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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/791

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THE WHEAT PROBLEM AGAIN.

I do not give the data of the Eastern and Southern States, and I have selected only the most complete data of the other States, choosing the more conservative where two returns have been made from one State. .

The foregoing States produced a little over one third of the wheat crop of 1897. They comprise a little over one third the area of the land of the United States, excluding Alaska.

The list covers States like Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, now very fully occupied relatively to Texas, Montana, and Idaho, as yet but sparsely settled.

Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, and Washington combined far exceed the above list in wheat production; but, as I have no complete data from these States, I can only say that the national or census statistics, as far as they go, develop corresponding conditions to those above given. The very small product of Texas and Montana, even of Idaho, as compared with the claimed potential, will attract notice, and perhaps excite incredulity. But let it be remembered that in 1880 the Territory of Dakota yielded less than 3,000,000 bushels of wheat, while in 1898 the two States of North and South Dakota, formerly in one Territory, claim to have produced 100,000,000 bushels. Perhaps it will then be admitted that the potential of Montana, and even of Idaho, may be attained in some measure corresponding to the reports from those States; but as yet their product is a negligible quantity, as that of Dakota was only twenty years since.[1]


  1. I have been permitted to review the detailed statements of the accounts of one of the great enterprises which I have called the manufacture of wheat on a large scale on various large farms, separated one from another but under one control, aggregating more than twenty thousand acres, in North Dakota. They are managed mainly from a long distance through agents and foremen, therefore at a relative disadvantage compared to a farmer owning his own land, acting as his own foreman, and saving heavily in expense. Such farmers, making no charge for their own time, are computed to have a cash advantage of one dollar an acre.

    A large part of this land has been cropped in wheat for twenty-four years, one farm of six thousand acres showing an average in excess of eighteen bushels per acre for the term of seventeen years. The details of the product of other farms are not given, but this may be considered a rule. Of course, this cropping can not be carried on indefinitely. The land is now being allowed to rest, and other crops, such as maize, oats, barley, millet, and timothy, are to some extent being raised in rotation, but not to the extent in which individual wheat farms are now passing into rotation, especially in Minnesota.

    In this enterprise the manufacture of wheat is the main purpose, but under the changed conditions on the small farms in Minnesota wheat is becoming rather the cash or excess crop in a rotation of four; at present, in North Dakota, wheat constitutes about three fourths the total product.

    In these accounts of this great farm are included all charges of every name and nature except what might be called the rent of land: the labor, the harvesting and thrashing, the general expense including the foreman and all other charges; the office expenses, the taxes,