored competitor gave signs of activity in Australasia, while before the year 1890 experts were speculating upon the possibilities of Argentina as a wheat country. Europe, outside of Russia, was practically out of the race; but that loss was more than made good by so many new countries coming forward with a promise of abundant and cheap production. The former table on acreage and price in England is here continued for the decade 1881 and 1890:

Year. Wheat acreage. Gazette price
per quarter.
Total imports. Imports from
Europe. Russia.
Acres. s. d. Cwt. Cwt. Cwt.
1881 2,805,809 45 4 57,147,933 5,680,921 4,046,849
1882 3,003,960 45 1 64,240,749 13,511,881 9,575,632
1883 2,613,162 41 7 64,138,631 18,523,701 13,346,762
1884 2,677,038 35 8 47,306,156 7,344,097 5,402,396
1885 2,478,318 32 10 61,498,864 15,778,873 11,975,644
1886 2,285,905 31 47,435,806 5,840,829 3,720,662
1887 2,317,324 32 6 55,802,518 7,796,303 5,501,380
1888 2,564,237 31 10 57,261,363 26,880,596 21,450,346
1889 2,449,354 29 9 58,551,887 28,649,886 21,320,304
1890 2,386,336 31 11 60,474,180 26,473,442 19,389,025