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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/159

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147
UNITED STATES' WHEAT-GROWING CAPACITY.

"To arrest this impending danger it has been proposed that an amount of 64,000,000 bushels of wheat should be purchased by the state and stored in national granaries, not to be opened except to remedy deterioration of grain, or in view of national disaster rendering starvation imminent. This 64,000,000 bushels would add another fourteen weeks' life to the population."

After dealing with the fact that while it might be possible for the United Kingdom to supply itself with its own wheat at an average of twenty-nine and a half bushels to the acre, he goes on to say that this would require thirteen thousand square miles of British territory, increasing at the rate of one hundred square miles per annum; but he says it would be clearly impossible to assign so large a proportion of the area of the United Kingdom to a single crop without suffering in other matters, adding:

"In any case, owing to our cold, damp climate and capricious weather, the wheat crop is hazardous, and for the present our annual deficit of 180,000,000 bushels must be imported. A permanently higher price for wheat is, I fear, a calamity that ere long must be faced."

I can imagine with what a relish the Royal Commission on the Depression of Agriculture would have received this prophecy of a permanently higher price for wheat. Sir William Crookes goes on to say:

"Wheat is the most sustaining food grain of the great Caucasian race, which includes the peoples of Europe, United States, British America, the white inhabitants of South Africa, Australasia, parts of South America, and the white population of the European colonies."

He then points out how rapidly the consumers of wheat have increased, yet failing to attribute this increase in part to the rapid reduction in the cost. He says:

"In 1871 the bread-eaters of the world numbered 371,000,000; in 1881, 416,000,000; in 1891, 472,600,000; and at the present time they number 516,500,000. The augmentation of the world's bread-eating population in a geometrical ratio is evidenced by the fact that the yearly aggregates grow progressively larger. . . . To supply 516,500,000 bread-eaters, if each bread-eating unit is to have his usual ration, will require a total of 2,324,000,000 bushels for seed and food. According to the best authorities, the total supplies from the 1897-'98 harvest are 1,921,000,000."

It will be observed that while the English average consumption is said to be six bushels, the average employed in this computation is four and a half bushels per head. He then remarks upon the large harvests for seven years, saying: