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A HISTORY OF THE EVOLUTION OF AGRICULTURE IN NEBRASKA, 1870-1930

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TITLE
THE HISTORY OF THE SVOLUTION OF AGRICULTURE
-----------------------------------------j-------------o
_______ I IT IIEBRASKA. 1370-1950_________
BY
Verne S. Sweedlun
APPROVED
DATE
••
d. .T. .wkiAkslJJL
S U PERVISO RY C O M M IT T E E
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
«•
COPYRIGHTED
BY
VERNE £. SWEEDLUN
1942
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
A HISTORY OP THE EVOLUTION OF AGRICULTURE
IN NEBRASKA, a.870-1930
"by
Verne S V Sweedlun
A THESIS
Presented to the Faculty of
the Graduate College in the University of Nebraska
in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Department of History
Lincoln, Nebraska
A u g u s t , 1940
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
PREFACE
The purpose of this study is to trace the main trends
in the evolution of agriculture in Nebraska from a pioneer
condition in 1870 to the rather highly complex enterprise
it had become by 1950.
There is an abundance of material for this study.
main problem was that of selection.
The
A complete history of
agriculture in Nebraska would require several volumes.
The
primary trend of development followed was that of crop and
livestock production.
Emphasis was placed upon the Influence
of economic factors in shaping this trend.
As a consequence
of this procedure political and social aspects are only
incidentally mentioned.
The author is cognizant of the
significance of these other aspects, but the necessity of
limiting the scope of the study precluded an extensive
examination of them.
Material was gathered from the annual reports of the
State Board of Agriculture and affiliated organizations.
In
addition the publications of the College of Agriculture,
University of Nebraska, and of the United States Department
of Agriculture furnished abundant data.
Extended use was
made of thesis manuscripts of the departments of history and
rural economics of the University of Nebraska..
For various reasons this study is limited to the period
1870-1950.
1870.
Settlement of the state had only well begun by
Also, at that time the realization that agriculture
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
was to be the predominant industry of Nebraska became evident
-to those who lived in the state.
The year 1930 was chosen as
the terminating date because when the study was begun some
necessary data were not available for the more recent years*
Census reports for 1930-1940 have not been published,
and
Important governmental policies undertaken in this decade
are only in mid-prcDcess.
The government’s recent program
of farm relief and its regulation of production have only
begun and still are in the experimental stage.
As the
Influence of recent movements on the general trends of
agricultural development is difficult to determine,
the
year 1930 appeared as the logical terminating date for this
study.
The author gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to
Dr. James L. Sellers of the University of Nebraska for the
suggestion of the topic and for the counsel and guidance
that were patiently given throughout the whole course of
the work.
He is further grateful to Dr. H. Clyde Filley of
the University of Nebraska for valuable advice and suggestions
in selecting material.
The a uthor’s thanks are due also to
Professor Lawrence G. Nelson of Luther College and Mr* F. L.
Christensen who assisted very ma.terially in reading the
manuscript.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part I. Foundations
Chapter I. Physical Foundations
Location and boundaries of Nebraska
1
Size of Nebraska
1
Altitude
2
Topographical feature
Soil regions
2— 5
5-10
Early impressions of climatic conditions
10-11
Efforts to counteract the early impressions
11-13
Temperature of Nebraska
13-14
Rainfall of Nebraska
14-18
Agricultural areas of the state
18-20
Chapter II. Settlement
Few settlements before 1854
21
Rapid growth of population, 1870-1890
22
Homestead Act, 1862
22-23
Pre-emption Act, 1841
23-24
Three-year Homestead Act, 1912
24
Timber Culture Act, 1873
24
Kincaid Act, 1904
25
Claims filed under the homestead act
25
Railroad construction in Nebraska
26
Aid for railroad construction
27
Railroads advertise Nebraska
27-30
State and private agencies advertise Nebraska
30-31
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-11-
Discovery of the western range
Summary of Influences for settlement
Rapid settlement, 1870-1890
31
31— 32
32
Settlement retarded, late 80* and early 90*s
32-34
Shift of population, 1900-1930
34-36
Where settlers came from, 1870-1900
36-38
Settlements of foreign nationalities
38-40
Chapter III, Early Farming
First settlers not interested in farming
41
Life of early settlers comparatively easy
42
Occupations and industries of first settlers
43
The first farm products
44
Recurring drouths
44-45
Grasshopper plagues
45-46
Prairie fires
Disadvantages of distance
The Indian menace
Lack of money
46
46-47
47
47-48
Securing necessities of life
48
Capital required for pioneer farming
48
Use of credit by early farmers
49
Isolation of farm life
49-50
Lack of trees and adequate water supply
50
Increase in number of farms, 1860-1870
51
Corn, the first crop
51
Governor Cuming's recommendations
52-53
Governor Saunder's recommendations
53-54
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-iii-
54
Board of Agriculture established, 1858
First report of the Board of Agriculture
54-55
Robert W. Furnas, first president of Board
of Agriculture
55-57
57
Early state fairs
57-58
Encouragement given to tree culture
State Horticultural Society organized
58
Interest in fruit tree culture
58-59
Attempt to liberalize Timber Culture Act
60-61
Inception of Arbor Day
61-62
Establishment of college of agriculture
62-63
Foundations for farming laid by 1870
63-64
Part II.
ter IV.
Expansion, 1870-1900
Interpretation of the Evolution of Agriculture
in Nebraska
Two general characteristics manifested
65
Division of periods at 1900 arbitrary
65
Land utilization before and after 1900
65-66
Period of transition, 1895-1905
66
Purpose of the chapter
66
Expansion of agriculture, 1870-1900
66-68
Utilization of land chief concern
68
Stat ement of Dr. Charles Bessey, State Botanist
68
"Hard-times," later 80's and 9 0 ‘s
69-71
11Hard-times" not an unralxed evil
71-75
Changes in farming necessary after 1900
75-77
Agricultural education begun
77
/
/
/
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-iv-
Experiment station established, 1887
Adams Act, 1906
77— 79
79
Farmers' Institutes begun, 1889
79-81
Agriculture taught in public schools
81-82
Geological surveys begun, 1898
82-83
Change in general character of farming by 1900
83-84
Gradual change in farming after 1900
85-86
Chapter V.
Corn— The Principal Crop
Corn compared with other crops, 1870-1900
87
Corn raised before early settlers came
87
Early methods of corn culture
88
Yield per acre of corn
88-90
Westward movement of corn
90-92
Nebraska a part of the
Corn-Belt
Incoming settlers came
from corn producing states
92
92-93
Climate and soil suitable for corn production
93-94
Increased production of corn in United States
94-95
Increase of acreage of
corn in Nebraska
Corn fed to livestock
95
96-97
/
Corn production during the 9 0 1s
97-98
Price of corn
98-99
Purchasing power of corn
Reasons for expansion of corn acreage
Chapter VI.
99
100-102
Wheat— The Unadjusted Crop
Wheat the important cash crop
103
A frontier crop in America
103
Early cultivation of wheat in Nebraska
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
103-104
-V-
Idea that wheat could not he grown In Nebraska
104
Encouragement given to grow wheat.
104
Early wheat raising confined to eastern Nebraska
105
Place of Nebraska in westward movement of wheat
production
105-10?
Yield of wheat in Nebraska
107-108
Acreage trends of wheat, 1870-1900
108-109
Price and purchasing power of wheat
109-113
Type of wheat planted not adapted to
environmental conditions
113-13.4
Spring wheat, the predominant type grown
114
Transition to winter wheat
114-115
Selection of adaptable winter wheat varieties
Dr. George L. Miller credited for adoption
of winter wheat in Nebraska
*
116
117-118
Summary of reasons for adopting- winter wheat
119
Wheat fills need for diversification of
119
crops
Rapid change from spring to winter wheat
Chapter VII.
120-121
Other Crops
Oat production in the United States
122
Increase of oat acreage in Nebraska
122-123
Importance of oats in the farming system
123
Oats not a market crop
124
,
Price trends of oats
Purchasing power of oats
124-125
125
Introduction of new varieties of oats
125-126
Comparison of acreage and production of
corn, oats, and wheat, 1870-1900
126-127
Nebraska as a barley producing state
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
127
-vi-
Aoreage of barley in Nebraska
Unpopularity of barley
Price and purchasing power of barley
127-128
128
128-129
Nebraska's rank as a rye producing state
129
Acreage trends of rye
129
Price of rye
129-130
Luxuriant growth of native grasses
130
Warnings against plowing under native grasses
130
Recommendations for planting tame grasses
131-132
Principal tame grass crops produced
132
Acreage and production trends of tame grasses
132
Price trends of tame hay
132-133
Importance of native grasses to early farming
133-135
Acreage and production of forage crops
Potato production
135
135-136
Chicory
137
Flax
137
Buckwheat and broom corn
137
Sorghum and tobacco
138
Importance of minor crops, 1870-1900
138
Chapter VIII.
Livestock
Place of livestock in early farming
Herd Law, 1870
140
140-141
Inferior quality of livestock in early days
141
Livestock industry, 1870-1880
141
Interrelation of corn growing and the livestock
industry
142
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-vii-
Transportation of meat under refrigeration
began 1868
142
Processing plants established
143
Increase in numbers of hogs, 1870-1900
143-144
Price of hogs
144-145
Purchasing power of hogs
145-146
Cattle industry in eastern part of the state
146
Range cattle industry in Nebraska
147-155
Reasons for the decline of the range cattle
industry
155-161
New type of cattle Industry on the range
after 1890
161-162
Cattle feeding in eastern Nebraska
162— 163
Improvement in livestock
163-165
Trend of beef ca.ttle production, 1870-1900
165
Importance of the cattle industry
165-166
Change in the cattle Industry Imminent by 1900
166-167
Dairying unpopular among farmers during
expansion of agriculture
167-168
Dairying encouraged
168-169
Sheep raising and feeding
169-171
Number of oxen in Nebraska, 1870-1900
171-172
Increased use of horses and mules
172-173
Price trend of horses
173
Larger draft animals demanded
173-174
Few pure-bred horses in Nebraska
174-175
Summary of livestock, 1870-1900
175-176
>
Part III.
Chapter IX.
Readjustment, 1900-1930
Prosperous Agriculture, 1900-1914
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-vliiA period of prosperous agriculture
177
Prices and purchasing power of agricultural
products
177
Exports of agricultural products
178- ■179
Increase in value of farm property
179- •181
Beginning of scientific farming
181- *182
Influences promoting scientific farming
182- *183
Malntaining soil fertility
183- *187
187
Declining yields of crops
Methods of increasing yields
187- -191
Development of western Nebraska
192* -194
A period of transition in the Sandhills
region
194-195
Expansion of land utilization
195-196
Acreage and production of corn
196-197
Price of corn
197-198
Introduction of the silo in Nebraska
198
Increase in acreage and production of wheat
199-200
Nebraska's surplus wheat, 1910-1914
200-201
Crop readjustment in northeastern Nebraska
201
Oat production
201-202
Barley production
202-203
Rye acreage, production,
and price
203
Potatoes not a general market crop
203-204
Possibilities of commercial production
of potatoes
~
204-205
Early history of alfalfa
205
/
Rapid growth of alfalfa production
Importance of alfalfa
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
206-207
207
-ix-
The hay industry
208-209
Increase In hog production
209-210
Exports of pork and pork products
210-211
Hog raising a commercial enterprise
211-212
Prevention of hog cholera
212
Increase'in cattle production to 1910
212-213
Better feeding methods for cattle
213-214
Relation of cattle feeding and soil fertility
214
Price of cattle, 1900-1910
214-215
Decline in cattle production after 1909
215-218
Change in the sheep industry from the
preceding period
218-2.19
Increase In number of milk cows
219-220
Encouragement given to dairy business
220
Federal tax on oleomargarine
220
General use of hand cream separator and
Babcock tester
220-221
Dairying not popular with farmers
221-222
The centralized creamery
Promotion of dairying
Increase in number of horses and mules
222
222-223
224
Improvement in quality of livestock
225-228
Summary of chapter
228-231
Agriculture feels effects of the
European war
Chapter X.
231
Agriculture and War, 1915-1920
A period of inflation
High prices and favorable purchasing power
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
232
232-234
-X-
Increase In value of all farm property
234-235
Rapid rise in land values
235-236
Increased production, the over-shadowing
matter of the period
236-237
Conservation and Public Welfare Commission
237-238
The extension service
238-239
Work of the county agents
239-240
Extension service helps to increase production
240
Aid received by Nebraska under Smith-Lever Act
240-241
Exports of agricultural products
241-242
Improvements of preceding period aid in
increasing production
242-245
Development of western Nebraska
245
Soil surveys aid in determining productive
agricultural areas of western Nebraska
245-247
Increase in cultivated acreage in west
and northwest
247-248
Nebraska farmers receive liberal credit
248-249
Increase in crop and livestock production
249-251
Seventy-five per cent of wheat acreage
abandoned in 1917
251-252
Trends In acreage and production of crops
252-253
Wheat production during war years
253-257
Early history of the sugar* beet industry
257-263
Beet raising becomes localized
263-264
Influence of irrigation In development of
sugar beet Industry
‘
264
Development of North Platte Valley as a
sugar beet producing area
264-265
Reasons for slow growth of sugar beet
industry
265-266
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-xl-
Sugar beet production during war years
266
Price of beets determined before planting
267
Sugar beet industry aids in developing
some western counties
Livestock production during war years
267-268
268
Hogs not fed on a ls.rge scale
268-269
Sources of supply for feeder cattle
269-270
Number of beef cattle
270-271
271
Price of cattle
Number of cattle marketed
271-272
Improvement in quality of cattle
272-273
The sheep industry
273-274
Development of dairying
274-275
Improvement in dairy herds
275-277
Milking machine introduced
277-278
Manufacture of creamery butter
278
Decrease in number of horses and mules
Deflation of 1920
278-279
279
Adverse conditions for the farmer, 1920
279-281
Increased farm indebtedness
281-282
Decline of farm exports
282-283
Beginning of farm depression
283
Summary of chapter
Chapter XI.
283-286
Depression Agriculture, 1921-1930
Decllnlmig prices and purchasing power,
1920 ahd 1921
Some reuv-ary by 1924
1
Agricultural depression actually began 1920
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
287
287
287-288
-xilDepression of the 1 9 2 0 ’s considered severe
288
Prices of commodities the farmer purchased
remained high
289-292
Low purchasing power of farm products
292-293
Farmer's taxes relatively high
293-296
High cost of labor
296-298
Slight decrease in freight rates
298-300
Over-production and surplus of farm products
300-301
Exports of farm products, 1921-1930
301-305
Nebraska farmers advocate remedial
legislation for agriculture
305-306
Farmers unable to adjust their enterprise
quickly to changing conditions
306-308
Low income of Nebraska farmers
308-309
Decrease in value of all farm property
309-310
Decrease in valve of land
310-311
Restricted credit facilities
311-312
Heavy indebtedness of farmers
312-313
Expansion of farming during the depression
313
Changes in acreage trends
313-314
Increase in corn acreage
314-316
Trend in wheat acreage
316-319
Oat production
The hay crop
{
319
320-321
Rye used as a pasture crop
321-322
Development of the sugar beet Industry
322-325
Increased feeding of livestock
325-326
Large numbers of hogs raised and fed
326-328
Production of hogs moves in cycles
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
328
-xiii-
Slurap in cattle Industry until 1927
328-330
Cycle of beef cattle production
330-331
Number of sheep doubled, 1922-1930
Reasons for increased numbers of sheep
Sharp decrease in number of horses and mules
331
331-333
333
Interest in pure-bred livestock
333-334
Summary of chapter
334-337
Chapter XII,
Depression Agriculture, 1921-1930
(continued)
Minor developments of agriculture, 1921-1930
338-339
Increase in barley production
339-340
Reasons for increase in barley production
340-342
Increase in sweet clover acreage
342-343
Uses of sweet clover
343-344
Increased use of sweet clover causes
decrease in alfalfa acreage
344-345
Potato raising becomes a specialized
industry
~
345
Regions of commercial potato production
346-347
Improvements in potato culture
347-348
Shipments of commercial potatoes
348
Potatoes in crop rotation
348-349
Certified seed potato industry
349-351
Review of dairy development before 1920
351-353
Depressed economic conditions help
dairy development
353
The price factor in growth of dairying
354-355
Per capita consumption of dairy products
355-357
Nebraska Dairy Development Society
357-358
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-xlv-
Dairy herd improvement associations
358-359
Increased production of milk per cow
359-361
Better care and feeding of dairy herds
Dairy calf clubs
Manufactured dairy products
361
362-363
363
Improved farming methods
363-364
Crop rotation systems
364-365
Diversification of farming
365-366
Adaptation of crops
366-367
Adaptation and improvement of varieties
of wheat
367-369
Improved varieties of oats
369
Breeding and selection of improved varieties
of corn
369-370
Increased efficiency in animal husbandry
370-371
Summary of chapter
371-374
Chapter XIII.
Farm Machinery
Civil War an impetus to invention of farm
machinery
375
Early plows
375-376
Sulky plow introduced in Nebraska
376-377
Gang plow in general use after 1900
377
Early and later harrows
377-378
Broadcast seeders
378-379
Press drills
379-380
Corn planters
380-381
Corn cultivators
Early reapers
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381
381-382
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The Marsh harvester
Wire self-binders
382-383
383
Twine self-binders
383-384
Early corn harvesters
384-385
The corn binder
385
Early threshers
385-388
Steam power applied to threshers
Cost of threshing Nebraska grain, 1897
Improved farm machinery influences
expansion of agriculture
388
388-389
389
Changes in farm machinery after 1900
390-391
Improvement of binders
391-392
Changes in threshing machinery
392-393
Increased use of the combine
393
Improved corn machinery
393-394
The tractor revolutionized farming
394-395
Increased use of power farming
395-396
Number of tractors in Nebraska
396-397
Power machinery aids in developing
specialized wheat area
397-398
Demand for the all-purpose tractor
398-399
Tractors replace horses
399-400
Decreased number of horses has affected
use of feed crops
401-402
Tractors effect economy of labor
402-405
Power machinery has Increased size of farms
405-406
Costs of power farming
406-409
Increase in number of automobiles
409-410
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/
-xvi-
The farm truck
410-413
Effects on farm operations of use of
sutomobiles and trucks
411-413
Investment In farm machinery in
Nebraska, 1860-1930
413-417
Results of increased use of improved
machinery
417-480
Chapter XIV.
Appendix
Summary
421-445
i-xxix
Bibliography
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
LIST OF MAPS
Page
Number
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
Topographic regions of Nebraska
3
General soil areas of Nebraska
9
Annual mean rainfall of Nebraska
15
Physiographic and agricultural regions of
Nebraska.
17
Types of farming area map of Nebraska
19
Distribution of population in Nebraska, 1870-189C i 33
LIST OF TABLES
Number
Page
1
Acreage and production of flax, buckwheat,
broom corn, sorghum, tobacco, a n d chicory,
by decades, 1869-1899.
138
2
Exports of selected agricultural products
and total value of agricultural products,
excluding forest products, for 1900, 1902,
1905, 1908, 1911, 1914.
178
3
Exports of selected agricultural products
and total value of agricultural products, ex­
cluding forest products, 1915-1920.
241
4
Increase of cultivated land in the west and
the northwest crop reporting districts, 19161920.
247
5
Number of acres harvested of five principal
cereals, potatoes, and tame hay; and number
of animals, showing 1910-1914 average and for
years 1915-1920.
250
6
Comparison of index numbers of Nebraska farm
prices with wholesale price relatives of
selected commodities Nebraska farmers pur­
chased, 1921-1930.
(1910-1914— 100)
289
7
Exports of corn, wheat, pork, beef, and total
302
value of agricultural products, excluding forest
products, b y years, 1921-1930.
Also average
annual exports 1915-1920 and 1921-1930.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Page
Number
8
9
Farm values of dairy cows in the United States
and price relatives; local prices paid producers
for butter and butterfat in Nebraska sn d price
relatives; and purchasing power of butter and
butterfat, 1921-1930.
Price relatives on 1910-1914
base.
Value and per cent of increase or decrease of
machinery in Nebraska and in a corn-growing
district and a wheat growing district, 1860-1930*
354
414
LIST OF TABLES IN APPENDIX
Number
Page
1
Corn. Acreage, production, yield, and price,
by years, 1870-1930.
i-ii
2
Wheat.
Acreage, production, yield, and price,
by years, 1870-1930.
iv-v
3
Acreage of winter and spring wheat and per cent
of total wheat acreage of winter wheat and
spring wheat, by years, 1891-1930.
4
Oats.
Acreage, production, yield, and price,
by years, 1870-1930.
5
Rye.
Acreage, production, yield, and price,
by years, 1870-1930.
6
Barley. Acreage, production, yield, and price,
by years, 1870-1930.
xiv-xv
7
Alfalfa.
Acreage, production, yield, and price,
b y years, 1905-1930.
xvil
8
Sugar Beets.
Acreage, production, yield and
price, by years, 1910-1930.
9
Hogs and cattle.
Number and average price per
head, by years, 1870-1930.
10
Index numbers of wholesale prices for all
commodities, based on variable grouo weights,
by years, 1870-1930.
(1910-1914— 100)
11
Nebraska farm price, price relatives, and
purchasing power of corn, wheat, and oats,
by years, 1870-1930.
(1910-1914— 100)
Computation of price relative and purchasing
power.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
vi
viii-ix
x-xi
xix
xx-xxi
xxiv
xxv-xxvl
xxvi
Page
Number
12
Nebraska farm price, price relatives, and
xxvii-xxviii
purchasing power of barley, hogs, and cattle,
by years, 1870-1930.
(1910-1914— 100)
LIST OF FIGURES IN APPENDIX
Number
Page
Hi.
1
Five-year annual average of acreage, produc—
tion, yield, and price of corn, 1870-1930.
2
Five-year annual average of acreage, production, yield, and price of wheat, 1870-1930.
3
Five-year annual average of acreage, production, and yield of winter and soring wheat,
1895-1930.
vH
4
Five-year annual average of acreage, production, yield, and price of oats, 1870-1930.
x ^*
5
Five-year annual average of acreage, production, yield, and price of rye, 1870-1930.
x *i
6
Comparison of five-year annual average of
acreage and production of corn, wheat, and
oats, 1870-1930.
7
Five-year annual average of acreage, production, yield, and price of barley, 1870-1930.
xv*
8
Five-year annual average of acreage, production, yield, and price of tame hay, 1870-1930.
x v ^-
9
Five-year annual average of acreage, production, yield, and price of potatoes, 1870-1930.
xvlii
10
Five-year annual average of acres.ge, production, yield, and price of alfalfa, 1905-1930.
xvlii
11
Five-year annual average number and price of
hogs, cattle, and sheep, 1870-1930.
12
Five-year annual average number
horses and mules, 1870-1930.
and price of
xxiii
13
Five-year annual average number
milk cows, 1870-1930.
and price of
xxiii
14
Number of automobiles, gas engines, tractors,
and trucks on farms; and number of horses and
mules in Nebraska, by years, 1920-1930.
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xiii
xxii
xxix
PART I
FOUNDATIONS
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CHAPTER I
PHYSICAL FOUNDATIONS
The location,
climate, and soil of Nebraska furnish the
physical foundations for Nebraska agriculture.
Nebraska is
the borderland connecting the fertile valley of the Missouri
and the semi-arid eastern watershed of the Rocky Mountains.
The present state of Nebraska was formed out of part of
that territory which was organized b y the Kansas-Nebraska
Bill of 1854.
The parallel of 40° latitude forms the south­
ern boundary.
The Missouri, Niobrara and the Keya Paha
rivers form the northern boundary as far west as range 20
west of the sixtli principal meridian.
West of this point
o
parallel 43 forms the northern boundary.
The east boundary
is the Missouri river, whose direction here is southeast.
This brings the southeast corner of the state to the 95° 25'
meridian.
The 104th meridian marks the western boundary
down to, latitude 41°.
Below this point a line a few miles
west of the 102° meridian constitutes the western boundary
of the state.
Were it not for this notch the state in shape
would approximate a parallelogram.
The extreme width of the state north to south is 208
miles, and length, east to west, about 413 miles.
is approximately 75,000 square miles.
The area
Nebraska, in area, is
/
more than 12,000 square miles larger than the state of Iowa.
The general slope of the state is to the east and south­
east,
the elevation decreasing at the rate of about 10 feet
per mile.
All the rivers eventually send their waters to
the Missouri.
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The altitude ranges from 840 feet In the south east to
5340 feet near the western border.^"
has its effects upon agriculture.
This range in elevation
There is a difference in
the growing seasons in the sections of the state.
In eastern
Nebraska the months from May to October are almost always
free from killing frost.
season is shorter.
In western Nebraska the growing
In eastern Nebraska the climate is adapt­
ed to diversified farming.
Corn is a minor crop in the wes t ­
ern part of the state, where level land is sown to wheat,
making it
very,
much a one-crop country.
Other small grains
as barley, oats and rye are grown to a limited extent.
The surface of the state Is for the most part rolling,
though considerable areas are flat, and in various sections
it Is not unusual to find large tracts w h ich are made up of
sand hills a n d rugged areas to the extent of being nearly
worthless for cerealis or other tilled crops.
Valleys, table lands and rolling prairies constitute
the chief features of the surface of the state.
no hills, mountains,
There, are
p
laJces or swamps of any great size.
The main valleys are the Pls.tte, Republican, Elkhorn,
The Loups, Niobrara, The Blues and the Nemahas.
Elevated
above the bottoms are the table lands, which lie in plateaus
varying in width from one— half to one and one— half miles.
E. Condra, "The Soil Resources of Nebraska," in
The Nebraska Conservation and Soil Survey, Bulletin 15,
11920), 1.
^Map 1 shows the principal topographic regions of the
state.
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t o p o g r a p h ic
REGIONS OF
NEBRASKA
■ ■ M -— T h e T o p o g ra p h ic R eg io n s o f N e b rs a k a : 1, P ie r r e P la in s ; 2, P in e R id g e ; 3, Box B u tte T a b le la n d ; 4,
W ild C a t R id g e ; 5, C heyenne T a b le la n d ; 6, P e rk in s T a b le la n d ; 7 1 to 7"’, S a n d h ill R egion a n d o u tlie rs of
w h ich 7 2 is th e P r a ir ie P la in s a r e a ; 8, N o rth e rn T a b le la n d s in w h ic h 81 is th e B oyd P la in developed on Pierre
S h a le ; 9 1, 9-, a n d 9:i, L oess H ill R e g io n ; 10, L oess P la in R e g io n ; 11, R e p u b lic an V alley R eg io n ; 12, D r if t H ill
R eg io n ; 13, P la tte V alley L o w la n d s; 14, M isso u ri R iv e r L o w lan d s.
These rise in r succession of ^radaDions, until the up­
land is reached.
The as stern, half of the state largely con-
sists of tnes.e upland, rollir.y .pl-ins.
-
roll 1 ny Lend is yradually succeeded "by lo'”, yently
undulating prairies.
are
hr. one c>oes nest the
in the western part of the state there
rue tracts of no note nor. sly level orr.irier.
To b e"
carrs-'t ccnorvtion of i.ehrashr; one rnurt cross
the valleys at rit.ht ;n_le-, which, generally -;.e-hin .;,
vvoula oe from south to north.
ally uoruer ti e v l i e y s
II ~ no s t roll ins land: gener­
or bottoms.
The rolliny t.no conetirr.es
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.h i
-4broken character gradually disappears when the divide Is
reached which separates the last from the next drainage
y>
system.
Here the land swells out Into a gently undulating
plain that varies extremely in extent— from one-half mile
to thirty or more miles.
These swells of undulating lands
are found on the divides between nearly all the rivers of
the state.
Some of these high uplands have great numbers
of shallow basin-shaped depressions whose soil and grasses
closely resemble those of the bottom lands.
There are some exceptional features of Nebraska topogra­
phy.
The Niobrara River valley for the first 90 miles from
its mouth shows no marked differences from other Nebraska
rivers.
After this point is reached it changes rapidly and
the river plows through steep bluffs and high canyons for
180 miles.
The tributaries are short and the larger ones,
as the Keya Paha and the Snake, run parallel with it.
South of the Niobrara and its canyons,
about longitude 100° are the Sand Hills.
and commencing
These vary in
height from a few yards to several hundred feet.
In going
southward from the Niobrara, after wandering among the Sand
Hills for 10 or 15 miles, they are often found to cease
suddenly, and grass covered prairie or farm land take their
place.
There are also extensive sand hills at the head of
the Loups.
Between these sections there is generally a
gently rolling prairie with occasional sandhills dotted
over it.
.There are also Sand Hills wouth of the Platte In
Lincoln County, and on the upper Republican in Chase and
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-5Dundy Counties,
These are several miles in width.
The Bad Lands run into northwestern Nebraska but cover
a limited area mainly beyond the White River.
cut up into deep canyons and ravines.
This area is
In several parts of
the area there is not a particle of vegetation.
Along the Missouri River,
especially toward the northern
border of the state, there are steep bluffs.
are very rough.
They can, however,
In places these
for the most part, be
cultivated.
On the basis of soil Nebraska has three distinct regions
or provinces— The Loess, Sandhill and High Plains.
Each
region has its subdivisions.
The Loess region occupies a little more than the south­
eastern half of the state and is a highly developed agricul­
tural region.
As indicated on Map No. II there are several
subdivisions of this region:
(1) The Loess plains area contains 14,000 square miles.
is stone free and easy to till.
wheat, corn, alfalfa and oats.
It
The main crops raised are
Corn is more uncertain and
yields less than in the Loess hill and drift hill areas.
\
Pastures have a tendency to become dry In midsummer.
Winter
wheat is important as a cash crop, almost equalling corn In
total average for the entire region.
The number of cattle
and hogs is only one-half of that in other Loess areas.
(2) The Loess Hill areas contain 11,900 square miles.
These
areas occupy the northeastern counties of the state and a
/
narrow strip just west of the bluff belt of t h e Missouri
river.
Corn, alfalfa, oats and wheat are successfully
3 Condra, o£. c i t ., 2-3.
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-6cultlvated here.
tle and hogs.
This area produces a large number of cat­
Some hills In the eastern and northeastern
counties are cupped with loess In their upper parts but drift
Is exposed in part or all of their slopes.
(3) Drift Hill areas are in the southeastern counties.
E ro­
sion has removed nearly all of the loess and dissected the
underlying drift, forming hills over an area of about 7000
square miles.
tivation.
Muc h of this area is in a high state of cul­
Corn, wheat, oats and alfalfa are the main crops.
The corn yield is a little lower than in the Loess Hill area
and a little less certain.
Apple orchards also flourish in
this region.
(4) The Bluff Lands border the Missouri, Platte, Republican,
and other valleys but grade into the hilly and smooth uplands
without a distinct line of division.
The approximate area in
the Loess Region is about 1000 square miles.
high lime content and alfalfa does well*
The soil has a
Grass, trees and
fruits are raised.
(5) The Canyon area combined is about 1500 square miles.
These areas occur in the western part and along the western
border of the Loess Region.
grazing.
Mu c h of the land is used for
Some of the small flat divides are farmed to such
crops as wheat, rye, corn, kafir, cane and oats.
(6) The Terrace areas are sometimes called benches and are a
feature of the valleys in the Loess Region.
remnants of the old flood plains.
2150 square miles.
most places.
They constitute
The total area is about
They occur in two or three levels at
They are well suited to grain farming and
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-7-
especially well adapted to alfalfa raising*
(7) The Bottom or Alluvial Lands are well defined in all
river valleys and in most creek valleys of the Loess Region*
The area in all is about 3750 square miles*
Most of the
alluvial soils are productive but in many instances require
drainage.
(8) Wind-Formed areas occur at places along the western b o r ­
der of the Loess Region and at a few places on the Loess
plain proper*
They'are represented by choppy hills resem­
bling dunes and occupy about 900 square miles.
In a general
way the larger wind-formed areas form a border land between
the loess and sand hill regions.
The land is used for graz­
ing, production of native hay, and for farming to corn and
rye.4
The Sandhill R e gion is the best defined topographic
and soil region in Nebraska.
It is very unlike the Loess
Region to the east and the High Plains on the west.
The main body of the sandhills is in the north-central
and central-western parts of the state.
There are several
outlying areas, making in all about 20,000 square miles
occupied b y hills, basins, valleys, marshes and lakes.
soils are quite sandy.
The
There are hard table land and
sandy prairie plainst in the region*
There are three kinds of soil in the region:
(1) Dunesand is the typical soil of the sandhills*
It occupies
4The descriptions of the subdivisions of the Loess
Regions have bee n taken generally from G-. E. Condra, “Soil
Resources of Nebraska," o£. c l t . , 4-16.
!
i
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-8about 2/3 of the Sandhill area and is characterized by its
mobility, low humus content, and uniform fine sandy texture*
It is used nearly wholly for grazing.
(2) Dry Valley Soils occur on the basins and dry valleys.
They are more stable than the dunesands.
In some places
these soils are farmed but blow badly if not properly m an­
aged.
(3) Wet Valley Soils are on the poorly drained valleys.
They
contain small amounts, of clay and some humus mixed with finer
grades of sand.
These Include the hay meadows of the region
and when drained are well adapted to cabbage,
other crops.
celery, and
The wet land grades into marshy areas, w h i c h
occur mostly on the seepage side of lakes#
The areas of lakes
and marshes increase and decrease, because of seasonal changes
and wet and dry periods of years.
The grasses for grazing
and hay, and the presence of water supplies, make the sand­
hills a cattle raising country.^
The High Plains Region is the most diverse part of Ne­
braska and occupies a little more than 15,000 square miles
of table land, rough brokfen areas and valleys.
distinctive feature is the high plains.
The most
The rainfall is
4
less than in the Doess Region and the growing season is
shorter.
There are some smooth uplands which are used for
farming and grazing.
Some of the valley land is irrigated.
There are natural divisions of the High Plains Region but
5Ibid. , 10-12.
Ibid., 12-13.
For descriptions of the largest natural
divisions of the High Plains area see Ibid., 13-22.
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ill
MOUNTAINOUS AACAS QT
HIGH PLAINS
BOTTOM LANDS AND
BCNCHCS
LOCSS MLLS
General soil areas of Nebraska as based on the origin o f the soil a n d topography of the land (from University of Nebraska Agricultural
Extension Service Circular 133).
-10-
on the whole,
the characteristics of lack of rainfall, con­
siderable rough country, and a short growing season are
factors w i t h which farmers must contend in this region.^
Before Nebraska was organized as a territory an impression
existed that the region which comprises the present state, as
well as a large part of the Great Plains area, was unfit for
cultivation.
An exploring party under Major Long was sent
out in 1819 by Secretary of War J o h n C. Calhoun, and reported
that the territory between the meridian at the mouth of the
Platte River and the Rocky mountains was almost entirely
unsulted for cultivation, and therefore uninhabitable by a
people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence.®
Under Lieutenant Warren a topographical survey was made
of the region in 1857 and according to the report "Agricultural
settlements have now nearly reached their western limits on
our great plains; the tracts beyond must ever be occupied by
a pastoral people, whether savage or civilized”9
That
Nebraska and Kansas will be the shores at w h i c h will terminate
a vast ocean-desert nearly 1000 miles in breadth, is the view
of a writer in 1858.^°
In order to capitalize on this impression efforts were
For general soil areas see Map II.
Council Journal of the Legislative Assembly, Nebraska
Territory, 6th. session, Tg59'JT8£6, 9.
®A. G. Hawes, "The Missouri Valley and the Great Plains,"
in the North American R e v i e w . Vol. 87, 72.
10I b i d . , 75.
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-11made b y parties Interested In sheep and cattle herding on
the free and open ranges to Induce Congress to withhold the
greater part of the lands west of the 100th meridian— embrac­
ing nearly one-half of the state— from entry under the pre­
emption, homestead, and timber culture acts;
and to set them
apart forever as open pastures for the encouragement of pastoral pursuits. l1
'
0
H
The United States Public Land Commissioners,
sent by
Congress in 1879 to examine and classify the unoccupied govern­
ment lands west of the 100th meridian,
in their preliminary
report represented these lands as desert, non-farming, pastur­
age, and such lands as can never be used for farming purposes;
and recommended that laws be enacted withdrawing from entry
all lands west of the 100th meridian, and enabling parties to
lease these lands in large tracts,
such as townships,
for herd-
4
ing
purposes. 12
It was only natural for those who wanted to see Nebraska
settled and developed as an agricultural state to attempt to
counteract the impression that the territory was not fit for
settlement and cultivation.
In his message to the territorial
legislature In 1859 Governor Black pointed out that even
though lecturers, statesmen, and historians have accepted the
■^Robert P. Porter, et a l . , The West, Prom the Census
of 1 8 8 0 , (Chicago, 1882), 357.
—
12Transactions of the State Board of Agriculture,
Sept. 1876-Sept. 1879, in the Rejport of the State Board of
A griculture. 1875-1884. 35.
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-12lmpression, facts should speak for themselves.
He mentioned
that corn, potatoes, melons, pumpkins, wheat, rye, oats,
barley, etc. were being raised and felt confident that in a
1*5
few years fruit trees would be producing their fruit.
In its issue of April 25, 1861, The Hunt s m a n 1s Echo
attempted to overcome the presumption and prophecy of the
"wiseacres" by the results of actual experience when it said
of the Wood River valley that "corn, wheat, oats, rye, barley,
potatoes, and all sorts of vegetables and roots grow to p e r ­
fection. w^4
To prevent the withdrawal of lands from entry under the
pre-emption and homestead laws,
the State B o a r d of Agriculture
in its meeting of January 22, 1880, branded the report of the
Public Land Commissioners as untrue and made without "due or
competent evidence."
As this report would be injurious to
Nebraska it should be repudiated by carefully prepared sta­
tistics and proofs of the agricultural ability and fitness of
farming lands in Nebraska west of the 100th Meridian,
these
proofs and statistics to be forwarded to the Nebraska reprenc
sentatives and' senators in Congress.
The task of furnishing these proofs and data was en­
trusted to Professors Samuel Aughey and C. D. Wilber of the
University of Nebraska.
Their reply was given February 5,
i
1880, and was based, as they stated, upon repeated experl^ 5Councll J o u r n a l . 6th session, 10.
14Quoted from J. Sterling Morton, Illustrated History
of N e b raska. II, (Lincoln, 1907), 272.
15
‘
T ransactions of State Board of Agriculture, Sept.
1879-Sept. 1880, og. clt. . 35.
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-13ments and observations covering a period of 20 years.
They
believed that the western part of the state could be used for
agriculture because the soil was fertile, moisture
(supply
of which was the big problem) was increasing and would fit
the region for farming without aid of irrigation, and the
rain belt was moving westward.
It was also contended that
cultivation of the soil brings increasing rainfall, and as
settlement would move westward and more land be farmed the
16
moisture supply would also Increase.
The mean temperature of Nebraska covering a period of
58 years was 49°. ^
The average temperature decreases from
east to west and south to north.
The mean is 51° in the
southeast, 50° in the southwest, 48° in the northeast, and
about 45° in the northwest.
The growing season (that part
of the year free from killing frosts) is comparatively long
in Nebraska, decreasing from a length of about 165 days in
the southeast to 100 days in the
This has a marked effect on
northwest.18
the native vegetation and
18Samuel Aughey and C. D. Wilber, Agriculture Beyond the
100th M e ri d i a n . (1880).
Professor Aughey deals witli rainfall
and moisture in his Sketches of the Physical Geography and
Geology of Nebraska.~(1880). pp. 34-521
TEe views of these
two men were used in advertising the state, as may be seen by
a pamphlet, "Statistics and Information Concerning the State
of Nebraska," issued by the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1891.
17
United States Department of Agriculture. Weather
B u r e a u , Nebraska S e c t i o n . (1954). XXXIX, No. 13,~73 Z
18G-. e . Condra, Geography, Agriculture and Industries
of Nebraska. (Lincoln, 1934), 65.
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-14ls a limiting factor in the selection of farm crops to be
grown.
Although the altitude in the northwestern counties
is greater than in the northeastern,
the average temperature
is about the same, on account of the Chinook winds, which b y
moving idownward from the Rocky Mountains become warmer and
19
thus affect the temperature of the region.
Light frosts sometimes occur throughout May and in early
June in the northwestern counties.
The last killing frost
in eastern counties is usually in late April or early May.
It is from May 1 0 to 15 in the northern and western parts
of the State.
The average precipitation for the state from 1876 to
1934 was 23.50 inches.
20
The average for the southeastern
part of the state was 34 inches and for the western part
21
16 inches.
The amount of rainfall increases from early
springtime to June, during which month it is heaviest,
decreases gradually until December.
then
The average rainfall
of June.is over five inches in the southeastern part of the
state, and slightly less than three inches in the extreme
western part.
follows:^
Annual monthly rainfall, 1876-1918, is as
Jan.------ .52
Feb.
.72
March----1.11
April----2.41
May----- 3.63
June
3.81
July---- 3.43
Aug.---- 2.81
Sept.---- 2.13
Oct.----- 1.57
Nov.------ .68
Dec.------ L?4
19I b l d . , 64.
P e p t . of Agriculture, Weather B u r e a u , o p . c l t ., 73.
^ S e e Map III.
« -l. ^pC-eorge A. Loveland, “The Climate of Nebraska," in
N ebraska, Resources and Industri e s , Conservation ana Soil
Survey. Bulletin 16, University of Nebraska, CCiricoIn, 1^23), 28.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
I
—1
l-l
I—!
ill cl
O-,
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
These figures show that most of the precipitation occurs
during the growing season.
About 69 per cent of the State's
rainfall comes within the five months beginning with April
and ending with August.
The driest period of the year,
so
far as the effects of precipitation and evaporation on crops
is concerned, is apt to be in July and August.
The dry season
is from November to February with 11 per cent of the annual
amount of moisture.
Most of the precipitation of these months
is snow, which averages 28 inches, making 2^ Inches of water*
Rainfall of any given month or year is apt to vary from
the average.
The average rainfall for June may vary 25^.
The
greatest uncertainty occurs during the months of low rainfall.
There is also a strong probability of a deficiency in the
growing season, especially in July.
Variations seem more
marked in the western counties than in the eastern and southO'*
eastern counties. °
A study of rainfall shows that the state has had alter­
nating periods of wet and dry years.
In some cases the
increase and decrease have been gradual.
These periods of
years seem to have followed one another with some regularity.
Periods of low rainfall have produced semi— arid or drouthy
conditions in western counties, while at other times a grad­
ual Increase in rainfall has brought about more favorable
conditions.
The eastern part of the state has not entirely
escaped, the unfavorable results.
Extremes in wet and dry
periods seem to have come at intervals of about 12 years.
2 3 Condra, o£>. cit., 74.
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-17MAP IV
PHYSIOGRAPHIC AND AGRICULTURAL REGIONS OF NEBRASKA.
\laWble Sor ayfa
f,on sum
G-REMlt
tSfN'VraA
LouAamSi
N o r th
Li m c o LN
Average Annual
Precipitation:
28 in. or
over
20 to 28 in.
□ Under 20
in.
Barnhart, John D., "Rainfall and the Populist Party in
Nebraska", American Political Science Review,
NIX, p. 531.
Precipitation has not varied permanently for the better, and
farmers are learning gradually how to adapt their crops and
tillage methods to existing conditions,^4
For example,
the
settlers of central and western Nebraska did not know how to
farm a subhumid area.
Most difficult years were faced in the
90*s when the severe drouth of 1894 extended over Nebraska and
surrounding states.
Many people went back east.
part of the state was nearly deserted.
The western
In a few years there
was a period of heavier rainfall and the land was again
settled; this time by those who adapted their crops and methods
^ 4Idem.
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-18-
of cultivation to the climate and soil.
A study of the natural factors in their relation to
agricultural development in Nebraska makes it possible to
divide the state roughly into three agricultural areas*
First,
the most important agricultural region lies east of the Great
Plains.
Its western boundary m a y be roughly drawn from a
point near the mouth of the Dakota River in a southerly di­
rection, passing a little east of Norfolk and about 30 miles
west of Lincoln and then curving slightly westerly in the
direction of Concordia, Kansas.
Second, the region lying west
of this boundary, or the eastern portion of the Great Plains,
is also an agricultural section, but one of less advantages
than the land to the east.
Its western boundary,
in a r o ugh
way, extends from the northern border half way between the
100th and the 99th meridians,
then swings around the sand­
hills, first east, then south, and then west to North Platte,
and then almost due south to the border.
Third, in the
section of the state west of this line, grazing becomes of
equal or greater importance than farming of the type practiced
farther east.^®
The average annual rainfall of the eastern section
measures from 28 to 34 Inches.
The middle section receives
from 20 to 28 inches, while west of this there is a contin­
ual decrease until at the western border there is about 16
inches.
A high average for the crop-growing season modifies
^ 5See Map IV.
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Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
laO.jj
** TYPE OF FARMING AREA MAP OF NEBRASKA
IBL.
193
eosn*
s*(t#oe*s
189
to
i
-Key—
142-A Blick H ills—Range livestock, grain, hay.
143 Niabrara Plains—Range livestock, some cash grain, potatoes.
145 Scotts Bluff Basin—Sugar beets, some livestock, potatoes,
182-A South Dakota Black Prairie—Livestock, cash grain.
IB3-A Iowa, Nebr., South Dakota—Intensive livestock production.
184 Rosebud Plains—Cash grain, livestock, potatoes.
186 Great Plains-Sand Hills—Range livestock.
*
187 H olt Sandy Plaint—Livestock, w ild hay, cash grain.
18B-B Platte High Plains—Cash grain, some livestock.
189 Cash Grain Combination.—Cash grain, livestock, potatoes.
193 Central Nebr.—Livestock, general farming, some cash grain.
194 Southeast Nebr.—General farming.
195 Nebr. Plains—Cash grain, livestock.
196 Republican Dissected Plains—Livestock, cash grain, general farming.
L. F. G-arey, “Factors in Determining Types
of Farming Areas in Nebraska", in Nebraska
Experiment Station Bulletin 899 (1936).
-20the effect of the low ‘annual average.
The same modification
results from the low evaporation and run-off, and the holding
capacity of the soil.
However, hot winds are not infrequent,
especially during July and August.
Although the three agricultural areas do not correspond
26
precisely with the three soil areas
there is some cor­
relation.
Moisture and texture of soil are the most Important
elements entering into the natural factors in Nebraska.
As
a result of those elements, together wi t h the topography of
the land, the state has been found to be adapted to certain
2?
types of farming.
26See Map II.
27
Map V indicates the types of farming carried on in
different sections of Nebraska.
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CHAKL\Eit II
SETTLEMENT
No attempt w i n
be made to give in detail tne process of
settling the territory and state of Nebraska*
To do this
adequately would require a nistory of America and of European
immigration during tne period*
A general outline only will
be presented to snow tne influences w m c n were brougnt to
bear in bringing settlers to tne territory and to indicate
tne spreading of settlements across the state*
As late as 1853,
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,
G-eorge W. Manypenny, reported, that tnere was no serious en­
croachment of squatters upon the lands of his wards west of
Iowa and Missouri*^
At tne time of organization, 1854, very few w m t e
were living in the territory.
people
Tne few wno were here were at
Bellevue, wnich was a small village of government agents and
missionaries,
ana at Ft. Kearney.
Very likely a few fur
traders had built log cabins in scattered places along some
of the rivers.
E aen summer a migrant multitude moved across the terri­
tory following tne Oregon Trail.
Nebraska comprised a part
of that great central route of travel across tne Continent
from the Atlantic to tne Paciric.
From pioneer days down to
the present Nebraska has been a stop-over for this tnrcugn
traffic from coast to coast*
Before the coming of tne rail­
road, tne stearaooat played tre most prominent part in transport­
ing people and goods up tne Missouri river ana at some point
■^Frederic L. Paxson, History of the American F r o n t i e r ,
1753-1893, (Chicago, 1924), 424.
-
21-
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
on the eastern border of Nebraska territory made contact with
the stream or migration moving over the land trail.
At tne time of tne organization of tne territory somet m n g over twenty— one million acres were opened for settleraent within its boundaries*
2
The first settlements' were made
in the eastern part of the territory, along valleys where
water, wood, and shelter could be obtained.
Land was not
taken up rapidly until the decade of tne seventies.
Accord­
ing to the ninth census report, which was the first official
United States census for Nebraska aiuer Delug admitted into
3
the Union in 1867, the population was 122,993.
Tne next
two decaoes are known as tne period of "xne Great Migration".
Population Increased very rapidly.
Tne total numDer of people
4
in tne state in 1890 was 1 ,0 6 2 ,6 6 6 .
There were certain outstanding influences wnicxx caused
this tremendous Increase in tne twenty year period.
The policy of the United States government in disposing
of its public land was a c o n t r i o u t m g factor in encouraging
migration to Nebraska.
The Homestead Act of 1862 was most
important in tnis respect.
However, it was not until after
tne Civil War that large numbers sougnt to take advantage of
/
the benerits of tut: land laws.
According to the original
Homestead Act any person who was over twenty-one,
tne head
of a family, and a citizen of tne United States, or an alien
^Morton, Illustrated History of Nebraska, I, 164,
3
Nlntn Census of the United States. (1870), I, 15.
4
Tiixrbeentn Census of the United States, (1910),
Aostract; with supplement for Nebraska, l 9 lo, 568.
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-23who had filed m s
Indention of becoming a citizen, could
acquire 160 ac.es by living on it for 5 years.
ternate sections
In the al­
chat lay within the limits of tne railway
land grants only 80 acres could be acquired since tne near­
ness of tne railway would at least douole the value of the
land.
By an act of 1870 it was provided that soldiers
might take loO acre homesteads from government land within
the railway land grants, wrereas others could take only 80
acres.
In 1872 the government offered homesteads to soldiers,
tnelr widows, or minor children by recognizing whatever time,
up to 4 years, that a veteran might have spent in the service,
to be suDtracted from the 5 years necessary to prove up on
his homestead.
Wounded or disabled veterans, discharged
before their terra or enlistment had expired, might deduct
from the 5 years their entire term of enlistment, and tne
unmarried widows and minor orphans of veterans who died in the
service had a similar privilege.
Soldiers also had tne
privilege of locating tnelr claims through an attorney, where­
as others must file in person.
At the same time that txie Homestead Law, with its mod­
ifications, was in efiect the right of pre-emption, as grant­
ed by the Pre-emption Act of 1841, was continued.
amendments,
With its
this law made it possiDle for a "squatter",
after
b months residence upon 160 acres, to buy the land at the
rate of $1.25 per acre, except in the case of sections
r e n a m e d by the government in railway land-grant areas, where
the price was doubled.
Homesteaders who did not wish to wait
5 years to acquire title to tneir land were permitted,
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
after
-246 months residence
(14 months after 1907), to change to tne
pre-emption right and pay out on -cnelr claim at the same
rate.
Tne right of commutation was little used in the early
g
years of tne Homestead Act but became popular later.
After the three-year Homesteao Act was enacted by Con­
gress in 1912, commutations fell off considerably*
According
to this act a residence of seven montns per year for three
years was required to prove a homestead.
settler had
Consequently the
oo decide whether it would pay him to buy at the
rate of $1.25 per acre
($200.00 per quarter section),
at the
end of 14 montns, or delay the three years beiore acquiring
full title.
Two other acts enacted by Congress no doubt influenced
settlers to take up land in the Middle West.
laws was the Timber Culture Act of 1875.
One of these
This act, as
amended the following year, was designed to promote the
growth of timber on the Western plains.
Under the act a
settler could acquire not more than 160 acres nor less than
40 acres provided one-fourth of the tract of land would be
devoted to timber culture for a period of eight years.
Upon
proof of these facts a certificate for patent would be issued
at the end of the eight years.
In the period from 1873 to
1880 approximately 1,800,000 acres were entered under the
law.
g
John Donald Hicks, The Populist Revolt,
1931), 10.
------- --------------
(Minneapolis,
Q
Thomas Donaldson, The Public Domain,
(Washington, 1884), 360-361.
Its History,
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-25The second law was„.the Kincaid Act of 1904.
This law
bears the name of Moses Kincaid, a congressman from Nebraska,
and applies only to the state of Nebraska.
The idea back of
tne provisions of the act was that a settler could not sub­
sist on as small a tract of land as 160 acres under the
Homestead Act in the semi-arid regions of western Nebraska.
Under the act, where land had long been rejected by home­
steaders and pre-emptors, a homestead of 640 acres mignt be
taken.
It is estimated that 7,000,000 acres were subject to
entry according to provisions of the act.
Within 10 years
7
all but one-fourth million acres were entered.
The Kincaid Act was not successful in holding settlers
on the land that they entered.
Most or the "Kincaiders"
sold out to cattlemen and left the country, as they found
farming impracticable and 640 acres insufficient in this
q
country to engage in the cattle industry.
To show how settlers took advantage of the land policy,
especially the Homestead Act, there were in 1864, 191 home­
stead claims filed.
In 1883 there had been aggregate entries
amounting to 69,056 involving 8,849,586 acres.9
In addition to the liberal land laws of the federal
government another influence of great importance in tne
^Benjamin Horace Hibbard, A History of the Public Land
Policies. (New York, 1924), 3927
Q
Conara, op. cit. , 23.
Q
Donaldson, pp. cit. , 1284.
For an extended treatment of
land systems and policies In Nebraska see Addison Erwin Sheldon,
"Land Systems and Land Policies In Nebraska", in Publications
of the Nebraska State Historical Society. XXII, (Lincoln, 1936).
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-26/
settlement of the state was the railroads.
estimation of some,
In fact, in tne
she railroad was the most important
factor in the settlement and development of Nebraska.
10
Railroad construction in Nebraska began at Omaha when
ground was broken for the Uninn Pacific in 1863 and it had
completed its line across the state by 1867.
The Sioux
City and Paciric had constructed its road from Blair to
Fremont, and the Fremont, Elkhorn,
and Missouri Valley had
/
built 12 miles northward, from Fremont by 1870,
At this
date there were 705 miles of railroad in the state.
By tne
end of the 80's a little less than 2000 miles had been built,
with the Burlington claiming two-fifths of this mileage.
5407 miles of rails had been laid by 1890 and of this amount
the Northwestern lines comprised 1100 miles.
The eastern
part of the state was about as well developed in railroad
construction by 1890 as it is today.
The Nebraska railroads made connections with the rail-'
/
roads of the east, as the Chicago and Northwestern in January
of 1867 and in the spring of 1868 the Chicago ana Rock Island,
followed by the Burlington and Missouri
(Chicago, Burlington
and Quincy) the same year, had reached Omaha.
12
W i t h the
establishment of these connections the most important means
of bringing settlers to Nebraska were secured.
^See
Condra, o£. cit., 16.
■^Helen Marie Anderson, "The Influence of Railway Adver­
tising Upon the Settlement of Nebraska", M.A. Thesis MS in
University of Nebraska Library, 1-2.
^ H a r r i s o n Johnson, History of Nebraska, (Omaha., 1880).
296-297.
'
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction p ro h M e d without permission.
-27Encouragement was given to railroad construction by
both the federal and state governments.
This inducement
was principally in the form of grants of land.
The usual
procedure was that followed by the federal government in
granting alternate sections on each side of the right of
way.
Altogether there were from seven to eight million
acres given to the roads by governmental action.
Of this
amount the state deeded 532,544.97 acres which had been re­
ceived from the federal government for purposes of aiding
13
Internal improvements.
In addition to grants of land by
the national and state governments, local aid from counties,
cities, and towns was given in the form of bonds.
It is
estimated that from 1869 to 1892 local support of railroad
14
construction in Nebraska amounted to $4,918,000.
It is
obvious that the land grant railroads must secure population
in the territory if adequate passenger, and more especially
freight,
traffic was to bring profitable returns to the
stockholders.
Land departments were organized by the roads
which set out to make Nebraska known, not only over the
United States, but over parts of Europe as well.
Within
three years from 1869 the Union Pacific had opened its lands
almost entirely across the state.
After opening up the lands
the land departments would then try to settle up more thickly
all parts of their grants and direct special attention to
lands, other 'chan railroad lands, available for settlement.
13„
(Governor's Messages, Senate Journal,
(1875), 67.
----------------
11th.
session.
14Richard Carl Krebs, “Local Aid to P-ailroads In South­
eastern Nebraska," M. A. Thesis MS In University of Nebraska
Library, 7.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-28This work supplied the Impetus for a rapid early settlement,
comparable,
to some extent, to that supplied in some of the
western neighbors of the state by mining booms, or that
supplied in Kansas by the desires of Northerners and.South­
erners to save the state for their respective causes.
The means used by the Land Departments to make Nebraska
known were agents, newspapers, posters and pamphlets.
Some­
times the agents were real estate men in various parts of the
East,
sometimes they were men of a certain nationality soli­
citing emigration from their own kinsmen, and sometimes they
were men whose only business was to solicit emigrants.
Cam­
paigns conducted by agents were usually carried on in Iowa,
Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania,
Agents were often sent abroad to solicit emigration in some
of the European countries.
Even though this was prohibited
by many of the European countries, it no doubt was continued
surreptitiously.
Advertising in newspapers and magazines and publications
of various kinds were used to induce settlers to come to the
state.
These advertisements were printed not only in English,
but also In G-erman and the Scandinavian languages.
The railroads made use of the Centennial Exposition at
Philadelphia in 1876 to advertise Nebraska.
Products of the
state were exhibited there and prospective immigrants were
told of Nebraska's advantages.
The pamphlet was perhaps the most important method of
advertising.
Pamphlets were distributed in Nebraska among
the settlers to send to friends and relatives.
They were
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-29scattered about by agents in this country and Europe, and
placed in the steerage of Atlantic steamers for perusal by
European emigrants.
In general the pamphlets held up to the
prospective settler all the adva.ntB.ges that could be claimed,
legitimately or otherwise, for Nebraska.
The climate was
ideal; the soil was inexhaustible and of great fertility,
comparable to that in the Rhine and Nile valleys; rainfall
was abundant but not so much as to cause long, unpleasant
dreary seasons for the farmer; water could be obtained easily;
the superiority of Nebraska wheat was extolled;
later booklets
stressed the value of corn as a crop and hailed the state
as the coming center of the corn belt; barley, rye, oats,
sorghum, potatoes, root crops, fruits of all kinds, wild
grasses, and no doubt tame grasses also, all grew well in
Nebraska and such things as crop failures were unknown.
The
merits of the state for raising of livestock were also stress­
ed.
The railroads gave to the settlers easily accessible
markets in the east.
Building materials, agricultural imple­
ments, and other necessary supplies were at hand and could be
purchased reasonably.
Taxes were low, public improvements
had been made and most of them paid for.
migrant was assured that
of the highest caliber;
here.
The, prospective
She character of the settlers was
che rowdy element was not present
Such were some of the advantages stressed by railway
advertising to induce immigrants to settle in the state.
The railroad agents and pamphlets explained how the
immigrant could get to his desired destination; on what
i
terms he could buy his land; how government land was
i
i
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-30available if he did not buy railroad, lana;
ana accurately
interpreted tne lana laws of tne government for him.
In addition to tne railroads tnere were private ana
state agencies at work to place Neoraska before the world.
Private land companies were organized even during tne ter15 m
ritorlal period.
Tnese companies were soipetlmes owned
and controlled by individuals ana sometimes by communities
tnrougnout tne state.
The state efrorts also began during the territorial
period.
In
appoint one
1855 the legislature autnorized the governor to
or more immigration agents who were to reside or
travel anywnere in the United States,
Tnese agents were to
16
receive no compensation.
A Board of Immigration consist­
ing of five memoers besides tne governor was established
in 1866,
Doard
Isio compensation was given to tne members of tne
d u v
was appropriated for its disposal.
The
board used this money to print 12,000 copies or tne pamphlet
"Nebraska” , and to secure a gentleman in New York wno spoke
ootn German ana kngilsn to give part time service for tne
work of the
Board.
In 1870, 1871, ana 1873 the Board of
Immigration
was organized ana re-organized.
year a Bureau of Immigration was formed.18
In tne last
In 1875 the
Bureau was abolished ana a Boara re-establlsnea.
Methods or these various agencies, private and state,
were similar to tne railroads in advertising Nebraska.
X5
haws of Nebraska. (1854-l8b7), 496.
Complete Laws of Nebraska. I, ?3.
i7Laws
of Nebraska. 1 8 e>5 9. 7 3 8 .
|Q
— - “
Nebraska House J o u r n a l . (1875), 4b.
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-31They made greater use of tne newspaper than the Lana Depart­
ments of tne railroads but tne contents of their advertise­
ments were very similar.
It can be questioned whetner they
were as errective in tneir work as tne railroads because of
lack of resources of inalviau&ls ana communities ana because
or constant reorganization or tne Immigration Board ana
cnanges in its personnel.
Anotner factor which exerted some influence in tne
settlement of Nebraska, especially tne nortnern ana western
parts, was tne discovery in l8t>6 tnat cattle couia not only
wionstana tne severe winters of nortnern Nebraska, but would
tnrive on tne pasturage of w n a grass arrordea txiere.
has
opened tne country almost immediately to cattlemen ana
rancners, wno occupied it for tne next two decades, until
driven aside by the advancing frontier or farmers.
The
rancners rrontier l&steu aoouu two decades, from tne late
6 0 *s to the late 80*s.
By 1890 the great cattle drives
19
were a thing of the past.
Summarizing the influences which caused people to
move into Neoraska, one can say that there was the favor­
able land policy of the national government,
especially the
homestead Act, which encouraged the land seeker to go west.
The railroads played an extremely important part in direct­
ing emigrants to the state.
Private and state agencies
exerted considerable effort to get prospective settlers to
see tne advantages of coming to Nebraska.
No doubt with the
cessation of hostilities in 3.865 many Civil War vetera.ns
19j)avid Robert Burleigh, "Range Cattle Industry In
Nebraska to 1890", M. A. Thesis MS in University of
Nebraska Library.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout permission.
-32lookeci to Nebraska as a place to establish themselves anew
and decided to make their homes here.
The panic of 1873
helped to produce a discontented class in the East who were
20
willing to go west.
Then, potentialities of the cattle
Industry in the northern and western parts or the state
were realized in the late 60*s.
As a result of these influences a tremendous westward
migration had set in by the late 70*s with Nebraska as its
destination.
By the middle 80's it had attained the pro­
portions of a "Doom,,.
western Nebraska.
by the advertisers,
Settlers pushed into the dry zone of
There people had a conviction, fostered
that the rain belt had lately moved so
fur to the westward that the high table lands of the plains
could now no longer be classified as arid.
In the eight
years before 1887 there had been an unusual amount of rain­
fall in this area; also the prevailing belief that plowing
of ground, planting of trees, and general cultivation of
the soil were the causes of increased moisture, played its
part in attracting people to the dry regions.
It is difficult
to state Just when the peak had been reached, for the census
of 1890 was taken after the boom had collapsed, and many had
gone back East; but the year 1888 seems to have been the
21
crest.
The immediate cause of the slump in the number of in»Higrants coming to Nebraska was the lack of rainfall dur­
ing the season 1887 and, with few exceptions,
ing season for a period of ten years.
each succeed
About 18 or 20 inches
^°Hicks, or. clt. , 15.
^ S e e Map VI
for distribution of population,
1870-1890*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-33MAP VI
1870
Inhabitants
per sq. mile
18-45
6 -18
2-6
Under 2
1880
1890
Distribution of Population in Nebraska
from Statistical Atlas of U. S. 1914
Reproduced w th p e n s i o n
ofthe copyright owner. Funner reproduction prohibited w«hou, permission.
-34of rainfall annually coming at the proper time is regarded
by agriculturists as sufficient to produce a good crop.
From 188? to 1897 there were only two years in which the
central and western portions had enough rainfall to insure
a full crop, and for five seasons out of the ten they had
practically no crops at all.
Hot winds also prevailed dur­
ing the summer months and completed the destruction of the
already suffering crops.
There were also losses of wheat
due to a bad infestation of chinch bugs.
The cattle industry
in the northwest was all but destroyed by the hot summer
of 1886 and the
During the
severe winter of 1 8 8 6 - 8 7 . 2 2
late 80'sand early 90*s the tide of
began to flow eastward.
migration
Within a few years after 1886 some
of the western and northwestern regions were almost' depop­
ulated, except for the older cattlemen.
In the single year
of 1891 no fewer than 1800 prairie schooners crossed from the
Nebraska to the
Iowa side of the Missouri river.
In
the
central part of
the state not over one in eight of the farmers
left, while in the eastern part population actually increased;
for this section was not affected by the drouth as those
areas farther west.
According to the census of 1900 from one-
third to one— half of the counties in the state had a smaller
population in 1900 than in 1890.
As the study of the settlement of the state is carried
a little farther there are some further changes that will
be noted.
The western section again drew people to it.
go
Hicks,
o d
.
clt. . 30.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
After the Kincaid Act settlers moved In again but only for
a short time, as they were unable to farm the land profitably.
As a rule, they sold out to the ranchers.
Then as the far­
mers came to understand the significance of adapting their
type of farming to the natural factors of the
was a slow growth of
On the basis of
region
there
population in the region.
the census of 1920 there is indicated
that more counties in the loess soil region showed a decrease
rather than an increase of population since 1880,
the south­
ern counties showing a greater decline than the northeast.
A slight increase took place in the sandhill counties and a
decided increase in the high plains region.
This census
also showed that the loess and sandhill counties had fewer
farms, while at the same time the high plains' counties, with
two exceptions, Banner and Sioux,
had more.
The causes for the decline in population by 1920 in the
loess region were, first, the extension of winter wheat
and the decrease of corn, which by giving more uniform
employment for the farmer during the growing season make it
possible for him to care for larger acreages,
of more
labor saving
for the
farmer to handle larger
itures for labor.
and second, use
machinery, which has made it possible
farms with no added expend­
In the northeastern counties the decrease
is less marked oecause climatic conditions are more favorable
for corn, which requires more labor in cultivation.
Here
wheat had not made such rapid progress.
Causes for the slight increase in population in the
sandhill region were settlement by the KIncaiders;
extension
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
of fenced ranches;
and development of improved stock and the
necessity of taking better care of it.
The decided increase in population in the high plains
region was due, first, to the development of irrigation which
has led to intensive farming;
to the introduction of Turkey
Red winter wheat, and also other drought resistant crops,
such as alfalfa, cane, and millet;
and to favorable market
conditions afforded by good railroad facilities, making crop
23
farming economically possible.
As the total population of the state Increased less
than 100,000 from 1920 to 1930 itisprobable that the condition
of settlement in Nebraska had become stabilized by the former
year.
By the last census
(1930) the southeastern and north­
eastern sections taken together contain more than threefourths of all the people in the state.
Rich soil, ample
average rainfall, and a long growing season have played a
large part in making this condition.
One other factor should be considered in a brief study
of the settlement of the state.
come from?
Where did the settlers
This can be indicated in a brief way by some
statistics of the period of greatest immigration to the state,
i. e. 1870 to 1900.
In 1870 there were 92,245 native born population in
Nebraska representing 75 per cent of the total.
In the same
year there were 30,748 foreign born or 25 per cent of the
23n;ster S. Anderson, "G-eographic Significance of Some
Population Changes in Nebraska11, in Publications of the
Nebraska Academy of S c i e n c e , X, No- 3, (Lincoln, 1922T7 73-74.
/
/
;
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-37total.
In 1900 the figures were, respectively, 888,953 or
2483.4 per cent and 177,347 or 16.6 per cent.
The states from which the native born Americans came to
Nebraska rank, in order of greatest numbers contributed,
as
follows:
1870
1. Ohio
2. Illinois
3. New York
4. Iowa
5. Pennsylvania
6. Indiana
7. Missouri
1900
1. Illinois
2. Iowa
3. Ohio
4. Indiana
5. Pennsylvania
6. New York
7. Missouri
It can readily be seen that the states which sent the
largest number of emigrants to Nebraska were the north central
and central eastern states.
As far as total number of persons
coming from these states is concerned Illinois and Iowa rank
26
considerably above any of the others.
The settlers from
other states did not establish homes in particular places or
sections but spread over the state with the general advance of
the line of settlement.
Foreign countries contributing the largest numbers of
settlers are as follows:
2 7
1870
'
1. Germany
2. ,Ireland
3. England and Wales
4. British America
5. Sweden
6. Bohemia
7. Denmark
1900
1. Germany
2. Sweden
3. Bohemia
4. Denmark
5. Ireland
6. England
7. Russia
and Wales
24
Kleve Stubenhaus, “Origins and Growth of the Nebraska
Population, 1870-1900", M. A. Thesis MS in University of
Nebraska Library, Appendix, ii.
25I b id., viil-ix.
^ 6 I d em.
^ ' ^hid., xi and xxxvli.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-38Wlth respect to total numbers during the thirty year
period the rank is as follows:
Germans, Swedes, Bohemians,
Irish, Danes, English and Welsh, British Americans, and
Russians,
As to residence the Germans settled quite heavily in
Douglas, Lancaster, Dodge, Cuming, Gage, Otoe, Madison, Adams,
Saunders, and Platte counties;
Douglas, Lancaster, Platte,
the Bohemians in Saline,
the Scandinavians in Saunders,
Cuming, and Madison counties;
Colfax, Saunders, and Douglas;
Russians in Lancaster, Douglas, Adams, Dodge,
the
and Saline
counties. The other nationalities mentioned did not con­
tribute any considerable proportion in any of the counties
except In Douglas,
Often the foreigners settled In colonies*
This was due
to the fact that having once established themselves in the
state they would write to friends or relatives In the east­
ern states or in their native country and induce others to
come.
The railroads and Land Companies were also Instrumental
in establishing colonies at different points In the state.
Some examples of this are:
a colony of Swedes at Gothenburg;
an Irish Catholic colony at Harvard; Russian Mennonites in
Jefferson County around Jansen; Germans from Danzig close to
Beatrice;
and some Dutch around Holland,28
Not all of the foreigners settled In colonies but it
was most natural for them to gravitate to those places where
there were people of their own language, religion, or
nationality.
28Anderson, MS, ojp, clt. . 53-54.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-39Often wnen groups of foreign nationalities settle in a
new country they inrluence the development of the new land
in definite and specific ways.
In Nebraska, however,
it
appears there was no contribution made of this sort by
the foreign element.
In consider!; g the most numerous of these groups it is
found that the G-ermans w^re chiefly farmers who accepted the
general situation and made no specific addition to agri­
culture besides their usual tnrirt, frugality,
Some of them were small tradesmen, mechanics,
and industry.
and common
laborers . ^
The Swedes also were mainly agriculturists.
them stayed in O m a m
Some of
while others moved out into the prairies.
Many worked in shops at Omaha, as there was a great demand for
tradesmen of every skill and among the Swedish element were
numbered machinists, blacksmiths,
carpenters, and painters.
Some of them also worked in town to earn some money in order
to buy sufficient supplies to last them until their homesteads
30
gave them some returns.
The Bohemians were almost entirely farmers and who im­
mediately, upon arrival, began to take homesteads and start
agriculture.
The Irish had a variety of occupations.
Some classified
themselves in the esrly census reports as farmers,
some as
£9
Mary Ann Jakl, "Immigration and Population of Nebraska
to 1870," M. A. Thesis MS in University of Nebraska Library,
107.
'
•xrv
ibid. . lid3.
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laborers, ooners as masons,
surveyors, merchants,
etc.
Many of them worked with the construction crews on the early
railroads.
There seems to have been no single occupation
to whicn they as a rule devoted themselves,'"
51Ipld. , 110.
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CHAPTER III
EARLY FARMING*
The first people who came to Nebraska, after It was or­
ganized as a, territory, were not Interested primarily in farm­
ing.
As was usually the case when new territories were opened
for sale artd settlement, there were those on hand who were
seeking fortunes in the easiest and quickest way possible.
They would hurry in buying land at the lowest possible price,
and later as land had been claimed and prices had risen,
sell
their holdings and make at least a modest profit which was
then invested In some new speculative project.
In the surveying process town sites had been laid out
regardless of whether or not the location was suited for a
town.
Speculators would sell the "corner lots" of towns often
when there was no town contemplated, merely Inventing a ficti­
tious town In the open spaces.
tion were
*56 and *57.
The "boom" years for specula­
The panic of 1857 caused the boom to
collapse and professional speculation in land became less and
less, but there were recurrent booms, especially in the 1880's.
Even after five or six years of territorial status farm­
ing was of minor importance, as indicated by census figures
of 1860.
The population was 28,841 but only 3,982 were report­
ed as engaged in farming.1
This meant that there was scarcely enough produce raised
to support the people of the territory, and the home demand
was larger by far than could possibly be supplied.
The
1Arthur F. Bentley, "The Condition of the Western Farmer,"
in John Hopkins St u d i e s . (1892), 12; Morton, History of
Nebraska. IX.
—
-41Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-42federal government shipped vast quantities of farm products
from the East through Otoe County to the military station
west.
Many of these supplies were purchased b y the Inhabitants
of the territory.
W i t h the increasing security of person and property in
the eastern part of the territory, and the perception of the
real value of the soil, the existing state of affairs changed;
speculators gave way to settlers and the border line of civil­
ization advanced toward the west.
The life of early settlers of Nebraska, though full of
hardships, probably was much easier than that of settlers in
many of the states.
For one thing, the pioneer stage was very
short, comparatively speaking, and the discomforts attendant
thereon proportionately reduced.
From a local point of view
this may be attributed to two things; first,
the absence of
forest lands, thus doing away with the necessity of the clear­
ing process, so that the lands as they lay could be brought
into cultivation with a comparatively small outlay of time and
money; and second,
the uniform fertility of the lands, wh i c h
allowed the settlers' farms to lie contiguous for many miles,
thus giving the benefits of mutual assistance.
Another in­
fluence of very great importance was the railroad building in
the State, especially during the later '60's and early '70*s.
not
Although/every settlement was
in close proximity to a
railroad, the distances were not extremely great and settle­
ments,
to a great extent, followed the rdilway lines.
Con­
struction of the roads also gave to some of the settlers work
and hence some badly needed cash.
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-43According to the territorial census reports of 1854 and
1856, there were artisans and professional men in the ter­
ritory in quite adequate numbers to furnish the population
the necessities and special services of life without a great
deal of trouble.
In some degree by 1860, but particularly by
1870, occupations and industries of various kinds existed in
the eastern part of the state.
Grist mills and saw mills,
churn factories, brick yards, cement plants,
stone quarries,
liie ILHns, and shingle factories supplied the settlers w i t h
their respective products.
For household use settlers could
secure the output of sorghum mills,
plants,
cheese factories, packing
soap factories, oil lamp concerns, broom factories,
tinware shops, and furniture concerns.
Farm equipment,
such as plows,
carriages, buggies,
wagons, and sleighs, was manufactured to a limited extent.
Virtually every community had its blacksmith shop.
Harness
and saddles were also made in some towns.
Nebraska-made wearing apparel could be purchased.
Gloves
s.nd mittens, boots and shoes, tailor-made suits, womens* hats
and dresses were available,
if desired.
Foundaries, gunsmith shops, sack factories, and pottery
plants were established.
Other industries than those Immediately concerned w i t h
the livelihood of the settlers were also to be found.
Among
these were tobacco factories, distilleries and breweries,
jewelry shops, Insurance companies, banks,
hair-cutting and
hair-dressing shops.
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After 1870 the Nebraska factories found It increasingly
difficult to compete with the products that were shipped in
from the East, and many of the Nebraska establishments were
forced to discontinue operations.
2
The settler, as he began his residence in the new ter­
ritory, found the native prairie grass growing abundantly
and this afforded grazing for horses and cattle and hay was
cut from it for winter use.
The land was plowed and seeded
in small tracts to grow crops for food and feed.
was the first crop.
Sod corn
Some vegetables were raised and small
patches of sorghum cultivated for making molasses for family
use.
Hogs and cattle were butchered for fresh and cured
meats.
It is not intended that the above paragraphs should leave
the impression that the early settlers of Nebraska did not
experience the hardships that usually attended the pioneer
periods in the settlement of the west.
Stories of the hard­
ships endured by the poineers of Nebraska are abundant.3
The things that caused the most suffering among the
pioneers were recurring drouths and grasshoppers.
During
the thirteen years of territorial status seven were below
average (23^ in.) in precipitation.
In *59,
*60,
'63, and
•64 the average annual rainfall was not over 16 inches.
Hot winds in the summer months would often dry the corn to
a crisp.
For the settler who had Just put in his first crops,
this meant disaster, and caused many to leave the territory.
^The enumeration of the factories and occupations has been
taken generally from Fred Wesley Haskett's "Manufacturing Indus­
tries In Southeastern Nebraska, 1855-1880," M. A. Thesis MS
in university of Nebraska Library.
3 See Nebraska State Historical Society Publications.
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-45
Others who had been able to raise a crop the previous years
were able to tide themselves over the dry years but with
considerable sacrifice.
The same degree of apprehension felt b y the early set­
tlers toward the recurrence of drouth was manifested In re­
gard to the invasions of grasshoppers.
The grasshopper
scourge was always menacing and much of the time destructive*
J, Sterling Morton In his HISTORY OF NEBRASKA gives us a
picture of the grasshopper years during territorial days*
"September 10, 1857, THE ADVERTISER complained
that 'grasshoppers have been mowing t h e p r a i r i e
farms for some t i m e , ' THE HUNTSMAN E C H O , September
6, 1860, stated that clouds of grasshoppers have for
several days been doing considerable damage at some
of the ranches above*
THE OMAHA REPUBLICAN, June 16,
1865, notes the presence of myriads of young grass­
hoppers in the northern counties making sad havoc
with the crops.
In 1866 THE PLATTSMOUTH HERALD
states that grasshoppers are making sad havoc of
vegetation In Salt Creek and Weeping Waters regions,
THE NEBRASKA CITY NE WS, June 17, 1867, says, 'From
almost every quarter of the county we hear com­
plaints of the ravages of grasshoppers.
Fields of
corn, wheat, oats, etc., are being swept away in a
single day.'
By July 1 the NEWS breaks out in
rejoicing because, 'northward the grasshoppers
take their course*
Not one remains to tell of the
ravages done by them*
The chickens since their
departure are dying of starvation.
They refuse
to eat anything but fresh grasshoppers
After 1869 the "hoppers" were not seen in great numbers
until 1873 and though In this year many sections of the state
suffered severe losses, yet the average crop for the whole
state was fair and prices of grain were hot greatly raised.^1
However, 1874 is known as "The Grasshopper Y e a r . "
The pests
4Morton, History of Nebraska. II, 273.
5Bently,
ojd.
clt. , 29.
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were so bad this year that crops in most parts of the state
were totally destroyed.
Those settlers on the frontier whose
"sod corn* had been their sole crop, and those farther east
who had concentrated almost all their efforts on that one crop,
corn, were virtually reduced to a condition of absolute want.
One of the most dreaded dangers of the early settlers was
the prairie fire.
During some seasons of the year house and
home, as well as crops, were frequently threatened with cer­
tain destruction.
Entire districts.were sometimes wiped
out and farmers would band together and start •‘bacJcflres11 in
order to protect their buildings and crops.
Residence at long distance from a physician caused m u c h
suffering and loss.
The disadvantages in this were inability
to get medical attention promptly and the great cost of it
when obtained.
A heavy bill was speedily incurred and bore
a dlscouraglngly large proportion to the scanty cash Income
during the first years of settlement.
The early settlers along the Missouri River had the ad­
vantage of being near their base of supplies, for Iowa was
already quite well settled, and, as has been previously
stated, owing to the intensely speculative activity of the
time, merchants and towns had actually preceded farmers in
possession of the land.
But those whose claims were farther
Inland felt the disadvantages of location not only in the
difficulty of laying in their supplies and selling their
produce, but also in the retarding of the speed with which
they could bring their lands under cultivation.
For instance,
the farmer at a distance from the river was greatly delayed
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-47-
b y the always recurring necessity of having his plow resharp­
ened, a thing which owing to his situation he could not easily
and quickly accomplish by turning it over to a blacksmith*
He was compelled to stop his plowing entirely while he awk­
wardly performed the work, or else to travel a long distance
in order to get it done a little better*
Parts of the territory farther inland probably were re­
tarded somewhat in settlement by the menace of the Indian*
The Sioux hunting grounds were in the central and western por­
tions of the state and often the Redmen made ibrays into the
region of settlement and drove off the farmers * horses and
cattle and even burned the dwellings*
When troops were with­
drawn from the territory on account of the Civil War, the
colonists were left almost unprotected and as a result the
Indians became much bolder.
Many of the settlers in the
Platte Valley fled east, as there were some massacres on un­
protected farm-houses and along the overland trails.
There
was considerable loss of property in the form of supplies
carried by the freight wagons.
The ranches in the region from
Ft. Kearney west to the boundary line were often raided.
The
Indians burned the buildings and drove off the cattle and
horses*
The army was slow in coping with the situation but
by 1865 the Redmen had been driven north into Wyoming and
Dakota territories.6
Money was very scare,e at first, but later comers usually
®See Leroy W. Hagerty*s “Indian Raids along the Platte
and Little Blue Rivers, 1864-1865,“ M. A. Thesis MS in
University of Nebraska Library.
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brought w i t h them a little coin, for which they would pur­
chase from the old settlers farm produce for use while get­
ting under way*
This would put the money in circulation and
i
give the first comers the opportunity to procure needed art­
icles which previously lack of coin had put beyond their reach.
The price of clothing was very high, and the settler had
often to content himself with garments made of skins.
Over­
coats, when the people were fortunate enough to possess them,
were very likely those which had been made for the United
States army but had been condemned and rejected by the govern­
ment.
These were shipped out to the prairies and sold at a
very high figure.
The staples in food were found to be corn
bread and "rye hominy'' supplemented, when available, by wild
fruits.
Melons grew in abundance and often were of great
profit to the pioneer.
Game was frequently obtainable— ante­
lope, the wild goose, prairie chicken, and quail*
After the
/
first year the settler's pig or two and his few chickens
would have so increased that he could depend on them to quite
an extent for animal food.
To convert raw prairie into a habitable and income pro­
ducing farm was not an easy task for the prairie farmer and
/
quite a little capital was needed to do it.
Registering and
Tiling his claim, horses and implements, furniture^ small
stock, house (sod), stable, seed, and probably the breaking
of 30 to 40 acres of sod, required an outlay of around $1,000.7
To this must be added the cost of sustenance for himself and
7 Ibid. . 28.
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family during the first year or two, until regular crops
could be raised.
Because of the expenditure involved in starting farming
and wishing to develop his land as rapidly as possible,
settler would use his credit as much as possible.
the
The early
settler was extremely hopeful and he believed that land prices
would advance rapidly.
This led many of them to mortgage
their property, and as fast as they could increase their loan
they would do so, and use the sum obtained to make good past
losses, or for current expenditures, and sometimes for invest­
ment upon their farms.
There was another incentive wh i c h
caused the early farmer to seek loans on his property.
This
lay in the belief that relatively large returns of crops in
proportion to the cost of land could be realized.
In the
early days the farmer*s profits were very high in proportion
to the amount of capital employed, whenever his crops were at
all good; and this often led him to purchase and cultivate
more land than he was able to manage;
then if poor crops,
which he had not counted on, came, he would become hopelessly
involved in debt.
In the upland prairie regions farm life was quite mono­
tonous and isolated.
The average space separating the farm­
steads was more than half a mile, and many settlers had to
go a mile or two in order to reach a neig h b o r ’s house.
There
was the monotonous round of the seasons of the year— hot
summers and long, cold winters.
to the horizon line.
Treeles plain stretched away
In the summer the landscape was check­
ered with grainfields, grass, and flowers, and was, no doubt,
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-50inspiring in its color and vastness; but one mile of it was
much like another*
In the winter dead silence rested cn the
vast expanse of territory.
The dwellings were frail little
houses, and had it not been for the Invention of tarred
building-paper the walls would not have kept out the wind
and snow.
In summer there was a school for the children one,
two, or three miles away; but in winter the distances across
the snow-covered plains were too great for them to travel in
severe weather.
The school house was closed and there was
nothing for them to do but to house themselves and long for
spring.
Each family had to live mainly to itself, and life,
shut up in the little farmhouse, could not well be very
cheerful.
Two of the chief drawbacks on the upland regions were
lack of trees and the depth of well water.
The scarcity of
timber made it extremely difficult for the farmer at first
to construct his buildings of anything but prairie sod.
Even
after he had accumulated a little capital and wanted to build
a frame house he found it quite an undertaking, as the source
of supply was quite a distance away, and if he could not get
the lumber himself freight rates made the cost of the building
a great deal more.
in some sections.
Adequate water supply was a real problem
An open well was out of the question and
the tools for drilling were not very common.
Even if the
iarmer had his own tools, or if a well— driller came his way,
it was often necessary to drill to quite a depth before a
satisfactory and adequate sipply of water was reached.
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-51As the settlers began moving in on the semi-arid range
country, the cattlemen always contended that a living could
not be made by farming; all that the settler could legally
Q
do was to starve to death some good woman.
It seemed that
the ranchers were fairly near the truth, for when the drouth
period of the late
*80's and early 'SO's came, most of the
settlers became discouraged and left.
one discouraged farmer's wagon
The phrase written on
top, "Going bach to my wife's
folks," became historic.**
In spite of the hardships endured by the early pioneers,
the territory continued to grow and develop.
Prom 1860 to
1870 the number of farms grew from 2,789 to 12,301.^°
though this growth may not seem remarkable,
Even
it Indicates that
there existed the determination to overcome the difficulties
of the early times.
In those who had come to Nebraska to make it their per­
manent residence a missionary spirit early showed itself in
the attempt to win converts to the idea that the territory
had possibilities of a great agricultural state.
It was soon
discovered that climatic and soil conditions in eastern
Nebraska were favorable for corn and wheat production.
The
settlers raised corn as the first market crop because they
found that the type of soils and the climate were similar to
^Emerson Hough, The Passing of the F r o n t i e r . (New Haven,
1918), 153.
9Ibid., 154.
10Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1873), 17.
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-52those In the corn area of Iowa and Illinois from which so
many of them had come.
Previous . to 1862 the territory did not raise enough of
the produce to supply its own demands.
But after this there
was a surplus produced which was shipped out of the t e r r i t o r y * ^
This, of course, does not mean that the territory was prosper­
ous, but merely indicates that in the settled region west of
the Missouri River there were soil and climatic conditions
favorable for agricultural development.
It was natural for those who envisioned the new agri­
cultural state to appeal to governmental authority for aid in
stimulating agricultural development.
In his first report to the territorial legislature, Acting
Governor T, B. Cuming recommended that provision be made to
insure a supply of timber when the present growth was exhausted*
Such provision would encourage the more rapid settlement of
the interior, and dispel the prejudice against the fertile
and timberless prairies, by proving it as possible and profit­
able to raise forests upon the land here, as to reduce heavily
timbered land elsewhere to a state of c u l t i v a t i o n . ^
Again in his fourth message to the legislature Governor
Cuming pointed out that the agricultural and productive re­
sources might be developed by aiding the formation of "indus­
trial societies'* in every county.
Premiums offered by
individuals or associations for the largest useful crop,
i:LMorton, History of N e b r a s k a . II, 266.
.^ C o u n c i l Journal of the Legislative Assembly, 1st.
session, (1855), 10.
------------------
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the
-53best improved stock, etc., would invite competition and form
a nucleus for "wealthy combinations.M
He thought a small
appropriation from territorial revenue for the same purpose
would meet with the sanction of the people. w
The territorial legislature did not respond immediately
to the recommendations of the governor, but on January 12,
1860, appropriated S300 annually subject to the order of the
president and secretary of the territorial board of agriculture#
The sum was to be used in the payment of premiums for the en­
couragement of various branches of agriculture.'*'4
In the eighth annual message to the territorial assembly
Governor Saunders said in substance that on account of the
soil, moisture supply, and climate the territory must soon
become one of the best grain-growing and stock raising countries
on the globe.
He stated that much depended upon the legisla­
tion that the assembly would enact.
He suggested that the
legislature protect the natural growth of timber and stimulate
the planting of trees; that it also protect the interests of
the agricultural classes by encouraging the production of
approved varieties of grain, grasses and fruits, and the intro­
duction of improved breeds of stock; and that it direct
attention to such branches of agriculture as may be most
profitable to the settlers.'*'®
Governor Saunders made no further recommendations regard13
Council J o u r n a l . 4th. session,
(1857-58), 17.
1 4L a w s , Joint Resoluti o n s . and Memorials, Legislative
Assembly, 6th. session, 11859-6077”52l
1 5Council J o u r n a l . 8th. session,
(1861-62), 15-16.
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-54ing agriculture until 1866 when In his message he suggested
to the legislature that it give earnest consideration to the
matter of furthering the interests of the agriculturists, of
agricultural societies, and agricultural fairs*
He also called
attention to the recent law passed by Congress making provision
for land grant colleges.
Although the legislature did not act directly upon the
recommendations of the territorial governors steps were taken
to establish a territorial Board of Agriculture,
By an act
of October 14, 1858, a board was legally established as a
corporate body and provision was made for its meetings, officers,
and functions.
This act also made it possible for counties to
establish boards or societies and under certain conditions,
perscribed by the State Board, affiliate themselves w i t h the
central board,
The personnel of the Board had been provided in the act
which created it and the members lost no time in organizing*
They met in Omaha, October 30, 1858, and elected their officers
with Robert W, Furnas as president.
Among other things they
decided to hold a territorial agricultural fair.
held at Nebraska City, September 21-23, 1859.
Morton gave the principal address*
The fair was
J. Sterling
In his first report to the
legislative assembly President Furnas pointed out that in this
first agricultural exhibition the board had encountered many
difficulties.
16
These were due principally to the hard times
Council Journal. 11th. session,
(1866-67), 28.
17
General Laws. Territorial Assemblv. 5th. session.
(1858-597, 21^-2217
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-55prevalent throughout the West.
far from discouraging.
The results, however, were
The displays, he stated, were highly
creditable, and although limited in number were unsurpassed
in quality, especially regarding horses, cattle, swine,
grain, and vegetables.
Interest was manifested In the ex­
hibition by a "very respectable concourse of citizens in
attendance from the various portions of the territory and,
in fact, from abroad,
It was stated by Mr, Furnas that the treasurer*s account
showed a deficit, because the receipts of the fair were not
sufficient to pay the premiums awarded.
He recommended that
an appropriation by the legislature be made to wipe out the
deficit and that an annual appropriation of a few hundred
dollars be made to assist In offering more liberal premiums,
thus increasing agricultural interest which could but result
in the greatest good,
"Hebraska must look principally to her
agricultural developments for her future' wealth, position,
and importance,
It may seem that too much space is devoted to the sug­
gestions and recommendations of Mr. Furnas as the first presi­
dent of the territorial Board of Agriculture.
In defence of
the attention directed to his work the writer believes that
Mr. Furnas was the main power in the early years of the Board
of Agriculture and that he had a keen Insight into the needs
of the territory and its prospects of future development,
1 8Councll J o u r n a l C 6th. session,
(1859-60), 140.
1 9 Ibid., 141
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-66-
This fact can be established by referring to parts of his
third annual report, 1871, as president of the State Board
of Agriculture,
In this report he gives some advice about
better farming by referring to the complaint of many farmers
that farming is not profitable.
This, he said, was doubtless
a fact but it may be due to "poor farming," a "helter-skelter"
way of doing business; no accounts kept; too much money spent
in fences and fine houses and not enough in barns.
He sug­
gested that farmers save what is raised and till to the high­
est degree.
Let the motto be "reduce the area of superficial
surface cultivated, and Increase the producing capabilities
of the soil, by deep and thorough cultivation,..and applying
fertilizers adapted to the wants of the crop designed to grow,"
Again in the same report he stated that the farmer was com­
pelled to send too much of his money out of the state.
During
1870 over three-fourths of a million dollars was sent out of
Nebraska for the purchase of agricultural implements.
He did
not see why such implements could not be manufactured w i t h i n
the state.
"Shrewd business men cannot fall much longer to
see the opening and occupy the field."
President Furnas
concluded his report by referring to a "lamentable" fact,
"that farming and its kindreds are not sufficiently appreciated,
and the result is, our young men are leaving the farms and
flocking into the towns and cities,"
He advocated making the
country home more attractive; provide more books and papers
and opportunities to read them;
have more fruit growing and
fruit eating and less "hog and hominy"; make the grounds
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-57-
around the house more attractive; let music be encouraged and
"the beautiful of the city be combined with the useful of the
country.
By the recommendation of the State Board of Agriculture
the state legislature increased its annual appropriation to
$2,000 for the use and benefit of the board and a like sum
was provided for the State Horticultural Society which had
been recently organized.
This money was to be used "for the
sole purpose of advancing, developing, and making known the
agricultural and horticultural capacities of the state.
The money appropriated by the legislature was used by
the board primarily in promoting the annual State Pair.
Considerable rivalry manifested itself each year between
representatives of some cities
(Omaha, Lincoln, Nebraska
City, Brownville) in seeking to have the fair held in their
respective home cities.
As premiums were Increased and as
the promotional work of the Board developed, farmers came to
look upon the fair as a fixed institution and considerable
interest was shown in raising better agricultural products
to be displayed at the fair.
Reference has previously been made to the need of trees
for settlers on the upland prairie regions;
it has also been
explained that the first, and succeeding, territorial gov­
ernors made recommendations to the legislature that encourage­
ment be given in a tangible form for timber culture in the
20
Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1871), 28-30.
21Ibld. . (1873), 150.
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territory.
Nothing of importance was done about the matter
until 1869 when the state legislature provided that any tax­
payer in the state would be exempt from taxation for planting
and suitably cultivating one or more acres of forest trees
for timber.
The trees were not to exceed twelve feet apart
and were to be kept in a healthy and growing condition.
The
amount of exemption was $100 annually for 6 years for each
acre planted.
For fruit trees the exemption was $50 for each
acre planted and the trees were not to exceed 33 feet apart,22
The State Board of Agriculture, meeting January 5, 1879,
decided to offer $50 for the best and $25 for the second
largest and best grove of timber planted in 1870.
Also it
was decided to offer a $15 prize for the best orchard and row
of hedges planted during the same year.23
In order to further
the cause of tree culture
in Nebraska, a number of men met at the office of the state
Board of Agriculture, at the State fair grounds, Nebraska
City, September 29, 1869, and organized a State Horticultural
24
Society,
The first official meeting of the society was held at
Brownville, January 5, 1870, wh e n plans were made for future
promotion of horticulture.25
At a special meeting held at
Omaha, June 15, 1870, the society recommended the cooperative
22
General Laws of Nebraska. 4th. and 5th.
(1871), 136.
Ressionfl.
'
23
Annual R e p o r t , State Board of Agriculture, (1871), 136.
24 a
Annual R e p o r t s » Nebraska Horticultural Society, (187175), 3.
25Ibld., 4.
'
i
f
j
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— 59-
system to the settlers in the purchase of fruit trees, shrubs,
and vines.
It was also suggested that the county agricultural
and horticultural associations appoint some suitable person
to act as agent for each county in procuring, on the best
terms possible, such supplies as members may desire.^®
In 1872 R. W. Furnas, president of the State Board of
Agriculture, and J. H. Masters, president of the State Horti­
cultural Society, secured collections of Nebraska fruit, and
at the expense of themselves and a few other individuals,
went to Richmond, Virginia, to display the fruit at the
National Pomological Society*
This display won first p r i z e . ^
The next year the Burlington and Missouri railway company
the
placed at/disposal of the Board and Society a car by whi c h
a carload of fruits and evergreens of Nebraska production was
sent to the National Pomological Exhibition at Boston*
Nebraska was awarded the first premium for the best collection
of apples, a medal for pears, and honorable mention was made
of its peaches, plums, and grapes.28
The awards won at the national exhibitions created con­
siderable Interest in fruit tree culture in the state, and
the Horticultural Society renewed its efforts in order to ex­
tend its program over the state.
These early efforts laid
the foundation for the present fruit production in the
south-eastern part of the state.
,
27 28
*
26
Attempts made to make other
Annual R e p o r t . Nebraska Horticultural Society,
(1870),
#
27
Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1873), 228.
(l8 7 3 -lT376 ^S^g of Proceedings. State Board of Agriculture,
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-60-
eections of the state great fruit producing areas have not
been successful to the point where there is an export surplus
to place on the market.
The efforts made to extend timber culture in Nebraska
were not very successful.
In 1872 the State Board of Agri­
culture appointed two members to work w i t h a like committee
from the Horticultural Society to prepare and present an
address to be made to the National Agricultural Convention,
which was to meet the same year, asking for government aid to
PQ
encourage tree planting in the western prairies.
Nebraska was not the only state that was petitioning for
government aid in this respect.
Timber culture had become a
subject of general discussion in the West.
Reports of geo­
logical surveys had called attention to the matter.
Congress
took action and on March 3, 1873, enacted the Timber Culture
Act.
This Act, as amended the next year, made it possible for
a settler to procure not more than 160 and not less than 40
acres of western land, provided that one-fourth of the land
be devoted to timber for a period of eight years.®®
It is Interesting to note that it was Senator Hitchcock
of Nebraska who Introduced the Timber Culture Bill.
use of the law was made in Nebraska.
Not much
In order to encourage
more settlers to take advantage of the act the State Board
of Agriculture attempted to have it liberalized.
On January
16, 1878, it was decided to petition the congressmen from
29
30
Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1872), 220.
Donaldson, Public D o m a i n . 360.
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- 61-
Nebraska to use their Influence in changing the law to provide
for the withdrawal of one-fourth of every section of the public
lands then subject to entry under the act for the purpose of
timber culture entries.
Also It was urged upon the congress­
men to work for an amendment to the Homestead Act requiring
cultivation of at least 4 acres of timber on homesteads
located on prairie lands before final receipts be given.4*
No results were secured by this action of the board, as the
national government took no further steps to encourage timber
culture during that period of our national history.
In line with their other efforts to promote the planting
of trees In Nebraska, to the State Board of Agriculture goes
the credit of establishing Arbor Day.
At its meeting in 1872
It was decided that Wednesday, April 10, 1872, be set apart
and "consecrated" for tree planting in the state of Nebr&bka.
Awards were to be made to the county and to the individual
who would plant the largest number of trees on that day.3^
It was estimated that on the first Arbor Day 1,000,000 trees
were planted and perhaps a like number the next
year.
33
In order to make the observance of Arbor Day an annual
occurrence, the State Board in 1874 designated the second
Wednesday of April of each year as such, and called upon the
people of the state to petition the legislature to make that
day a legal holiday.
The governor was also memorialized to
call attention to the day by an official proclamation which
^ -Transactions. State Board of Agriculture,
32Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1876-79), 29.
(1873), 222.
35M°rton, History of N e b r a s k a . I, 713.
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-62wouldL request the people of the state to plant “forest, fruit,
and ornamental trees."34
It was very appropriate that Robert
W. Furnas was the governor at the time.
Arbor Day proclamation, March 1, 1874.
He Issued the first
It was not until
1885 that the legislature made April 22, J. Sterling Morton's
birthday, a legal holiday to be known as Arbor Day.
The State Board of Agriculture continued its energetic
work in promoting different phases of agriculture.
By the
middle of the decade of the 80*s its activities could be
demonstrated by merely mentioning some of its affiliated
organizations.
Such a list mighfinclude:
the State Horti­
cultural Society, the Nebraska Stock Breeders' Association,
the State Fish Commission, the Nebraska F i s h Breeding Estab­
lishment; and the Nebraska Dairymen's Association.33
Taking advantage of the Morrill Act, enacted b y Congress
in 1862, the state legislature took a very Important step
in promoting and encouraging agriculture when on February 15,
1869, it passed a law providing for the establishment of a
state university, and also providing that, in connection with
the university, there should be organized at an early date,
an Agricultural College,
The Board of Regents arranged for
the opening of the Agricultural College in the fall of 1872.36
This was the beginning of one of the most potent agencies
in promoting scientific agriculture in the state of Nebraska.
34Journal of Proceedings. State Board of Agriculture,
11873— 79), 18.
35
^
00See Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture, 1884.
Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1885), 18.
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-63-
It would be difficult to conceive of the progress that has
been made in raising Nebraska to the rank of one of the most
important agricultural states of the nation if the work of
the Agricultural College had not been performed.
Through
its guidance and experimental work the farmers of the state
came to look upon it as the directing force in determining
what types of agriculture were best suited to the various
sections of the state.
The growth of farming on a large scale took place In
Nebraska after 1870.
Previously foundations had been laid
for future development.
There were the natural factors, of
soil, climate, and topography which had existed for ages.
Man had to adjust his endeavors to the influence of these
factors, and learn from bitter experience, in several instances,
that they are governing elements in the evolution of an agri­
cultural country.
It has been the struggle w i t h these forces
/
that has occupied the major portion of the attention of agri­
culturists in Nebraska.
As the new territory was opened for settlement, settlers
did not enter in great numbers.
Certain stimuli were required
in order to Induce people to pull up stakes elsewhere and
transfer t o the frontier.
The various influences which
caused the immigration of pioneers to this territory have
been stated in Chapter II.
^t was not until the decade of
the 70's that immigration on a large scale began to take
place.
From that time until about 1890 around one million
people entered the state.
Since 1890 the total population
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— 64-
ha s not Increased much over 300,000,
Not only native Americans
were attracted to the new state but various foreign national­
ities were represented in the great influx of immigrants*
From the point of view of population, Nebraska may be said to
have begun its growth after 1870*
Nebraska had no mineral resources to attract settlers,
so
had to rely upon the agricultural possibilities for future
development*
These possibilities were advertised and fostered
by those who worked for the furtherance of the growth of the
state*
The territorial government early took limited steps
in encouraging agricultural development*
One of its most
important acts in this respect was the establishing of a
Board of Agriculture, which proved to be an agency that was
alert to the needs, opportunities, and potentialities of
farming in the state.
Foundations had been laid by 1870 for the agricultural
growth of Nebraska.
To the natural factors,
there was added
the settlers who were to utilize the natural factors for
definite purpo ses of production*
Thiei^ tiiex*e ws.s also tiie
encouragment given to farming b y the acts of government as
well as by public spirited individuals.
Agriculture in Nebraska after 1870 assumes different
aspects in its evolutionary development as contrasted w i t h
the previous period*
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PART II
EXPANSION, 1870-1900
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CHAPTER IV
INTERPRETATION OF THE EVOLUTION OF AGRICULTURE IN NEBRASKA
The evolutionary development of agriculture in Nebraska
during the period 1870-1930 manifests two general character­
istics.
The first is the physical expansion from 1870-1900;
the second, the readjustment of agriculture to physical and
economic factors based upon scientific knowledge and effort,
1900-1930.
The separation, b y a specific date, of periods of man's
development along any line, whether it be political, economic,
social, or cultural,
is arbitrary.
agriculture this is quite true.
The
In the case of Nebraska
physical expansion of
the first period carried over into the second period but at
a decreasing rate.
utilization.
This can be seen by the growth of land
In 1870, 4.2 per cent of the land was in farms;
in 1900 there was 61.1 per cent, while in 1930 this had in­
creased to 91 per cent.1
Thus the rate of increase had
diminished 90.0 per cent when the two periods are compared.
Most of nhe increase in land utilization during the latter
period took place in the western half of the state.
This was
because farmers had learned how to manage their.enterprise in
a serai— arid region.
New methods of cultivation,
such as dry-
farming, and the selection of new varieties of crops and
adaptation of older varieties made it possible to use lands
which,
in the earlier period, the farmers could not make
■^Ninth Census, (1870), III, 81; Thirteenth Census. (1910).
VII, "Agriculture," 30; Fifteenth Census. (1930). 11. Pt. 1.
-----------------"Agriculture," 6.
-65Re produced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
productive.
The year 1900 is not used definitely to provide the
division of the periods hut rather the ten year period from
1895-1905 will he used to indicate that a specific change
occurred in the agricultural development of the state and that
Nebraska farmers, at the time, were recognizing that a change
was taking place.
As the year 1900 is the middle year of the
ten years of transition it is the most convenient to use.
The purpose of this chapter is to present some general
evidence of the expansion of agriculture during the period,
1870-1900;
to show that Nebraska farmers were aware of the
transition in farming during 1895-1905;
and to suggest reasons
that will substantiate the division of Nebraska agricultural
history at about the year 1900,
The period of thirty years between the ninth and twelfth
United States Censuses, 1870—1900, witnessed an enormous
expansion of agriculture ,in Nebraska.
This period of time
corresponds with the rapid settlement of the state.
Population
statistics are evidence of the fact that between 1870 and 1900
?
Nebraska received the bulk of her people.
Since 1900 the
increase of population has been much less rapidjf the number of
people in 1S30 being 1,377,963, an increase of only 311,663
from 1900 to 1930 as compared wi t h 943,367 from 1870 to 1900. In
/
other words,
the increase was three times greater in the early
period as compared with the later period.3
2 1870— 122,933; 1880— 452,402; 18 9 0 — 1,062,656; 1900—
1,066,300.
Fourteenth Census of the U.
, Bulletin, Dept,
of Commerce.
»z
'-’For spread of population westward see map No. VI.
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-67As the great majority of people who came to the state
were
in quest of the free and cheap land, it was natural
that
they would strive to secure a living from the soil.
The
open prairie made it comparatively easy to bring the soil
under cultivation; hence, as the settlers arrived their immediate
concern was the breaking of the sod in preparation for their
first crop.
Under such circumstances the result was a tremen­
dous Increase in acreage and production of farm crops.
The process of bringing more and more land under cuitivartion
progressed year after year until the greater part of
soil
of the state on which products could be raised was "under
the plow."
the
It would probably be an injustice to the new farm­
ers to state that their only objective was to get additional
ground ready to receive the seed.
They had emigrated from
other parts of the country, or from foreign lands,
make a better living than they had hitherto.
In order to
However,
since
land was cheap, the Investment of capital small, and labor
not a large factor,
they found costs of production low.
This
-
made it Inevitable for them to desire to expand their acreage
under cultivation and Increase production as rapidly as possible.
The years 1880-1867 were a "boom" period in Nebraska.
In
spite of the fact that prices of agricultural products were
lov; the farmers were not distressed as much as during the later
and more recent years.
They had few expenses,
and taxes practically nothing.
land was free,
Many things which farmers
now buy were prepared in the home.
The agriculture of the
period was self-sufficing to a greater extent than the agri­
culture of today.
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-68-
The rapid settlement of the land and the immense number
of acres that were turned into productive farms, especially
in the years 1870-1890, could only result in over-production
with its attending evils of low prices, Indebtedness, and
interest charges that could not be met.
Little thought was given to maintaining the fertility of
the land.
The idea evidently prevailed in the minds of most
of the farmers that the fertile Nebraska soils were inexhaust­
ible, and only here and there a voice was raised admonishing
Nebraska farmers that the process of "mining the soil" would
lead to undesirable results.
The intent of the farmers who came to Nebraska to turn
the fertile prairies into productive farm land seemingly over­
shadowed everything else.
Just what kind of farming was best
suited to conditions in Nebraska did not give great concern
to the farmer.
It was but natural that certain questions would arise in
the minds
of those who were interested in the types of
culture which would be
best suited to the state.
agri­
In 1886,
Dr. Charles Bessey, State Botanist, in reporting' to the State
Board of Agriculture, pointed out the difficulty of recommend­
ing what forage plants would be best suited for the state,
as the kind of agriculture that would be developed was not
known.
He asked the following questions:
"Is it to be the cultivation of small farms,
upon
which grains and grasses are to alternate in
orderly rotation of crops?
Is It to be the grow­
ing of Indian corn, and the fattening of swine?
Is it to be, in the western part of the state, the
fattening of great herds of cattle for beef?"^
^Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1886), 209.
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69When agriculture had reached the western part of the state,
around 1890, circumstances developed, both in the United States
as a whole and in Nebraska, which caused the expansion process
to be retarded considerably.
General business conditions throughout the whole country
had begun to experience a slump about 1890.
These conditions
developed into the panic of 1893-'94, and Nebraska felt the
effects of it.
This state suffered not only from the business
depression but also from years of drouth.
There was a partial
failure of grain crops in 1890 and poor crops in 1892 and 1893.
Then came the disastrous year of 1894 when, because of the
drouth, there was virtually a total crop failure.
Corn for the
whole state in this year yielded, on the average, only six
bushels per acre.
Charles H. Morrill witnessed and experienced the hard
times of the period.
He has given the following account of
conditions:
"In the year of 1893 crops in Nebraska were
almost totally destroyed by drought and hot winds.
Then came the panic and financial stress, which
paralyzed business.
In 1894 Nebraska was doomed
to have another crop failure.
Farmers were obliged
to ship in grain and even hay to feed their stock;
many sacrificed their livestock b y selling at very
low prices.
Some farmers shot their stock hogs to
prevent their starving.
Financial conditions grew
worse and the entire state was almost in the grip
of actual famine.
Farmers could not pay interest
on their mortgages; nor could land be sold at any
price.
One eastern loan company offered to sell
me 40 quarter sections at two hundred dollars each.
The crop of 1895 was almost a failure.
The result
was that confidence in Nebraska real estate was gone."®
®Chas. H. Morrill, The Morrills and Reminiscences,
(Lincoln, 1918), 70-71.
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, -70Because of the adverse conditions of the early and middle
nineties, the people of many parts of Nebraska were strained
to the limit to maintain themselves.
It was particularly in western Nebraska that conditions
were extreme.
Many settlers left this region and from 1893
to after 1900 population was very sparse in several of the
western counties.
^t seemed that the combined forces of na­
ture and man were in league against the western section of
the state.
Here with wind, sand, drought, and depressed
economic conditions the development was retarded for several
years.
The eastern section of the state, while very hard hit by
the succession of crop failures6 combined with financial
stress, had a sufficient reserve laid by to weather the storm,
so that though recovery was not so rapid as In some sections
of the nation, yet as compared with the western part of the
state it was very marked.
As Nebraska was primarily an agricultural section, many
farmers were faced wi t h virtual ruin by the succession of
crop failures coming Just before and following the financial
panic.
It is evident that the panic Itself would have caused
enough havoc to this debtor section, but when in addition
drought and hot winds took the crops for a whole series of
years,
the state was almost ruined in the estimation of the
eastern capitalists, and the combination of these events
retarded the grotvth of the state materially.
One cannot be
6 Cass G-. Barnes'in The Sod House. (Madison, Nebraska,
1930), states:
"This year ^L894j was the only complete crop
failure eastern Nebraska ever experienced."
p. 93.
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-71too sure that In the long run this was as serious as was
thought at the time.
Nebraska agriculture had grown too fast
during the preceding two decades and the retarding of that
growth forced a more stable development with a greater ultim­
ate agricultural prosperity.
That the hard times of the panic and drought years were
not an unmixed evil, was evident to some of the leading agri­
culturists of the state,
Mr, W, G. Whitmore, president of
the Improved Stock Breeders' Association, delivered an address
before that organization in the annual meeting of 1895,
title of his address was "The Lessons of the Drouth,"
The
Mr,
Whitmore said,
"Repeatedly during the last few months we have
all heard the wail of great big boobies, who, like
Lot with his family, were fleeing from the plains
perfectly sure that the once populous and flourish­
ing cities,of Hastings, Grand Island, Kearney, and
a score of others were as surely doomed as Sodom
and Gomorrah,
While it is morally certain that they
are merely 'fleeing from the ills they have to others
they know not of,' I always feel like bidding them
good riddance, knowing that some of them will return
with more sense, and the places of the cowards and
shirks will be filled by new comers with better
stuff in them,,..Do not misunderstand me to mean
that every portion of Nebraska is reasonably sure
to raise good crops of farm products in a Majority
of years.
Probably many parts will not; but
experience is merely determining what portions are
adapted to certain pursuits and what to others."”
In stressing the need or Nebraska farmers to change
their methods of farming and use to good advantage the ex­
perience of the past, Mr. Whitmore used the following words:
"Mr. Beecher said:
'the heresies of one age
are the orthodoxies of the next,' and It will no
more do for men in agriculture to tread closely the
Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1895), 111.
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-72bes.ten path of their forefathers than In astronomy,
zoology, or theology.
All life is evolution.
‘The
possibilities imprisoned in an acre of ground have
not yet been fathomed.1 There is wealth in our state,
in her consummate combination of soil and climate,
for those who know enough to get it.
The progress
of civilization is opening new fields for the play
of intelligence.
The scope of knowledge that enabled
the farmer of fifty years ago to not only earn a
living, but to hold his rank among the agencies of
society and keep a touch of elbow wi t h the marching
column of progress, now would leave him far behind,
a hopeless and despairing loser in the race for power
and supremacy.
"Forty or fifty years ago 'He who by the plow
would thrive, himself must either hold or drive'
passed current as an orthodox maxim, to be inculcated
in the minds of the rising generation of our country.
But today a man must not only hold and drive too,
but have a gang plow if he expects to k e e p up with
the procession.
"The successful farmer must kno w his soil as
the painter his pigments.
He must watch and under­
stand the markets.
They are as sensitive as the
prairie flower that folds its petals at the sound
of a horse's hoof....The time has come when the
farmer must mix brains with his soil or fall to
the rear."s
Virtually the same thoughts were expressed by Mr. H.
W. Campbell in an address before the State Board of Agri­
culture at its annual meeting in January, 1896.
After re ­
viewing the early agricultural development of the state, Mr.
Campbell stated that careful men were helping the farmer to
find out how best to battle with the climatic conditions and
"there are mighty good grounds for believing that we are on
the verge of a complete revolution in methods and financial
results.“9
"Trained faculties and full knowledge of all
matters pertaining to his business are conceded
by all to be most desirable possessions in the
merchant, the mechanic, the scientist, and in every
vocation of life.
Why, then, should they prove
/
8I b l d . , 115.
9Ibl d. , 160.
/
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-73useless to the farmer?
The truth and the fact,
however, is that a greet class of farmers go
through with little or no appreciation of the
value of a knowledge of their business, and
therefore affect to despise It and make no efforts
to acquire it, while others chafe under their
limited opportunities.
By far the majority of our
people draw their sustenance from the soil by
agriculture, and their sustenance is generous
or restricted largely in proportion.^ as intelligence
mixes with muscle in producing it,”10
If there was one man in Nebraska who, from territorial
days to the time of his death in 1905, could be called the
official voice of agriculture it was Robert W, Furnas of
Brownville,
He was the first president of the territorial
Board of Agriculture when it was organized in 1859,
He also
served as president of the State Board from 1869 to 1873.
His
longest tenure of office was in the position as secretary of
the State Board when he served continuously from 1884 to 1905,
holding the office at the time of his death.
During that
time he issued twenty-two annual reports which were clearly
and methodically compiled and contain a wealth of information
on agricultural topics of the day.
When suggestions were made
to strike out on new lines of endeavor, to promote some parti­
cular legislation for the betterment- of agriculture, or to
improve farming in different ways, it was usually Mr. Furnas
who took the lead.
It was to be expected that he would add his Influence
in the rehabilitation of farming and voice his Opinion regard­
ing the need of more stable and improved farming methods
after the sad experiences of the years of depression and crop
I QIbld. , 161.
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-74failures.
In his annual report to the State Board In 1895
he commented as follows:
"The sooner we realize the fact that farming
is yet in its A B C ‘s, so to speak, and the day is
in the near future when the word profession as
applied to farmers will be of as muc h force and
propriety as to law, medicine, or any other similar
vocation, the better it will be for us.,lU
The following year Secretary Furnas called attention to
the "enormous" corn crop of 1896 and the prevailing low prices.
He recommended more diversified farming— "reducing the corn
area and Increasing that of sugar beets,
chicory, alfalfa,
hemp, and flax, for all of which our soil and climate is so
admirably adapted."
He also expressed hifiiself to the effect
that more thought and attention "be given condensation and
compression of raw p r o d u c t s . " ^
Again in his report for 1900 Mr. Furnas pointed out:
"The old haphazard mode of farming does not
pay from any standpoint, nor add wealth to the state.
Only the latest improved modes pay, and the masses
desire to know these. "■L'5
In his report as state botanist for 1897, Professor
Bessey contended that there was a distinct need of practicing
a definite rotation of crops and tha.t farmers should no longer
plant and crop their farms in an irregular fashion.14
Mr. S. C. Bassett, president of the State Board of Agr i ­
culture, pointed out in 1900, that there were certain con­
ditions of soil and climate over which there could be little
11
Ibid., 18.
12
Ibid. . (1896), 15.
13I b id., (1900), 27.
l 4Ibld. . (1897), 114.
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-75control exercised and which should he taken into consideration
in farming operations.
He contended that in the past it was
too often the case that farmers attempted to force, as it were,
the conditions affecting agriculture to come to their way of
thinking.
He cited for an example the attempts that had been
made to raise corn in the portion of the state that was out
of the corn belt, where the elevation was too great, the
season too short, and there was not sufficient moisture to
ripen the crop.
He concluded,
“Nature has for centuries been preparing that
portion of the state for grazing purposes, covering
the soil with the most hardy and nutritious grasses,
and the sooner we recognize this condition and make
the most of it the better."1 ®
That men were recognizing a change in agriculture was
imminent is very evident.
In addition to advocating the abandon­
ing of some of the old ways of farming and the adopting of new
ones, there were those who were thinking and speaking of the
agriculture of the future,
Mr, R. M, Allen in speaking on
"The Probabilities of Nebraska" at the Nebraska Beet Sugar
Convention at Fremont in 1896 said,
"We must become accustomed to fractions and
savings that are very much smaller than in our past,
and above all a capacity for careful toil and study
must be reached beyond anything in our experience
hitherto.
The object is to create and establish in
the state of Nebraska an Industrial life not purely
agricultural, but technical and scientific,"lo
In a paper read before the annual meeting of the State
Board in 1899, Mr, J, D, Ream, of Custer County, expressed
the view that
"1?he originators of the law that created the
State Board of Agriculture recognized the need of
l 5Ibid. . (1900), 9.
1 6 Ibid., (1896), 258.
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/
-76-
people to make homes within our state and hands
to develop Its resources.
In their efforts to
advertise the resources of the state and the
quality and quantity of its products, they recog­
nized the need of organizing the state fair and
gathering and publishing statistics.
Consequently
these were the only features provided in the law.
"But today conditions are changed.
It is not
now as much a question of how to secure more people,
as it is how to best enable the people we have to
develop the resources of the state, to overcome
climatic and soil conditions, the injurious insects
and pests by which they are surrounded, and thereby
enable them to build up comfortable homes and
develop the social, moral, and intellectual features
of life."17
At the annual meeting of the State Board of Agriculture
in January, 1906,
Professor A. E. Davisson of the University
of Nebraska spoke on
"The Next Step Forward."
He ventured
the opinion that greater demands upon the farmer in the next
few years would force him to keep abreast of the progress
which had been made in other occupations.
Tiis, he pointed
out, was evident because of the following reasons:
"1. The cost of labor has greatly Increased in the
last few years.
2. More machinery is demanded on the farm than
ever before.
3. Competition is keener in all forms of industry.
4. The land is advancing in value so that the
amount invested in farming is greater and greater
effort must be made in order to secure a profitable income from the amount of capital being used." 8
Professor Davisson then made some recommendations a n d suggest­
ions as to future lines of development.
These Included improved
methods of soil tillage, careful adaptation of crops to environ­
ment, selection of seed, selection and breeding
of higher
quality livestock, more scientific feeding of livestock,
17I b ld. . (1899), 24.
1 8 I b l d . . (1905), 157.
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and
a
-77study of the diseases of plants and animals*-1-9
There were other developments in addition to the spread
of farming across the state and the experience of the hard
times of the 1890's which give evidence of the beginning of a
-change in the agriculture of Nebraska during the decade of
1895 to 1905*
The movement for agricultural education manifested itself
in a marked way in the latter part of the nineteenth century
and the beginning of the twentieth century*
The situation in Nebraska was not different from that in
other north central states of the union wi t h respect to foster­
ing agricultural education.
The rapid expansion of agriculture
in the Mississippi Valley had turned the attention of the
country to that region as a great producer of raw products,
particularly foodstuffs*
As the limits of expansion began
to be reached, and as little thought had been given to scien­
tific agriculture, it was but natural for demands to be made
upon the federal government to promote and support agricultural
education*
Land grant colleges had been established under the Morrill
Act of 1862*
Each of these colleges had a school or department
of agriculture in its organization*
The College of Agriculture
of Nebraska was provided for by act of the state legislature
/
in 1869 and was organized in 1872*
The Instructors in the
agricultural colleges were handicapped in their teaching because
they lacked a body of scientific knowledge which they could use
to construct the theory of agriculture*
They began a movement
19I b i d., 158-173.
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-78for establishing experiment stations and wit h the aid of
interested agriculturists brought the matter to the attention
of Congress.
The result was the passage of the Hatch Act in
1887.20
According to the Hatch Act $15,000 was to be paid to each
State or Territory that would establish experiment stations
for the purpose of carrying on agricultural experimentation,
and printing and distributing the results among the farmers
of the country.2 -*The state legislature enacted a law, M a r c h 31, 1887,
accepting the requirements of the Hatch A e t . ^
The federal
funds were not to be available until March 1, 1888; however,
the Board of Regents of the University set aside $3500 for the
support and maintenance of the experiment station for the year
beginning July 1, 1887.
O ’K
Nebraska was, therefore, in position
to take full advantage of the federal funds when they were
made available the following year.
For the first fifteen or twenty years of the existence
of the experiment stations definite results were not discern­
ible.
Workers had not been trained to carry on the work of
the large number of stations that were established.
By careful
experimentation and research a body of scientific knowledge
had to be accumulated and this took time.
There was not full
20
Edward Wiest, Agricultural Organization in the United
S t a t e s . (Lexington, 1923), 221.
gl Ibld. . 222.
22
Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
(1887), 183.
2 5 I b l d . . 19.
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-79acceptance of the need and usefulness of the stations by the
public and their work was often unappreciated and misrepresented.
After this period of novitiate the stations produced definite
results and their true nature and functions have been realized
and generally accepted.
In Nebraska the College of Agriculture and the experiment
station have done more than any other agency to promote agri­
culture on a sound and stable base.
Through the station
publications, and otherwise, new truths which had been demon­
strated were given directly to the farmers for adoption in their
farming processes.
The experiment stations of the country were strengthened
by the Adams Act, enacted by Congress March 16, 1906.
In
addition to the #15,000 appropriated under the Hatch Act,
each
State was to receive #5,000 more for the year ending June 30,
1906, and after that an annual increase of #2,000 for five
years, thus making a total appropriation of #15,000.
This
together w it h the money received under the Hatch Act made a
sura of #30,000 of Federal aid given to the experiment s t a t i o n s . ^
Before the work of the experiment station at Lincoln
had sufficient time to place the results of studies and exper­
iments before the farmers to any great extent,
the farmers
themselves had provided a means of exchanging views as to the
best practices in farming.
In 1889 the State Board of Agri­
culture recommended to the state legislature that $10,000 be
appropriated to be used under the direction of the Board for
.
i
. .
24Ibld. . 223.
i
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-80-
the purpose of holding farmers1 Institutes in the different
25
counties of the state.
The legislature failed to act on the recommendation but
the Board of Regents of the University took the matter under
consideration and, to a limited extent, provided for a series
26
of institutes during the winter months.
This beginning
developed into a voluntary state association composed of the
Boa.rd of Regents of the University, the State Board of Agri­
culture, and several other agricultural organizations.
Each
organization contributed a small sum annually to take care of
incidental expenses.
season's work.
Each group furnished speakers for the
The railroads of the state aided b y furnish­
ing free transportation for the speakers.27
The initiative for holding a f a r m e r s 1 institute had to
come from the community in which it was to be held.
As the
desire for an institute was expressed by some local group
the central office then would function and aid the local
committee in planning for the meeting.
Each institute lasted
two days and there were to b e three sessions.
were supplied by the central organization.
Four speakers
In giving advice
to local committees concerning the local chairman,
the central
office in 1895 said that he should be chosen
"with reference to his ability to keep things
moving, and to keep the discussion in the proper
channels, shutting out all discussion not pertin­
ent to the particular subject being considered.
He should have sufficient nerve to promptly suppress
cranks, or people with an ax to grind."2 °
2 5I_bld. , (1889), 54.
26 I b id., (1891), 41.
2 7I b i d . , (1896), 314.
2®Ta o m
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In 189? the state legislature inserted in the University
appropriation $3,000 for aid to conduct farmers'
institutes,
29
This appropriation was for two years ending March 31, 1899,
During the winter of 1898-'99 there were 62 institutes held.
In addition to the local institutes there was a State
Institute held in connection with sthe annual meeting of the
State Board of Agriculture in January of each year.
At these
meetings usually some outstanding speakers were Imported to
give lectures on general as well as specific matters relating
to farming.
Through the initiative of the State Board of Agriculture,
the matter of teaching agriculture in the public schools of
the state was laid before the legislature.
After several un­
successful attempts to get favorable action, a bill, w h i c h
had been drafted by the legislative committee of the Board,
was enacted into law.
On March 29, 1901, the law was passed
providing that "the elements of agriculture,
including a fair
knowledge of the structure and habits of common plants,
insects,
birds and q u a d r u p e d s s h o u l d be taught in the public schools
of the state.
This law was to be effective on and after
July 1, 1903,
Several difficulties were encountered in the teaching of
agriculture in the public schools.
29 Ibld., (1898), 55.
5 0Ibid., (1901), 51.
51 Iaws of Nebr a s k a . 27th.
Often the rural school
session,
(1901), 449.
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-
82-
teacher was a young girl who had finished a short normal course
without any instruction in agriculture.
According to the
terms of the law an examination in the elements of agriculture
had to be taken by prospective teachers before a certificate
would be granted to them.
The trouble was that little knowledge
in printed form was available to prepare for the examination
and what was at hand had little practical use in the schoolroom.
Then there was the problem of securing suitable texts for use
in the schools.
In order to meet this need Professors Bessey,
Bruner, and Swezey of the University of Nebraska prepared a
textbook under the title "Elementary Agriculture:
for the Schools of Nebraska.M
A Textbook
As this text was put into use
it was found that it was too advanced for the elementary grades
and was used mainly
The initiation
for instruction in high schools.3^
of the teaching of agriculture in the public
schools of Nebraska was pioneer work.
According to some state­
ments made by members of the State Board of Agriculture this
was the first state to institute such a course.33
The chief significance of such a step lay in the fact
that it evidenced a recognized need to improve agriculture
and to make farming
more attractive to the young people.
day of readjustment
and improvement was at hand.
The
In the latter part of the nineteenth century steps were
taken -to investigate in a scientific manner,
some of the
principal factors which enter into the development of agriculture
In 1898 the State Geologist, Professor Erwin H. Barbour,
/
5 8Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
55 Idem.
(1901), 51.
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-83present ed a preliminary report on the mechanical analysis of
the soils of Nebraska.34
This was the beginning of the soil
surveys which have been conducted in a large number of the
/
counties of the state.
Professor Barbour also pointed out in his report of the
preceding year, 1897, that the exodus of people from the arid
regions of the country, during the period of drouth, had
caused the federal government to get facts about the water
supply of those regions.
It was considered important to have
at hand data from which authentic reports could be made regard­
ing the depth to water, and the "quality, quantity,
stancy of our water supply.1,33
and con­
The object of the survey was
to make it possible for the farmer living in those regions to
have such information for the benefit of his crops and herds;
and the prospective settler would have a basis upon w h i c h he
could make plans for his method of farming.
The water survey was ponducted by F. H. Newell, hydrographer of the United States Geological Survey, and was to
cover the entire country, but more particularly the Great
Plains region.36
The general character of agriculture in Nebraska had
changed by 1900.
The eastern half of the state was occupied
by the farmer-settler.
Although the western part of the state
had not been settled as densely as the eastern, on account of
drouth, the nature of agriculture had changed.
Cattle raising
34I b id., (1898), 287.
35I b i d . , (1897), 196.
36I b i d . , 197.
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-84had ceased to be the free range type and farmers had forced
the fenced range upon the ranchers.
The ranges would not
support the great herds, as formerly, because of over-stocking
during the series of exceptionally favorable years preceding
the drouth of the 1890's.
Then during the period of dry
years the native grasses were barely able to keep alive.
The cattle on the breeding grounds of the west were sold or
died of thirst and starvation in great numbers.37
There was
a recovery of the cattle Industry in the west with increasing
rainfall after 1900 but not on the large scale as before and
it was carried on along different lines.
Shortly after 1900 experiments in dry-fe.rming had reached
a point which made it possible for a more general settlement
and farming of a great part of the high plains area of the
west as well as of the valleys of that section.3®
By 1900 the period of rapid expansion of agriculture was
at an end.
The calamities of the middle nineties had caused
the slackening of too rapid a growth and changed the develop­
ment to one more steady and healthful.
The beginning of the
twentieth century brought a "new era" for the Nebraska farmer,
who had so recently passed through the handicaps of drought,
low prices, and depleted stock.
That the farmer was getting ready for a new start by
adjusting his enterprise to the controlling physical and
economic factors we have seen.
He was cognizant of the fact
that he had to improve his methods of farming and he was demanding
/
37 I b i d . , las.
3®Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer D a y s , VII, No* 1, 64.
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-85that the state aid him In doing this.
The new century was to bring many changes.
did not come abruptly but in a gradual way.
was far less complex than it was in 1930.
These changes
Life as a whole
Many of the things
which were accepted in 1950 as necessities had not been in­
vented, or had not reached the general public in 1900.
cream separator had not appeared,
The
so milk had to be put in
crocks for the cream to rise to the top and be skimmed off
each day.
Vegetables and fruits were canned or dried each year
in every farm home.
end bread was baked.
Meat was cured for the family supply
The house wife did not have access to
the modern conveniences of today but had to spend long hours
over the kitchen range in preparing the food for the family
use.
The oil stove, carpet sweepers, sinks and running water
were very uncommon in farm homes.
It was not yet time for every farm to have an automobile
but each farm had some kind of horse drawn vehicle.
The farmer in the field was Just beginning to use riding
implements.
It was only in the 1 8 9 0 ’s that the sulky plow came
into common use and not until after 1900 was the gang plow used
to any great extent.
Riding cultivators were coming into vogue
and the use of any other power than horses and mules was entirely
unknown.
The development of Nebraska agriculture after 1900 was
steadier and of a much slower pace than in the period before.
The present condition of agriculture in the state Is but a
gradual development from that time.
Its chief characteristics
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are those of readjustment and improvement.
It will "be the purpose of the succeeding chapters to
present the evolutionary development of agriculture in
Nebraska in its two phases:
first, one of rapid expansion
and one of slower growth and improvement through a process
of the farmer readjusting his enterprise to the various
controlling forces of the time.
i
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CHAPTER V
COEN— THE PRINCIPAL CROP
Indian maize, or corn, has always been the principal crop
produced in Nebraska.
There may be some Justification in de­
signating the period of expansion, 1870 to 1900,
as a one-crop
era of farming, but during that time corn did not at all times
exceed the total value of all other crops planted in Nebraska*
For instance, in the five year period before 1879, although
the annual average production of corn exceeded the production
of all other crops combined by two and one-half times, the to­
tal value of the corn crop was over one-half million dollars
less than the other crops.^
During the same period the average
annual value per acre for corn was $7.65 as compared w i t h $8.60
p
for wheat.
Considerable acreage of wheat, oats, rye, potatoes
buckwheat, barley, flax, millet, and forage crops was planted
by the farmers in the state.
Corn, however, was the chief crop,
as can be seen b y the
comparison of corn in acreage and production wi t h its closest
rivals, wheat and oats.3
the present time*
This position it has maintained to
Nebraska can rightly be termed "The Corn—
husker State."
Corn was established as the principal Nebraska crop from
early times.
It is claimed that when Coronado visited this
territory in 1541 he found the Indians raising corn. Missionarie
sent to the Pawnee Indians made the same observation in 1835.^
S o r t e r , The W e s t . 360.
^Idem.
3
A p p e n d i x . Figure 6, xiii.
% o r t o n , History of Nebraska. II, 266.
-87Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-88-
As the territory was opened for settlement, the first crop
to be planted by the settlers was sod corn.
After breaking
the sod, the corn was planted by cutting holes through the sod
with an axe and dropping the kernels beneath the sod, , This corn
required little or no cultivation.
During the summer the sod
rotted and in the late fall or next spring was “backset”•
second crop was often checked.
The
The farmer often "marked" his
field with two-by-four pieces of lumber constructed in such a
way that the marks would be evenly spaced.
This device was then
dragged across the ground and if the field was to be planted
by hand it was marked both ways and the corn planted with a hoe
at the intersections.
Of course,
some farmers owned or borrowed
planters, and then the fields would previously be marked only
one way.
In manipulating the early planters, one man would
drive the team and a second man would work a lever attachment
that would drop the corn.
This action required some skill if
the corn was to be evenly spaced.
Usually all corn, except
sod corn, was cultivated three times by a two-shovel, one horse
cultivator.
The practice of planting sod corn did not belong only to
territorial days but was the usual first-process of farming as
the settlers moved westward across the state in the seventies
and eighties.
It was not the invariable custom to plant the
second crop to corn, as wheat often followed sod corn in the
sections of the state farther west from the Missouri river.
From the very beginning corn yielded exceptionally well,
J.t seemed to the first settlers that it was the only crop to
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-89plant.
Wheat did not do so well on sod ground and as corn
produced so abundantly on
desire to
the new fertile soil there was little
plant any other grain.
The
possibilities of Nebraska
as a great corn country caught the imagination of early Nebraskans.
In the Omaha Times of October 1, 1857, the thought is expressed
that “supremacy in corn had gone successively from Ohio,
Indiana, to Illinois,
to
to Missouri and to Iowa, and now Nebraska
e
is about to be crowned the
‘conqueror of the Conquerors'".
according to some reports the yield in the early sixties
ran up to
70, 80, 90, and 100 bushels
per acre.®
doubtedly
exaggerated, as each farmer
and each district would
want to extoll the prolific virtues of their soil.
This was un­
At the same
time there were accounts of occasional crop failures in those
days due to unfavorable climatic conditions.
Encouragement was given to th«, farmers to raise good yields
of corn.
The State Board of Agriculture offered a plow^ valued
at §575.00 as a premium for the greatest number of bushels of
corn raised on not less than twenty acres.®
This prize was won
by Lawson Cook of Otoe County, who raised 114 bushels of corn
9
per acre on an 80 acre tract.
Average annual yields per acre did not nearly reach the
figures stated by local chroniclers or by the prize winning
Lawson Cook.10
In the five year period, 1870-1875, the average
5Ibl d . , 267.
6 Ibld. . 270.
rp
This plow was presented without cost to the Board by Parlin
and Orendorf, Canton, 111.
8Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture, (1871), 136.
9Idem.
10Appen dix. Table 1, i; Figure 1, iii.
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-90annual yield was 32.9 bushels per acre, with the highest of
41.5 bushels in 1871; in the next five year period 36.4 bushels
with the highest of 41 bushels in 1879 and, in the next five
year period, 1880-1885, an average of 34.5, bushels per acre
with 1884 having the highest yield of 37.7 bushels.
After 1885 the yield per acre diminished and did not reach
as high an average over any five year period after this date.
This can be explained, for the, most part, from the fact that
the lands farther west from the Missouri river were placed under
cultivation and the yield per acre was not as great as in the
fertile sections of the eastern part of the state.
then, for the state would decrease.
The average,
In 1879 the 10 contiguous
counties in the southeastern corner— Richardson, Nemaha, Pawnee,
Johnson, G-age, Otoe, Saline, Seward, Cass, and Lancaster— pro­
duced 62 per cent of the total corn crop.11
These counties con­
stituted some of the oldest settled areas of the State and had
large numbers of livestock.
By 1880 Nebraska had become recognized as an important
corn producing state of the Union.
The leading corn producing
area had been moving constantly westward for several decades.
In 1840 the principal corn producing states were Tennessee,
Kentucky, and Virginia.12
Two decades later Illinois, Ohio,
and Missouri were the chief states in the production of corn.13
The ten leading corn producing states in order of importance
in 1870 were Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky,
11Porter, The
■*-2percy Wells
Agriculture in the
ton, D. C . , 1925),
W e s t . 361.
Bidwell and John T. Falconer, History of
Northern United S t ates: 1620-1860, (Washlng347.
^Idem.
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Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Alabama. 4
Nebraska had not
at this time broken into the ranks of the important corn states,
as the settlement of the state was confined to the extreme east­
ern portion.
During the following decade corn production had pushed
decidedly westward and northward.
The ten ranking states in 1880
were Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky,
Nebraska, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.
These states contributed
15
78.9 per cent of the total corn crop.
Production was centered
in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, which produced almost one-half
of the crop.
The seven north central states of this group pro­
duced 68.5 per cent of the entire crop of the nation.1®
It
will be noted that Nebraska ranked eighth in this group of states
In 1870 corn produced in Nebraska amounted to 5,163,000 bushels,
in 1880 there were 59,507,600 bushels raised.
This meant an
average yearly increase for the decade of 5,434,460 bushels.17
The region that came to be designated as the "Corn Belt"
of the nation had definitely been formed by 1890.
The ranking
corn states were Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri,
Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, and Tennessee.
80.7 per cent
of the crop of the nation was produced by these ten states.1®
The seven north central states contributed over 70 per cent of
19
the entire crop.
These seven states— Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
^■4Louis Bernard Schmidt and Earle Dudley Ross, Readlngs
the Economic History.of American Agriculture, (New York, 1925)
383.
l5Yearbook, U. S. Dept, of Agriculture, (1921), 172.
3-Sldem.
1 7Nebraska Agricultural Statistics, 1923-1924. issued co­
operatively by the U. S. Dept, of Agr. and the Nebr. State Dept,
of A g r . , 60.
^®Schmidt and Ross, on. c l t . , 384.
19Idem.
. .
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-92Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska— constituted the Corn Belt
states.
In this group of states Nebraska ranked fourth.
Pro­
duction in the state had increased more rapidly than in the
previous decade.
For the ten years 1880 to 1889 inclusive the
20
average annual Increase was over 9,000,000 bushels.
The decade of the 1890's witnessed a checking of the west­
ward movement of corn.
Production had become more intense in the
Missouri River Valley by 1900.
The ten leading states were the
same as in 1890, with the exception ■Ghat Oklahoma took Hie place
of Tennessee, which dropped out altogether.
Unfavorable climatic
..conditions helped to decrease production in the corn belt as
compared w ith the total production of the nation.
The ten lead­
ing states produced 75.5 per cent of the entire crop, which was
5.2 per cent less than in 1890.
The seven north central states
raised 66 per cent of the crop or less by 4.7 per cent when com­
pared with 1 8 9 0 . Nebrs.ska still held her rank as the fourth
corn producing state of the nation.
The average annual increase
of production in the state from 1891 to 1900 inclusive was 4,277,806
bushels.
This was a decline in the rate of Increase of the two
op
previous decades.
In fact corn production in Nebraska had
reached a peak in this decade and this period was not again equaled
until the later part of the 1920*s.
Nebraska became a leading corn producing state because the
settlers who came to Nebraska during the period of expansion,
especially from 1870 to 1890, came principally from states where
g0Appendlx.
21Yearbook,
g gAppendix.
2 5Appendlx,
Table 1,1.
U. S. Dept, of Agr.,
Table 1, i.
Figure 1, iii.
(1921), 173.
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-93corn had been an important crop.
Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and
Missouri contributed greatly to the Influx of people into the
state and it was most natural that these farmers would plant
corn.
The soil and climate of the state were found to be very
favorable for the raising of the crop.
Temperature and length of growing season have an important
relation to successful corn production..
The average growing
season In the corn belt ranges from 150 to 180 days.
Where the
growing season is less than 140 days very little corn is grown
for grain.
The middle portion of the growing season should
have bot h warm days and nights and an abundance of sunshine.
Cool weather should follow to act as a check upon the leaf and
stalk growth, which will cause the plant to use its strength
in seed development.24
The amount and distribution of rainfall during the growing
season determines to a large extent the yield of corn.
Where
the average annual summer rainfall is less than eight inches
very little corn is grown.
Thirty to forty inches of annual
moisture is sufficient for the typical corn belt area.
A larger
amount of rainfall would be more favorable to a higher yield,
depending, of course, upon the amount of evaporation.
In vary­
ing the yield of corn, rainfall Is the most important factor
and the month of July is the most critical month.
Usually if
rainfall is sufficient during July satisfactory yields are
secured.
"The region of most Intensive (corn)production re­
quires then a mean summer temperature of 70° to 80^F*.» an
24Yearboo k , U. 3. Dept, of Agr.,
(1921)^ 183.
f
\
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-94-
average daily minimum summer temperature exceeding 50°F., a
frostless season of 140 days in length, alricL an annual precipi­
tation of between 25 and 50 inches, of which at least 7 Inches
25
should occur in July and August."
The soil requirements of corn are a fertile, friable, well
drained soil which does not easily bake during periods o f drouth*
be
A water table near the surface is desirable but there should/free
26
drainage of water from the surface.
Reference to Chapter I regarding the physical foundations
of agriculture in Nebraska indicates that the geographical
features of part of the state are favorable for corn culture.
Approximately the eastern half of Nebraska has the requisite
physical qualifications for producing this, the principal crop
of the state.
Western Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and North
and South Dakota constitute the western limits of the corn
c>7
country."'
Considering the geographic range of corn production,
limits had been reached by 1900.
the
The slight extension of pro­
duction after this time was due to developing varieties that
were better adapted to the more arid regions of the west and to
the improved strains of varieties in the east.
The rapid increase of the production of corn in Nebraska
during the period 1870-1900 was typical of the expansion of corn
25
Yearbook. U. S. Dept, of Agr.,
(1924), 503.
26Beulah Scott, "A Study of the Geographic Unity of the
Corn Belt," M. A. Thesis MS, in University of Nebraska Library, 53.
2 *7 —1
Eugene Clyde Brooks, The Story of Corn and the Westward
M i g r a t i o n . (New York, 1916), 202.
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raising in the Corn Belt area.
For the United States as a whole
there was a decided overproduction of corn in the three decades
beginning 1870.
According to United States Census reports corn
oo
production for the country as a whole w a s r °
1869
1879
1889---1899---1909---1919----
760,940,000 bushels
1,754,592,000
"
2,122,328,000
"
2,666,324,000
"
2,552,190,000
«
2,917,450,000
"
This growth in production represented a tremendous increase
in acreage planted to corn.
The acreage aspect of corn culture
represented the expansion of the industry in a more definite
way than the total production in bushels.
Acreage Increase
Indicated the manner in which population spread westward and
the breaking of the prairie to establish new farms.
It also
indicated the intention or plans of the farmers in a more definite
way than yield or production.
In Nebraska the acreage of corn increased very markedly
from 1870 to 1900.
The leap from 172,675 acres in 1870 to
1,919,600 acres in 1880 represented an increase on the average
of 174,692 acres per year.
In 1890 the acreage was 3,072,800,
an average increase of 115,320 acres per year for the preceding
decade, and by 1900 there were 8,093,464 acres in corn w h i c h
represented an average annual increase for the decade of 502,066
29
acres.
In this period, 1870-1900, the increase of production of
any particular crop was due, in general,to the liberal land
^®H. C. Filley and E. A. Frerichs, "Purchasing Power of
Nebraska Grains," in Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin
v1923), 25.
2 9A p p e n dlx. Table l,i; Figure 1, ill.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-96laws of the government— Homestead Act, Timber Culture Act, Pre­
emption Act;
to the fact that the prairie could be broken up
very easily; and to the Improvement in farm machinery.
On the
whole the growth of farming was due primarily to an increase 3n
the number of acres of new land which were brought under cultiva­
tion.
In Nebraska the farmers had found that by 1890 corn yielded
better than any other crop, especially wheat, which was its
nearest rival.
The yields of corn were higher during the two
decades 1870-1890 than in any decade since, because only the
best land was homesteaded and cultivated.
Corn was not grown
very extensively in the central and western portions of the
state, which later lowered the average yield for the state.
By this time also a considerable number of livestock was fed
in the eastern part of the state and there was a good market
at Omaha.
As the price of corn was low and the price of live­
stock relatively high, it was found that there were greater
profits in feeding the corn to livestock and marketing it in
the form of cattle and hogs, thereby reducing its bulk and
saving freight rates.
The increase in the number of live­
stock is indicated by the following;®^
1880
1890
1900
Horses and
Mules— 191,300--- 587,828---- 702,683
Cattle-------------- 428, 000--- 1,306, 372---- 1, 521, 454
Hogs----------------- 698,700---2,309,779---- 1,313 ,061
A large supply of feed was needed in order to take care of
the livestock and this caused an increase of corn acreage, and
30
Milan Austin, "Trends in Acreage of Important Cultivated
Crops in Nebraska, 1879-1934," M. A. Thesis MS, in University
of Nebraska Library, 106.
51Nebraska Agricultural Statistics. (1925), 100-102.
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-97-
a resulting decrease in wheat production, particularly in the
eastern part of the state.
In spite of the hard times of the nineties corn acreage
32
increased in Nebraska by 5,020,664 acres.
The price of corn
was very low during most of the years of the decade, and as the
previous decade had witnessed an increase in the supply of live­
stock the price of cattle and hogs also fell.
Because of the
drouth years many farmers could not raise sufficient feed for
their stock and had to dispose of it at ruinous prices.
pastures in the range country and elsewhere were poor,
The
so that
the number of range cattle for the feed lots of eastern Nebraska
was diminished to a great extent.
Climatic conditions during the decade were not conducive
to expansion of corn production, or production of any other
crop.
Beginning in 1887 a series of unusually dry years began.
In that year the corn crop was short.
It was almost an entire
failure in a few sections of the s t a t e . T h e
year 1890 was
the driest and hottest season Nebraska had experienced for
34
twelve years.
On the other hand, 1891 was the wettest and
35
coldest year on record for ten years.
The corn did not
mature properly and much of it could not be marketed.
From
1893 to 1895 the drouth was severe.
In 1894 corn averaged only
6 bushels per acre^® for the state.
In the years Immediately
g2Appen dlx. Table 1, i.
g5Annual R e p o r t . State Board of Agriculture,
g4 Ibl d . . (1891), 165.
(1887), 6.
^IdLem.
gsA p p e n d l x . Table 1, i.
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I
\
-98-
\
following 1895 the yield was good but as there were few hogs
and cattle to feed the corn had to be marketed.
\
"Farmers
sold their corn, both shelled and in the ear, for 9 to 11 cents
a bushel."^
The price of corn in 1895 does not reflect the usual re­
muneration the farmer received for the crop during the period
of expansion, 1870-1900.
The average price for the state as
a whole ranged from sixty-six cents per bushel in 1874 to
30
thirteen cents in 1896 and 1897.
On account of the Immense
production over the entire corn belt the price of corn was low
everywhere and especially low in Nebraska because of trans­
portation costs to get it to the markets of the east.
Because
corn was used largely for feed, the price fluctuated greatly
according to the supply produced in the corn belt.
There
were some exceptions to the generally low prices but these
were few and were local in nature.
In 1874 the price was
sixty-six cents and in 1875 in Holt County it was $1.00 a
bushel owing to the crop failure of the previous year.^^
Again in 1890 and in 1894 the price was comparatively high.
At these times, however,
the farmer was not especially bene­
fited but handicapped because he had to buy grain for feed.
The usual price was below thirty cents per bushel; only
in six out of the thirty years did the farmer receive a higher
!
average price.
The Nebraska farmer was not in a situation to
rtrp
Barnes, The Sod House. 94.
S QAppendlx. Table 1, i; Figure 1, iii.
®®Bentley, "Condition of the Western Farmer," op. c l t .. 33.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-99store his grain and hold it for a higher price even if he would
have been able or if such a procedure would have been wise.
Storage facilities were few on the new farmsteads; consequently
that corn which was not fed was marketed as soon as harvested.
This caused a great fluctuation in seasonal price.
40
In Polk
County one farmer had to satisfy a debt of $100 by selling five
hogs at $5.00 each and 500 bushels of corn at 15 cents per
bushel.41
The low price of corn during this period was not due
entirely to the large supply and the need for marketing It soon
after it was harvested.
From 1870 to 1898 the trend of the
general price level of the country was downward.
From a high
index of 136 there was a general downward trend to 68 In 1896
and 1897.42
During the entire period the purchasing power of corn was
low.
In only two years, 1890 and 1894, was It 100 per cent or
more of the average of 1/10-1914. 4*^ The purchasing power of
corn was lower, relatively, than that of w h a t , oats, or barley.
In 1872 it was 21 as compared with 62 for wheat, 29 for oats,
and 52 for barley.
In 1884 the purchasing- power of the four
grains were 35, 56, 57, and 72 respectively.44
In 1896 and In
1897 corn sold for only 13 cents per bushel and the purchasing
power was only 35 during the same years.
This was the lowest
price and one of the lowest points in the purchasing power of
corn In the history of the state from 1870 to logo.
40hdward A. F- riels, “Purchasing io^er f Nebraska Grains,"
M. A. Thesis MS, in University of Nebraska Library, 42.
^i-Intervlew with Mr. J. H. Flodman, Wahoo, Nebr. Mr. Flod— ■
man had farmed in Polk Co. during the 1870’s and 1880's.
-vcihis index is based upon a 1910-'14 average. See Appendix,
Table 10, xxlv.
’
43Appendlx. Table 11, xxv.
4 Consult Appendix. Table 11, xxv; Table 12, xxvii.
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-100-
In the face of apparent adverse conditions— overproduction,
unfavorable climatic conditions at times, general low prices,
and a low purchasing power— we have noted how corn acreage and
production expanded tremendously.
Several reasons account for this condition.
for homesteading ran into the millions.
In 1870 there were
4,583 entries with a total acreage of 509,062.71.
entries were 5,648 and number of acres 827,112.06.
hr*
•S'
11 years, 1870-1880 Inclusive,
The acres taken
In 1880 the
During the
there were 5,882,768.30 acres
entered under the homestead law.4®
During the decade 1880-
1890 there were 19,585,382 acres taken by the homestead process.
This amounted to almost 39 per cent of the total land area of
Nebraska.4®
In 1890 there were only 11,226,584 acres of public
land remaining in the state.
During this same decade farms
Increased in number from 65,387 to 113,608 (almost doubled),
and the total acres in farms increased from 9,944,775 to 21,593,443.
The line of agricultural settlement In 1880 crossed north and south
through Grand Island.
By 1890 the westward mardh of settlers
had reached the western border of the state.4®
For those who were not fortunate to get the free land
under the homestead law, farms could b e purchased at a low
figure.
Good farm land In the southeastern part of the state
sold for $6.00 per acre in 1876, $22.00 in 1890, and $26.00 in
45Donaldson, Public Domain. 353-355.
46
Sheldon, History of Nebraska. I, 662.
4 7Tenth Census. (1880), III, 125: Eleventh Census,
X, 218.
----------------^ A u s t i n MS, "Trends In Acreage," 77.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
(1890).
-101"
1900,
In the central and western portions of the state the
price of land was lower.
49
Free or cheap land was one of the most Important reasons
why agricultural acreage, and thereby corn acreage,
increased
during the period.
There was rather rapid improvement in corn machinery.
The
corn planter came into general use in the later seventies and
early eighties.
The two-shovel one-horse cultivator gave way
to the two-horse one-row cultivator by 1880 and toward the
beginning of the 1 8 9 0 ‘s Nebraska farmers were using the riding
c u l t i v a t o r .
jn harvesting corn the hoe and corn knife were
replaced by the cutter of the sled pattern in the latter
'30's.
In the latter ‘90*s the self-binding corn harvester was being
51
sold in quite large quantities in the leading corn states.
With improved machinery the farmer was enabled to take care of
larger acreages of corn at less cost for labor.
A condition of Nebraska agriculture which caused corn to
be planted was the lack of alternative crops from which to
choose.
Certain crops as spring wheat, oats, barley,
flax,
billet, and others had been tried but were not altogether satis­
factory.
Oats were raised mostly for horse feed and were not
considered as a cash grain crop.
Farmers did not plant much
barley becs.use they had not as yet learned the feeding vs.lue of
^ E l e a n o r H. Hinman, “History of Farm Land Prices in Eleven
Nebraska Counties, 1873— 1933," Agricultural Experiment Station
ReBRflrnh Bulletin 72, (1934), 24.
^ A u s t i n MS, "Trends in Acreage," 77.
«=n.
brooks, The Story of C o r n , 225.
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-102-
the grain.
Barley also did not yield as well as corn and was
not in popular demand because of the rough bearded varieties
then planted.
Before 1900 winter wheat and alfalfa were in the experimental
state and had not become acceptable to the farmers to any great
extent.
In 1899 only 3.14 per cent of the wheat raised in
Nebraska was of the winter variety.®^
Spring wheat had not
proved entirely satisfactory and as it was the only crop that
seriously competed with corn, the farmers preferred to plant
more corn.
The system of farming before 1900 was not nearly
as diversified as later, hence there was no alternative for the
farmers but to Increase their corn acreage and production.®®
No doubt better adapted varieties of corn had been select­
ed and experience had taught the farmers much in combating
climatic conditions as well as insects and diseases which
affect corn culture.
Because of low costs of production due to cheap land,
small Investment In capital and low labor costs, the farmer In
Nebraska produced corn on a large scale.
HThey accepted the
hardship of pioneer life and the low exchange value of t h e i r
products in the hope that later years would bring prosperity*M®^
50
A p pe n d i x . Table 3, vi.
®®Austin MS, "Trends In Acreage,M 112.
®^Fllley and Frerichs, "Purchasing Power of Nebraska
Grains,1* Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 1 8 7 . 25.
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CHAPTER VI
WHEAT— THE UNADJUSTED CROP
Wheat has been the most important cash crop of Nebraska
farmers.
In acreage and production it has usually ranked
next to corn.
In a sense wheat has been a frontier crop in America.
Where land was abundant and cheap it was found to be a suit­
able crop to grow long distances from market.
It is not very
perishable and therefore will stand transportation well.
Of
still greater Importance, it can be economically produced
where there is an abundance of cheap land in proportion to
the supply of labor.
When the reverse condition is true,
that is, a good labor supply and less abundance of cheap
land, the tendency ha.s been to raise other products requir­
ing less land and more labor for the most economical product­
ion of farm products. ^
Most of the land of the Middle v-est proved to be very
well adapted to the raising of wheat.^
Accordingly the
pioneers of Nebraska early began the cultivation of this
crop.
Although sod corn was usually the first crop to be
planted,
the early settlers considered climatic conditions
in eastern Nebraska unfavorable for corn growing,
so did
not rely upon it to a great extent as a staple crop.
As
settlers moved westward they first grew wheat but later
“^Schmidt and Ross, Readings in the Economic History of
American Agriculture. (New York, T§25T7 380.
2 Hough, Passing of the Frontier. 163.
-103-
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-104upon discovering that other crops could be produced, they
began to change their crop system.
Before the migration across the state had started, an
idea existed that wheat could not be grown on the Nebraska
uplands but must be confined to the valleys.
It was later
found that these lands could prodtice, at times, better wheat
than the bottom lands.
Then it was thought that this crop
could be raised only in a small part of the state close to
the Missouri River.
But the limits of wheat production were
constantly extended westward until the 100th meridian was
reached.
This then was fixed as the limit of wheat culture,
but by 1880 farmers had moved up the Platte and Republican
valleys west of this line and were planting wheat.^
The press of the territory seems to have given the
farmers in the 1860*s considerable encouragement to raise
more wheat.
"The Nebraska Pity N e w s , Feb. 23, 1861, ad­
vised farmers to sow large quantities of wheat,
as it was the best paying crop last season.
There
was to be a large steam mill built at Nebraska
City so that farmers would no longer be annoyed
and inconvenienced in getting their grists ground."^
"The Omaha Republican, December 28, 1866,
announced that Nebraska has become a wheat-exporting
territory with St. Louis the principal market.
Nebraska wheat commanded a higher price b y 10 cents
a bushel In St. Louis than the same grain from any
other part of the country.
The Republican confident­
ly prophesies that Nebraska is destined to be a
great wheat-growing region, and the prophecy seems
to be in process of fulfillment at the present tlme."b
^Austin MS, "Trends in Acreage," 84.
4Porter, The W e s t » 359.
5Morton, History of Nebraska, II, 270.
6ldem.
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-105The extension of wheat production In Nebraska is verysimilar to that of corn.
As the movement of settlers progressed
westward, the wheat enterprise expanded.
It/is, therefore,
natural that In the first part of the period, 1870-1900,
the
raising of wheat would be confined to the eastern part of the
state.
It was In the counties south of the Platte River that
/
wheat was grown most extensively.
By 1878 more than one-half
of the wheat crop of the state was raised In eight counties
south of the Platte (Saunders, Lancaster, York, Fillmore,
Hamilton, Cass, Saline, Adams) and two counties north of the
river (Dodge, Boone).7
The development of wheat growing in Nebraska coincides
with the growth of the wheat Industry of the country.
This
growth of the n a t i o n 1s wheat production has not been contin­
uous and regular.
Periods of expansion of acreage have been
followed by a few years of little change or even by a slight
decline in acres harvested.
There have been three periods of
expansion since 1866, from 1873 to 1880; from 1890 to 1899;
and from 1913 to 1919.8
From 1870 to 1879 acreage and production nearly doubled.
The opening of public lands by the Homestead Act partly
accounted for this growth.
Improvement of machinery,
especial­
ly In harvesting the grain, helped to extend production
of wheat.
It was in this decade that Nebraska had begun to
7Porter, ojo. c i t . , 361.
^ Y e a rbook. U. S. D. A.,
(19^1), 85.
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-106produce wheat in some quantity.
In 1870 there were 1,848,000
bushels harvested; in 1879 this had increased to 13,043,590
bushels, or an average annual increase of 1,119,559 bushels
for the period.^
In 1879 the states of Iowa, Minnesota,
Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota produced 27,1 per
cent of the entire crop of the nation.^"0
During the next decade the production on the prairies
and plains of Minnesota, Kansas, the Dakotas, and Nebraska
Increased to a marked extent, while in the states farther
east, which had formerly been large wheat producing areas,
there was a decrease.
These older states discovered that
they could not compete with the low cost of production in
the newer a r e a s , ^
Production in Nebraska increased from 12,922,677 bushels
in 1880 to 13,848,000 bushels In 1889, which represents an
12
average annual Increase of only 392,532 bushels#
Ey 1389 the six north central states mentioned above
were producing 37»4 per cent
From 1890 to 1899 there
of the wheat crop
of thenation#-*-3
was anenormous expansion
of
acreage and production on the prairies of Minnesota and the
eastern parts of the Dakotas and on the plains from the
^Appendix. Table 2, iv; Figure 2, vli.
lOLouis Bernard Schmidt, "The ’W estward Movement of Wheat,"
in Schmidt and Ross, Readings In the Economic History of
American Agriculture. (New York. Tsfg5), 377,
^ Yearbook. U. S. D, A., (1921), 94.
•^Appendix. Table 2, iv#
13Schmldt, ojd# clt. . 377.
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-107Dakotas south to Texas,14
By this time the Kansas-Nebraska
region had definitely developed and Nebraska was ranked as
the eighth leading wheat producing state of the Union,
The
average annual Increase in Nebraska during this decade was
547,678 bushels.15
The six north central states produced 46.6 per cent of
the nation*s crop in 1899.1®
The westward movement of wheat production had advanced
steadily so that by 1900 the north central states constituted
the largest single producing area in the United States,
As has been Indicated Nebraska played a part in contri­
buting to the wheat production of the north central area of
the country but the expansion of the wheat industry
state was not as
great in the period before 1900
in the
as it was
after this time.
Production of any grain crop is determined by the acreage
planted and by the yield per acre.
Unlike corn, the yield of
wheat per acre was not very high during the early period of
farming in the state.
Although there are local accounts of
T7
good yields,
the average for the state was not very high.
The trend of yields from 1870 to 1880 was without much change,
Che average annual yield for the decade being 13.1 bushels.18
14Yearbook,
1 5A p p e n d l x .
18Schmldt,
U. S. D. A., (1921), 94.
Table 2, iv.
17The Nebraska City News, Aug. 7, 1867 stated that wheat
in that vicinity averaged 26 bu. per acre.
From Morton,
History of Nebraska I I , 270.
^ A p p e n d i x . Table 2, lv; Figure 2, vli.
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-108Beginning in 1880 the trend was downward to 1890, the annual
average for this decade being 11,2 bushels.
In 1890 the trend
started upward again and continued until 1910.
The trend in the acreage of wheat was toward an increase
during the first decade of the Period of Expansion.
From a
low of 128,333 in 1870 the acreage increased to 1,520,315
in 1880, or an average annual Increase of 139,198 acres.
This
Increase was due primarily to the opening of new lands and to
the belief that corn was not the best crop for the climate
and soil of Nebraska.
During the next decade there was a
five year increase from 1,520,315 acres in 1880 to 1,950,280
in 1884 and then a decrease to 1,404,019 acres in 1889.
This
decline continued until 1895 and then an upward trend began,
so that by 1900 there were 2,066,825 acres In wheat in the
state.
For the whole period the acreage increased to 1885,
then decreased until 1895, when the upward swing began again.
The decrease in acreage from 1885 to 1895 did not take
place in all sections of the state.
In most parts of the
state there were large increases because of the opening of
new lands, and a great part of these new lands was put into
wheat. . It was in the eastern and southeastern sections where
the decrease was the greatest.
In the east the decrease
amounted to about 85 per cent and In the southeast to almost
20
80 per cent.
The large decreases here more than offset the
increases elsewhere.
T9
A p p e n d i x . Table 2, iv; Figure 2, vii.
20Austin, MS, "Trends in Acreage," 105.
,
/
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-
3-09-
Corn was planted instead of wheat, as the farmers had
discovered that climatic and soil conditions were favorable
k\
for the production of corn.
As th3 s dlscbvery was made and
corn was planted the yields were found to be much better than
wheat.
While the average yield of wheat in the two decades,
1870-1390, was 11.8 and 11.2 bushels respectively, corn was
yielding 51.3 and 34.5 bushels.
It was during this period that livestock farming was
carried on quite extensively in the eastern part of the
state and corn, as feed for the stock, was
a more profitable
crop than wheat.
During the next decade, 1890-1900, the situation changed
with respect to wheat acreage.
For the state as a whole a
decrease continued until 1895, and after that the same trend
continued for most parts of the state except the eastern
section.
In the livestock feeding area of the previous
decade there was an Increase in acreage of wheat beginning in
1895.
Especially was this true in the heavy stock feeding
area of the northeast.
21
The poor crop years beginning in 1887 caused the corn
crops to be cut; short, and as the depression of the early
nineties developed the livestock feeders found that they did
not have a sufficient supply of feed, and they also found
difficulty in getting feeder stock from the ranges of the West.
This coupled with falling prices for livestock caused them to
21Ibid., 111.
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-110turn to the raising of more wheat as the price and purchasing
power of wheat were higher, relatively, than for corn.
In
1896 and 1897 when the price of corn was 13 cents and purchas­
ing power only 35, wheat was 46 cents a bushel and had a purchasing power of 80. 22
This was a low price for wheat but
was much higher relative to corn, so the farmers of the eastern
section planted more wheat and this caused the acreage trend
to rise again.
The manner in which the farmers of eastern Nebraska
shifted from the raising of corn to wheat in the deca.de of the
nineties shows that the farmer responded to the price and
purchasing power of his products.
The influence of price in
determining the acreage of any particular crop was not so
great during the first two decades of the Period of Expansion
because the primary consideration then was the opening of
new lands for cultivation and as costs of production were low
the low prices of farm produce were not as completely the
determining factors in the farmer's enterprise as in the later
Period of Readjustment.
The price of wheat is influenced largely by supply, since
the demand does not fluctuate greatly from year to year.
When
Nebraska,farmers planted wheat they were producing a product
that entered into world trade.
It forms a staple item of
food for a very large per cent of the world's population.
This causes the demand to be more inelastic than for the feed
crops such as corn, oats, barley, and forage crops, as the
demand for these products depends much upon the fortunes of
the livestock Industry.
Appendix. Table 11, xxv.
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-111The supply of wheat in any one country fluctuates enor­
mously because of climatic conditions and biological factors,
such as rust, cinch bugs, Hessian flies, and others.
The
large number of world producers tends to stabilize the supply,
and hence the market and, under normal conditions, to insure
the world's bread supply.
The wheat grotvers in the United
States, therefore, have a vital interest in the output of
wheat in all other producing countries, because the price that
the farmer receives is determined, to a great extent, by the
price paid in the world market.
During the decade of the seventies there was a short
world supply of wheat and this was the controlling factor
which determined the price in the United States.
Beginning
in 1875 Europe experlemced a succession of poor harvests.
The harvests in the United States were large and annual pro­
duction was increasing every year.
The Increasing supply did
not equal the demand until 1881, when Europe began to have
good harvests again.
This meant that the demand for American
wheat was no longer as great as it had b e e n . ^
The trend of price for wheat in Nebraska reflected, the
world condition, as there was an increase in the price trend
to 1881 when the price per bushel reached 97 cents, the high­
est farm price during the entire period, 1870-1900.
From 1881
the price trend was downward until after the hard times of
the nineties, and then beginning in 1897 there is an upward
rise which continues until 1980.24
23Thorstein B. Veblen, "The Price of Wheat Since 1876,"
in Journal of Political Economy," I, 91.
OA
'1
'1"
V
7
•Appendix, Table 2, iv; Figure 2, vii.
^Reproduced with permission o f the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-112During the entire period under consideration there was
considerable fluctuation in wheat prices from year to year.
Nebraska was so situated that the farmers were unable to take
advantage of the world situation with respect to prices because
of leek of adequate transportation facilities and lack of
storage space on the new farmsteads, and because this state
v.-i,r located in a surplus producing ares.
probably was the most Important.
The last factor
Some of the wheat raised on
Nebraska farms was used for home consumption.
-Some flour
mills vere established, especially in eastern Nebraska, to
which the farmers would take their wheat and have it ground,
or else sell the wheat and buy flour.
also fed to livestock.
Some of the wheat was
The greater part of each wheat crop,
however, was sold, as this was the chief cash crop for the
f armer.
Prices are lowest in those surplus producing areas which
;>.re farthest and most disadvantageous!^ located in relation
to the lar^e world markets.
The farmers, therefore, in sur­
plus producing areas will receive the price paid at the near­
est certr 1 maiuket, less the cost of transporting their wheat
to that market.
Nebraska farmers were at a disadvantage
oecouse their wheat was quoted in terms of Chicago and New
York prices which were in turn governed by the Liverpool
quotations.
Their position with respect to the raising of
wheat did not discourage the Nebraska farmers from putting
^Yearbook, U. S. D. A., (1921), 159.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout permission.
3.and into wheat production.
They planted wheat even though
they were far from the principal markets, because the costs of
production were low and because wheat was a product that has
a high value per unit of weight and Is not very perishable.
These factors minimized the effects of long hauls and high
freight rates.
The constantly fs.lling price level of t h e whole period
influenced the price of wheat but not to the same extent as
corn.
This was because the demand for corn was more local in
character and the fluctuating supply caused prices to change
considerably,
and with an increasing supply the corn price was
lower in proportion to that
of wheat.
1893 to 1896 the low prices
of wheat were
low price level and
During
the period from
due to the general
comparatively large world supply.
The most significant reason w h y the wheat industry in
Nebraska,
during; the Period
greater proportions than it
of Expansion,
did not develop in
did, was that the type of wheat
plantec was not adapted to the climatic conditions of the
state.
Complaints of farmers were heard as ear3.y as 1880
that the wheat crop of late ha.d not been what it was formerly.
In the central part of the state the winters were too severe
for fall wheat, and the spring too late for spring wheat.
In a paper read at the Custer County Farmer*s Institute,
held at Broken Bow, January 22-24, 1889, G. R. Russum stated
that the majority of the farmers of Nebraska had about decided
that spring wheat growing was not profitable "in this country.".
^ T r a n s a c t i o n s . St. 3d. A g r . , (1881-*82), 127.
g 7Annual R e p o r t . St. Ed. Agr., (1888), 145.
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-114Prior to the latter part of the 1890's the predominant
type of wheat grown in Nebraska was sirring wheat.
Winter
wheat had been unable to compete with spring wheat because
the varieties used could not withstand the winters and there
was lack of successful methods of cultivation.
Because of
the failure of the early attempts to plant winter wheat it
was t.-.'ken for granted that the spring varieties should be
OQ
grown.
Just what proportion of all the wheat grown in the state
in the seventies and eighties was spring wheat is not known.
Very likely from 80 to 90 per cent was of this type.
The
first year in which winter and spring wheat were enumerated
separately, in the gathering of agricultural statistics,
was in 1891.
wheat.
At that time only 16.5 per cent was winter
The percentage decreased unti}. 1899 when only 3.14
per cent of the acreage was in this type of wheat . ^
Nebraska farmers began to make the change from spring
to winter wheat just at the end of the Period of Expansion.
Certain factors had been slowly developing during the years
before 1900 and the influence of these factors began to be
felt at that time.
Because the basic work for the success­
ful cultivation of winter wheat was performed before the turn
of the new century it is prosper to discuss the subject in this
period, 1870-1900.
When Mennonite immigrants arrived in Kansas and Nebraska
O Q
T. A. Klesselbach, et. al., "Winter Wheat Varieties in
Nebraska," A g r . E x p . Sta. B u i . 283, 5.
29
A p p endix. Table 3, vi.
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-115in 1873 they brought with them the Turkey type of hard red
winter wheat.
This wheat was carried by these immigrants
from a region lying to the north and east of the Black Sea.
*50
This wheat had been raised in that part of Russia where
climatic ana soil conditions were rather similar to those of
parts of Nebraska.
Nebraska farmers did not readily adopt this type of wheat,
L,
as they believed that climatic conditions were not favorable
for its production.
Any general adoption of it was delayed
until it was conclusively demonstrated to them that winter
wheat was definitely superior to the spring varieties w h i c h
they had been planting.
The millers were not especially
anxious to have the hard winter wheat varieties produced,
as their equipment was suited for the processing of the
soft spring wheat types of grain.
When the transition was made to winter wheat, it was
made rapidly.
In 1899 spring wheat acreage constituted 96.86
per cent of the total wheat acreage of the state.
In 1909
winter wheat acreage was 9 1 .ad per cent of the total.
We have noted the complaints of the farmers about spring
wheat not yielding very well and that climatic and biological
factors interfered with its production.
Also,
that Nebraska
farmers had a preconceived notion that winter wheat could
n o t :be grown and they apparently were unwilling to try pro- ducing it until its superiority over spring wheat had been
demonstrated.
/
30
Kiesselbach, ojo. clt. t 6.
Appendix. Table S, vl; Figure 3, vli.
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-116By 1900 and 1901 there had been certain developments
which indicated to a great many farmers that winter wheat
was a better type to plant than spring wheat.
Under the
leadership of the Agricultural College farmers had been
selecting seed from plants which apparently were best
adapted to conditions in Nebraska,
After 1902 the experi­
ment station, by selection and crossing of thousands of
strains, produced varieties of the Turkey Hard Red Winter
wheat that were very well adapted to conditions in many
sections of the state.
There was considerable publicity given to the advantages
of winter wheat over spring wheat.
Professor T. L. Lyon, of
the Agricultural Experiment Station, pointed out in 1901
that the large yields of winter wheat were such as to recommend
it to the farmers.
He also, contended that the quality of
Nebraska winter wheat gave it a high standing among buyers
and consumers .^
J. Sterling Morton's newspaper, The Conservative, in
its issue of January 19, 18.19, stated,
"The success which has come to the farmers
who, within the last five years of its (winter
wheat[ cultivation, leaves no room for speculation
upon the problem of wheat culture on these vast
and rich areas. The fact arms our people for a
new advancement and the advantage of diversifying
production as a measure of both profit and safety,
whose probably benefits it would be impossible
to estimate.
^Klesselbach,
oo. clt.
, 8.
rz
——
'
uuAnnual Report, St. Bd. Agr. (1902), 198.
‘■’^Nelson Gardner, "J. Sterling Morton and Agriculture,"
MS in the Forestry Survey and Research Division of the De­
partment of Conservation and Survey, University of Nebraska, 36.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright ow ne r Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-117The Conservative printed an article which had pre35
viously been written by Arthur B. Smith
for the Omaha Bee.
Mr. Smith gave Dr. George L. Miller credit for "selling”
winter wheat to the Nebraska farmers.
According to Mr. Smith
he was called into the office of General Manager Holdrege in
the spring of 1890 and there met Dr. Miller, who submitted
the idea that winter wheat could be raised in Nebraska.
The
need for diversified crops was great in the state and Dr.
Miller felt that winter wheat could supply that need.
a lull discussion Mr. Holdrege,
After
"always optimistic and ready
to try anything which will benefit Nebraska,"
36
would investigate the matter.
said that he
Mr. Smith, shortly after this meeting, made a trip
throughout the state and asked a great many farmers what
they thought about the idea of raising winter wheat.
one of them thought that it would be impossible.
tained that the climate was wrong,
Every­
They main­
there was not snow enough,
and the soil was not adapted to it.
Mr. Smith brought back
this report but "Dr. Miller's faith was unshaken."
W i t h the
cooperation of Mr. Holdrege, experimental farms were estab­
lished and winter wheat planted.
Instead of being sown broad­
cast the seed was planted with press drills.
of seeding was a revolution to Nebraskans."
"This manner
The following
summer a large yield was harvested.37
3^Mr. Smith had recently resigned as assistant general
passenger agent of the Burlington Route.
*2 /J
Nelson Gardner, "Dr. George Laforrest Miller," MS
in the Forestry Survey and Research Division of the Depart­
ment of Conservation and Survey, University of Nebraska, 40.
37Idem.
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-118"Then came more
pecially energetic.
cultural societies,
hard work In which Dr. Miller
was es­
He addressed state and county
agri­
setting forth the need of diversified
crops, the certainty of the winter wheat crop, and the desir­
ability of claiming the good news.
The benefits of his work
assisted by the press and the Burlington railroad can now be
fully estimated. 1,38
Mr. Smith then pointed out the results of Dr.
work by showing that
M i l l e r ’s
in 1890 nearly all the wheat raised in
Nebraska was spring wheat and in 1900 and 1901 it was nearly
all winter wheat.
The article concluded with the following
eulogistic statement,
"The good that men do live after them,
and the waving field_s of winter wheat in Nebraska will ever
be a monument to one of the state’s greatest benefactors."3®
Mr. Smith gave Dr. Miller his Just dues for his work in
this matter but it is hardly conceivable that one man could
do all that was claimed for him.
Other forces were at work
which made it possible for those who were publicizing winter
wheat to- bring it before the attention of farmers of the state.
The milling Interests of this state, as well as in other
winter wheat producing states, became interested in winter
wheat in the later 9 0 's and began to adjust their equipment
in order to take care of the increasing quantities that were
being marketed.
After having processed the hard winter wheat
it was found to be superior to spring wheat and the demands
38Ibid., 41.
3 ®Idem.
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of the millers for this type of wheat became greater.
It was due to several factors, then, that winter wheat
replaced spring wheat to a great extent.
The development of
new winter and drought resistant varieties;
the publicity
given to the advantages of winter wheat as compared with
spring wheat;
the introduction of Improved machinery,
es­
pecially the press drill, which made it possible to plant the
seed deeper, enabling it to start a good growth before winter
came; the increasing demand of the milling interests for this
type of wheat; the superiority of yield of winter over spring
wheat--all these were operative.
One other factor bears consideration in the matter.
The
need for greater diversification of crops has been suggested.
As corn was usually the most profitable crop for the Nebraska
farmer he would plant the greater part of his land in the
spring to corn.
When strains of winter wheat became Adapted
to the conditions in the state and the farmers, began to
accept it as a crop in their farm business,
there was a
rapid Increase In acreage of wheat, because it was planted
In the fall and the harvesting of the crop did not seriously
Interfere with the cultivation of corn.
It was to the
interest of the farmer to plant the winter wheat so that
his labor and capital costs could be distributed more wide­
ly during the year.
This new type of crop also made it
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-120posslble to have greater diversification in farming and hence
less loss if one crop should not produce abundantly or fail
altogether.
not
It was early found that/all parts of the state were
adapted to t:e production of winter wheat.
The southern ana
central parts came to be the winter wheat producing areas, while
the northern part continued to produce spring wheat to a certain
extent.
The northern limit of winter wheat production in the
trans-Missouri region by 1901 was in Nebraska.
The spring
wheat region protruded south from the Dakotas and overlapped
the winter wheat area; so that winter wheat and spring wheat
were raised side by side.
40
When winter wheat began to be produced in the latter
nineties, Nebraska production begy-.n to rise.
In 1899 the num­
ber of bushels of wheat raised in the state represented an
increase of 20 per cent over that of 1389.
In 1900 the In­
crease was 18 per cent over 1399, and in 1901 there were 43
"per cent more bushels raised than in 1 9 0 0 . This meant an
increase of 25 per cent in one year.
From 1899 to 1901 there
were about 450,000 additional acres planted to wheat in Nebraska,
It is significant to note that the statistical division
of the Department of Agriculture of the federal government
changed K-.braska from its column of spring wheat states to
that of winter wheat states in 1901.
In that year Nebraska
was exceeded by only one state, Kansas, as a winter wheat
producing state.
40Annual Report, St. Bd. Agr.,
"^Appendix. Table 2, iv.
(1902), 198.
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-1 2 1 -
After 1900 Nebraska became one of the Important states
of the Uni.;n in the f:rowing of this great food product of the
world, and winter wheat played an important part in the
systems of farming during: the Period of Readjustment.
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CHAPTER VII
OTHER CROPS
At the time when Nebraska agriculture was expanding
several different crops besides corn and wheat were raised.
The two most important of the cultivated crops were oats and
barley.
The development of oat production in the United States,
as well as in Nebraska, was
due
primarily tothe
westward
movement of population.
the
nation therewas
a rapid
In
expansion of oat acreage in the period 1371-1890.
This was
the period of rapid expansion of agriculture os a-whole.
The area of most rapid development of oat production was
primarily in the corn belt.
As the oat acreage increased
the acre yield diminished, but in the period from 1890 to about
1905 the acres sown to oats expanded more slowly, 'while the
yield per acre increased, which resulted in a gradual increase
in production."*■
3y 1870 oat production
River.
had
Just crossedthe
The acreage in oatsin Nebraska was only
Missouri
35,379.
By
1880 there’ was an increase to 245,800 acres or an average
annual increase of 20,942 acres.
Daring the following decade
Nebraska entered the ranks of the ten largest oat producing
states of the Unl-n, placing sixth with an acreage of 1,053,059
in IgkO.
This represented an Increase each year of the decade
of 80,725 acres.
3-Yearbook, U.
In the following ten year period Nebraska's
3. D. A., (1922), 476.
/
-
122-
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-123production had increased to the extent Jfhat this state was
the fifth largest,producer of oats cf the states' of the Union.
The acreage increase amounted, on the average, to 67,990
acres each year from 1890 to 1900.^
The general trend in oat acreage was a constant increase
from 1870 to 1910.
The high point of increase in the five
year annual average in the Period of Expansion was during 13901895.
3
The important place that oats occupied in farming result­
ed from its feeding value' for horses and young stock, the
difficulty of substituting any other crop for it in the gen­
eral farming system, and the low cost of handling and growing
-■U
£the crop.~
Oats possess bone and muscle building; ingredients which
make this grain very valuable for feeding young stock and also
for feeding breeding•stock.
This grain has been the tradi­
tional horse feed of the world.5
Oats do not enter into commerce nerrly as much as wheat
end barley.
Their bulk is too great in relation to price, so
that they cannot bear the cost of long- distance transportation,
because of this, oats were not considered a cash crop but were
used for feeding purposes and for completing the rotation system
in order tnat other cash crops cou.ld be grown more successfully.
2Appendix. Table 4, viii.
^Appendix. Figure 4, xii.
^Yearbook. U. 3. D. a . , . (1922), 471.
5Ibid.. 472.
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In Nebraska, during the Period of Expansion, some oats were
sold on the market but for the most part they were fed to the
stock on the farm.
For that reason most of the farmers sowed
enough oats to give them feed for their animals.
This meant
that there was a certain amount produced, each year regardless
of price or whether the crop-would return a protit.
As a
result, the acreage of oats kept increasing steadily from
year to year.
As a rule the price of oats varied indirectly with the
production from 1870 to 1900.
If the production was high the
price was low, because there was no immediate market for the
crop.' as there was with wheat.
The bulk of the supply was
consumed on the form and unless the demand was increased
through more feeding of horses and young animals, the price
would be low- when yields were high.
The price trend, 1870-1900, was for the most part down­
ward.
An increase took place from 1680 to 1385, the high
point of the period being in 1881 when the price reached
57 cents per bushel.
This was t] e highest farm price for
oats in the entire thirty year period with the exception
of 1890 when 59 cents a bushel was received as an average
price for the state.^
After 1885 the price gradually declined
until 1900.
The downward trend of prices can be explained partly by
-he constantly increasing production with the consequent increase
of su.-ply, and partly by the general fall in the general price
SApoenalx. Table 4, vlii; Figure 4, xii.
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level at the time*
<7
The purchasing power of oats apparently had little effect
upon acreage and production.
There were violent fluctus.tions
in purchasing power due to the wide spreads in prices.
In
1880 purchasing power was 72; in 1881 it had risen to 100
and the next year fell to 64.
In 18 0 it had reached a high
of 162, the next: year it fell to 78; 1894 brought the highest
purchasing power of oats for the Nebraska farmer during the
entire period and two ye: rs later one of the lowest points
was reached, the fi ures being 143 and 46 respectively.
O
The years of high purchasing power did not benefit the farmer,
usually, because during those years the crops were poor and
prices high, and the farmer was very likely buying oats instead
of selling them.
Economic factors apparently did not exert a
great deal of influence upon the acreage and production of
oats during the Period of Expansion.
The discovery of varieties of oats which were adapted
to climatic conditions in Nebraska was a problem of oat pro­
duction during the time under considerate m.
This was a
matter which faced not only Nebraska but neighboring states
as well.
Climatic conditions most favorable to the growth
of the varieties of oats planted usually did not exist in the
Corn Belt, which constituted the greatest oat producing area
of the nation.
The acre yield was not large as compared with
^Appendix, Table io, xxlv.
^Appendix. Table 11, xxv.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-126areas somewhat farther north.
If oats were to yield well in
central and western Nebraska, there should have been varieties
that would mature early and not run to straw.
The agricultural experiment station set to work to find
a v a r i e t y that would be suited to these sections of the state.
It tu -ned to those parts of Russia where the climatic and soil
conditions were similar to those in Nebraska,
Professor F.$.
Taylor, who was superintendent of Farmers* Institutes in the
state, was travelling in Russia in 1896.
He was 11commissioned"
by the station to secure seed of certain grains and obtained,
among others, the variety of oats which later was given the
name Kherson, as it had been obtained in the Kherson region
cl nussia.
vVith the introduction of this type of oats, the Nebraska
farmers had a variety that yielded better, and the increase
in production a f t e r
1900 was due, In part,
to better yielding oats,'1'0
During the Period
crops of Nebraska were
v
of Expansion the threemajor
corn, wheat, and oats,
cultivated
A comparison
of the acreage and production11 shows that by far the principal
crop was corn,
More than twice as many acres were planted to
corn as to wheat and oats combined.
The production of corn
was almost three times that of wheat and oats in terms of
bushels.
The value of the corn crop always exceeded that of
9Annual Report. St. Bd. Agr., (1904), 346.
l0.a.ppendix. Figure 4, xii.
11Appendlx. Figure 6, xiii.
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-127the other two combined, and in most of the
yenrs of the period
it exceeded the combined value of all other cultivated crops.
Wheat and oats played their part in the system of farming
at that time but their place, especially that of wheat, became
increasingly important during the Period of Readjustment.
Earley production did not become important in Nebraska
agriculture during the Period of Expansion.
It ranked as the
fourth leading grain crop but acreage devoted to it was not
very large.
The spread of barley westward in the development of nation­
al agriculture is similar to that of the other three crops
which have been considered.
Ey 1879 Nebraska ranked sixth
in barley produced in the United States, exceeded only by
California, New York, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.
Ten
years later, 1889, it had dropped back to seventh place, with
Michigan edging into sixth place and New York falling back to
fifth place.
Nebraska had further declined 'as a barley pro­
ducing state, ranking ninth by 1 8 9 9 . ^
The acreage trends in barley show that the high point of
the period was reached in 1885 when 177,150 acres were harvest— '
ed.
There had been an increase from 8,058 acres in 1870 to
89,900 acres in 1880, or an average annual increase of 8,184
acres.
From 1881 to 1885 there was an average annual increase
of 6,990 acres, then a decrease of 17,567 acres e^-ch year
from 1886 to 1890.
low point of only
i2
The decrease continued until 1900 when a
33,574
acres were put in
barley.
After 190 0
Yearbook. U. S. D. A., (1922), 493-4.
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-1.28the general trend was upward.^
The reason for the Increase in barley production until
1885 was due, in part, to the general expansion of agriculture
and, in part, especially during the first part of the eighties,
to the decrease in planting ground to wheat and the Increase
in using ground for feed crops in the eastern part of the
state for the growing livestock industry.
Farmers in Nebraska,
however, did not consider barley as an efficient feed crop for
livestock until recent years, and hence did not plant it in
any great quantity.
Earley was an unpopular grain because
of the disagreeableness of handling the long-bearded, rough
varieties which were then used.
Being a spring crop, barley
had to compete with corn and oa.':s as feed crops, and the result
was that it was not planted except to a limited extent.
There seemed'to be little relation between the amount of
acres sown to barley and the price of the .rain during the
period 1870-1900.
The price trend was downward again.
The
price during the entire period ranged from 78 cents in 1874
to 19 cents in 1 8 9 6 . The purchasing power of barley, how­
ever, compares favorably with that of corn and oats.
Whereas
there were only two years in the period when the purchasing
power of corn was 100 per cent or more of the average of
1910-1914, and only three years in t e case of oats, barley
had a purchasing power of 100 or better during seven years of
15Appendlx. Table 6, xiv; Figure 7, xvi.
•^Idem.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission
-129the period.,15
Economic factors apparently played a small
part in influencing barley production.
'
Some of the crop was marketed, as there was some demand
from the distillers of the country.
tively
The low price, compara­
poor transportation facilities, and high freight rates
did. not encourage the growing of barley as a cash crop.
The
bulk of each crop was fed and, as has been stated, farmers
did not consider barley as good a feed crop as corn or oats.
Another grain crop which gained some prominence In
Nebraska agriculture was rye.
By 1889 the Kansas-Nebraska
region had become recognized as a new center of rye pro­
duction.
Nebraska at that time ranked ninth as a rye pro­
ducing state of the Union.
Ten years later it ranked fifth,
with Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan exceeding
it.
After 1900 winter wheat began to crowd rye out to a
certain extent.
Based upon five year annual averages, the acreage trend
of rye showed an increase until 1895, the high points being
in 1386 and 1892 when there were 115,472 and 103,350 acres
respectively in rye.
After 1895 a temporary downward trend
took place until 1900,1®
In the early period rye was produced for home consump­
tion to a certain extent, but the bulk of it was sold as a
cash crop.
The price trend during the whole eriod, 187017
1900, was generally downward, ' and it appears that rye
.
%
15Appendix,
Table 12,9 xxvii.
^ I
- _ ..m
Appendix, Table £, Figure 5, xii.
17Idem.
Reproduced with permission o f the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without pemrissron
-130aid not enter into the general scheme of farming to anymarked degree..
As the settlers move! a m o s s the stats of Nebraska
they found a valuable crop provided for them by nature.
A
luxuriant growth of native grasses provided pasture for their
horses and cows, and with only the effort expended in cutting
these grasses, a sufficient supply of hay could be stored for
winter use.
It was only natural that the planting of tame grasses
would not be done, to any great extent, by the farmers in the
beginning of the Period of Expansion.
Rather early, however,
warnings were sounded that if the breaking of the sod contin­
ued on the same scale as it was being done, some attention
had to be given to the cultivation of tame hay in order to
maintain a supply of forage for farm animals.
A report on the hay industry of the state was made to
the State Board'of Agriculture by the secretary, Daniel H.
Wheeler, in 1880.
It was stated by Mr. Wheeler that there
":as no one interest in Nebraska which was of more importance
than native grasses and the hay product.
Hay was a product
always in demand and. the problem facing the state was the
future of the hay Industry.
There were- those who contended
that wild hay was the best for horses because of the absence
of seeds, dust, and other injurious particles found in hay
cured from tame grasses.
The farmers of Nebraska, especially
in the eastern part of the state, had made a serious mistake
in breaking up too .much of their land for farming purposes.
i
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-131Many of the farmers had not even reserved a lot for pasture
but placed their entire farm under cultivation.
The way this
condition could be handled was only by sowing tame grasses
to take the place of the native hay.
Mr. Wheeler gave this
warning:
“Yet we warn all those who are breaking up
new farms that NOW is their day for protecting
themselves against this evil. You cannot raise
corn and hay on the same acre of ground at the
same time, and as soon as the Nebraska farmer
discovers this the better will be his prospects
for a hay crop; the most.important factor in the
stock raising Interest.11
Dean Charles Bessey, who was appointed State Eotanlst
by the State Board of Agriculture in 1885,^
ally on the forage plants of the state.
reported annu­
In the same year
as his appointment, he recommended that blue grass be plant­
ed for pasture and timothy for hay.
He stressed the import­
ance of planting grasses, because the farmers were giving
increasing attention to the raising of livestock, and as
there was more money Invested in the stock industry (1886)
than in any other aspect of farming, tame grasses must be
planted to replace the wild grasses which were being plowed
*
20
under.
In making his report in 1889 Dean Bessev recommended
red clover as the cultivated forage crop with “more promise
in it for Nebraska" than all other forage c r o p s . H e
18Transactions, St. Bd. Agr. (1881-*82),9 136-?.
Annual Report. St. Bd. Agr. (1886), 28.
20Ibid., 120.
21
Ibid. t (1889), 163.
|Q
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-132assured Nebraska farmers no forage plant grown In the state
excelled this one "in the quantity and quality of food produced by it per acre*" 22
The principal grass crops produced in Nebraska, 18701900, were millet, clover, timothy, and clover and timothy
mixed.
Alfalfa did not begin to be prominent until around
1900 even though it had been introduced in the state twentyfive years earlier.
From 1895 to 1900 it appears that the
acreage of alfalfa increased but the first complete statistics
available for the crop are from the census of 1900 when
115,142 acres and a production of 275,334 tons were reported*
Acreage and production trends of tame hay*^ were upward
during the entire Feriod of Expansion.
This was no doubt
due to the situation designated by I5r. Wheeler and Dean
Bessey.
Acreage decreased slightly from 1895 to 1900 but
production increased decidedly.
'This was due to the in­
creased use of alfalfa, which yielded better than the other
tame grasses, and to improved climatic conditions.
It will
be noted in the same figure that the trend of the yield per
acre was generally downward until the cultivation of alfalfa
influenced the trend upward just before 1900.
Very little of the tame hay produced in the state was
sold directly on the market.
There was a limited
amount sold
from farm to farm or across county lines but the great bulk
of the hay was produced to be consumed on the farm where it
was raised.
The price trend of hay was not a determining
22ldem.
03
Appendix, Figure 8, xvl.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-133factor In influencing acreage.
It was, rather, the price of
livestock, in the livestock producing areas, which had some
bearing upon the amount of tame grasses sown.
On the majority
of farms hay was raised to provide feed for the work horses
and the small herd of cattle that nearly every farmer possessed.
The price trend
Pa
from 1870 to 1880 was downward, being
influenced by the abundance of native grasses available in
virtually all settled parts of the state.
After 1880 the
price trend turned upward and continued so until 1895.
This
was during the time, especially the eighties, when livestock
feeding was practiced on quite a large scale in the eastern
part of the state.
price to rise.
The demand for forage then would cause the
During the dry years of the early nineties the
supply of tame hay diminished, on account of crop failures,
while the demand was continued by those farmers who were still
trying to save their livestock.
The peak of the price for
tame hay was reached in 1894 with the price at §7.12 per ton.25
This did not .help the farmer, as he had little hay to sell
and needed to buy if he had any stock.
From 1895 to 1900
prices dropped because of lack of demand by livestock farmers,
who had been compelled to dispose of their stock in great
numbers, and also an increased supply with g^e&ter production
per acre, as has been noted.
Nebraska has always produced a large quantity of wild hay
or prairie grasses.
During the Period of Expansion this type
^Idem.
pg
Nebr. Agr. Statistics. (1923-1924), 68.
Reproduced with permission ot the copyright owner. Further reproduction p ro h M e d without permission.
-134-
/
of forage was used principally for pasturage, and In the
western and northern portions of the state for cattle ranges#
A relatively small amount was shipped and sold outside of the
state.
The various types of grasses, native to Nebraska,
grew so abundantly that farmers did not realize their value#
It has been noted that some eastern farmers failed to save
prairie grass for pasture and hay.
In the cattle ranges of
the north and west the grass was overstocked and when the
dry years of the early 90*s came the grasses could hardly
maintain themselves and afterwards were no longer able to
carry the great herds as formerly.
Prairie fires diminished the supply of wild hay but
only for a season, as the grass was able to recover from these
occurrences where the growth was quite substantial.
In the
sand hill regions, however, prairie fires destroyed the stand
of the native grasses to a certain extent.
The ranchers
thought that these regions could not support; their stock and
made no effort to use them.
As the country became settled
prairie fires occurred less often and the sand hills became
more thickly covered with wild grasses, "where six or eight
years ago a prairie schooner could not bait its team".2S
No specific statistics appear to be available regarding
acreage and production of wild hay before the federal census
of 1900.
According to the report of this census, for the year
1399, there were 2,248,927 acres in prairie grass with a yield
26
/
Statement of Dean Bessey in Annual ReDort, St. Bd.
Agr., (1891), 133.
-------------
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-135of 2,416,468 tons.
Mr
The twelfth census -Iso shows the Importance of forage
crops in N e b r a s k a agriculture.
The following statistics will
indicate a summary of the federal enumeration:
OQ
Total value of forage crops«#ll,230,901 or 12.2 per cent
of total value of all crops grown.
Total acreage devoted to hsy end forage cropsr2,825,652
or 18.6 per cent of acreage in all crops,
average value per acre of fora e croos=:S3.98 as compared
to #6.07 of all crops.
Tons of forage crops (excluding corn stalks)s3,502,380.
Average value per ton= #3.19.
Hank of Nebraska as to acreage and tonnage:
Year
Acreage
Tonnage
Fer cent of
total acreage
Per cent of
nation's
Tonnage
1870----23-----------------1880--------- 18----------- 15---------- 1.7------------- 2.2
1890---------- 9------------ 9---------- 4.5------------- 4.7
1900---------- 9------------ 9---------- 4.5------------- 4.4
/
The above statistics include all forage and hay crops
and make no distinction between wild hay and tame hay.
Accord­
ing to the same authorities, Nebraska in 1899 ranked as the
first state of the Union in production of prairie hay and
second in millet.
2 9
The hay and forage crops had, by 1900,
become important crops in Nebraska agriculture and were of
increasing importance during the period after 1900.
another crop planted quite extensively during the Feriod
27Twelfth
Census,
(1900), VI, 249.
p Q
—
~
T. b. Lyon and . S. Hitchcock, "Fssture, meadow and
Forage Crops," in Agr. £xp. Sta. Bui. 84, (1904), 7-8.
29Ibld., 8.
a
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0.
-136of Expansion was potatoes.
The early settlers found that
Irish potatoes could be grown successfully in Nebraska and
virtually every farmstead had its plot of these vegetables.
Potatoes were raised almost entirely for home consump­
tion.
Some growers sold a few bushels in the nearest town but
as late as 1916 only 25 per cent of the crop was moved from
the county in which it was produced.'’
The acreage and production of potatoes Increased sharply
from 1880 to 1900.
This coincides with the rapid settlement
of t h e state and is an Indication that potatoes were an import­
ant item in the diet of the settlers.
At no time from 1870
to 1900 did the five year annual average price exceed 60
cents; hence, there was no Incentive to raise potatoes on a
commercial scale.
The constantly Increasing supply caused
the low price during the period and this supply was able to
•XT
keep up with the local demand for the vegetable.
After 1900 the acreage and production of potatoes declined
sharply for a short time but certain factors entered into the
situation which caused the potato crop to become an important
commercial endeavor In certain parts of the state.
Several other crops were raised by Nebraska, farmers during
the period of expansion but they were of minor importance.
There was no special effort made by the chief agricultural
agencies of the state to encourage the cultivation of these
32
minor crops.
However, at times it seemed that some partic—
30
J. 0. Rankin, "Marketing Nebraska Potatoes" in Agr.
Sxp. S t a . Circular 9. (1919), 4.
olAppendlx. Figure 9, xviii.
32
Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1905), 234.
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-137ular crop was receiving special attention in certain localities*
In Holt county a new Industry was promoted by a Mr,
Bazelman, a Belgian, who had had some experience in his native
country in growing and manufacturing chicory.
After coming
to Aaerica he had experimented with tine product as to soil and
climate, and thought that conditions were favorable In Nebraska
for successfully cultivating the crop.
'Sufficient capital
was subscribed to build a factory and buy machinery.
cern was known as the "r.azelnn-n-Haslet Chicory Co."
The con­
The
company contracted with the farmers for the raw product for
the season of 1£9C.W
It was suggested by the chief promoters
of the enterprise that it would not be long until coffee would
be supplanted by chicory as a regular beverage in the diet of
Nebraskans,
From all appearances their h pes were not realiz­
ed, as the federal census enumerators listed only 6 farms re­
porting 124 acres and 1,314,000 pounds of chicory for the year
1899.
Flax
"’c'
iS raised to a limited extent but only for using
and selling tine seed.
Little or no care was taken of the fiber*
It proved to be an unpopular cron, esoecially after 1890,
as it wss considered to be exhausting to the soil.
Buckwheat and broom corn were also raised in limited
quantities but by 1900 were proving to be crops which the
farmers did not generally desire.
55Ibld. . (1S91), 73.
34Twe Ifth Census, (1900), VI, Ft. 2, £33.
^'"'Interview with J. H. Flodman, Vvahoo, Nebr.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-
138-
Sorghum ^rown for molasses was also produced on a minor
scale.
It was a crop the product of which was used for family
consumption.
Even tobacco was tried at one time but after
1690 there were few actejypts made to cultivate It.
As the farmers of the state began to raise these minor
crops they evidently thought that, if successful, there would
result a greater diversification of their crcp system and
that possibly some of the crops might fit into the general
farming enterprise of the state.
They were experimenting in
ex. ending their agriculture and by 1900 came to realize that
some crops could not be produced profitably and successfully.
From the experience of this period they were learning how7
to adjust and Improve their farming enterprise In the period
which followed.
The following table will indicate, in part, some of the
minor crops of the 'period 1870-1930:
Table 1. Acreage and production of flax, buckwheat,
broom corn, sorghum, tobacco, and chicory, by decades,
1869-1899.36
______*
Flax (seed)_________ j________ Buckwheat__________
Year 1 Acreage
Production1 Acreage
______'_________________ (bu. )
Production
1_____________________(bu. )
-
1869~ *-— —
404 *
—
3,471
1879 1
77,805
' 1,666
17,562 ‘
1889
'163,900
1,401,104 ' 15,358
120,000
1899
* 7,652_______ 54,394 \
980___________8,629
Year *
Broom Corn
*________ Sorghum
____
1 Acreage
Production*" acreage
Production
*
(lbs.) 1
(G-al. Ilol&sses)
1369 • T r i m
rrrr”
?■?,'598
1879 * ----1,751,807 « -----246,047
1889 ' 16,792
6,514,763 ' 12,505
634,146
1899 *
6,627
2,733,900 * 4,778__________ 92j 415
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-
139-
*
Tobacco
Production
Year 1 Acreage
i
(lbs.)
»
--5,988
1869
57,979
1879 ' 101
11,049
1889 ‘
46
------1899 * ---
1
Chicory
* Acreage
Production
1
(lbs.)
• ------ —--- * ---------- * ——
----------1 124
1.314,000
^ T e n t h Census, (1880), III, S, 7, 9, 10, 13, 15;
Eleventh Cen'susj (T890), X, 77, 79, 81; Twelfth Census,
(1900), Vl, Pt. 2, 74, 333, 420, 477, 540;
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
CHAPTER VIII
LIVESTOCK
In the beginning of territorial days a lively Interest
was manifested in livestock production.
This interest was not
a desire to establish livestock production as a main feature
of the farming system.
Rather,
It was simply raising hogs
and cattle to supplement the crop farming of the times in
order to supply the home demand for fresh and cured meats
and to provide a market for surplus grain.
In territorial
days Nebraska was far from the livestock markets of the nation
and no great returns were expected from the sale of animals
on the hoof because of the high transportation charges to the
principal markets.
As farming began to spread in the eastern part of the
state there was an increasing need of horses and mules to re­
place the slow moving oxen which many settlers had brought
with them.
The need continued as settlement spread westward,
so it was but natural that the demand would be an important
factor in the increase of numbers of these work animals during
the Period of Expansion,
One of the problems of early agriculture was the damage
done to growing crops by animals running loose in the open
country.
The territorial Board of Agriculture ma.de repeated
requests to the legislature to enact a general herd law to
protect the growing crops of the settlers.
These requests
resulted in a series of special laws applying only to certain
-140-
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counties but in 1870 a general law went into effect covering
most of the settled part of the stat e.
Until this law was
‘
■
’.•'.rmer had to seek redress of grievances against
passed each n
the owner of the offending animal as best he could according
to the rules
o
oI
conraon
1 a w .^
Alno st al1 of the animals which were brought into the
state in the early days were of inferior stock,
The need and
desire of improving livestock was realized and expressed by
those who saw future possibilities of livestock farming.
President R. vV. Furnas, of the State Board, pointed this out
in his report of 1871.
He said that some fine bred livestock,
had been introduced into the state during the preceding year
and that some fine herds of cattle were found in Richardson,
Otoe, Nemaha , and Cass counties.
'The movement of improving
their stock, however, did not spread very rapidly amonr the
farmers.3
'flie first decade of the period under consideration, 18701900, was
time in which the liv- StOCzi.■" industry in Nebraska
was 0 etting started,
During this ten-year period the number
of hogs, cattle, and sheep in the state was increasing4 but
not sharply as in the succeeding decade.
It ■ • s a time when
the potentis slities of the state as a livestock producing area
were being discovered, at least, in part.
-Laws of heora ska, 6th-Sth sessions , (1870-*71), 16-20.
p
A n n u a l Report
y t6 Bd.
. , (1 O’
5Ibld. , (1871), 27.
“Appendix, Figure 11, xxil.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-142The abuncance of native grass demonstrated the possibilities of supporting- large herds of cattle.
5
Nebraska was
becoming recognized as a corn producing state.
There is an intimate interrelation and interdependence
of the corn growing industry and of livestock production.
Loth lines of development had by 1880 largely become centered
in the north central states in the nation, which from that
time constituted the important grain and livestock producing
area, of the country.7
Eogs were found in the greatest numbers
where corn production was high, and in such areas the finish­
ing of cuttle for m-rket was an important industry.
As corn
production e:q>anded in Nebraska it was only natural that this
bulky product would be condensed in the form of livestock in
order to save costs of transportation and to get a higher
return from the low- priced grain.
Even before Nebraska farmers could receive fuller benefits
from condensing their feed crops by raising livestock, it was
necessary to have markets and processing plant? closer at hand
than Chicago and Cincinnati.
A practice began in the late 70*s
that provided the means of bring in,-_ the markets closer to the
pource of production.
under refrigeration.
for it meant that the
About 1853 mert began to- be transported
This revolutionized the meat industry,
acker? could slaughter the animal? in
the v<est and slip; the meat,
markets of the bust.
un d e r -
refrigeration, to the consumin
.as the boundaries of the Corn Belt
'"'It war aurina this time t'hr t the r-rtae c? :fle industry
rapidly developing.
-'It has been indice zer
~ f r t Nebraska ranked Gth in 1380
and 4th In 1390 in corn production in
e United States.
war,
7Y e a rbook, U. S. 2. a.., (1G*-’1), IGo.
8Ibid., 230.
"Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permissioh.
-143expanaed, with the westward movement of population,
livestock markets were .established at St. Louis, Kansas City,
Omaha, St. Joseph, Sioux City, and later at Denver.9
In 1883
the Omaha Union Stock Yards Company was formed and six packing
plants had been established by 1890.
The livestock producers
of the state could then take advantage of closer markets by
this establishment of facilities -nd packing plants nearer
home.
The hog industry in ISebras tea developed much along the same
lines as coon ..reduction.
G-enernl expansion of the farming
enterprise woe the .ost important factor,
a
? settlers became
somewhat established, upon their free or cheap land they in­
vested, to a small extent, in livestock.
there w h s enough grain to feed them.
Hogs were cheap and
Almost every farmer 'would
••'-V-'. enough pigs for fresh or cured meat and also, during the
eighties, in the eastern part of the state, would raise a
surplus of hogs for market.
During the nine year period 1870-1873 the number of hogs
increased from 125,000 to 255,700.
This represented a high
rate of Increase b =t was not great in actual numbers.
next y ear, 11.73, tners were 607,600 hogs
13Q1, the number had doubled to 1,520,000.
The
nd two years later,
From. 1881 to 1892
there were 1,250,000 more hogs on Nebraska farms, and from
that date the number declined to a low point by 1900.^°
Certain conditions account for the marked increase in the
9Idem.
1U 1.p-3ndlx. TiOAe 9,
xx- Figure IX, xxii.
E d u c e d with permission o f the oop,right owner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout permission.
— 144—
number of hogs during the decade of the eighties.
There was
the expansion of farming In a general way throughout the state.
The crest of the immigration movement had been reached by
about 1888.
The corn growing qualities of Nebraska soil and
climate had been experienced.
As has been indicated,
it was
at this time that the farmers in the eastern part of the state
were decreasing their wheat acreage and planting their ground
to corn.
The price of corn was low and the price of livestock
relatively high, so farmers converted their corn into hogs
and cattle and received better returns.
Omaha and Sioux City
provided easy markets for the hogs and transportation facilities
to those places were fairly adequate.
The number of hogs re­
ceived at the union stockyards In Omaha from 1884 to 1891 was
7,160,865.
The year* 1890 provided the greatest contribution,
I.e., 1,673,314.11
One other situation might have encouraged the Nebraska
farmer to go into the hog raising business in earnest during
the late 70's and early 80's.
Hog prices in the United States
were low during most of the decade of the s e v e n t i e s ^ and this
condition caused heavy exports of pork and pork products.
European markets were flooded by these American products and
the foreign demand was beginning to influence price in this
country.
The producers in the Importing countries demanded
protection from American competition,
so during the early
part of the 80*s G-ermany, France, and other European countries
X 1Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
12Yearbook, U. S. D. A.,
(1891), 565.
(1922), 190.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permiss.on
-145began to prohibit imports of pork from the United States on
the pretext that it was dangerous to the health of the people.
It was claimed by those countries that the meat was not proper­
ly inspected and they alleged it was infested with trichinae.
The action of
these countries curtailed
the foreign market
for American pork for several years.-*-3
W ith the
products,
the
closing of foreign markets to pork and pork
price fell to a low level and hog production in
some of the older eastern states decreased.
however,
In Nebraska,
the diminishing of the export trade did not have a
retarding effect upon hog production.
The price during the
eighties was comparatively good and the price trend reached
Its peak for the period 1870-1900 in the middle of this decade.
From 1885 there was a gradual decline of price until the
lowest point was reached in 1900.^
The purchasing power of hogs was seldom 100 per cent or
more of the 1910-1914 average durin
Increasing the most in numbers.
thirty year period,
the time when hogs were
In fact, during the entire
there was only one year, 1894, when the
purchasing power equalled 100 or more.15
It was this sane
year that hogs reached their highest price, $8.05.
This did
not mean that the farmer was getting heavy returns from his
hogs, as the price of feed was high on account of the small
supply of corn and other feeds because of the drouth.
In spite of low prices and low purchasing power the hog
industry expanded.
This was due to low costs of production
l 3 I b i d . , 191
1 ^ A p pendix. Table 9, xx; Figure 11, xxli.
1 5A p p e n d l x , Table 12, xxvii.
~Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
'
and also to the fact that it was a period of agricultural
expansion in the state.
After 1894 the price of hogs fell and the numbers dimin­
ished.
Farmers could not keep their stock for lack of feed
and had to get rid of it, sometimes at extremely low prices.
The number of hogs decreased from 2,088,964 in 1894 to 1,316,047
the next year.
The number during the latter year was about
Ifi
the same as that on the farms in the state in 1900.
After
1900 the hog industry revived and proved to be an integral
part of farming in some sections of the state.
A most romantic and dramatic aspect of agriculture during
the Period of Expansion was the range cattle industry.
The
farmers who moved into Nebraska from the east usually had a
cow or two, and probably some oxen, but brought with them very
few beef cattle.
It might be that they had, or soon purchased,
a beef or two for home butchering.
It was not until the decade
of the eighties that the cattle Industry reached any signifi­
cance in the eastern part of the state, which became a feeding
area, for cattle, for the same reasons that made it a hog
producing area, i.e., increased production of corn and rela­
tively higher prices for livestock than for grain.
The eastern livestock section of the state was not a
cattle producing area primarily but rather a cattle feeding
area.
The livestock farmers secured their cattle from the
ranges of the West.
Until 1890 it was the range cattle indus­
try in the state that was the dominant feature of Nebraska's
16
A p p e n d i x . Table 9, x x . »
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-147I®
m
*rf
cattle production,
No attempt will be made to present a complete story of
it
the range cattle industry but merely an outline of the im­
portant steps in the Nebraska development will be s h o w n . ^
In the decade of the fifties the grazing and pasturage
qualities of the grass covered high plains regions^ of western
Nebraska were discovered by the overland freighters.
Some
of these freighters stayed in this region and established
trading posts, and among their activities was trading sleek,
fat cattle and oxen to the freighters who came t?;rough for
their tired, lean cattle.
accrue to these traders.
Considerable profit seemed to
18
However, it was neither the
herds of the traders nor the oxen of the freighters that
proved to be the foundation for the cattle industry of the
range.
The herds which really made of this region a great
cattle area, came from Texas.
The Texas range steer mas a native of America but of
Spanish origin.
Following the Mexican War, disbanded Mexican
herds of cattle drifted into Texas and there roamed unmolested.
No owner claimed them for years end they became, as it were,
semi-wild cattle of the range.
Under favorable grazing
conditions the herds multiplied until they grew into tens of
■^Material has been taken fron the following more complete
works:: For general treatment, Edwar*d Everett Dale, The Range
Cattle Industry. (Norman, 1930); Everett Newton Dick, **The
Long Drive," M. A. Thesis MS in University of Nebraska Library;
Emerson Hough, The Passing; of the Fron t i e r . (New Haven, 1918);
Frederic L. Paxson, **Q?lie Cow Country," in American Historical
R e v i e w , XXII; Walter Prescott Webb, The Great Plains! (Boston,
1931); and for more specific Nebraska treatment, David Robert
jburleigh, “Range Cattle Industry in Nebraska to 1890,” M. A.
Thesis MS In University of Nebraska Library; G. W. Hervey (Editor
of NEBR a SXA F ARMER) . “The Range Steer and His Relation to the
Commercial Interests of the W o rld,11 in Annual Report, St. Bd.
Agr., (1903).
IQBurlelgh MS. P.-:
owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-148thousands .
In 1860 the number of cattle in Texas was more
than 4,500,000.19
In the late 50*s these roving herds of range cattle be­
gan to attract the attention of speculators.
The outbreak of
the Civil War caused the marketing of Texas cattle in the East
to cease.
This resulted in a still further increase of supply
of beef in Texas.
The price of cattle accordingly dropped;
in some sections they could be purchased for as low as $1.00
per head.
Cutting off of the supply resulted in an increased price
k'y,
for beef in the North, and if the ca.ttle could be placed on
%
the markets there a nice profi t could be secured by the
..f
Southern owner.
Almost over night ambitious cattle rustlers
in Texas became owners of large herds.
The rounding up and
branding of cattle became a business which extended into all
sections where unbranded cattle could be found.^1
I
The next step was to get the cattle to market.
The long
drive began in 1866 when the drovers reached the railroads in
I
r
I
Iowa and Missouri by driving their cattle through Oklahoma,
a-
into Missouri;
or across the southeastern corner of Kansas,
and thence through Missouri or north into Iowa.
The expected
profits were not realized in these early drives because of
losses due to lawless conditions in Kansas and Missouri where
whole herds were stolen or heavy tribute was demanded by the
^9 Ibi d. , 5.
2 0 Ibid., 6.
Pi
c-LHervey, op. c i t ., 14.0.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-149bands of robbers.
The cattle, also, were In poor shape be­
cause of the long, hard drive and very low prices were received
at Chicago.
Some drovers, however, held and fed their cattle
during the winter in Iowa and Illinois and sold their fat
steers for a good price the next spring.
The experiences of the first year, 1866, of the long
drive indicated that in order to reap the expected profits the
length of the drive had to be reduced, or the drover had t o
find a place for feeding and fattening as an intermediate
step before final sale, or one other’ condition was necessary,
namely, a market In the North nearer than C h i c a g o . ^
It was not long until all three of these alternatives
were realized.
The building of the transcontinental railroads
provided shipping centers at various places— Abilene, Dodge
City, Schuyler, Kearney, Ogallala, Julesburg.
Cattlemen,
farmers, and the drovers themselves began to hold or buy the
Texas steers for fattening on the Kansas and Nebraska grass­
lands before sending them on to market.
Markets were also
found in the demand for fresh meat by the railroad construction
crews; by the establishment of Indian reservations in Nebraska
and the Dakotas; and by the discovery of gold in the Black
Kills.
Under such conditions the drives increased in volume.
Before the cattle industry could flourish in Nebraska,
the Indians had to be subdued.
With the coming of the rail­
roads one of the chief sources of the necessities of life for
the Indian was eliminated.
Buffalo hides and meat were shipped
223urleigh, MS, ?.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-150;
to the East and it was not long until the buffalo was practic­
ally exterminated.
resentment,
This, among other things, produced Indian
and in order to receive protection from the redrnem
the increasing number of settlers demanded aid from the govern­
ment.
Eventually the Indians were forced to live on reserva­
tions or in the Indian Territory and military protection was
established in the region.
By 1873 all of Nebraska south of
the N o rth Platte was free of the Indian menace and open for
che white man to occupy.
The long drive of Texas Longhorns began to reach into
Nebraslia in the late 6 0 's.
The famous Chisholm Trail was ex­
tended into the state from central Kansas.
After 1870,
the
Union Pacific offered special rates which served as an induce­
ment for the drovers to pass up the Kansas shipping points.
Schuyler became the terminal of the trail up the Blue River,
and K e a r n e y became the shipping point of the Nebraska extension
of the Chisholm Trail.
Cattle trails gradually shifted westward.
Reasons account­
ing for this were Indian hostility in the eastern part of the
Indian Territory,
in Kansas,
the lines of fences of the waves of settlers
and the quarantine regulations in ea.stern Kansas
against Texas fever.
New cow towns developed and were super­
seded by yet newer ones farther west.
By the late 70*s arid
early 8 0 * s the Kansas terminal for the Western Texas Trail was
Dodge City.
Nebraska,
The increasing demand for Texas cattle from
the Dakotas,
and Wyoming caused Dodge City to become
only the first shipping point reached by the drovers.
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Cattle
-151by the hundreds of thousands continued up the Texas Trail to
Nebraska*s outstanding cattle town, Ogallala.
This was a
"rip-snorting" cow town and was given the title of the "Gomorrah
pa
of the Range".
Branches of the Texas Trail reached out to
Lexington, North Platte, and Sidney.
Later a branch extended
along the western border of the Sandhills to Dakota Territory.
The development of the factors which have been mentioned
laid the foundations for the range cattle industry of the state.
The advantages of western and central Nebraska having been
realized,
it was not long until cattlemen began establishing
ranches in these regions.
different places.
The pioneer cattlemen came from
Texans or Southerners who had had previous
experiences in the cattle business on the southern range w e r e
the ones who started the business in Custer County and in the
western part of the state.
These men had learned from exper­
ience that a better price could be secured for their cattle
if the stock was wintered on the prairies and then sold.
There were also freighters, who had formerly been in the reg­
ular overland freight business or had hauled building material
for the Union Pacific.
the cattle business,
made the old
ranches.
They had seen t> e possibilities of
and as the Union Pacific, when completed,
cype of freighting obsolete,
those men set up
Others engaging in the early cattle business were
those who had operated trading posts along the old Oregon
Trail,
and also hunters,
scouts,
and army men.
Then there were
the settlers wlio soon realized that cattle raising was more
23
R e p r o d u c e d
Hough, o p . c l t . , 141.
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission
-152prof 1 table than crops and as a result slowly increased their
herds.
The settlers were destined to play an increasingly
significant part in the later range cattle industry and in the
livestock farming of today,
Eesides these elements, there
were adventurers of the East and some Europeans who were fas­
cinated,
temporarily, by stories of the type of life led on
the ranches and wanted to try it out.
Their ardor cooled v/ith
actual experience and many of them left; however,
some became
a permanent part of the operation of the open range cattle
business.
According to Burleigh*s study there were four locations
in the state where cattle raising, primarily for beef purposes,
began;
"In the lower Panhandle between the North and South
Platte rivers; in the valley of the Platte near Fort McPherson
(south of the city of North Platte);
of the Platte near Fort Kearney;
in the valley and islands
and in the South Loup Valley,
now southern Custer County.
The pioneer cattlemen realized the advantages of these
regions.
G-ood pastures, protection from the Indians b y the
forts and military patrols established by the Army, access­
ibility to the supply of cattle reaching terminals of the
Texas trails, and the markets in the region,
or those in the
East by ws.y of the Union Pacific, were the factors considered
by the cattlemen.
The spread of the cattle industry into other
parts of the range country took place during the decade of the
1870*s.
24Eurleigh, MS, 19.
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-153By 1879 the last region of the state began to be approp­
riated by the cattlemen.
The Sandhills had been considered
as undesirable for grazing and the cattlemen had avoided it by
going around the area to the west and the east.
In 1879,
however, largely by accident, it was discovered*^® this region
could support cattle that had drifted into it and from then
on it was sought by the cowmen as good range country.
Thus, by 1880,
the expansion Into new territory b y the
cattlemen had virtually been completed.
There were isolated
spots after this w h ich were soon taken, but these were not
lar._.e areas.
These places were the gaps left in the general
advance during the preceding decade.
%
The cattle industry in western Nebraska was carried' on
wit h low costs of production.
The range was free;
there were
no taxes at first and later taxes were comparatively low;
labor costs consisted principally of the wages of the cowboys
which were not high;
and the ranch buildings were either dug-
outs or made of materials found at hand in the valleys or
canyons.
Equipment used was not expensive and the food, given
to the cowhands was coarse.
The lov; costs,
actual payment of dividends on investment,
together w i t h the
sometimes running
as h i g h as 100 per cent,^® naturally would attract new oper­
ators.
Advertising by railroads and state land departments
and boards of immigration ca.used men to invest heavily in
the cattle business.
These conditions led to the cattle boom
of the 183 0*s.
g S l b l d ., 32-34.
26I b i d . , 82.
/
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-154There was a bad winter in 1880-1881 but for six years
afterwards favorable weather encouraged the expansion of the
industry.
The very boom itself caused it to increase, because
in the very first years of the decade the price of cattle kept
increasing steadily.
The new ranchers bought cattle to get
a start and older cattlemen bought more stock to increase
their earnings.
From 1882 to 1884 there was practically no
sale of range cattle for slaughter.
At the same time the cattle boom was getting under way,
settlers were moving westward at a rapid rate.
In Custer
County the year 1881 marked the end of extraordinary profits
and the smaller, independent cattlemen moved on or sold out.
The larger cattlemen stayed to contest the incoming numbers
of settlers for the profits that had come In the days of the
free range.
In the western part of the state the boom contin­
ued ,but the same story was re-enacted In place after place as
the settler's frontier advanced.
In the western areas of the state a change in organization
of the industry took place.
While in the 7 0 ' s individuals
and partnerships carried on the business,
oration began.
in the 80's Incorp­
M o ney from the East and from Europe was in­
vested' recklessly in the cattle enterprise without Investi­
gation of the soundness of the business.
Book counts we r e
all that were necessary for sales and loans,
as it was too
expensive and required too much work to gather and "tallyb r a n d M the cattle.
In many cases not half of the cattle were
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-155in existence which were represented on the b o o k s . S o m e
of
the big cattle corporations expanded their business to include
feeding operations on the eastern border of the range country.
The boom continued but approached its ultimate limit—
the amount of free range available— in the later eighties.
In the late stages, of the boom the ranchers resorted to various
devices to keep their favorable position in a constantly in­
creasing over-crowded area.
Among these devices were the
fencing of the range with the newly invented barbed wire;
the
purchasing of large tracts of land, usually railroad lands,
in large part on deferred payments;
and share grazing.
These
devices were of no avail, because the range had reached its
highest development.
The market for ca.ttle to place on new
range was diminishing because of lack of new range.
The boom
war ready to collapse by the middle SO 's.
Besides the overcrowding of the range territory several
other factors aided in bringing s.bout the collapse of the
cattle boom of the eighties.
The most important of these was
the constant pressure of the settler's frontier continually
moving westward.
This pressure forced many of the stockmen
to sell out or move farther west.
The farmers— called "grangers"
by the cattlemen— were a relentless force although weak and
unorganized.
They fought for what they considered their
rights and by the use of the rifle,
and elections,
the wire-cutter, litigation,
eventually defeated the cattlemen.
Open
27Ibid., 88.
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-156hostilities took place and blood was spilled.2 ®
An advantage which the settler had in his struggle w i t h
the cattlemen was the Herd Law.
After a series of special
laws had been passed applying to only certain counties of the
state a law was enacted, 1870, which pertained to most of
the settled part of the state.29
The next year a general
Herd Law was passed w h ich applied to all cultivated areas of
the state except the counties of “Dakota, Dixon,
L ’eau Q,ui Court or R i c h l a n d 11.
Cedar and
The act could be suspended in
its operation by the citizens of any county provided certain
steps were taken.30
The provisions for excepted counties and for suspension
caused conflict when the settler moved into the cattle country.
It was natural for the cattle counties of the west to tak e
advantage of the suspension provisions.
The fight to remove
suspension in these counties took place when the settlers
became numerous enough and enlightened e n o u g h to invoke the law.
As more settlers became members of the state legislatures,
the struggle to remove all exemptions from the law was carried
to Lincoln.
In 1879, legislation was enacted virtually elim­
inating exemption In sil counties except Dakota and D i xon , 3^
and on March 16, 1889, all exemptions were nullified and all
rights to nullify the act were eliminated.32
The Herd Law
28
For an account of the struggle in various parts of the
state between the grangers and the cowmen see the Burleigh,
MS, 101-109.
2 9Laws of N e b r a s k a , 6th-8th.
sessions,
50I b l d . , 120-122.
31
Laws of N e b r a s k a , 15th session,
32Laws of N e b r a s k a , 21st session,
(1870-71), 18-20.
(1879), 165.
(1889), 430.
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was not always enforced but its existence proved to be a
powerful factor in providing the settler with a will to fight
the cattlemen.
A n invention helped to cause the downfall of the "cattle
—
baron" in the 1880's.
•- <e
A patent for barbed wire fence had been
granted to J. F. G-lidden of De Kalb, Illinois in 1874.
This
type of fence was manufactured in large quantities, reaching
rtrt
an output of 40,000 tons b y 1880.
This product sold for 20
cents per pound in 187434: and Nebraska cattlemen purchased it
to set fences to enclose their ranges against encroaching
cattle competitors ana later against the incoming grangers.
Thousands of acres of public lands were enclosed illegally and
the General Land Office at Washington in 1883 warned against
the practise in the open range country of the West b y the
distribution of a circular among the cattlemen.
It author­
ized settlers to destroy the fences and also threatened to
take proceedings against those who continued to break the l a w . ^
The illegal practice continued but with the inauguration of
Cleveland and the appointment of W. A. J. Sparks as Land Com­
missioner in 1885,
the national government began to take
definite action against the cattlemen.
Congress passed a
law to aid in the prosecution of offenders and on August 7,
1885,
the President issued a proclamation w h i c h ordered aLl
fences on the public lands to be t-^ken d o w n . ^
^ B u r l e i g h , MS, 110.
’X.A
Paxson, o p . cit. , 71.
35Burleigh, MS, 111.
5^Idem.
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/
/
-158Special agents investigated the public lands and succeed­
ed in enforcing the g o v e r n m e n t s action to a certain extent.
The cattlemen, however, were successful in circumventing the
law, in great measure, by buying Union Pacific lands and
fencing their side of the railroad section,
then leaving an
opening of a few inches to the next alternate section and con­
tinuing the fence.
They succeeded in enclosing the railroad
land and an equal amopnt of government land without putting
a fence on public land.
Other ranchers had their employees
file claims on government land and so tried to secure title
to their range area, at least the part w i t h water.
Although
government action did not succeed in gaining its objective
entirely, it helped to encourage the settlers and aided in
causing the cattleman to lose their hold on a large part of
the range.
The homesteader used the wire fence also in restricting
travel to township and section lines.
With his enclosed
fields the long drive from Texas to the northern ranges b e ­
came Increasingly difficult . ^
Certain economic developments aided in the collapse of
the cattle boom by the middle 8 0 ' s.
Cattle prices were
good during the first years of the decade because of the
strong demand for cattle in the range country and a good
market in the East.
In 1883 a business slump started in the
East w h i c h caused prices of all commodities to decline.
This
decline continued for the rest of the nineteenth century.38
rzrp
° Paxson,
o d
.
c i t . , 73.
^ A p p e n d i x . Table 10, xxiv.
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-159Cattle prices, however, continued high, especially in the
range country, because of the demand.
As soon as the range
was stocked, the demand fell off and the price of cattle then
followed the declining price trend of the country.
As the
granger moved into the cattle country, often forcing the rancher
to sell,
che price of cattle would decline more rapidly.
The
combination of these circumstances— filling of the range
country, the spread of settlements,
and the depressed condition
of the country— played an important role in bringing about the
collapse of the cattle boom.
The enormous profits of previous
years were gone and many cattlemen were forced into bankruptcy.
Some of them saw the signs of the times and sold at the peak
of the boom.
Those who tried to weather the storm had t o
sell out at ruinous prices to satisfy creditors or else take
enormous losses.
The severe winter of 1886-1387 is often considered as
the point when the range cattle industry in Nebraska began
its decline.
Although the weather was extreme, it did not
take a toll of cattle in Nebraska as in Wyoming and Montana.
The collapse of the cattle boom had begun during the year
1886 as is indicated by the decrease in the cattle population
of the state from 1,535,457 to 1,048,200 in 1887.39
The year
1886 was not a year* of abundant rainfall in the western part
of the state, but the climatic conditions were not the real
factor that undermined the range cattle industry,
as has
been indics.ted.
' 3 9A p p e n d l x . Table 9, xx.
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-160Another factor that may have contributed to the decline
in the range cattle industry w?s the cutting off of the source
of supply from Texas by the quarantine proclamation of Governor
Dawes in 1Q86.
Nebraska, a.s other states, had been plagued
by epidemics of various kinds among -Che cattle.
Pleuro­
pneumonia, hoof and mouth disease, and Texas fever broke out
at different times and the claim was made that these diseases
were traceable to the imported Texas cattle.
Local stockmen
sought protection for their animals by demanding quarantine
laws.
The State Eoard of Agriculture petitioned the legislature
at different times
40
to take some action in preventing the
outbreak and spread of contagious diseases among animals.
In 1885 an act was passed providing for the appointment of a
Veterinary Surgeon and a Live Stock Sanitary Commission to
care for a n d prevent the spread of contagious and infectious
41
diseases among domestic animals.
This law gave the commission authority to have diseased
animals In the state killed and to recommend to the governor
the issuance of proclamations to enforce its authority.
Upon
its recommendation Governor Dawes Issued his proclamation on
Iviarch 16, 1886, prohibiting the entry Into the state of cattle
from the southern states because they were infected wit h Texas
42
or splenic fever.
Whether the demand for quarantining the state against
40
T r a nsactions. St. Bd. A g r . , (1876-1879), 29: Annual
Report (1883), 9.
------4 1Laws of N e b r a s k a , 19th session, (1885), 73-89.
4 2Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1886), 197.
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-161Texas cattle was genuinely therapeutic or was only to screen
the desire for protection against Texas competition cannot
HI
‘Vi’-'-'-.s;:
he proved.
Probably both elements were there.
It is signif­
icant that the year of the proclamation of the governor coin­
cides with the beginning of the collapse of the cattle boom
in the west.
The quarantine, however, did help to prevent the
rebuilding of the ranches in the west w i t h Texas cattle after
the depression in ohe cattle industry was ended.
The various factors bringing about the collapse of the
cattle boom of the 8 0 ’s had destroyed the old type of range
cattle industry by 1890.
The new industry which developed
after this was not s. range industry.
?ivvA
itH
based on better breeding,
smaller scale.
It was a new enterprise
feed and ca.re, and operating on a
The raising of large amounts of hay and forage,
in some instances by the use of irrigation, and the intro­
duction of corn and other crops took the place of the former
HI
i
open range type of cattle production.
After 1900 experiments
in the way of dry farming had reached a point which warranted
H
H"
rH
H
.
a general settlement and cultivation of a large part of the
high plains area as well as the valleys.
In the new type of cattle industry the cattleman had to
-.-'V
H
buy
or rent his land.
No longer could he escape without cost
the use of land for his herds.
b
Vi-
He was forced to fence In his
lands, which was a rather heavy item of expense.
With the
organization of county government and the establishment of
schools for the children of the grangers,
paid.
taxes had to be
Then, too, a high paid foreman replaced the unpaid
c
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labor of the working operator.
All of this meant that the
new cattle business operated on a narrow margin and when
weather losses were sustained, or necessary capital could
not be secured, bankruptcy or curtailment of operations was
inevitable.
These conditions led to a slow recovery of the
cattle Industry in the western part of the state.
There was one part of the state where the range cattle
industry continued after 1890— the Sandhills region.
When
the Burlington main line was built from G-rand Island to
Alliance in the later part of the 80's settlers were brought
to the very edge of the Sandhills,
cattleman.
the last domain of the
In the next two decades the battle for possession
of -chis region continued.
Cattlemen resorted to various
devices to hold out against the granger and grazing of cattle
over wide areas of land was never effectively checked.
The
Nebraska Sandhills remain as the significant cattle country
of the state.
In considering the cattle industry of Nebraska, attention
has been centered almost exclusively upon the western aspect
of development.
Mention was previously made that the eastern
section of the state was primarily a feeding center for beef
cattle.
During the lS80's the farmers in the east began to
secure feeder stock from the ranges and fatten them for market.
There was very little effort directed toward the production of
beef csttle as It was found more profitable to buy stock to
prepare for the market than to raise it.
The steers that were
held over the feeding season by the eastern livestock farmers
R e p r o d u c e d
with permission
of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission
W-
-1 6 3 -
were often shipped to the Sandhills, or adjoining counties,
and pastured for a dollar each for the season, while corn and
ga ^ r
SMI
feed were being raised to fatten them in the fall for the
p v'i:
market,43
There was then, an Interrelation between the cattle
Sj t ■ r ' - .
producing range area in the west and the cattle feeding area
in the east.
t
It was of particular interest to the livestock feeder
of the east, as well as to the cattleman of the west,
to im­
prove the quality of the cattle they were preparing for
market.
The lean, rangy Texas steer did not command a good
price and even if it were fattened in good shape for the
^
market the quality of its meat was not of very high grade.
£
the homesteaders pushed the frontier westward,
v «•..
invade the cattle country,
J[,
*
As
and began to
they introcuced the native farm
bred cattle of the states east of the Missouri river.
This
gradually brought about some improvement in the cattle on the
‘IcV
£
range.
"Each year found an increased interest among cattle
I '.
|:
owners to breed down the horns and breed up the beef qualities
|
of the range steer."44
|
|
It was not only through the gradual process of homestead»
e r s 1 cattle intermingling wi t h the range cattle, that improve-
|
ment was made in the Texas steer.
r
The higher prices to be
obtained from better stock than the Texas cattle led to the
introduction of high-grade and purebred bulls in the range
country.
At first Shorthorn or Durham bulls and later Here­
ford bulls were used.
44
Agr.,
The Angus, Devon, and Galloway were
B a r n e s , The Sod House, 94.
— —
1
Hervey, "The Range Steer,"
(1903), 140.
in Annual Reoort,
'
St.
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Bd.
164also used to some extent.
When the range became more fully-
occupied a problem arose in controlling the breeding; of the
stock.
11||
An owner of a good bull might discover that he was
improving his neighbor's cattle while his own might be mating
I
Sf
1,4k
with Texas bulls.
p
against the free ranging of Texas bulls.
This problem was solved by legislation
In 1879 it was
made an offense to allow a Texas, Mexican, or Cherokee bull
over ten months old to run at large.
Violation of the act
was punishable by a fine of $50 to $200.
The law also gave
the right to any person to castrate any such bull on the
open range and not be subject to any legal action.4 ®
g
Although the Herefords made gains on the Shorthorn, bulls
|fp
of the latter breed remained the most popular of all the beef
;§§
g§
breeds on the range.
Some eastern Nebraska farms raising
Shorthorn bulls provided a good proportion of the purebred
blood that was used to improve the quality of the herds in
western Nebraska.
Franz Moerer had a Shorthorn breeding
farm near Brownville and supplied carloads of bulls for the
rsnge country.
I
Mr. G. W. Hervey, in speaking about the development of
the cattle Industry,
proved stock.
in 1905, attributed the growth to im­
He claimed that there were in the state 675
breeders of Shorthorn cuttle, besides hundreds of breed­
ers of other kinds such as Hereford, Angus, and Galloway.
4 ®Laws of Nebraska, 15th session,
(1879), 68.
Aft
“ Burleigh, MS, 56.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
It was his contention that no stace had in the lart dozen years
(before 1905)
"added so rapidly to its herds of pure-bred
cattle as Nebraska."47
The trend of beef cattle production in the state, 18701900, was constantly increasing until 1 8 9 5 . This indicates
that the collapse of the cattle boom in the range country did
not stop the upward trend of production in the state as a
whole.
The eastern part of the state continued its livestock
feeding program.
.
It is true ths.t there was a reduction
of about one-half million from 1886 to lrfg? but the state,
as a whole,
quickly recovered from this loss and by 1892
unerc were 1,614,676 cattle in the state— the year of largest
cattle population during the entire period.
The downward
orend from 1895 to 1900 was due to the general economic and
climatic conditions prevailing throughout the state at that
49
time.
Cattle population figures for the period are rather
unreliable as there were no doubt thousands of cattle on t h e
ranges not included in the enumeration.
The cattle industry was considered by the Nebraska
farmers as one of the most profitable of industries in the
Period of Expansion.50
The size of the business is indicated
to some extent by the receipts of cattle at the Union Stock
Yards at Omaha.
In the nine year period before 1891 there
47Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1905), 234.
^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 11, xxii.
^ A p p e n d i x , Table 9, xx; Figure 11, xxii
5QTransactlons, St. Bd. Agr., (1881-1882), 48.
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-166were 2,538,795 cattle received and most of* these carae from
Nebraska farms and r a n g e s . B y
1900 Nebraska ranked fifth
in ohe nation in beef cattle production.
That a change in the cattle industry of the state was
imminent oy 1900, was realized by those who were interested
in the livestock business.
President W. G-. Whitmore,
in his
report to the Improved Stock Breeder's association in 1S98,
expressed the opinion that the ranges would not be able to
furnish the supply of feeders they had in the past.
The
reasons for this were that the Texas cattle owners were keep­
ing and fattening their ca.ttle for the market and that the
capacity for producing and carrying; stock on the range was
greatly reduced.
These conditions made it inevitable that
the Corn Belt states would have to produce more and better
stock.
sums,
Although this would mean the outlay of, considerable
the feeding of better grades of cattle would increase
profits.53
(
In an address at the State Farmers'
Institute in January,
1900, E. A. Burnett pointed out that the carrying capacity of
the ranges had been reduced by forty per cent.
Also the cost
of raising cattle on the plains was more than the farmer
anticipated.
This was due to the scarcity of drinking water
for the stock, uncertalnity of grass caused by lack of rain­
fall, loss from death by starvation and exposure, r o ugh usage,
5 Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1891), 365.
3^ Y e a r b o o k , U. S. D. A., (1921), 237.
55Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1897), 286.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-167diseases, and rustlers.
These circumstances resulted in the
breaking up of many of the large ranches and the establishment
of small herds that could be better cared for and fed.
Another
result had been the transference of some of the large cattle
companies,
such as the Standard Cattle Company, from their
western locations to places near the corn and alfalfa sections
of the state.
“The whole tendency of modern cattle production
seems to be in the direction of small herds of well bred and
well-fed cattle, whether on the range or on the cultivated
farm!54
The Incoming settlers of Nebraska usually brought with
ohem one or more milk cows as sources of food supply.
It was
natural as more settlers came to Nebraska that the number of
milk cows would increase.
The trend was a constant and rather
gradual increase during the entire Period of Expansion.55
The major portion of the milk and milk products w a s consumed
on the farm where it was produced.
The success of Nebraska
farmers in producing crops and livestock did not make dairying, with its greater drudgery, very attractive.
66
There seems to have been a beginning of interest in dairy­
ing about 1880.
Some capital wa s invested and a few butter
and cheese factories were established.
The growth of dairy­
ing in western Iowa might have inspired the interest in eastern
Nebraska.
The Nebraska Creamery Association was established
54ibld. . (1899), 62-5.
5 5A p pendix. Figure 13, xxiil.
^Morton,
History. Ill, 314.
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-168at Fremont In 1880 and claimed to be the largest of its kind
in the state . ^
The Interest in dairying resulted in the or­
ganizing of a State Dairymen*s Association in the year 1885.
Th-LS organization promoted and fostered dairying in the state
by recommending to the farmers the improvement of their milk
cows by introducing the dairy breeds, and by encouraging the
establishment of factories for producing da.iry products.
The secretary of the D a i r y m e n ’s Association,
in making
his report in 1896, Indicated the development of dalryin : since
ohe time the Association was formed.
In 1885 the number of
milk cows was 286,209 and they produced approximately 25,000,000
pounds of butter that year.
In 1896 there were 554,197 cows
producing about 54,000,000 pounds of butter.
The number of
creameries and factories had increased from 23 in 1885, manu­
facturing approximately 1,000,000 pounds of butter for that
year,
to 150 establishments in 1896 with a butter output of
8,000,000 pounds.
means,
This growth, while not phenomenal by any
does represent a sustained interest in dairying.
Through the influence and efforts of the Dairymen's
Associa.tion a dairy school at the Agricultural College w a s
established in 1896.
The legislature w o u l d not appropriate
any money for this purpose and the Board of Regents of the
University, at first, felt they did not have surricien'c runas
:o unaertaiie one consuruction of a building.
However, t h e
regents decided to erect a cheap frame building with the small
^ T r a n s a c t i o n s , St. Ed. Agr.,
(1881— 2), 128.
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-169amount they had for building purposes in connection with the
experiment station f u n d . T h e
establishment of the dairy
school aided in stimulating interest in dairying but the
chief progress in this branch of agriculture came at a later
period.
Sheep raising was an incidental part of the livestock
enterprise of Nebraska farmers.
The production of the sub­
stantial staples in crops s.nd the c .ttle and hog trade were
preferred by the farmers to venturing in experiments of
sheep raising which might not prove very profitable.59
The State Board of Agriculture attempted to encourage
sheep raising by offering a premium of $500 each for the
largest and best purebred flock of long wool,
and of short
wool sheep, which would be brought into and be owned in the
state after Ja.nuary 1, 1875.
in 1878.
The premiums were to be awarded
These premiums were never awarded as it was report­
ed in 1878 no entries of sheep had been made because $500 was
not a large enough sum to induce anyone to bring 1000 head of
thoroughbred sheet) into the state.
Some small flocks of sheep were brought in by the settlers
but it seems that there w a s jno particular desire to extend
sheep raising on any large scale.
sheep in the state.52
By 1880 there were 172,800
One-half of these were in a cluster of
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1896), 311.
5 ^ T r a nsactions, St. Bd. Agr. (1881-82), 1-23.
^ P r o c e e d i n g s , St. Bd. Agr.,
/
(1873—1876), 35.
6 1 I b l d . , (1878), 27.
6 2N e b r . A g r . Statis Dies, (1925), 102.
i
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-170twelve counties between the Little Blue and Missouri rivers.63
During the decade of the 1880's sheep raising increased;
the
largest number was reported in 1886, namely, 448,673.64
Some reasons accounting for this Increase were the westward
movement of the sheep industry in the United States, the
influx of immigrants into the state, and the introduction of
sneep in the range areas of the western part of the state.
fhe price of wool in the United States after 1870 fell
m a r k e d l y , and this forced the older ea.stern states to reduce
the number of sheep raised because the competition of the
low producing areas of the west could not be met.
Also lower­
ing of transportation charges on bulky products made it pos­
sible to snip the wool to eastern markets and ga.in some profit.66
As the frontier was pushed westi/rard it was discovered
that sheep raising could be carried on successfully in the
prairie
and plains regions.
These areas became breeding and
feeding
places for the sheep industry.
A l t h o u gh Nebraska did not go into the sheep business
heavily,
there were some sheep on the Nebraska range during
the 8 0 * s in spite of the hostility of the cattlemen.
Just
before 1890 ojiite a large number of range sheep beg- n to be
fed in the Corn Belt.
packers
This practice was encouraged by the
of Chicago and Kansas City, who, because of a lack
mutton supply,
of
sent buyers into the range sections to buy fat
6 ^Porter, oo. cit. , 364.
6 4N e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1925), 102.
® 5L. G-. Connor, “A Brief History of the Sheep Industry
in the United .States" in American Historical Association
Annual Report, I (1918), 143. "
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-171sheep for slaughter.
Those animals not sufficiently fat we r e
sent to feed yards in the Corn Belt to be fed during the
•winter.
Farmers followed the practice of these buyers and
began to buy range sheep to prepare for market.
It is claimed
that in the winter of 1889-1890 there were 625,000 head fed
in Nebraska.®6
T h e -trend of the sheep population shows the influences
of the decade of the eighties.
and then a decrease to 1895.
There was a n increase to 1890
There were approximately the
same number in 1900 as In 1895.67
The sheep raised during this period were principally of
the mutton type.
There was some wool clipped but greater
profits were found to be In the production of mutton.
The
price of sheep usually ranged between two and three dollars
per head during the entire Period of Expansion.
The low
price together with losses from predatory animals, lack of
shelter,
and poor and inexperienced care did not make the
business very profitable.
The practice around 1900 was to
handle small farm flocks rather than large numbers on the
ranges.
It was discovered that, with some care, the sheep
would thrive on coarse forage and feed which could not be
utilized b y other livestock.
The Nebraska pioneers, as In other frontier prairie
states, relied to a great extent upon oxen to furnishthe
d^aft rower for breaking sod.
These animals were sturdy and
6 6I'oid. , 150.
6 17A p p e n d i x , Figure 11, xxii.
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-172dld not require much care.
If the incoming settler did not
have a yoke of oxen, he couia hire those who m a a e it a special
occupation to break his soa.
The heavy breaking plows of the
time seemea to require ox power rather than horse power.
By
1880, however, lighter breaking plows were coming into use
ana oxen began to be replacea by horses ana mules for this
heavy work.
That Zae oxen furnishea frontier animal power is evidenced
o-y ohe number in the counties as the line of settlement movea
westwara.
The following figures for the state, ana the three
counties having the greatest number of oxen, inaicate the
elimination of oxen as work animals in Nebraska ana the use
of them in newly settlea counties:68
^ear
County
No. Oxen
I860--- no report---- 12,594
1870--- no report----- 5,931
1880------------------- 7,234
Buffalo----362
Holt-------289
Howara-----279
1890------------------ 5,768
Sheriaan---479
Cherry-----441
Holt-------407
1900
No working
oxen reportea.
After the sod was broken and the use of improved breaking
plows increased,
horses and mules.
the farmers preferred the faster moving
Although never in large numbers in the state,
the oxen played a part in the subduing of -Che prairies of Nebraska.
During the Period of Expansion the number of horses and
mules increased steadily because of the constantly increasing
6 8N l n t h Census, (1870), III, 82, 87; Tenth C ensus. (1880),
III, 141, 162; Eleventh Census, (1S90), X, 297, 293.
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-173demand as more acres were brought under cultivation.
The
five year
annual trend was sharply upward until 1895 and then
there was
slight temporary decrease to 1900.
trend was upward again until 1920.
After 1900 the
The temporary decrease
for the few years after 1895 was due primarily to the generally
depressed condition of agriculture and the abandonment of
farming in some parts of the western section of the state.
As
conditions improved the number of work animals increased again.®®
During the 8 0 fs and early part of the 90's many small
western horses were brought into some of the eastern counties
of the
state.
These western— bred horses were advertised high­
ly w i t h respect to their farm qualities and farmers bought
them in large numbers.
was lower
As the price of the western horse
than that of the eastern-bred animal, the
general
price of horses and mules was depressed and this discouraged
horse breeding in eastern Nebraska.
This condition was reflected in the price trend of horses
and mules.
From 1880 to 1890,
the trend was upward but-during
the next ten years sharply downward.
The depressed price of
* i
the 9 0 ' s was due not only to cheap western horses replacing
heavier animals but also to a decreased demand for horses
/
during the poor years of farming.
The general low price level
no doubt also exerted some influence in pulling the price of
work animals down.
In the later nineties fewer western horses were brought
into the east and farmers began to raise better horses.
69Aippendhx, Figure 12, xxiii.
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With
-174lraproved climatic and economic conditions, the demand for horses
increased and there was a sharp upturn in price after 1900.
As the heavier farm machinery began to be introduced there
was a demand for larger draft animals and the small western
horse began to lose favor.
in purebred stock,
There was some interest manifested
especially sires, but it appears that the
number of farms engaged in exclusive horse breeding: were very
few.
The Platte Valley Stock Ranch, near Valley, Nebraska,
raised pedigreed trotting horses; hr. W. G-. Whitmore, Val­
ley,
. was eng' ged in the horse breeding business;
a Lincoln
Company imported purebred draft animals and some other stock
farms improved their stock through securing purebred stallions.
When one considers that the chief progress in the breed­
ing of pure bred draft-horses in the United States has dated
only since 1 8 7 0 , it is not remarkable that the Nebraska
farmer took little interest in improved horse breeding during
the Period of Expansion.
A report of the American Percheron Horse Breeder's Assoc­
iation stated that in 1885 nearly 100 purebred Percheron mares
and a large number of purebred stallions had been introduced
71
into Nebraska.
This breed of draft horses became the most
popular in the state but there were other breeds, as Belgians,
Clydes,
and Shires,
entered annually in the State Fair.
It
is to be noted, however, that most of the entries were of breed­
ers outside the state of Nebraska.
7^Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
71I b i d . , (1886), 26.
(1911), 328.
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-175Horses and mules were not raised primarily for market
purposes in Nebraska.
This is indicated by the receipts at
the Union Stockyards at Omaha from 1884 to 1891.
A total of
55,195 were received, which is an average of less than 4,000
per year.
Not all of the receipts consisted entirely of
Nebraska animals,
as the Omaha market drew from other states.
As a sidelight to the horse industry, the range—bred horse
of western Nebraska was in demand for array purposes during the
Spanish-American War and proved "so enduring and serviceable
in comparison with horses of other countries and districts
of this country," that later in the South African and Phil­
ippine wars this type of horse was in the greatest demand.
"It
was the ability of these horses to endure fatigue and abuse
that stamped their superiority wherever they were known."7^
The livestock industry of Nebraska during the period of
expansion corresponds closely to the crop production aspect
of agriculture.
Few animals were brought by the incoming
settlers but as settlement moved westward and became better
established, more livestock was either raised or fed on
Nebraska farms.
The peak in point of numbers of animals was
reached in the early nineties.
Because of the depression in
the later part of that decade the number was reduced and a low
point was reached by 1900.
The range cattle industry flourished during the seventies
and eighties but after the collapse of the cattle boom of the
W. Hervey, "Nebraska in Agriculture and Livestock,"
in Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. A g r . , (1905), 238.
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-176west In the middle
•80's,
the features of cattle production
changed perceptibly in the range country.
There was con­
siderable feeding of hogs and cattle during the
eastern feed yards.
’SO's in the
A close interrelation between corn pro­
duction and the cattle and hog feeding enterprise was demon­
strated.
O x e n were
used by many early settlers for draft purposes
on the farms of the
sts/ce.
Horses and mules, however, grad­
ually replaced the oxen during, the seventies and eighties.
Little progress was made in the way of introducing purebred
livestock into the state until the eighties.
ship of the agricultural college,
Under the leader­
the farmers began to use
purebred sires
to a limited extent by the end of the Period
of Expansion.
This resulted in Improving the quality of the
herds of livestock on many farms of Nebraska.
Dairying and sheep raising did not make much progress
during this time.
Some sheep were raised in the range country.
Quite large numbers were fed in eastern feed lots in the later
eighties.
Every farm had its milk cows but dairy products
were not produced for commercial purposes on a large scale.
The story of the importance of dairying and the sheep industry
in Nebraska belongs to a later period.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
PART III
READJUSTMENT, 1900-1950
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CHAPTER ix
PROSPEROUS AGRICULTURE, 1900-1914
The perloa following the depression of the 1890's and
preceding the beginning of the World War was one of prosperity
for the Nebraska farmers.
The state as a whole did not suffer
fro:, a long period of drouth or from wide spread Injury of
Insect pests.
There were some areas In which crops were damag­
ed by d r o u t h and pests but severe injury was not of a sustained
nature.
Farmers of the state did not experience in any great measure
the effects of the panic of 1907.
It is true that credit and
prices were affecteo. for a few months but recovery was rapid
and within a year business was back to normal and moving forward
again.
Not only was the period one of prosperity in Nebraska but
conditions in the whole country were generally prosperous.
World production of gold nearly doubled.
precious metal in Australia,
Discoveries of the
the Klondike, and Cripple Creek,
Colorado, with the increase of production in South Africa,
contributed to the rising price level.
From 1900 to 1910
the general price level rose about 25 per cent and remained
stable until 1914.
Agricultural products rose in price.
In
Nebraska the purchasing power of wheat was 78 In 1900, rose to
109 in 1904, reached 117 in 1909, and remained 100 or above,
with the exception of one year (191o), until 1914.
Corn
reached a purchasing power of 116 in 1914 from' a low of 60
in 1900.2
-^-In the secretary's report to the State Board of Agriculture
mention was made that the farmers of the state treated the "pass­
ing financial panic" as of light importance.
Annual R e p o r t ,
St. Bd. A g r . , (1908), 15.
£Appendix, Table 11, xxv.^_______
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-178During this time some agricultural products were exported
in raoher large quantities.
However, the general trend was
toward a decrease in the amount of exports.
The supply was
being used in larger quantities here at home, as the popula­
tion was increasing at the time.
Although the total value of
agricultural products exported showed an increase (Table 2,
Column 8), this is not a good index of the amount of exported
goods,
as the price of farm products v^as rising and smaller
quantities
showed an increase in value during the late yea.rs
of the period as compared with the early years when quantities
were greater.
Under normal conditions when prices are high
less is exported, as foreign countries will buy from other
countries where products may sell for less than in this country,
karked fluctuations occurred in some items of exports.
The
low corn exports in 1914 were due to the poor crop of 1913
in the corn belt.
The same is true of the low wheat exports
of 1905 as the crop was short in the winter wheat belt.
The
decrease of beef exports in the later years of the period can
be partially explained by the low supply of feeder stock.
On the whole the foreign demand contributed to the rise in
prices,
but did not play as important a part as the home
demand.
The following table presents the exports of some agri­
cultural products for selected years:
Table 2.
Exports of selected agricultural products and
total value of agricultural products, excluding forest pro­
ducts for 1900, 1902, 1905, 1908, 1911, and 1914.3
5Yearbook, U. S. D. A. (1902), 863, 866, 870; (1906),
682, 685, "6867 689; (1912), 727, 731, 732, 735; (1915),
548, 549, 551, 554.
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-179-
Corn
(bu.)
Year
"■f ■’■■■■■■■■ ■ ■■ ■fm
Corn
'
Wheat
'
meal
'
(bu.)
*
(bbl.) i
i
h 943,782 [ 101,950,389 1
348,034
154,856,102 '
571,565
4,394,402 1
654,515
100,371,057 1
463,266
23,729,302 *
336,241 1 92,393,775 '
1900
1902
1905
1908
1911
1914
209,348,284
26,636,552
88,807,223
52,445,800
63,761,458
9,380,855
Year
Total
pork (lbs.)
Total
beef (lbs.)
1900
1902
1905
1908
1911
1914
876,210,803
780,475,687
609,793,071
633,796,990
365,480,337
411,131,451
434,258,032
417,921,420
359,246,317
579,303,478
265,923,983
148,487,828
Flour
(bbl.)
18,699,194
17,759,203
8,826,335
13,927,247
10,129,435
11,821,461
i agr. exports,
i excluding forest
i
products
— r $ 884,616,530
i
857,113,535
i
826,904,777
t 1,017,396,404
i 1,030,794,402
t 1,113,973,635
One evidence of material prosperity is an increase in the
value of property.
In Nebraska the total value of farm property
increased from #747,950,05? in 1900 to #2,079,818,614 in 1910,4
This represents an increase of 178 per cent.
As has been
stated previously the general price level rose about 25 per
cent during this decade; hence,
all the rise in value of farm
property cannot be attributed to increased farm prosperity.
However,
even after allowance is made for the part played by
the rising price level in the increased value of farm property,
the farm prosperity of the time contributed in large measure
g
to the increase.
Ba sed uoon census returns in H. C. Filley, "Effects of
Inflation and"Deflation upon Nebraska Agriculture, 19141932," in Nebraska A g r 1cultur al Experiment Station Hesearch
Bulletin 71, 3.
^Idem.
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-180One reason for the increase in the value of property was
the low prices of 1900.
It was after 1900 that the effects
of the depression of the
'90‘s were no longer experienced.
Prices of farm products rose.
In a period of rising prices
raw materials usually lead in the advance.
This made the
purchasing power of the farmer high and he felt prosperous
end began to buy freely.
On the other hand,
the cost of liveli­
hood increased and people in the city began to talk about the
high cost of living.
The census of 1910 revealed that there
had been a city-ward drift of rural people and consumers of
farm products formed a larger percentage of the population
increase than did producers.
This meant a greater demand
for foodstuffs, which in turn was reflected in the rising
price of farm produce.
The greater demand by the increasing
number of consumers caused some to view the position of the
farmer as very prosperous and there was even some cry of a
"back— to— the— la n d ” movement.
Another condition reflecting the prosperous condition
of the farmer was the rise in land values.
In 1900 the total
value of land and buildings in Nebraska was $577,660,020;
in
1910 value had risen to $1,815,346,935, or about 214 per cent.6
The price of farm products no doubt justified the rise in the
price of land, as it was returning a good rate of Interest on
the f a r m e r ’s Investment.
7
In a study by the Rural Economics Department of the
6Data from Abstract of Thirteenth Census, as quoted in Idem.
^Eleanor H. Hinman, "History of Farm Land Prices in
Eleven Nebraska Counties, 1875-1933," in Nebraska Agricultural
Experiment Station Research Bulletin 72.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
- 181-
University of Nebraska It was found that the average price of
l<*nd
per cicre sold by warranty deed In seven southeastern
counties of the state rose from #26 in 1900 to #110 in 1914;
in two east central counties from #17 to #100;
in one sand
hill county from #4 to #9 (#12 in 1913); and in one high piaims
county from #2 to #12
($17 in 1910).
The highest price per
acre paid for land in each of these four groups during the
period 1910 to 1914 was #162, #155,
#31, and $45 respectively. 8
ihe cause of the drop in the high plains county (Box Butte)
was the drought conditions during the period 1910-1914.
In
four of the five years precipitation was from 3 to 5 inches
Owlow normal.
Many settlers left the county, as was indicated
by the decline in the number of farms from 587 In 1910 to 367
3-n 1914,
and also Dy the decrea.se In the numbers of acres in
farms from 547,177 in 1910 to 250,280 in 1913.9
However, after
1914 Bo x Butte County recovered rapidly from this temporary
retardation in development.
The rise in land prices in the
state was rather gradual and reflected in large measure the
trend of the rise in price of agricultural products and the
increase in the purchasing power of Nebraska farmers.
Hot only was the period from 1910 to 1914 a time of material
prosperity for Nebraska farmers, b u t also one of actual beginnings
of scientific farming.
Farmers were continually experimenting
to learn which, crops were best adapted to the physical condi­
tions of Nebraska and, also, by which methods the crops could
be best produced.
Such matters as maintaining soil fertility,
8I b i d . , 24, 25, 27.
9 I b i d . , 22, 23.
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-182rotation of crops, balanced feeding rations for livestock,
improvement in livestock, control of insect pests and animal
diseases,
studying of market conditions, and several other
factors that go to make up the farm enterprise were seriously
considered by many farmers of the state.
Among the chief influences which promoted scientific
farming were the work of the College of Agriculture and the
Experiment Sta.tion, agricultural education, t he disappearance
of unoccupied arable land, better transportation facilities,
and new machinery.
'The College of Agriculture began to turn out trained men
whose plans led back to the farm.
These new farmers came into
effective leadership on the farms in the period preceding the
World War.
The experiment station was collecting a body of
scientific knowledge that it gave to the farmers in various
forms.
There was some agricultural education in the public
schools but new methods and practices were presented to the
farmer mostly through f armers1 institutes, agricultural organ­
izations,
litera.ture, and demonstration.
Some land in the
western part of the state was turned into crop land during
this time but there was the conscious realization that the
desirable land had been occupied.
If production was to be
Increased it must be by new methods rather than by putting
more land under cultivation as formerly.
Better transportation
facilities in the form of branch lines of railroads, but
particularly in the improvement of country roads and high­
ways occupied the attention of the farmers.
With better
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-183transportation facilities, more markets were opened to the
farmers and this resulted in greater interest in marketing
farm produce.
Freight rates declined until 1907 and remained
comparatively low until after the World War, although there
was a gradual rise from 1916 to 1 9 1 9 . New lahor saving
machinery began to be used.
This had its influence upon crop
production as well as crop systems on the farms in the state.3-1
As all of these influences were operating at the same time
chere necessarily would result a readjustment in farming after
1900 as compared with the manner of carrying on the farm enter­
prise during the Period of Expansion.12
During this period a fundaments.l aspect of farming occupied
the attention of the men who were thinking of the future agri­
cultural development of Nebraska.
This was the question of
maintaining the fertility of the soil.
These men realized
that the soil-mining system of farming of the earlier period
could not continue and production be'maintained.
It was durin,. this time, 1900-1914,
developed,
that a. systematic effort
led by the College of Agriculture and some agri­
cultural organizations of the state, which had for its object­
ive the educating of the farmers to the ide S. "talui t fertility
cannot continuously be drawn from the soil and no plant food
1 Q I b l d . , 52; Filley,
o jd .
c i t . , 48.
13,A later chapter is reserved for a discussion of farm
machinery.
19
The writer does not meon to suggest that it was only
during the period 1900-1914 that "Che influences stated above
were affecting farming.
Nebraska farmers are still exper­
imenting with crops and studying new methods of carrying on
their farm enterprise.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-184returned.
It seened to be a difficult task to get the farmers
to realize this but some progress was made during the time and
efforts along this line have been continued until the present.
In an address at the Agricultural College in 1907, Henry
W. Wallace,
editor of W a l l a c e 's F a r m e r . Des Moines, Iowa,
sounaed the keynote of the efforts to maintain soil fertility.
tie gave credit to the farmers in the Mississippi valley for
expanding agriculture during the nineteenth century.
However,
"it cannot be said that as a class they were successful in
cidinbaining the fertility of the soil and thus putting the
nation on a permanent basis of enduring prosperity...”13
In general either no rotation or a simple grain rotation
o± crops was practiced by the farmers of the state until just
preceding: the World War.
The simple grain rotation was prefer­
able to no rotation at all but even this would decrease the
humus in the soil and, hence, reduce the availability of the
mineral food el^menus.
When corn followed corn year after
year the result was a general decline in yield.
It was dis­
covered that where the land supported one crop continuously,
disease and insect pests which attack that particular crop
had a chance to infest the soil thoroughly.
This became very
evident In some of the older -corn growing counties.
Hundreds
of acres of corn were destroyed anmtiLly by the corn root louse.
This pest moved very slowly in its Infection of the land and
could not survive over two years unless corn was on the field.
If some other crop was planted for two years the ravagsof this
13Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. A g r . , (1906-07), 89.
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-185pest would be temporarily checked.
Frequent rotation w o u l d
make conditions almost Impossible for it to damage corn when
planted again.
It was quite natural that farmers in a region possessing
such fertile soil as Nebraska would not think much about
keeping up fertility.
There had been a rapid development of
agriculture and the idea seemed to prevail that the soil
would continue to yield as abundantly as it had when first
cropped.
With the high price of land prevailing during the
early part of the twentieth century, many farmers,
especially
in the eastern counties, began to realize the necessity of
obtaining greater returns from their land.
Therefore,
they
oect-jne Interested In the movement for better and more product14
ive farming.
The history of the older farming states east of Nebraska
showed that maintenance of soil fertility depended upon a
rotation of crops coupled with the growth of livestock.
L ed
by the- experiment station Nebraska began to investigate practice
w h i c h would be best suited for her farmers.
Beginning in 1910
the station laid out a series of permanent crop rotation plats
by w h ich scientific investigation could be carried on along
lines most suitable for conditions In the state.15
to this time,
Previous
the station had been gathering reports from
farmers who had been practicing some rotation.
These reports
all indicated increased yields and more profitable farming.
14Joseph Allen Warren, "An Agricultural Survey of Nebraska,
in Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. A g r . , (1909), 347.
1 5Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1910), 321.
1 6 I b i d . , (1909), 16.
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-186No doubt the reason
why the experiment station had not entered
upon this kind of work before was that other things seemed
more important*
It had been devoting its attention to va,riety
tests, proper methods of tilling; the soil, and importing and
producing varieties of grains and other crops suitable for
Nebraska climate.
One reason w h y crop rotation had not been generally prac­
ticed was the lack of a leguminous crop before alfalfa ceme
to be generally raised.
Red clover had been used to a limited
extent but its growth was confined to only about the eastern onefourth of the state.
The experiment station in its work after
1910 nearly always recommended alfalfa in the system of rotation,
as this crop could supply the deficiency that was lacking.
1?
The raising and feeding of livestock was an important
aspect of the question of maintaining the fertility of the
soil.
It was discovered that mature animals maks only a
limited use of plant food.
Animals consume the part of the
growing crop which is produced by the sun and is drawn from
the air.
For instance,
nitrogen
is
not an animal food,
so
livestock use comparatively small :mounts of this element.
The same
is
true of phosphorous and potash.
It was claimed
that if all crops from the farm would be fed to mature ani­
mals,
there would be returned to the soil 95 per cent of what
T O
the crop took from the soil. °
Somewhat less than this amount
would be returned by growing animals.
The Importance of the
1 7 Ibid., (1912), 368.
1 8 I b l d . , (1908), 261.
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-187use of manure and the growing of leguminous crops in a system
of rotation was that soil fertility could be rebuilt and
maintained.
The problem of soil fertility was discussed at the
first meeting* of the Nebraska Conservation and State Develop­
ment Congress which met at Lincoln, March £9-30, 1910.
Among
the Important matters of conservation in the state taken up
at this congress were rotation of crops, better and more
timely methods in farm operations, and more care in the
selection of seed grains.
Closely related to the question of maintaining soil fer­
tility was the problem of increased production of farm crops.
The period,
in general, was one of declining yields.
This
was natural, as the land suitable for profitable agriculture
was practically all utilized by 1910.
This, together with
the many years of soil-raining in the older regions of the
state, had caused agricultural production to decrease in pro­
portion to the number of acres farmed.
Therefore,
in order
to increase agricultural output it was necessary to realize
19
greater yields per acre.
The college of agriculture and experiment station led
the farmers of the state in several ways to increase yields of
crops.
Three aspects of this work were stressed:
of the best varieties;
the selection
the improvement of these varieties
either b y accliraatination or some other method of plant breeding;
and improved soil culture.
1 9 Ibid.,
(1910), 28.
/
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—188—
Definite steps were taken in improving the selection of
the best varieties of corn.
The experiment station began in
1902 a cooperative enterprise with some farmers in different
corn growing areas to improve the yield.
It was reported in
1908 that the average yield in the eastern part of tne s"cate
for the best two varieties under experiment had been 54 bushels
per acre, while the average yield of 6.11 corn in the same area
wa.s 56 bushels,2^
In 1905 a corn growing contest was conducted in which
pure seed of Nebraska origin was furnished by the experiment
21
station.
The Nebraska Corn Improvers' Association, w h ic h
was organized in the early years of the twentieth century,
carried on variety tests in different parts of the state,
Many varieties were compared In these tests.
In the five
years previous to 1912 twenty-five varieties of corn were
tested.
It was found that Hogue's Yellow Dent averaged ?4
bushels per acre and Reid's Yellow Dent 71 bushels.
The
average yield of these two varieties was 12 bushels above the
average yield of the two poorest varieties, or a total yield
for 5 years of 60 bushels or more.
22
All of these tests demonstrated that by proper selection
of seed and /the use of adapted and improved varieties the
yield per acre could be increased.
It was also determined that varieties suited to one part
2 0 Ibid., (1906), 17.
2 l rn1fiT) (1905), 184.
2 2 Ibid.,
(1912), 554.
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-189of the state may not be adapted to other parts.
soil moisoure, alcitude,
The available
and latitude of any locality were
found to be the chief factors w h ich determined the type of
corn oest suited for any particular area.
having: plenty of rain, low altitude,
a tall, late maturing,
raised.
In those counties
and southern latitude,
and a large eared variety could be
In regions having less rainfall and a shorter grow­
ing, season a different type of corn had to be grown.
Through experimentation the importance of acclimating
corn to the environment was found to be a major controlling
factor in yield.
Conditions in different parts of Nebraska
were discovered to be so varied in many respects that it took
two or three years for corn brought from states to the east
to become adapted.
Experiments carried on with seeds of the
same variety from Nebraska and from Iowa and Illinois, proved
that the Nebraska seed outyielded that of other states.
Even
seeds of the same variety brought from different counties
planted at the experiment station farm, showed that the seed
from the county closest to the farm outyielded that from
04
counnies farther away.
It was determined that for every 50
miles west of the Missouri river,
there was a different con­
dition of soil and climate, and corn plants would experience
more of a change in being moved 50 miles west of the river
25
than 600 miles east.
These various tests proved that if
the farmers were to get increased yields,
the varieties best
^ S t e w a r t , et al., £P. c l t , , 7.
' ^ 4Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1912), 385— 6,
2 5 I b l d . , 387.
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-190suited for every section of the state had to be carefully
worked out.
The farmers,
then, would have to readjust their
seed selection in order to get higher yields.
What was true in the way of improving varieties of corn
applied also to other grains.
In the period from 1900 to 1914
wheat and oats received considerable attention.
1902,
Beginning in
the experiment station began the further improvement of
Turkey R e d winter wheat by selection and crossing.
This wor k
consisted chiefly of selecting numerous strains and testing
these for yield, protein content, and growing habits.
As
the work progressed the characteristics of wheat and their
manner of inheritance became better understood.
Other object­
ives were then stressed with the purpose of eliminating par­
ticular weaknesses.2®
In the eight years previous to 1913 the experiment station
had developed five strains of Turkey Red winter wheat from
several thousand strains tested.
Four of these strains were
tested on farms in different parts of the state.
They yielded
on the average five bushels more per acre than other wheat
grown bjr the same farmers on adjacent lands.2^
The varieties Which proved to be the best in yield were
the improved Turkey R e d and Big Frame.2 ®
Another variety that
appeared to be a good yielding plant was K&rkov.
This type
came from Russia, and was introduced by the United States
department of agriculture and the state experiment station.
26Kiesselbach, et a l . , og. c l t ., 8.
^ A n n u a l Report, St. Bd. Agr., (1913), 388.
pa
Ibid., (1912), 384.
29I b i d . , (1909), 317.
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29
-191Through the process of experimentation, the winter wheat
area of the state was expanded by discovery of varieties that
could be grown successfully in parts of the state where before
virtually no winter wheat was sown.
Adaptation of wheat to
the physical conditions of environment was as important as
adaptation of corn.
Oats came in for consideration also.
introduced just previous
The Kherson oat,
to 1900, became the leading variety
by outyielding other types by 10 bushels to the acre in eastern
Neoraska and by a greater margin in the western a r e a s . F i v e
year tests by the experiment station showed that another
variety,
ing oat.
Texas Red,
introduced in this period was a good yield­
The Kherson and Texas R e d varieties in various tests
outyielded the poorest varieties by 16 bushels to the acre
on the average.
The period of Prosperous Agriculture was one of .experi­
mentation and readjustment in Nebraska farming.
It has been
demonstrated that econo- ic conditions v/ere favorable f o r the
farmers.
It has also been stated that in this period there
was a general recognition of the fact that the sysuems and
methods of farming during the Period of Expansion could not
continue if the Nebraska farmer was to take full advantage
of favorable times.
Accordingly,
findings based upon scientific
testing and experimentation were given to the farmer by those
interested in agricultural progress.
Keeping up soil fertility
by rotation of crops and by raising livestock,
selection of
g 0I b i d . , (1906-07), 12S.
3 l I b l d . , (1912), 384-5.
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-192better yielding varieties and adaptation o f •these varieties
to soil and climatic conditions, more thorough cultivation of
the soil, and improvement in livestock were matters constantly
placed oefore the farmers at
chat
time.
It was the period of
agricultural development when scientific farming began on a
rather general scale.
It was proved to the farmer, especially
by the demonstration methods,
ing enterprise.
that he could improve his farm­
The response was slow but in succeeding
periods the fruits of these endeavors began to be realized.
The western part of Nebraska began Its development as a
crop producing area during 1900-1914.
Much of this section
of the state had been depleted of Its population by the ad­
verse conditions of the 1 8 9 0 ’s.
However,
after the passage
of the K i n kaid Act, 1904, the western counties again were
settled by homesteaders who received grants of 640 acres.
Many of the Kinkaiders did not have sufficient capital to
engage in ranching,
of the sandy soils.
so turned to grain farming,
B^or the most part their attempts to raise
crops ended In failure.
crops blew out.
even on some
Little grain was harvested and the
A large number of Kinkaiders left, either
abandoning their farms or selling out at a low figure to the
ranchers.
The new homesteaders were unfortunate in settling
the territory at a time of low rainfall.
every year,
From 1910 to 1914
except one, was below normal in precipitation.
The rapidity with which some counties lost in farm population
is demonstrated by the fact that in 1913 there were 37? farms
In L o gan County and only 144 in 1914.
32
Hlnman, o p . c i t ., 7.
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-193At
ohe same time that the Kinka.iders were withdrawing
from western Neoraska. there were forces operating which in­
dicated that farming could be carried on under the soil a nd
climatic conditions of that region.
Shortly
after the be ­
ginning of the twentieth century an experiment sub— station
was established south of North Platte.
Two other experiment
sub— stations were established in 1910 at Valentine in the
Sandhill region, and at Scottsbluff in the irrigated and
high plains regions.
The work of these stations was con­
ducted to determine the best methods of farming in their
particular regions and to develop varieties of crops best
suited to environmental conditions.33
The experiment sub-stations determined by experience
that crops could be raised in western Nebraska.
By follow­
ing a system of dry farming and sowing varieties of grain
adapted to the regions satisfactory results could be secured.
Dry farming consisted principally of cultivating the soil
during the summer without a crop.
This would store the
moisture in the soil by keeping down weeds and by forming a
dust m u l c h in order to prevent evaporation.
It would also
make a good, seed bed for the grain to be sown, and would
accumulate plant food by making conditions favorable to
3 4
the breaking down of humus and the accumulation of nitrogen. ’
The value of summer tillage was evidenced by the w o r k of
the N o r t h Platte sub-station in the dry year of 1910.
By
33Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1911), 19.
34W. P. Snyder end W. W. Burr, “Growing Crops in Western
N e b r a s k a , " in Agricultural Experiment S tation Bulletin 1 1 8 .
48-49.
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-194followlng this method of cultivation from twice to many
times the yield, was secured from land that produced a crop
in the preceding year of above-normal rainfall,35
This
showed that ordinary methods of tillage would not De
proritable from year to year.
The work of the experiment sub— stations also showed
that under correct methods of farming, areas of land which
had been devoted to grazing could be used, profitably for
crop production.
Wheat, barley, corn adapted to western
Nebraska conditions, alfalfa, and other crops could be
raised.
It was indicated that crop farming in Itself probably
would not be profitable from year to year.
The best and most
permanent system for western Nebraska was a combination of
crop and livestock farming.
Feeding crops to livestock
could return fertility to the land.
Also, the farmer would
get greater returns per unit of production by condensing
his crops and marketing them in the form of livestock.
In
this manner the western farmer would reduce his costs of
transportation to the markets, which were some distance away,36
By 1914 the development of western Nebraska a s an agri­
cultural area was under way.
Wi t h the high prices of the next
few years and wi t h favorable climatic conditions farming was
carried on in most of the sections of the high plains country.
In the Sandhills region there were two developments
3 5I b l d , . 6.
36W, P, Snyder, "Maintaining Fertility of Soil in Western
Nebraska," in Annual R e p o r t , St, Bd, Agr,, (1913), 285,
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
•195»
taking place by 1914.
One was the utilization of land b y the
homesteaders for farming purposes usually without sufficient
capital.
The other was the continued development of ranching,
where large tracts of land and large herds of cattle were
brought together under some kind of single management.
The
homesteader was finding increasing difficulty in maintaining
his enterprise.
Ranchers were aided by better transportation facilities
in getting their cattle to market.
The Burlington mainline
to the northwest traversed the region.
P&**t
the Sandhills,
Across the northern
the Northwestern had built a road, and
the Union Pacific ran along the southern border.
Branch lines
of the Burlington and Union Pacific were built to the south­
eastern border, and the Cheyenne branch of the Burlington
37
crossed Lincoln county.
The possibilities of Nebraska agriculture were being
realized b y 1914.
Total acreage in farms had increased from
29,911,779 in 1900 to 38,622,021 acres in 1910.
The pro­
portion of land in farms increased from 61.1 in 1900 to 77.8
per cent in 1910, and the number of farms during the decade
increased from 121,525 to 129,678.38
These data indicate
that some expansion had taken place during the first decade
of the twentieth century.
This expansion was, however, at a
slower rate than in the three previous decades.
The years
1900-1914 were years of readjustment from the idea of unlimited
37G. E. Condra, "The Development of Nebraska*s Sandhill
Areas," i n Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr., (1915), £97.
^Thirteenth Census. (1910), VIII, 30-38.
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expansion to an increasing recognition of the possibilities
of farming on a scientific basis*
This was particularly
true in the ten-year period from 1905 to 1914.
Thus far the general features of Nebraska agriculture
have b e e n considered during the period from 1900 to 1914.
Thererainder of the chapter will be devoted to a consideration
of the crop and livestock enterprises of the state during
that time.
The trend in corn acreage was downward during the entire
period.®®
For the 15 years there was an average annual de­
crease of 66,231 acres.
On account of the cold wet spring,
followed b y a cool summer and early frost, in 1903 there was
a decrease of over a million acres planted to corn.^O
The
general decrease in acreage can be partially explained b y
the greater diversity of farming practiced at the time.
There
were a number of crops competing with corn for the land, labor,
and capital of the farmer.
Winter wheat and alfalfa were using
land that had been previously planted to corn.
The production trend in corn was similar to the acreage
trend.
As has been previously stated in this chapter, yields,
per acre of corn were low and this coupled w i t h a decreased
acreage would force production down.
Physical and biological
conditions also played their part in decreasing production.
The c r o p of 1901 was unusually short in a large portion of
the state because of unfavorable climatic conditions.
^ ^ Appendix, Figure 1, iii.
40
A p p e n d i x , Table 1, 1.
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In
-1971907 there was unseasonable rainfa.ll in the eastern, and lack
of rainfall in the western and central portions of the ste.te.
Hot dry weather during the month of August reduced the yield
in 1909,
Extreme dry weather in 1911 also caused the yield
of corn to be low.
short,
For the same reason the crop of 1913 was
the total production being the smallest since 1894, with
the exception of 1901.
The price of corn was constantly advancing.
Total value
of the crop in some of the years when there was a decrease
in production was greater than in the previous year when
the crop was good.
For example,
the short crop of 1907 ex­
ceeded the good crop of 1906 by over #1,000,000 in total
value for the state.
The price per bushel was fifty cents or
more' during five of the fifteen years of this period.
High
prices usually obtained in those years in which the supply
41
was low.
Most of the corn used in the state was fed to
livestock;
price.
therefore local supply and demand would influence
There was also the general situation in the United
States that played its part in influencing price.
As corn
acreage and production continued at a decreasing rate, the
proauction of corn per capita in the cousttiy decreased.
This
was also a time when population was increasing faster than
42
corn production.
O n account of the good price received for corn there was
41ADoendix. Table 1, i.
In 1913
the price per bushel was
sixty-three cents, the highest during the 15 years.
4 2yearbook, U. S. D. A . , (1921), 219.
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-198an Increasing tendency to sell corn as grain rather than feed
It to livestock*
The federal department of agriculture esti­
mated that 30 per cent of the Nebraska corn crop In 1911 was
shipped out of the county In which It was raised*4®
It was
considered more economical to sell It directly than Indirectly
in the form of livestock*44
The experiment station showed,
however, w h e n practical methods of feeding were used, corn— fed
hogs returned on an average about 77 cents per bushel in 1911,
which was 22 cents more than the farmer received at the grain
markets*
A l t h o u g h most of the corn was harvested in the field and
cattle and hogs were allowed the run of the field after husk­
ing time, there was an Increased use of the corn binder an d
utilization of the fodder for feeding purposes*
The experiment
station proved the value of fodder as a f e e d and warned against
the burning of the corn stalks a s
of soil fertility.
cut and disked,
this would add to the destruction
It was pointed out that If the s t a l k s w r e
they could be used as a means of replacing
plant food in the soil*
This period witnessed the Introduction
of the silo in Nebraska*
In 1909 there were about 50 silos
4.5
4.A
in the state,
while In 1914 there were 4,559.
Those
farmers who had a silo could utilize the corn plant to t h e
best advantage.
Silage proved to be an excellent feed for
beef cattle and dairy cows.
45Annual R e p o r t * St. Bd. Agr.,
(1913), 299*
4 4 Ibld*, 242.
4 ® I b i d., (1911), 355.
4eN e b r . A g r * Statistics* (1915), 76.
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-199-
In a previous chapter it has been pointed out that
Turkey R e d winter wheat had come into general use in Nebraska
during the early part of the twentieth century.
With the
adoption of winter wheat, the per cent of spring wheat har47
vested was very low.
Superiority in yield and quality of
winter wheat was generally realized.
Acreage and production increased during the entire period
of Prosperous Agriculture.
In 1900 there were 2,066,825 acres
of wheat harvested, while in 1914 there were 3,668,000 acres.
This meant an average annual increase of 106,745 acres.
Pro­
duction increased from 24,801,900 to 68,116,000 bushels, or
a 180 per cent increase.48
was from 1910 to 1914.
The sharpest increase of the period
This increase, in general,
took place
in the eastern and southern wheat sections of the state.
Generally sufficient rain in the growing season followed by
less rainfall in the early part of the summer, afforded a good
harvest season in these sections.
High temperatures and hot
winds of late summer, w h ich frequently injured the corn crop,
did not damage wheat as it usually ripened before this time
of the year.
Not only did favorable climatic conditions help to in­
crease the acreage of wheat but also the Nebraska farmers had
a crop now that did not interfere with the spring work and
that fitted in well in a system of crop rotation.
The devel­
opment of the western part of the state also aided in the
4 7A p p e n d l x . Table 3, vi.
48
A p p e n d i x . Table 2, iv; Figure 2, vii.
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-200-
increase of wheat acreage and production.
B y 1909 Nebraska
was considered as one of the leading wheat producing states
of the nation.49
Other factors causing the increased production of winter
wheat were good yields and a good price.
The trend in yield
per acre
indicates an Increase until 1910, then a slight
decrease.
The average annual yield for the fifteen years
was 17.4 bushels.
This was an increase of about 5 bushels
per acre as compared with the yield during the Period of
Expansion.
The price trend of wheat rose perceptibly from
1900 to 1905, then gradually to 1914.
Increased efficiency
of production aided in keeping wheat prices low when the
general price level of the country was rising.
The pur­
chasing power of Nebraska wheat was quite high, being 100 or
cl
above during eight of the fifteen years.
The marked increase in production of wheat created a
relatively heavy surplus in Nebraska.
From ,1910 to 1914 the
52
average annual surplus was 41.4 million bushels.
This
represented the commercial crop after food, feed, and seed
had b e e n deducted.
This surplus helped to supply those
states w h i c h were deficient in wheat production and also helped
to provide the national surplus for export.
The foreign
demand for wheat has been indicated in the amount this country
exported.53
This situation aided in bolstering the price In
49Y e a r b o o k . U. S. D. A., (1921), 96.
^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 3, vii.
S 1A p p e n d l x . Table 11, xxv.
5**Ye«T»book, U. S. D. A. (1921), 130.
53Page 179.
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this country, which would otherwise have been lower than it
was.
In the next period, during the World War, the demand
of other countries was increased.
Accordingly, Nebraska
farmers, w i t h other American wheat farmers, geared up their
production in order to meet the demand.
By virtue of this
situation the farmers in this state came to look upon foreign
exports as an outlet to take care of their surplus.
A goo d example of how farmers readjusted their management
to take advantage of the most profitable crop system occurred
In this period.
In a previous chapter it has been demonstrated
that the farmers in the northeastern part of t h e state turned
from intensive livestock production to the raising of more
wheat during the decade of the 1890*s.
After 1900 there was
a reduction in wheat production in this section, and the
farmers changed to the raising of feed crops, especially corn,
to take care, of livestock production, as they had in the
1880's.
The land w a s needed for corn to take care of the
Increased number of cattle and hogs with the result that
wheat acreage and production decreased.54
This process of
readjustment exemplified the chief characteristic of agri­
culture in Nebraska after 1900, and especially after 1910.
The farmers shifted their crops according to prevailing cir­
cumstances in order to secure the greatest advantage.
Acreage and production of oats increased slightly from
1900 to 1910 when a slight decrease took place.
The yield per
acre trend was generally downward during most of the period.
There was a constant increase In the trend of price for oats.55
54Austin, MS, 117.
•^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 4, xii.
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-202-
In most of the state the main part of the crop was used for
horse feed.
As a larger number of horses and mules was needed
to furnish motive power for the larger improved farm machinery,
oats were planted by nearly all farmers.
used to fit in with rotation of crops.
This crop was also
Except in the western
counties, winter wheat drilled in corn was not satisfactory.
This made a spring crop a necessary medium in changing from
corn to wheat.
other crop.
Oats met this requirement better than any
This was of some significance as farmers came to
adopt systems of crop rotations.
Barl e y hao. reached a very low point in acreage and pro­
duction by 1900.
After this there was a slight Increase to
1910 then a small decrease to 1914.®®
A reason for the low
acreage was the barbs on the awns, making the crop very dis­
agreeable to handle.
It was thought that the rough awns caused
sore m o u t h in livestock.
Also,
the value of barley a s a feed
crop h ad not as yet been discovered.
The secretary of the
State B o ard of Agriculture reported in 1909 that barley pro­
duction had hardly maintained a general average in volume
during the preceding ten years, although prices had been high
for the grain.
The Nebraska farmers apparently did;not care to
raise the crop.*'
The barley production of the state was confined very
largely to the southwestern counties of the state.
A
beardless variety began to gain some favor In the northwest,
^ A p p e n d i x . Figure 7, xvi.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1909), 320.
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-203while some experimenting- with a hull-less variety was taking
place in the western part of the state.
Rye continued to be a relatively unimportant grain crop.
The acreage and production trends were quite irregular.
There
was an increase from 1900 to 1905, a decrease to 1910, and then
a slight increase again to 1914.
The trend of yield per
acre was gradually decreasing during the entire period.5©
The price of rye was high when compared with other grains.
The lowest price was 36 cents per bushel in 1902 and the high­
est was 75 cents in 1911.
In nine of the fifteen years of the
period rye brought 50 cents or more per bushel.5©
Rye had to compete with winter wheat and the farmers ore—
ferred to raise the latter.
Yield per acre was not quite as
large as that of winter wheat and rye had never been considered
an important crop in the state.
In the western counties rye
was used as a secondary forage crop on many farms.
It fur­
nished pasture late in the fall and early in the spring when
there was no other green feed.
It was considered especially
useful for calves, hogs, and poultry.5®
Potatoes were grown on nearly every farm of the state
but were not a general market crop.
Nebraska depended largely
upon outside production for her potato supply.
Over 90 per
cent of the crop was consumed within the county producing it.®^
55A p p e n d l x , Figure 5, xii.
5©Appendix, Table 5, x.
6QAnnual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.„
61I b id., 321.
(1909), 320.
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-204For the eight years preceding 1910 the acreage of potatoes
was less than In the previous eight years. • Low average yield
per acre was due to the fact that the. bulk of the crop was
raised by farmers who devoted their attention orimarlly to
the growing of grain, and who were unskilled in potato cul­
ture.
Scarcity of labor was also a contributing factor to the
low production.
It was thought,
too, that the rise of the
potato industry in eastern Colorado furnished a source of
supply close at hand and discouraged specialized potato
62
culture in Nebraska.
The soil and climate of a considerable part of Nebraska
are well adapted to the growth of the potato,
but during this
period most farmers considered potato production one of the
secondary farm enterprises.
industry in the state.
It was rather a neglected
However, toward the end of the period
certain districts of the state were coming to be recognized
as potato producing centers.
Douglas and Sarpy counties
produced' for the Omaha market, Dakota county marketed its
crop in Sioux City, Scotts Bluff county found it a profitable
crop by use of Irrigation, and the northwest counties began
to produce potatoes on a commercial scale.
The northwestern part of the state was becoming a prin­
cipal area of production by 1914.
ey crop there.
Potatoes were a chief mon­
In Box Butte county potatoes ranked first in
acreage and led all other crops in value.
Over one-fifth of
the cultivated land of the county was devoted to this crop.
62 I b i d . , 322.
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-205The northwestern r egion was beginning to develop as a potato
producing region*
It was In a later period that the commercial
potato Industry became prominent*
The hay and forage aspect of Nebraska agriculture during
the period 1900-1914 was dominated by a new crop that came Into
general use at the time.
Alfalfa was Introduced in 1375 from
U ta h and was first grown in 1876 b y S. P. Baker of Curtis in
Frontier county*®®
During the 1 8 80*s it was raised In some of
the southwestern counties of the state.64
Considerable credit has been given to H. D* Watson of
Buffalo county for the spread of alfalfa culture In Nebraska*
In 1895 there were 1,000 acres seeded to alfalfa on the Watson
ranch*
The acreage was gradually increased until 3,000 acres
were gro wn when the ranch was at its height of development.66
Mr, Wats on not only planted thousands of acres of alfalfa but
he encouraged other farmers to raise it because of its value
66
as a forage crop.
In the spring of 1894 Professor Ingersoll, director of the
experiment station, Issued a bulletin which set forth the
qualities of alfalfa as a forage crop and as a soil-building
plant*
This bulletin was widely distributed and Induced many
farmers who had never heard of alfalfa to try raising it.
6 gI b l d . . (1895), 179.
64
T. A. Kiesselbach and Arthur Anderson,“Alfalfa Investi­
gations," in A g r * E x p * Sta. Research Bulletin 5 6 . 12.
66Floyd Miller, "H, D. Watson and His Agricultural Exper­
iment," M. A. Thesis MS in University of Nebraska Library, 15.
gg
The Miller MS, Chapter 3 presents Mr. Watson*s work in
promoting the raising of alfalfa.
6 7 C . Y. Smith, "Alfalfa in Nebraska," Annual R e p o r t . St*
Bd. Agr., (1895), 179.
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-206-
As farmers began to grow alfalfa they readily realized
Its value In filling an Important need In the cropping system
state.
They found that it gave greater production per
acre than native grasses and that it was highly nutritious.
Alfalfa was also found to be an excellent forage crop for
livestock because it supplied protein which was lacking in
corn.
These two feeds made a satisfactory ration for fitting
stock for market in the shortest time possible.
The high
price of livestock during the period 1900-1914 served as an
inducement to raise and feed more stock, and to grow alfalfa
as a feed for the animals.
The fact that alfalfa was a soil building crop had a
great deal to do wit h its adoption by the farmers when t h e y
realized its characteristics in this respect.
tation system, previous
In a crop ro­
to the adoption of alfalfa, there
was no leguminous crop available to the farmers.
R e d clover
was limited to the eastern one-fourth of the state and no
other nitrogenous plant was known that could be used extensively.
Alfalfa supplied an important need in the rotation system.
It seems strange that It took a quarter of a century for
the farmers of the state to realize the value of alfalfa.
The reason for this was that alfalfa came to Nebraska from
the West, where it was grown either under irrigation or on
sub-irrigated land.
The notion prevailed that it' could be
grown only under these conditions.
Experience In growing
the crop gradually dispelled this idea and it was found that
go
alfalfa could be raised in a relatively dry climate.
6 8Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1909), 334.
}
t
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-207W h e n alfalfa began to be grown rather generally the In­
crease In acreage and production was marked but not phenomenal.
From 1902 to 1907 the acreage doubled and production more than
doubled.
From 1908 to 1914 acreage had increased by 86.5 per
cent and production by 73.2 per cent.
The yield per acre of
alfalfa was high compared with prairie grasses and other tame
grasses.
However, the trend of yield was slightly downward
during the period.
The price was relatively high, but most
of the alfalfa produced was fed on the farm on which it was
raised.09
The Importance of alfalfa in Nebraska during the time,
1900-1914, cannot be overemphasized.
“No other plant except
Turkey R e d wheat has so changed the agriculture of the state
in so short a time.
Alfalfa has been a veritable gold mine
to the farmers of many counties..."70
“The great economic importance of alfalfa in regions where
it is adapted lies in its large and unequaled yield of palatable,
hlgh-protein forage,
and in its soil-building qualities."71
The acceptance of alfalfa in a general w a y made it possible
for the farmers of the state to readjust their crop system in
order to maintain soil fertility and engage in livestock pro­
duction on a larger scale than before.
Growing alfalfa had a disadvantage in the minds of some
farmers.
It was often difficult to get a good stand.
When
once a good field of alfalfa was secured, the farmer was re­
luctant to plow it under in three or four years.
The rotation
69F or alfalfa statistics and trends see Appendix. Table
7, xvii; Figure 10, xvlii.
70
7^Warren, og. clt.. 332.
Kiesselbach and Anderson, o£. clt. . 11.
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-208system then demanded several years and many farmers did not like
this.
Another leguminous crop was becoming recognized as one
having possibilities for fitting into the system of Nebraska
agriculture.
Sweet clover was considered a weed b y many rather
than a farm crop.
However, some farmers were beginning to
recognize its value as a feed and soil building plant
The story of the adoption of sweet clover in a general w a y by
Nebraska fanners belongs to a later period.
The hay industry, in general, during this period, 19001914, was important because of the growth of the livestock
industry.
The acreage and production trends of tame hay were
decreasing, and during the entire period did not regain the
point that had been reached by 1 9 0 0 , B y far the largest
part of the tame hay produced was alfalfa.
Its superior
yield helped to maintain production at practically the same
level as before 1900, even though fewer acres were planted.
The prairie hay production continued but there are no
complete data on this enterprise before 1909.
Acreage and
74
yield gradually declined.
The decline in acreage was no
doubt due to the breaking of new land by the Kinkaid homesteaders,
who made their claims on the best available land in the west.
72In Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1913), 313, Louis Macey
of N o r t h Platte summed up the value and advantages of sweet
clover.
73
-Appendix, Figure 8, x v i t Indicates that during the
years 1901-1914 there was an annual reduction of about 1,000,000
acres from the previous 5 year period and the succeeding 5 year
period.
This seemed absurd to the writer but upon his inquiring
at various sources of authority for crop statistics, the inform­
ation received was that the data are correct but no satisfactory
reason was given for the decrease,
74N e b r . , A g r . Statistics, (1923-24), 69.
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•“2 0 9 “
The magnitude of the hay crop (tame and prairie) was
largely neglected and overlooked because of the heavy yield
of the more popular moneyed crops.
The total value of the
tame and wild hay crop in 1909 exceeded that of the wheat
crop and was over one-half the amount of the corn crop.76
With the increase in the numbers of livestock in the state
the hay crop was of importance, as the forage for the animals
was largely secured from this source.
The livestock industry in Nebraska recovered rapidly
from the depression of the 1 8 9 0 ‘s.
In the decade 1900-1910
the number of hogs and cattle increased markedly.
From 1910
to 1914 the increase in the number of hogs was slight while
there was a decided decrease in the number of cattle.76
The
close interrelation between corn production and the livestock
industry has been previously demonstrated.
Although a decrease
in the production of corn took place during the period under
consideration,
to 1910.
the decrease was relatively slight from 1900
During these years the number of hogs Increased
noticeably.
From 1910 to 1914, when there was a sharp decrease
in the amount of corn produced,
the increase of hogs was slight.
It was estimated that corn constituted over 80 per cent of
nn
all grain supplied to livestock.
The decreased production
of corn was evidence of the fact that the amount of corn
limited the number of hogs raised.
76Annual Report, St. Bd. Agr.,
7 6 --------
Also, as has been previously
(1910). 28.
A p p e n d i x , Figure 11, xxii.
77Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1909), 339.
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-210-
stated in this chapter, farmers were reluctant to feed their
corn to hogs when the price of corn was high, especially after
1910.
The use of alfalfa as a feed for hogs influenced the in­
crease in hog production as it supplied that part of a balanced
ration previously lacking.
Alfalfa is ri c h in protein and if
the farmer wanted his pigs to grow rapidly this element had
to be supplied.
used.
Instead of alfalfa *111 products had been
These were expensive and required cash at a time when
money on the farm was often scarce.
If pork was to be pro­
duced economically, mu c h of the growth of hogs had to be made
on forage crops.
Alfalfa stood considerable pasturing and was
the most economical protein-supplying feed for the rapidly
growing hogs.
70
Another incentive for the raising of hogs at this time
was the increase in price.
The price trend79 was constantly
increasing with the general price level.
The demand for pork
was also good because of the Increase of population in the
nation.
Exports of pork and pork products were large, especially
during the first part of the period.
In 1900 there were 51,180
hogs; 25,946,905 pounds of fresh pork; and 661,813,663 pounds
80
of lard exported.
In 1906 the figures were 59,170; 13,444,438
81
and 741,516,886 respectively.
In 1914 exports had fallen to
10,122 hogs; 2,668,020 pounds of fresh pork; and 481,457,792
pounds of lard.02
With the increase in price of hogs and pork
78Ibid., (1903), 152.
78A p p e n d l x . Figure 11, xxii.
80 Yearbook, U. S. D. A., 1900, 847-8.
81I b ld., (1910), 665-6.
82Ibid.,
(1914), 659-660.
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products in this country the exports diminished.
However,
demand in the United States continued high while the supply
decreased slightly.'83
This tended to keep the price up.
The
Pacific Northwest imported a large proportion of Nebraska
hogs during the period before 1914.
In the first nine months
of 1909 nearly one-half of the hogs shipped to the Portland
union stock yards
came
from Nebraska.84
This serves as
an example of how the areas deficient in pork production were
being supplied with pork by the surplus producing areas, helplng, therefore, to keep the price up.
Consumption of pork on the farms of the state continued
as in the Period of Expansion.
The number of hogs slaughtered
for food purposes on the farms, however,
constituted a rela­
tively small part of the number raised in the state.
The hog
industry was primarily a commercial enterprise and farmers
became increasingly interested in producing hogs at the lowest
cost possible in order to get the greatest returns.
In order
/
<
to realize a good profit the feeder was aided b y the experiment
station with recommendations of balanced rations and utilization
of feeds that would force the growth of the hog to market size
in the least possible time.
Farmers had been occupied in
getting the product to market without paying a great deal of
attention to the cost of feeding the hog.
MIt is not too muc h
to say that the average farmer in
Nebraska has no definite
adequate notion of the expense to
which he has been
raising his stock."85
put in
As the price of land and of farm products
8gI b l d . , 637.
8 4Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
(1913), 381
85I b i d . , (1908), 181.
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- 812-
advanced,
the successful hog feeder found it necessary t o
keep close watch of the expenses if adequate profits were to
be made*
Every year a large number of hogs died from hog cholera.
In 1911 the southeastern part of the state had a bad epidemic
of the disease,86
The number of hogs that died of disease in
1914 was 700,697,
Most of these succumbed to hog cholera.
The estimated loss was about $8,000,000.87
Work in the making of serum for the prevention of hog
cholera had now reached a stage where it was successful in
protecting 90 per cent of the hogs which were vaccinated.88
Further improvement was made and after 1913 the death losses
were greatly reduced.
This was a great aid to the hog industry
and helped to account for Increased numbers of hogs on farms
after 1914.89
The beef cattle industry developed rapidly during the
first ten years of the period 1900-1914,
The highest point in
numbers during the entire time from 1870 to 1930 was reached
during the three years 1907-1909, when over 3,000,000 cattle
90
were found on farms of Nebraska.
The curve of cattle product­
ion shows a sharp incline to 1910, then an equally sharp
decline to 1914.9*
During the years 1900 to 1910 in most of the state cattle
86Ibid., (1912), 36.
87Ibid., (1914), 318; Ibid.,
88I b i d . , (1911), 18.
(1915), 21.
8 9Y e ar b o o k . U. S. D. A., (1922), 216.
98Aopendix, Table 9, xx.
91
A p p e n d i x , Figure 11, xxil.
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-213were distributed where corn was grown rather than in the range
country which had carried large numbers of cattle during the
70 s and
80 s.
Cattle In the corn growing areas were for
the most part feeders shipped In from other regions.
The
cattle-feeding business became quite highly concentrated in
the northeastern part of the state, where the farmers had
again turned to corn growing.
In the southern and central
counties where winter wheat was raised, there was a smaller
number of cattle, because winter wheat produced little feed
for cattle, while other crops provided roughage which had
little other use than feed for cattle.
The increase in the
use of alfalfa influenced the beef production industry to a
great extent.
This crop was an important factor in making
Nebraska a beef producing state.
Cattle feeding became more
important than formerly in counties where alfalfa was not
previously grown.
On the other hand, in those counties of
the state where no considerable amount of alfalfa was grown,
cattle feeding was not carried on extensively.
This situation
caused a tendency for the cattle feeding business to move
toward the south central counties during this time.
Merrick
county claimed one of the largest cattle feeding companies
92
in the world.
The growing importance of the cattle feeding business
caused the farmers who were engaged In this work to turn their
attention to better feeding methods.
92
Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
The experiment station
(1909), 338.
i
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-214worked out balanced rations and strongly recommended the feeding
of a combination of corn and alfalfa.93
Cattle feeders wanted
to place their steers on the market as soon as possible.
The
result was that feeding methods were developed in order to
place the beeves on the market in one or two years rather than
in three or four as formerly.
This would enable the farmer to
have a quicker turnover resulting generally in a more profitable
enterprise.
Considerable attention was given to the cattle industry
as a means of building up the soil.
Under the leadership of
the agricultural college and some of the agricultural organi­
zations the farmers were urged to feed cattle.
It was suggested
that the most satisfactory method of maintaining soil fertility
involved the production of some legume and the application of
animal manure.
Beef cattle could also convert rough forage#
which would otherwise be wasted, into a much desired food.
Farmers were also urged to feed cattle, and other livestock
as well, in order to diversify their system of farming so that
when adverse seasons for crops came there would not be as
heavy proportional losses as when the farmer relied only on
production of one or two different crops.
During the period 1900-1910 the price trend of cattle
declined in Nebraska.94
The cattle supply of the nation was
increasing and this had a tendency to depress price.95
At the
Chicago market the price remained on a fairly even level during
95 l b ld. . (1908), 17.
94
QR
A p p e n d i x . Figure 11, xxii.
,
Ye arbook. U. S. D. A.,
i
(1921), 293.
i
t
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-215thls decade.96
The supply of cattle of the United States was
able to meet the demand.
However, in the years Immediately
after 1909 the supply began to diminish.
In Nebraska the
number of cattle in 1909 was 3,200,000 and in 1914 there were
1,883,000 or a decrease of almost 43 per cent.97
A t the same
time the price trend of cattle began to rise sharply because
of the low supply and the increasing demand for beef.
The
increasing demand, of course, was caused by the increase of
population in the country.
The decline in the numbers of cattle on Nebraska f arms
was due to the scarcity of feeder cattle which followed upon
the breaking up of the range country.
Not only in Nebraska
but also in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and other western and
northwestern states,
cultural purposes.
the cattle country was sold for agri­
The result was that shipments of feeder
cattle from the range country rel-L to a very low point.
Receipts at the principal markets fell off decidedly.
In
order to supply the packing houses buyers scoured the country
to find cattle to meet the demand for beef.98
As the supply of cattle was low and the demand for beef
high, it was but natural that prices w o u l d rise.
i
In Nebraska
the price per head of the beef cattle rose from $20.00 in 1909
to $35.10 in 1914, an increase of about 72 per cent.99
Under
the influence of high prices feeding and stock cattle sold
96Idem.
97
9q
Appendix, Table 9, xx.
A. C. Davenport (editor of Dally Drovers Journal-Stockman).
"Who Will Produce the Feeders for the F uture," in AnnualTTeport .
St. Bd. Agr., (1913), 251.
---------- ---" A p p e n d i x , Table 9, xx.
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-216higher than ever before.
Thousands of breeding cows, young
heifers, and heifer calves were sent to the slaughter houses,
thus Jeopardizing the rebuilding of the cattle industry in
the near future.100
This condition raised the question of the future supply
of be,ef cattle.
There were those who believed that the pro­
duction of range cattle had reached its low point and in the
near future the number supplied by the range country w o u l d
increase and be available for feeding purposes.
The range
area was in a period of adjustment and the next few years would
determine what lands were suitable for dry farming and irri­
gation and what lands would be given over to the grazing of
livestock.
Dry land farmers, as well as the irrigation farmers,
would have to work into the stock business and become producers
of cattle on a small scale individually but on a large scale
collectively.
then,
These farmers together with the large ranchers,
could supply an increasing number of feeder stock.101
Others believed that the range country w o u l d not be able
to supply a sufficient number of cattle to meet the demand
for beef.
It would,
in the Corn Belt.
therefore, be necessary to produce cattle
Farmers in the corn producing region believed
they c o u l d not afford to pasture cattle on the high priced land
and that it was more profitable to raise grain and sell it
directly.
This probably was true, but as production of grain
■^-^Davenportf qjz. cit. , 252.
1 01Ibid., 253.
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-217solely for the market would continue the fertility of the soil
would be reduced and the farmers would of necessity, turn to
livestock.
Also the price of corn, as determined by supply
and demand, would force the farmers either to oroduce dt a
to
loss or/reduce acreage.
They w o uld be unwilling to do this
and would turn to producing livestock.
It was believed that
the Corn Belt farmer could raise beef cattle at a profit, be­
cause what was waste In the form of coarse roughage could be
fed or put into silos.
By proper feeding rations profits could
102
be secured even t hough the price of grain and land was high.
Professor R. K. Bliss of the Agricultural College, in 1913,
summed u p the possibilities of the future regarding the cattle
question.
He believed that the farmers of Nebraska w o u l d be
divided into three classes with respect to this question.
The first group would be composed of the ranchers of the west
and the larger farmers of the Corn Belt whose main Interests
would be in producing beef cattle only.
The second group,
farmers living on small farms, would want their farms to pro­
duce as m u c h as possible and,
cows.
therefore, would keep dairy
The third group would raise cattle primarily for convert­
ing r o ugh and unsalable feed into profitable beef and milk.
The chief interest of these farmers would be in making profit­
able returns out of that which would otherwise go to waste.
This third group would supply a large portion of the feeding
■'■^Samuel McKelvie, "Are Dual-Purpose Cattle Practical
For Nebraska?" in Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr., (1911), 337.
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-218stock, 103
The shortage of the supply of beef cattle after 1909
caused a r i o u s concern as has been noted.
Considerable encourage-
inent was given to the farmers to make Nebraska a producer of
beef cattle.
These efforts met with only partial success as
the number of cattle did not reach the high point of 1909 in
the later periods.
B y 1900 the sheep industry had lost its former feature
of being confined principally to the range country and the feed
yards of the large feeders.
Sheep raising was still confined
largely to the high plains region around the sandhills.
Some
sheep were raised in the southeastern half of the state but
only on isolated farms.
large.
The number raised here was not very
However, those farmers who raised sheep in this area
considered the business profitable and the number of farmers
having flocks slowly increased.
that other animals could not.104
The sheep could utilize feed
Farmers in general preferred
to raise cattle and hogs and did not care to embark on an
enterprise about which they knew little, and which they thought
required considerable time and care.
The sheep feeding business became quite well distributed
over the corn-growing sections of the state.
Flocks usually
consisted of a few hundred sheep, although a few feeders had
larger flocks.
It was not an uncommon sight in some parts of
the eastern section of the state to see farmers feeding two or
/
three carloads of sheep which had been secured from the western
/
'- ..... — i«i«
^°^Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
104I b l d . , (1909), 340.
(1913), 244.
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-219range.
No doubt the Increased production of alfalfa encouraged
sheep— feeding to a certain extent.
Most of the sheep were fed for the market and not raised
for wool production.
There developed an Increasing demand
for lamb meat and mutton in the country.
This helped to increase
the price of sheep, especially after 1905.105
Sheep feeders
were anxious to ship the animals that would sell readily and
bring the best price.
Lambs went to market in quite large
numbers before they had entered the age for taxation or became
a part of the enumeration.
For this reason the number of sheep
on Nebraska farms w a s greater than statistics.showed.106
It was not until the decade of the twenties that the sheep
industry gained significance in the general agricultural devel­
opment of the state.
In the period under consideration, 1900-1914,
the number
of milk cows in the state increased markedly until 1909.
In
1901 there were 556,359 milk cows on the farms of Nebraska,
while in 1909 the number had increased to 897,000107 an increase
of 61 per cent.
This increase was a continuation of the trend
/
that had been going on since 1870.
The year 1909 represents
the highest point in the number of milk cows during the entire
108
period of 1870-1930.
The Increase from 1900 to 1909 occurred
when there was an abundance of grain crops and prices for the
same were relatively high.
Such conditions ordinarily w o u l d
/
have a tendency to decrease rather than increase the number of
1 0 5A p p e n d l x , Figure 11, xxii for price trend; also for
trend in numbers of sheep.
103
Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr., (1912), 349.
107
N e b r . A g r . Statistics. (19^5), 101.
106A p p e n d l x . Figure 13, xxlil.
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—220—
those engaged, in dairying.
However, a stimulus to the dairy
business was the act passed by Congress increasing the tax on
oleomargarine colored to resemble butter to ten cents a pound
and reducing the tax on uncolored oleomargarine to one— fourth
109
of one cent per pound.
Although this did not noticeably
increase the price of butter, it gave stability to the dairy
industry and encouraged many to increase their herds of milk
cows who otherwise would not have done so.
A more important reason for the increase in the number of
cows was the introduction of the hand cream separator and
the Babcock tester.
Previous.
to the use of the separator
the farmers would skim the milk themselves, which meant a lot
of trouble because it involved the use of a good many pans in
w h i c h to place the milk, and then wait for the cream to rise
to the surface.
In the late 1890*s cream skimmers made trips
through some sections of the country and skimmed the farmer's
milk.
Usually these visits were made three times a week.110
Otherwise,
the farmer in many instances would haul the milk
to the nearest skimming station and then take the skimmed milk
back home with him.
About 1900 the price of butter fat fell so
low that farmers felt that it was not profitable to spend their
time in milking many cows.111
In 1905 the price, of butter fat
began to rise and Interest was renewed in farm dairying.
This
was at the same time that the hand cream separator began to be
generally used.
It has been estimated that in 1900 there were
1 0 9Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
(1904), 271.
110Epp MS, 26.
Ill
Ibid., 27.
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-221about
3,000 separators In use In the state; by 1905, the number
had increased to 30,690 or ten times as many.11^
Prom 1905
to 1914 the number had increased by more than 75 per cent,113
It was found upon analysis that on the average 25 per cent of
the butterfat was left in the whole milk when the cream had
to be skimmed by hand, while a good separator would take
practically all the butterfat out of the milk.
This, of course,
resulted in. a great saving to the dairy farmer.114
The cream separator made it more convenient for the farmer.
He could skim the milk inmsaiately after milking and eliminate
the necessity of having the many milk containers.
Also the
separator eliminated hauling the milk to the skimming station.
Another advantage of the separator was that the skimmed milk
could be fed when warm,
asn it was more desirable than w h e n cold.
The cream could be hauled to the nearest railroad station,
and as towns were located in nearly all parts of the state,
this caused less inconvenience for the farmer.
The Babcock
tester made it possible to determine the exact content of butter­
fat in the milk and the farmer could receive the money f o r his
product
in a few days.
Although the number of milk cows in the state increased
during this period, dairying was not popular among the farmers
of the state.
The other lines of farming, such as crop raising
and cattle and hog feeding, were profitable; hence, the farmer
11^Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.
(1906-07), 17.
11 3N e b r . Agr. Statistics. (1925), 76.
114
Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr., (1906-07), 272.
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-2 2 2 -
did not engage in a line of work that was as confining as dairy­
ing.
There were few large dairies and few exclusively dairy
farms, except near the larger cities.115
Milk cows on most of
the farms were, for the most part, neither dairy animals nor
given dairy care.
Most of them belonged to some one of the
beef breeds and were kept to make use of the coarse roughage
that would otherwise be wasted.
The calves were considered by
the farmer as being almost as Important as the milk.
It was
but natural then that the average yield of butterfat would be
low under such conditions.
The most significant feature of the dairy Industry of the
state was the centralized creamery.
There were a few strong
concerns to which the farmers sold their butterfat.
produced butter mostly.
The creameries
In 1909 there were 23,973,162 pounds
of creamery butter produced in the state.116
In the period from 1909 to 1914 the number of milk cows
decreased to the same level as in 1905.117
The principal
reason for this was the same as for the decline in numbers of
beef cattle during the same time.
There was a lack of supply
caused by the slaughtering of female cattle,
especially of
the beef breeds.
There were certain indications by 1914 that dairying would
become a more important industry in the state than it had pre­
viously been.
It was beginning to be realized in the older
sections of the state that the farmer could not afford to
keep a common cow for its calf and the little milk that it would
1 1 5Ibld. . (1909), 341.
1 1 6 Nebraska A Dairy State, a pamphlet published b y the
Publicity Department oi' the St. Bd. Agr., (1929)
18
117
A p p e n d i x . Figure 13, xxlii.
*
t
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
*
-223produce.
The increasing price of land was mating it essential
that greater returns per acre be realized.
Also, as soil
conservation and improvement became vital questions to the
farmers,
they found it necessary to farm more Intensively
and dairying provided a form of that type of farming, for
it aided in the conservation of fertility and Improvement of
crop production.
It was to be found later that dairying would
be a profitable way to market grain and forage crops to the
best advantage.
Through the work of the dairy department of the agricultural
college the value of silage as a feed f o r dairy cows was tested.
It was found that the cost of butter production could b e reduced
aoout 20 per cent in large dairy herds by the use of the silo.
This was one factor in the increase in the number of silos in
the State from 1,653 in 1912 to 4,559 in 1914.118
In an effort to encourage dairy farming in the state the
extension department of the agricultural college, the State
Dairymens* Association, and the Burlington and Northwestern
railroad companies cooperated in running a special dairy
demonstration train in 1913.
northern and western Nebraska.
and covered 1,200 miles.
This train made a circuit through
The trip lasted twelve days
Frequent stops were made and the
various processes of the dairy business were demonstrated.119
By 1914 the conditions suggested above pointed toward a
development of the dairy industry in the near future.
It was
during the decade of the *20's that dairying gained promin­
ence in Nebraska.
ll8N e b r . A g r . Statistics. (1925), 76.
1 1 9Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1914), 222.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
*224«
Work horses and mules Increased In numbers during the
entire period, 1900-1914.
In 1900 the number of animals was
702,683 and In 1914 there were 1,132,000— an increase of 61
per cent.
120
The price of horses and mules also advanced to a
high point during the same t i m e . ^ ^
In spite of the rather
large number and high price, the demand exceeded the supply*
These draft animals were needed for the heavier and larger
machinery that was coming into use*^"^*^
Also, an abundance
of rainfall, except in some of the western sections, stimulated
weed growth and this necessitated more work to be done in
fewer days.
While there were some large horse ranches in the state,
most of the animals were work stock and so were distributed
over the state*
Each farm had its small number of horses
necessary to carry on the farm operations.
Although quite a
few horses were annually shipped out of the state, few farms
and ranches made it a specialty to produce horses .for market.
Most of the colts were raised from brood mares which were a t
the same time work animals on the farms.
What surplus hor ses
the farmers had, were nearly all produced from these mares as
a secondary consideration.
In breeding horses, the Percherons continued to be strong
favorites.
Fifty-three per cent of all the pure bred stallions
in the state in 1914 were of this breed.
124
trailed below twelve per cent.
120Nebr. Agr. Statistics.
121
122
(1925). 100*
A p p e n d i x . Figure 12, xxlii.
E pp MS, 66.
123
124
All other breeds
This will receive further attention in a later chapter.
Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1914), 302.
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-225Considerable Interest was manifested in improving the
type and quality of livestock during the period of Prosperous
Agriculture.
Different breeds of livestock had been introduced
many years before 1900 but the beginning of the twentieth cen­
tury witnessed a new Interest in better breeding and type
improvement.
Some of the best herds of livestock were started
at this time.
Some farmers realized that improvement in livestock was
necessary, as land was becoming too valuable and labor too
expensive to raise scrub stock.
"Improved farming goes hand
in hand w i t h improved livestock, and well it may, for the
two are a paying combination, so much so, that one is de125
pendent on the other."
When land and feed were cheap and labor costs low, poor
profitably
grade livestock could be/raised.
Under conditions exist­
ing; in the period 1900-1914,
scrub cattle, for Instance, would
very likely return no profit, but a loss to the feeder.
Through investigations made by some feeders it was found that
it cost as much to raise the scrub beef as it did the high
grade or pure-bred, and at the same time the yield from the
latter type was greater in the number of pounds, and a higher
price was received on the market.
The main object of the pure-bred beef cattle industry was
to produce breeding stock which w o u l d "transmit to their
offspring early maturity,
thick fleshing of meat of high
quality, and the ability to use grass, roughage and grain
economically.
125
William Ernst, president's report at annual meeting of
Improved Stock Breeders' Association, in Annual Rspcrt, St. Bd,
A g r . , (1903), 154.
----------126Searbook, U. S. 3>. A., (1921), .233.
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-226-
/
The stockmen of the state advised the farmer that w h e n
an improved herd was to be established, the work was not finished
when grades were succeeded by pure-breds.
farmer was dazzled by the word "pedigree".
animals had pedigrees,
stock.
Often the ordinary
Some of the best
also some of the poorest were pedigreed
The farmer should rather further improve his pure­
bred herd b y more careful selection and better feeding.
This
involved the buying of individual animals of the type that
he wanted to produce.
The process of selection should constantly
continue if the greatest profits were to be gained.
There is no question but that the livestock feeders im­
proved their herds considerably during this time.
The average
farmer, however, did not seem to be greatly Impressed by the
admonitions of those working for improvement in the quality of
the livestock in the state.
Professor Bliss travelled for six
weeks during the summer of 1913 for the purpose of studying
the livestock situation in the state.
He reported that every
community had its quota of poor cattle, and some communities
had more common cattle than any other kind.
He was of the
opinion that Nebraska did not have inferior quality of cattle
as compared with other states but there was lots of room for
loo
improvement.
There was a decided change in the type of hog during this
time.
In the early part of the period a heavy, short, thick,
very low set, and lard-carrying type was the most popular.
l 2 7Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1909), 181/.
1 PA
Ibid.,
(1914), 195.
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-2 2 7 -
Toward the end of the period the trend was toward a longer,
somewhat rangier, and more prolific hog.
It waB discovered
that the greatest profit in raising hogs resulted when pigs
were forced to an early market at a weight not to exceed 225
pounds.
An additional 100 pounds would cost nearly double
what any other 100 pounds in the hog would cost.*^29
The lard
type of hog was comparatively less prolific than the rangier
type and for that reason also lost popularity.
M ention was made in a previous chapter that the number
of entries of foreign exhibitors of pure-bred stock at the
state fair during the Period of Expansion exceeded those of
Nebraska producers by a wide margin.
It is significant to
note that by 1914 the situation had been reversed.
The per
cent of the total number of entries of the various kinds of
stock made by Nebraska exhibitors and by foreign exhibitors
at the Nebraska State Fair in 1914, and the per cent of
premiums received by each are as follows:
Animals
J Per Gent of Entries
, Per Cent
of Premiums Paid
,------------- 1---------------- 1---------------- 1-------------
i Nebraska , Foreign
Horses
Cattle
Hogs
Sheep
J
,
64.1
43.6
88.0
60.5
35*9 j
56.4
12.0
39.5 f
, Nebraska
64.9
34.6
86.6
69.7
The above data indicate that progress had been
, Foreign
35.1
65.4
13.4
30.3
made in
/
improving livestock,
and, also, that in every class of stock,
129Ib i d . , (1908), 181.
130I b i d . , (1915), 95-6.
-228except cattle, the Nebraska exhibitor could more than equal
the best stock foreign exhibitors had to offer.
Usually most
of the foreign exhibitors were experts In their class, as they
made the circuit of state fairs every year.
It must be kept
in mind that the animals exhibited at the state fair w e r e purebreds,
so did not represent the type of animal on the average
Nebraska farm.
The period from 1900 to 1914 was one of increasing prosperity
for the Nebraska farmer.
Climatic conditions were generally
favorable for agricultural production in all parts of the state.
Prices of farm products were rising, and as raw materials usually
rise more rapidly than finished goods in a period of a general
rise in prices,
the purchasing power of the farmer was high.
This enabled him to buy new labor saving machinery which was
coming on the market.
He was also able to build new barns a nd
add some conveniences in his home; in general, t o buy more
freely than in the past.
There was a general increase in the value of farm property.
In the decade 1900-1910 the value of all farm property Increased
by 178 per cent.
took place.
During the same time a rise in land values
The increase in the value of land and buildings
was 214 per cent.
Scientific farming began.
Farmers were learning to adapt
their farming systems to the physical and economic conditions
of the time.
They were also discovering ways and means of
combating insect pests and diseases of crops and livestock.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-229Better methods of tillage were practiced.
The maintenance of
soil fertility was realized to be a serious problem of the
time.
By a rotation of crops and the feeding of livestock,
farmers were learning that the soil could be kept up to a h igh
productive capacity.
Balanced rations for livestock were also
introduced at this time.
In order to secure better yields, selection of the best
varieties of crops was beginning to be practiced.
The import­
ance of acclimatization and of plant breeding was taught the
farmer by the agricultural college and experiment station.
Turkey R e d and Big Frame varieties of winter wheat were found
to be the best for the state.
Kherson and Texas Red oats were
early maturing varieties and w e r e found to yield well.
Reid's
Yellow Dent and Hogue's Yellow Dent were the best producing
varieties of corn in the eastern part of the state.
shorter stalks and smaller ears
was
Corn having
found to yield well in
western counties.
The western part of Nebraska began its agricultural
development on a permanent scale.
The Kincaid Act of 1904 in­
fluenced many farmers to file for homesteads.
Thousands of them
did not remain but those who did learned by methods of dry
farming to produce crops.
This was a period of transition for
western Nebraska, as It had not been definitely decided by
1914 Just what parts shouldbe devoted to farming and what
parts to ranching.
There was a decrease of acreage, production, and yield of
corn, but an Increase In the wheat Industry of the state.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
From
-2301910 to 1914 Nebraska produced an average annual surplus of
41,4 million bushels of wheat.
Winter wheat had come to fill
a need in the cropping system of many parts of the state.
There was a slight increase in the production of oats until 1910,
then a decrease to 1914.
This grain was the chief horse feed
used by the farmers and served well as a spring crop in a ro­
tation when the farmer wanted to change from corn to wheat.
Barley and rye continued to remain unimportant.
Potato pro­
duction decreased but the possibilities of producing this crop
on a commercial scale began to be realized.
Certain centers
of potato raising were developing, the most important being
in the northwestern part of the state.
of the time was alfalfa.
The important new crop
It filled a distinct need as a soil
building crop and also as a protein forage crop.
The farmers
had lacked such a crop before, except in the eastern part
where red clover could be grown.
Alfalfa proved to b e a great
i
aid in the development of the livestock industry.
Numbers of hogs in the state continued to increase during
the entire period.
The beef cattle industry flourished until
1909 when a distinct shortage of feeder steers took place.
The future of the cattle feeding business was a source of coni
cern to t;he stockmen and the problem had not been solved by
1914.
The same situation obtained with respect to milk cows.
Sheep were no longer fed and managed in large numbers but the
farm flock was the most common at this time.
Feeders relied
primarily upon the range for supplying the stock.
mules were in great demand.
Horses and
Even though prices were high, the
-231supply was Insufficient to meet the demand for draft animals.
Heavier and larger machinery and better tillage methods caused
this condition to prevail.
Dairying was beginning to develop
primarily because of an act of congress taxing oleomargarine
and the invention of the hand cream separator and the Babcock
tester.
The possibilities of the dairy industry were beginning
to be realized.
Improvement in the type and quality of livestock was
noticeable but not outstanding.
Along with improvement in
farming there was some progress made in producing better grades
of animals.
During the last months of 1914 Nebraska agriculture was
experiencing the effects of the war in Europe.
Prom Ju l y to
the end of the year the price of wheat increased 31 cents—
from 69 cents to $1.00 per bushel.131
This was an Indication
of the period of Inflation that was to follow the period of
genuine prosperity.
1 ®1 H. C. Pilley and Arthur M. Hauke, "Local Prices of
Farm Products, 1895-1932," in A g r . Exp. S t a . Bulletin 284. 13.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
chapter
x
AGRICULTURE AND WAR, 1915-1920
The six years 1915-1920 were marked by a period of in­
flation during the World War and the immediate post-war years.
Decided changes took place in the agricultural development of
this country, and Nebraska farm enterprise was affected by
the new conditions.
It is not the purpose of this chapter to
deal comprehensively with agricultural evolution in Nebraska
during that period, as this would be an extensive study in
itself.
Some of the more significant developments will be
noted with the purpose of indicating the continuation or dis­
continuance of the trends of the previous era, the adjustment
of agricultural enterprise to meet war time demands, and the
background for the following period of depression.
The agricultural prosperity which the Nebraska farmer had
enjoyed from 1900 to 1914 comtinued until 1920.
Prom 1915 to
the summer of 1920 conditions were extremely favorable for the
crop grower.
The heavy demands for farm products resulted in
a rapid rise in the price of commodities the farmer had to sell.
Prices received by the farmers for their goods rose more rapid­
ly than the cost of production, especially from 1915 to 1919^
It is true that, at the same time, the general price level
rose from 101 in 1915 to 226 in 1920.1
However, as the prices
of agricultural products rose more rapidly than prices of goods
the farmer had to buy,
the purchasing power of farm products
was relatively high.
^ A p pendix. Table 10, xxiv.
-232-
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-233Wheat prices advanced, on the average, from #1,05 In 1915
to $2.09 In 1920.
The price of $2.20 per bushel was guarai teed
by the government.
The purchasing power of wheat ranged from
113 in 1916 to a high of 148 in 1917.
The Nebraska farm price
for corn was 61 cents per bushel in 1915 and #1.44 in 1919.
The purchasing power of corn was over 100 in four of the six
2
years.
The purchasing power of Nebraska farm products, as a
whole, was as follows:
1915— 100; 1916— 98; 1917— 132; 1918
123; 1919— 113; and 1920— 103.3
Index numbers of Nebraska farm prices and of prices paid
b y farmers for commodities they purchased have been prepared
by the Department of Rural Economics, University of Nebraska,
and by the United States Department of Agriculture.4
The
following are the index numbers for the years 1915-1920.5
Year
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
Index Numbers
of Nebr. farm
prices
105
122
197
215
226
200
Index numbers of
prices paid by
farmers for
commodities
105
124
149
175
200
194
These data indicate that in only one year, 1916, was the
index number of farm prices lower than that of the commodities
2A p p e n d i x . Table 11, xxvi.
3 H. C. Pilley, "Effects of Inflation and Deflation upon
Nebraska Agriculture, 1914-1932," in Agr. Exp. Sta. Research
Bulletin 7 1 . 12.
—
--- -------4
The index numbers prepared by the Department of Rural /
Economics are on a five-year base:
1910?!1914s 100. The index
numbers prepared by the United States Department of Agriculture
are on a five-jjear base; Aug. 1909 to July 1914^100.
5
Pilley, o£. cit. , 12.
-234the farmers purchased.
This was also the year when the pur­
chasing power of farm products was below 100, vi*r., 98.
During these years the advantage was with the farmer, for the
products of the farm would purchase more goods than during
pre-war years when farmers were generally in a prosperous
condition.
The secretary»s report to the State Board of Agriculture
in J a n uary 1920 reflected the general feeling of prosperity
/
during the time.
Anent agricultural conditions for 1919,
the report contained these words, "Taking it as a whole, I
do not think Nebraska has ever experienced a more prosperous
year in its history."6
The above statistics also indicate that the farmer was
beginning to lose some of his advantage in 1919 and in 1920
as the spread between the two sets of index numbers was be­
coming narrower.
The advantage was lost in 1921, and was not
regained during the next decade.
Even before the end of
/
1920 purchasing power of farm products had fallen back to
pre-war levels, which indicated that deflation had already
7
started for the farmer.
In the preceding chapter it was noted that an evidence
of material prosperity is the rise in value of farm property.
From 1900 to 1910 the value of all farm property increased
178 per cent, and the value of land and buildings 214 per cent.
From 1910 to 1920 this trend continued but not as markedly as
6Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
7Filley, o£. clt., /12.
(1920), 16.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-235in the preceding decs.de.
In 1910 the total value of farm
property in Nebraska was $2,079,818,647 and in 1920, $4,201,655,992
or an increase of 101 per cent.
During the same time value of land
and buildings increased by about 105 per cent.
In both cases
farm property more than doubled in value between 1910 and 1920.3
Because the prices received for farm products increased more
rapidly than the costs of production, the net return from the
land was high and this caused the price of land to rise during
the years 1915 to 1920.
The rise was not rapid during the
years 1915 to 1918, as it was naturally anticipated that prices
of commodities would drop when the war was ended.
This would
then reduce the amount of the net returns from the land.
As
prices rose higher in 1919 than they had been in 1918, and
many persons thought they would remain high permanently,
it
was believed that land would return a larger net income.
This
resulted in land values rising rapidly in 1919 and 1920.
In seven southeastern counties in the state, land sold b y
warranty deed in 1915 brought $106 per acre;
in 1917, $119; and in 1918, $128.
in 1916, $109;
This rise was rather sharp
but was to be expected since the land was returning a high
net income during these years.
per acre increased by $24.00,
to $180 per acre.3
condition prevailed.
In 1919, however, the price
to $152 per acre; and in 1920
In two east-central counties a similar
In 1915 land sold for $101 per acre and
/
increased to $110 in 1917, but in 1919 and 1,920, it had risen
a-Abstract of Thirteenth C e n sus (1910), 626-627; Fifteenth
Census. (1930), Agriculture II, Ft. 1, 1218, 1269.
^Eleanor H. Hinman, 11History of Farm Land Prices In Eleven
Nebraska Counties, 1873-1933," in Agr. Exp. Sta. Research Bulletin
--72, 25.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-236to $133 and $165 per acre.10
In Logan county, In the Sandhills
area, price per acre of land quadrupled from 191? to 1921— from
$7.00 to $29.00.
The Sandhills region was prosperous due to
the h i g h price received for beef cattle.
Many men purchased
land and increased the size of their herds as they thought
high prices would continue to prevail.
In the high plains
area, In Box Butte county, land prices increased from $11.00
per acre in 1915 to $23.00 in 1918 and to $43.00 in 1920.12
The high price of grains, potatoes,
value of the land in this area.
and cattle increased the
It has been estimated that
the average increase in the price of land for the entire state
for the four years 1917-1920, was 72 per cent of the 1916 value.
The Increase In the price of land during the years from 1915
to 1919 was warranted by the net returns of the soil.
However,
the r apid increase during 1919 and 1920 was not based on sound
conditions and those farmers who purchased on credit at the
peak prices found difficulty in getting adequate returns from
the land to meet interest and principal payments.
The one matter overshadowing all others during the war
period was that of increasing production in order to meet the
demands caused by the war.
American agriculture had begun to
respond to the needs of Europe before the United States entered
the war.
After this country became engaged in the struggle
the real need for farm products was increased and the farmers
1 0 Idem.
llI
Tjdte m .
^Idem.
1 3 See Fllley,
o p
.
clt. , 5.
Reproduced with permission of th e c o p y rig h ^ w n e rT F u rth e r reproduction prohibited without permission.
of the nation, geared their productive machinery to meet require­
ments#
Nebraska farmers responded to the appeal of the national
government to step up production and at the same time conserve
food at home.
The slogan of the Pood Administration— "Food Will
Win the War “— was taken seriously by the farmers of the state*
A Conservation and Public Welfare Commission had been
14
created by the state legislature in 1913.
The act, as amended
on April 21, 1917, gave the commission power to organize and
secure assistance to determine the resources and promote the
general welfare of the people of the state.15
By the authority
of this act the commission called a meeting of representative
citizens of the state at Omaha, May22-25.
Leading men of the
principal agricultural and industrial organizations of the
state met in answer to the call.
The objective as set up by
this meeting was that of taking immediate steps to conserve
Nebraska's food supply and Increase production for national
purposes.
Governor Keith Neville was president of the commission^
and G. E. Condra, executive secretary.
An executive committee,
composed of representatives of the leading state organizations
of various interests, was given the task of outlining the
general plan of the program which was to be followed.
"I 6
The executive committee in turn appointed a policy committee
w h ich reported later ih the year.
The recommendations of the
policy committee were principally suggestions regarding better
^•^Laws of Nebraska. 33rd.
session,
(1913), 775.
1 5Laws of Nebraska, 35th.
session,
(1917), 286.
1 5Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. A g r . , (1917), 60.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-238methods of farming,
control of insect pests and diseases of
plants and animals, increased use of labor saving machinery,
maintaining soil fertility, improving livestock and Increasing
dairy production.
In addition the committee urged that every
city and town should organize for the purpose of producing
the largest possible' food supply on vacant lots and for the
preservation and conservation of the food stuffs.'*’7
The extension service created by the Smith-Lever Act of
Congress in 1914 also helped the farmers to meet the demand for
food stuffs.
This act made provision for permanent annual
appropriations gradually rising to $4,580,000.
total amusB/^have01|>een $6,000,000.
Since 1919 the
The funds were distri­
buted to the states on the basis of rural population, as de­
termined by census figures.
In order to receive the federal
allotment each state had to provide a sum equal to the amount
to w h i c h it was entitled.
The stale's share could be raised
b y appropriations of the state legislature, by county, college
or local authority, or by individual contributions w i t h i n the
state."1*®
In 1915 the state legislature accepted the provisions of
19
the act
and an extension service with a director in charge
replaced the former agricultural extension department at the
agricultural college.
The extension service had the same
relation to the agricultural college as did the experiment
20
station.
An aspect of the extension work that helped the
t
■^For. the complete report see Ibid., 75-86.
^-®Austln F. Macdonald, Federal A i d . (New York, 1928),
54-55. ,
^ L a w s of Nebraska, 34th. session, (1915), 535.
g 0Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. A g r . , (191b), 100.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-239farmers to a great extent during the war years was the county
agent division.
County associations took part in the direction
of the county agent*s work and cooperated wi t h the extension
department at the agricultural college.
In 1915 county agents took up the project of hog cholera
control and vaccinated over 12,000 hogs.2^
They also cooperated
with the farmers in keeping farm management records.
strations
(688 in 1915)
their crops.
By demon­
they showed the farmers how to Improve
This consisted of treating seed oats for pre­
vention of rust, showing the superiority of home-grown seed
corn over Imported seed, demonstrating the adaptability of
certain forage crops to various parts of the state, and in­
dicating better methods of seeding and cultivation.
The
county agents were also Instrumental In Improving livestock b y
getting better sires introduced into their counties.
aided In testing dairy cantle for tuberculosis.
They also
In Box Butte
and Kimball counties they helped the growers to get better
/
prices for potatoes by inducing buyers to come to these counties.
During war times the county agents conducted exchange
bureaus.
The object of the bureaus was to find a market for
grain and livestock not ordinarily taken care of.
The exchanges
also helped in the redistribution of second-hand machinery.
This was necessary because of a shortage In farm machinery,
as well as an increase in prices of such tools due to the war.^3
^^Tbla., 101.
2 2 I b l d . , 101-103.
25Ibid.,
(1917), 90.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-240Instruction s were received in 1917 from the federal gov­
ernment b y the extension department to increase the number of
county agents, home demonstration agent®, and other field
workers.
In those counties which had not tsfcen the necessary
steps to secure these workers,
placed after September 1.
emergency district agents were
These agents were to assist the
counties In organizing to get a regular county agent and in the
meantime take care of the regular duties assigned to them.g4:
Through the various channels of the extension service, work
was carried on to increase the output of the farms of the state
and, also,
to show how food could be preserved and conserved.
Specialists in dairy work emphasized the use of skim milk in
making soft cheese,
and induced creameries to make proper use
of butter milk which was formerly wasted.
Efforts were made
Increase the production of beef and pork which were greatly
needed during the war.
Plant and animal disease specialists
helped the farmers to save all the crops and livestock possible.
The farmers responded to the work of these field workers, for
the agronomy division of the service did not have a sufficient
working force to answer even half of the calls regarding sub­
stitute crops and the proper management of the soils and field
crops of the state.
25
Nebraska took advantage of the federal aid offered to the
states by the terms of the Smith-Lever Act.
The following
sums were received for the two years preceding November 30
for each of the years stated:
26
1916— $40,538.79; 1918_
24I b i d . , 86.
g 5Ibld. , 96.
26Report of the State Auditor,
(1920), 31.
(1916). 145* flQiftl
'
*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-241$77,151.42; 1920— $153,055.65.
In these various ways the farmers of Nebraska were aided
in extending their efforts toward meeting war demands.
On the
whole agricultural production was increased, as will be noted
in this chapter.
This state was one of the leading agricultural
producing states of the nation and contributed its share in
sending agricultural products to the allied countries abroad.
There is no way of determining what proportion of the nation's
food exports came from Nebraska, but the increase of those
exports stimulated the efforts of the Nebraska farmer to meet
the needs and demands of the countries abroad.
The amount of
exports of some farm products in which Nebraska farmers we r e
interested is Indicated by the following data:
Table 3.
Exports of selected agricultural products and
total value of agricultural products, excluding forest
products, 1915-1920.
Year
“T
i
dorn
(bu.)
4§,'736,2Si
3 8 J2 1 7 ;012
64,720,842
114,463,000
55,294,000
12,878,000
1 Corn Meal
1
(bbl.)
*
$503
«
419;979
•
508,113
» 1,790,000
» 1,202,000
*
867,000
l’SIS ‘
i
1916
t
1917
i
1918
i
1919
i
1920
re
Total Pork
Year
T9T3— ■*-171017526,070'
* 1,462,697,062*
1916
« 1,501,948,125'
1917
» 2,251,033,000'
1918
* 2,638,721,000*
1919
* 1,536,894,000'
1920
Total Beef
383,533,055
457,555,055
423,673,997
792,793,000
429,433,000
268,317,000
Wheat
'
Flour
(bu.)
1
(bbl.)
^59,^42,533 * 1 6 , 1 6 2 , ^ 5
173,274^015 * 15,520,669
149,831,427 ' 11,942,778
111,177,000 1 21,707,000
148,086,000 * 26,450,000
218,287,000/' 19,854,000
Total value agr. products,
excluding forest products
■
$I,475,S37,607
*
1,518,071,450
*
1,968,253,288
'
2,756,665,000
'
4,107,159,000
'
3,466.620.000
A comparison of the table above with Table 2
28
indicates
27Yearbook, U. S. D. A., (1917) 768, 769, 771, 772, 774;
(1918) 630, 63d, 639; (1921) 744, 746, 747, 748.
28
Page 179,
/
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-242-
the tremendous Increase of exports of farm goods.
The peak
of the quantity of farm commodities sent out of the country
was reached in 1918 and 1919,
The farmers of America had
increased production and the people of the nation had learned
to conserve food in order to help feed a large proportion of
the populations of our allies abroad as well as the men in
the armies.
As the farmers had geared their productive
capacity to meet this abnormal demand, it was Inevitable that
_
4
when the European requirements decreased after the war t here
would be a potential capacity to produce large quantities of
farm products but an insufficient demand to take care of the
supply.
It is significant that in every Item of farm products,
except wheat, listed In Table 3 there was a decrease in exports
in 1920,
This indicates that the demand of foreign countries
had begun to decline,
year.
especially in the latter part of the
The decrease In exports at this time aided in bringing
on the deflation of the later months of 1920 and of the year 1921.
In order to meet the heavy demands for food stuffs, b o t h
at home and abroad,
to be Increased.
the productive capacity of farm lands had
Aiding the farmer in securing increased
yields and in feeding more livestock, were certain factors
w h i c h had been developing from the pre-war period as well as
new factors, which have been mentioned, during the war years.
The movement of maintaining soil fertility which had been
conducted in the period of prosperous agriculture under the
leadership of the agricultural college was continued.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Through
-243the experimental method definite results were ascertained in
different plans of rotation of crops, application of manure,
adaptability of crops to climate and soil, methods of culti­
vation, and other phases which would make for increased output*
The agronomists at the agricultural college emphasized
the fact that the farmer could not control the weather and that
he had little to do with the economic factors that influenced
his farm enterprise.
The one big factor under the partial
control of the farmer was regulating soil fertility.
In the
case of corn, for Instance, the yield could b e Increased, and
more profitable returns could be secured by maintaining the
fertility of the soil and by proper methods of cultivation than
OQ
from seed selection.
By growing of alfalfa or sweet clover
in a system of rotation and by the application of manure, the
farmer would use practical methods to restore and maintain
fertility and increase yield.
Proper seed bed preparation and
keeping down weeds were pointed out to be two main factors in
30
successful corn production.
To what extent the farmers of Nebraska practiced crop
rotation and improved cultivation is difficult to determine.
Professor W. W. Burr In 1916 suggested that crop rotation in
the state was not generally practiced.
In the western part
of t h e state the farmers raised corn and wheat without con­
sidering the question of soil fertility.
The soil was new and
2 9 C. H. Helm, "Corn Types and Yield," in Annual H e p o r t .St.
Bd. A g r . , (1916), 387,
^Idem.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-244the problem of fertility was of less importance than the problem
of available moisture.
In the eastern part of the state where
the problem of soil fertility was of more importance than in
the west, rotation was being practiced in a more general way.
However, even in this part of the state where the soils were
not showing depletion, definite rotations were not popular.31
Professor Burr*s observations were made in 1916 before the
United States entered the war.
There is reason to believe
that in the next few years of increasing demand for farm pro­
ducts, the farmers practiced methods of maintaining soil fer­
tility to a greater extent than in 1916,
This was particularly
true when county agents and emergency field agents were stationed
in virtually all counties of the state.
The requests that were
received by the agronomy division of the extension department,
as previously noted, would indicate that farmers were becoming
increasingly interested in this problem.
It was quite natural, in this period of great demand for
cereals and the high prices prevailing at the time, for farmers
to extend their farm operations In order to raise more by cul­
tivating more acres rather than engage in intensive farming.
farmers of Nebraska had not become accustomed to farming
on a plan of getting a large yield per acre but rather on a
plan of bringing more acres under cultivation and thereby
increasing their total production.
For this reason crop
rotations and systems of maintaining soil fertility were not
31W. W. Burr, “The Future of Wheat Growing in Nebraska "
Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1917), 275.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout permission.
-245popunar
unless the land showed definite signs of soil depletion.
It was noted in the preceding chapter tha.t western Nebraska
was in a process of transition from 1900 to 1914,
Just what
lands would be devoted to tillage and what parts to ranching
had not been decided by the latter year.
By 1920 the western
part of the state had reached a point of development where it
was generally recognized that some parts could be tilled
successfully under proper methods of cultivation, while other
parts were reserved for ranching and grazing.
Exploratory work
was done by the State Conservation and Soil Survey, in cooper­
ation with the United States Bureau of Soils.
The soils in
the western counties were mapped and described . ^
Through the soil surveys it was discovered that the
Perkins Plain and Cheyenne Table regions could support both
farming and grazing.
Growing of crops was usually combined
with livestock production, except in the specialized wheat
area of the southwestern counties.
into a grazing area.
Pumpkin Creek Valley developed
A large part of this region could have been
farmed if transportation facilities had been available.
In the
Box Butte Table region ranching was carried on in the western
part while the eastern part supported general farming.
Machinery
played an important part in the extensive farming enterprises of
this area.
The potato industry became Important and also stock
raising was carried on to an increasing extent.
Other areas
^ G . E. Condra, "Blue Sky vs. Square Dealing in Land and
Oil Business," in Annual R e p o r t , St. Ba. A g r . , (1918), 227.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-246in the high plains region had developed in similar ways.
Thus western Nebraska had become quite definitely developed
as to the types of agriculture best suited to prevailing
conditions.33
The North Platte Valley had developed into an agricultural
area of some importance by 1920.
The fertile soil and irriga­
tion water had been the main factors in making this area a
producer of sugar beets, alfalfa, wheat, corn, potatoes and
oats.
Improved highways and the Union Pacific and Burlington
railroads provided adequate transportation facilities for
this area.34
The Sandhills region had developed into Nebraska's lead­
ing cattle raising district.
G-rass and hay, with an adequate
supply of water, were the main requisites for this Industry.
For the most part cattle raising is conducted on a large
scale.
Most of the Klncaiders either sold their holdings to
ranchmen or went into the cattle business.
in size from 640
Ranches varied
to many thousands of acres.
largest ones covered 50,000 acres or more.33
The
Ranches were
all fenced and in many cases cross-fenced in order to separate
the land into summer and winter pastures.
The cattle in the Sandhills had been Improved by the
use of pure-bred bulls and by many registered cows.
Grasses
had been improved by the seeding of new varieties and by
better care of meadows.
Land used for the raising of crops
33G. E. Condra, "The Soil Resources of Nebraska," Annual
R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1919), 266, 271, 282.
34Ibld., 279.
35Ibid., 256.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
In this area furnished produce for home use and not for
commercial purposes.
A n Indication of the manner In which land was utilized
for crops during the war period wa? the increase in the
acreage of cultivatedland in the crop producing districts
of the west and northwest.
Table 4,
Increase of cultivated land in the west and northwest
crop reporting districts, 1916-1920,37
h .
i—
....
.
.
-i:
.
«■- —
District » 1916
» 1917
West
“*— 750/646
Northwest*381,059 * 435,181
■ttalaa,
'847.459 '1.185.829
: -■ "■ r-
t
1918
'— 597,34(5
1 479,317
'1.376.829
. : ■ ■ ■ ■
i
1919
'— 92(375(52
' 510,699
'1.480.901
_i.
i
1920
'*— 934,§5&m’
1 508,520
'1.445.476
From 1916 to 1920 the number of acres brought under
cultivation in the west district increased by 463,555, an
increase of over loO per cent.
In the northwest district
the increase was 127,461 acres, representing a 33 per cent
increase.
For both districts there was an increase of 596,016
acres brought under cultivation.
70 per cent.
This was an increase of over
As these two districts represent nearly all of
the western portion of the state, the above data
Indicate
the manner in which western Nebraska responded to the appeal
to increase production.
development were:
Among the principal factors In this
high prices, use of large labor-saving
36The west district was composed of the following counties
Arthur, Banner, Cheyenne, Deuel, Garden, Grant, Hooker, Kimball
Logan^ McPherson, Morrill, Scott's Bluff, and Thomas,
The
northwest district comprised the following counties:
Box Butte
Cherry, Dawes, Sheridan, and Sioux.
3 7 Computed from Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr., (1916),
120-121; (1917), 110-ill; (1918), 68-69; Statistics, (1919),
8-9; (1920), 16-17.
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-248machinery, favorable climatic conditions, use of varieties of
crops adapted to the region, proper methods of cultivation,
and irrigation to a limited extent.
Crop growers readjusted their farming enterprise in this
period.
Farmers in the eastern part of the state had more
alternative crops from which to choose than those in the
western part.
Until this time western farmers had, for the
most part, only one main crop which they could raise profitably.
They had to grow spring wheat or change to ranching.
On the
other hand, farmers in the east could raise corn, wheat, oats,
alfalfa, or barley and the acreage of each of these depended
upon the relative profitableness of the crop.
1915-1920,
In this period,
corn acreage increased in the western part of the
state because varieties were developed which could be raised
under proper methods of cultivation.
Winter wheat also re­
placed spring wheat in many western areas, as farmers learned
that certain strains of this type of wheat were adapted to
soil and climatic conditions in that section of the state.
In Cheyenne county 43 per cent of the total wheat acreage was
in winter wheat in 1915, while in 1920 winter wheat acreage
38
constituted over 89 per cent of the total.
Another factor aiding the farmers in increasing production
in Nebraska was the granting of credit on liberal terms by
local banks and credit agencies.
The increase in the amount
of loans and discounts by the banks of the state will be noted
g 8Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
A r t . S tatistics. (l&20), 52, 54.
(1915), 306, 308; N e b r .
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-249later in.this chapter.
During this period the federal govern­
ment established the farm loan banks.
By an act of 1916 twelve
farm loan banks were established In as many districts in the
United States.
One of the banks was located at Omaha In what
was designated as the eighth district.
This district consists
of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
banks
did
not
The district
make loans directly to the farmers but to
local associations which were to be established.
Through
these agencies the farmer could receive loans using his land
as security.
The loans could run from five to forty years.
The number of local associations chartered in Nebraska
grew quite rapidly at first.
In 191? there were 47 charters
issued to these local agencies; in 1918, 59 charters; in 1919,
19 charters; and in 1920, 9 c h a r t e r s . ^
The decrease in the
number of charters issued after 1918 was due to the fact that
the constitutionality of the law was being tested.
Litigation
40
began in August 1919 and lasted until February 1921.
During
this time of litigation the federal farm loan board did not
encourage the chartering of local associations; hence there
were few new charters issued during this time.
Stimulated by the high prices, liberal credit, and labor
saving machinery,4^ Nebraska farmers responded to the appeal
of the government that "Food Will Win the War."
In order to demonstrate how the farmers of the state
39Complled from the Annual Reports of the Federal Farm
Loan Board, 1918-1932, in Eugene Wallace Youell, Jr., "The
National Farm Loan Association," H. A. Thesis MS in University
of Nebraska Library, 92.
40I b i d., 91.
^ T h i s aspect will be treated in a later chapter.
/
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-250increased their acreage,
the following table has been constructed:
Table 5*
Number of acres harvested of five principal cereals
(corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye), potatoes, and tame hay; and
number of animals (milk cows, other cattle, hogs and sheep), 0
showing 1910-1914 average and for years 1915-1920 i n c l u s i v e . 2
Acres Harvested (thousands)
■-Tfrve-'prrnmpsrYear
1 Potatoes , Tame Bay
1
cereals
T
— r
T9I0-T4"
1
(average) 1
13,129
•
11?
1,271
I
1
1915
•
110
13,481
1,750
I
1
1916
13,492
*
105
1,850
1
1
191?
13,703
*
147
1,590
1
•
1918
14,044
*
121
1,701
1
1
1919
13,964
1,769
*
104
1
1 -.1*619.___
1920
13.938
•
85
Number of Animals (thousands)
Year
# Milk Cows * Other Cattle! Hogs *Sheep
” 1--“T --- “
iOio - 1 4
1
(average)
615
*
2,126
1 3,736 * 363
1
1915
625
1
2,034
* 3,809 • 374
1
2,237
650
'
1 4,266 • 374
1916
1
676
*
2,525
1917
* 4,200 » 381
1
2,940
1918
676
1
' 4,250 » 408
1
1919
2,940
620
1
• 3,825 • 294
1
2.619
535
1
• 3.436 « 573
1920
O n the average there was a general increase in the
of acres harvested and the number of livestock kept on the farms
from 1915 to 1920.
The years 1918 and 1919 represented the
peak of acreage harvested and the livestock kept on farms
during the war period.
A comparison of the average acreage of
the five cereal crops for 1910-1914 with the acreage/for 1918,
shows an Increase of 915,000 acres more in the latter year
than in the pre-war period.
The data on the livestock industry
42pata for the five cereals computed from Appe n d i x . Tables
1, 2, 4, 5. 6; for potatoes and tame hay from Hebr. A g r . Statistics
(1923-1924), 59, 68; for hogs and other cattle from a p p e n d i x .
Table 9; for milk cows and sheep from Nebr. A g r . Statistic s ,
(1925), p. 101, 102.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-251also reveal a marked Increase in response t o the demands of the
time*
The exception in the general trend of increased acreage
is that of potato production*
In only two of the three years*
1917 and 1918* was the acreage of potatoes during the war years
greater than the pre-war average*
This can he explained par­
tially b y the localization of the potato industry in special­
ized areas and* also* by the fact that farmers found it more
profitable to raise other crops*
At the same time that there
was low potato acreage, production increased slightly, which
indicates that yields were good.4'5
On the w h o l e climatic conditions were quite favorable
for crop production during the war period.
some exceptions.
However, there were
Excessive rainfall in the late summer and
early fall of 1916 interfered with the harvesting of small
grain as well as the planting of winter wheat.
On account of
this condition, 1916 produced 336,000 acres of winter wheat
44
less than 1915.
In 1917 climatic conditions were rather adverse to crop
production.
Low temperature prevailed during most of the year.
The fall of 1916 had been deficient in rainfall and the wheat
did not get a good start.
The severe winter of 1916-1917
killed about 75 per cent of the wheat.
Altogether there were
about 2,500,000 acres abandoned and only 997,000 acres were
harvested.4 ®
As a result the acreages of other crops were
4gN e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1923-1924), 59.
44A p p e n d l x , Table 2, iv.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1918), 21.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-852inereased:
corn, 24 per cent;
spring wheat, 33 per cent; oats,
35 per cent; and barley, 90 per cent.
A n abnormal season In 1918 was responsible for low yields
in most crops, but the good prices caused the total value of
the crops to be high*
In this year corn acreage fell t o the
lowest point since 1903*
In 1919 and 1920 conditions were
favorable for good crops and yields were relatively good*
The
number of acres of wheat harvested in 1919 reached an all-time
high of 4,384,000 with a yield of 26*2 bushels per
a c r e . 46
The trends in acreage and production of the principal
crops of Nebraska showed a general increase during the period
1915-1920.
The main exception was wheat, which suffered from
winter killing during the year 1917.
If it had not been for
the abandonment of 75 per cent of the crop in this year, wheat
also would have followed the general trend of the period.
Rather sharp Increases took place in barley and rye.
The
acreage of the former crop almost doubled in 1917 because much
of the wheat land was sown into barley in the spring.
Also,
the farmers were beginning to substitute barley for oats.
increased mainly because of the demands of the war.
an enlarged foreign demand for rye.
Rye
There was
The small crop of wheat
in 1917 together with restrictions placed by the government
47
upon the use of wheat aided in increasing rye production*
Alfalfa acreage continued to increase during this period*
This increase took place in nearly all parts of the state,
^ A p p e n d i x , Table 2, v*
47
Yearbook, U. S. D. A* (1922), 508*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
since this forage crop was in demand to feed the large number
of cattle at the time,4®
As has been said, the acreage of potatoes decreased but
production increased slightly.
The potato industry was be-,
coming of importance in certain specialized areas.
This crop
became increasingly important in those areas after 1920.49
Although the trend of acreage and production of wheat was
downward during the war period, it held first place among the
cash crops of the state.
As stated above, it was weather
conditions which caused the trend to be downward.
With the
exception of 1916, when black stem rust reduced the yield, and
1917, when the weather was severe,
of wheat Increased rather markedly.
the acreage and production
In 1919 when the average
price of wheat reached one of its highest points
bushel), the acreage was the largest— in fact,
all time.
($2.05 per
the largest of
The wheat enterprise of the war years merits some
special consideration.
During the five pre-war years, 1910-1914,
annual acreage of wheat was 3,152,000 acres.
the average
If the year
1917 is disregarded, the average annual acreage for the period
from 1915 to 1920 was 3,836,000 acres.
This means that on the
average there were 684,000 acres more in wheat the latter period
50
than in the former period.
Wheat acreage increased in all
parts of the state.
Even the Sandhills area raised some wheat
4 ®Austin MS, 123.
49
For trends in acreage and production of the various crops
see A p p e n d i x . Figures 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10.
^ A p p e n d i x . Table 2, iv, v.
/
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-254due to the fact that it could be grown profitably in such areas
with the prevailing price of war years, when under normal
conditions it would not be profitable*
In the post-war years
Sandhill farmers discovered this to be the case*
The n o r t h ­
eastern part of the state was principally a corn and hog area,
but even here whea-c acreage increased quite noticeably.
same was true in other eastern parts of the state.
The
The pric©
of wheat was sufficiently high that the farmers in the east
could compete with the lower costs of production in the western
part.
S o u th and central portions of the state continued the
trend of the pre-war period and increased their wheat acreage
as m u c h as possible*
The greatest proportionate increase in acreage and pro­
duction of
wheat was in the northwest and southwest areas of
the state.
It has been noted how the cultivated area of the
northwest increased during the period.
The chief cash crop
in this section was wheat; hence it was the crop that commanded
the use of
the greatest proportion of the new acres which were
brought under cultivation.
It was in the southwest, however,
Lhat there developed a specialized wheat area at this time.
This region consisted of Cheyenne, Deuel, Kimball, and Perkins
counties, and parts of Banner, Garden,
and K e i t h counties.
The
development of varieties of winter wheat adaptable to the
climatic and soil conditions of this section aided in the
development of the wheat industry.
The introduction of large
scale machinery, ease of obtaining credit, adequate transportation
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-2 5 5 -
facilities, and, most important, a favorable price situation
were other factors in the growth of the specialized wheat
area.^
In 1915 the specialized wheat area harvested 162,207
acres of wheat, in 1920, 361,692.
In other words, the acreage
of wheat more than doubled in this six-year period.52
Besides
indicating the extension of wheat culture during the war period,
these data also point to the development of the western part
of the staie.
It is significant to note the increased use of winter
wheat as compared with spring wheat during this time.
In 1915,
55 per cent of the total acres in wheat in the specialized
area was winter wheat;
in 1920 winter wheat constituted 90
per cent of the total wheat a c r e a g e . T h e
new varieties
(or strains) of winter wheat that had been developed from Turkey
Red proved their superiority over the spring wheat varieties.
The agricultural college had developed a new selection of the
Turkey R e d wheat called Nebraska 60.
This was just being
Introduced in the state by 1920 and came in general use during
the next decade.
The- price of wheat during the war and immediate post-war
years was controlled by the government.
The Food Control Act
of 1917 guaranteed a minimum price of $2.00 per bushel for the
1917-1918 crop.
Under the discretionary powers given to the
^Rainey C. Whitney, "Agriculture in the Specialized Wheat
Area of Nebraska, M. A. Thesis MS in University of Nebraska
Library, 156.
•^Annual Report, St. Bd. Agr., (1915), 306-309; Nebr.
A g r . . Statistics. (1920), 52-55.
^3 Idem.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
- 266-
President by the act, the minimum was later raised to $2.20,
and the same price extended to the 1918-1919 crop.64
Because
of governmental regulation, wheat was lower in price than It
would have been under competitive conditions.
The highest
price received in any month during the period 1915-1920 by the
farmers of Nebraska was in May 1917, when wheat reached $2.54
per bushel.66
into effect.
This was before government price control went
The high price was due to the shortage of supply,
for this was the year w h e n three-fourths of the crop was winter
killed.
There is reason to believe that wheat prices would
have risen higher if the government had not set up its controls.
The guaranteed price of wheat for the 1919 crop was not
affected by the end of the war, as the government's guaranteed
price did not expire until}. June 1, 1920.56
The farmers had
planted their wheat crop in the fall of 1919 while price con­
trol was still In effect.
Because prices remained high, a
general opinion prevailed that war-time prices would continue
indefinitely.
Therefore, the 1919-1920 wheat crop was planted
and harvested under high costs of production.
Almost immediate­
ly after the government's control had expired the price of
wheat began to "'fall.
In June 1920, the price in Nebraska was
$2.46 a b u s h e l ; in July it had fallen to $2.26; in August,
64Simon Litman, Prices and Price Control in G-reat Britain
and the United States During the World War, darnegle Endowment
for Tnternational Peace, division of Economics and History,
(New York, 1920), 221.
66H. C. Fllley and Arthur M. Hauke, "Local Farm Prices of
Farm Products in Nebraska, 1895-1932," in A g r . Exp. Sta. Bulletin
2 8 4 . (1933), 13.
5®Lltman, ojg. cit. . 228.
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f
[
-257$2.10; September, #2.05; October, $1*84; November, $1.51;
and December, $1.55.
Prom June until the end of the year
the decrease In price was $1.11 per bushel.57
The farmers of the state had to market their crop during
the months of declining prices, or, else store it in the hopes
that the price would rise again.
As prices continued to decline
during the following year, reaching a low of 82 cents in
go
November, ° a tremendous loss was sustained by those who held
their grain.
If the government had abandoned its policy of a guaranteed
price as soon as the war was over, or if the 1919 price of wheat
could have been tapered off somewhat, the false supposition
of a permenent war-time price level would have been dispelled
and wheat farmers could have met in a better way than they
did the period of deflation that came on so suddenly in 1920.
A new farming enterprise became prominent at this time.
There had been some interest in the raising of sugar beets as
far back as the I860*s.
The first step in the development
of sugar beet production was taken at Grand Island.
A. Koenig,
Mr. Henry
a native of Germany, came to Grand Island In 1862.
He had acquired some knowledge of sugar beet raising in Germany
and thought the climatic and soil conditions in Nebraska were
adapted
to the raising of beets.
He began to experiment along
this line, assisted by Doctor Thorpecher, also a native of
Germany and a practical c h e m i s t . ^
Beet seed was procured from
/
®^Filley and Hauke, o p . c l t . , 13.
58I d e m .
CQ
Henry T. Johnson, "History of the Beet Sugar Industry
In Nebraska," M. A. Thesis MS In University of Nebraska Library, 4.
/
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-258Germany and from Washington and planted In 1865.
Tests proved
that the beets had a high sugar content, averaging from 12 to
15 per cent.60
At a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture, January
23, 1872, it was decided to offer prizes for the greatest amount
of sugar produced from beets grown in Nebraska*
At this same
meeting Professor Thompson of the State University addressed
the group on the possibilities of developing sugar beet pro­
duction in the state.6^
During 1872, beets raised at the state
farm for stock feeding were analyzed and found to yield over
62
15 per cent of sugar.
Nothing further was done in Nebraska until the spring of
1888 when the people in and around Grand Island made a system­
atic attempt to demonstrate, experimentally, that beets could
be raised of sufficient richness in sugar to warrant the invest­
ment of capital in a sugar factory at that place.
After con­
siderable failure and disappointment, the people of Grand Island
were finally successful'In enlisting the Interest and aid of
Henry Oxnard in building a factory.
Mr. Oxnard was one of
four brothers who had an Interest in a sugar refining company
organized about this time in the East.
The new factory was
completed in time to handle the beet crop of 1890*
The results of the Grand Island experiment in 1888 drew
the attention of the experiment station to the possibilities
60 I d e m.
^ A n n u a l Report, St. Bd. Agr.,
(1889), 303*
62~
Idem*
63
For the complete story of the building of the Grand
Island factory see Johnson, £p. clt. , Chapter 2.
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of extending the work of experimentation throughout the entire
state during the season of 1889,
A questionnaire was sent to
farmers, who were known to have raised beets, asking their
cooperation by stating the amount of ground planted to beets,
kind of seed sown, cultivation given, and similar questions*
Seed was also furnished to farmers who were interested in this
enterprise*
Farmers in 37 counties of the state, representing
nearly all sections, sent 166 samples of beets to the university
for analysis*
The yield and the sugar content of the beets
were considered encouraging*
In 1890 still further efforts
were exerted by the university and seed was furnished to about
2,000 farmers and over 500 samples were sent in*
Professor
Nicholson, who was conducting this work, summed up the results
of the a n a l ysis rby saying,
“Beets of good form, fair sugar
content, and purity could be g r o w n in all parts of the state."®4
To encourage the beet sugar industry in the state, the
legislature enacted a law, March 19, 1889, providing for a
bounty of one cent per pound to be paid to any corporation,
firm, or person manufacturing sugar in the state from beets,
65
sorghum or other sugar yielding plants grown in Nebraska*
The federal government, in the tariff law of 1890, provided
for payment of a bounty of two cents per pound for sugar pro­
duced In the United States.
These governmental inducements,
®4S. C* Bassett, "The Growth and Development of the Sugar
Beet Industry in Nebraska," in Proceedings of the Second General
Convention of the Nebraska Beet Sugar Association, 37.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St* Bd. Agr., (1889), 362*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-260together w i th the subscription of capital by individuals,
caused the Oxnard brothers to establish a f a c t o r y at Norfolk
gg
in 1891.
to Lamar,
This factory operated until 1905 when it was moved
Colorado.67
The reasons for the failure of the
Norfolk factory were principally unfavorable temperature,
rainfall, humidity and soil conditions.
The farmers of this
district received better returns with less labor by raising
corn and livestock.
Therefore, they reduced their acreage
of beets and not a sufficient supply was raised to enable
gp
the factory to run profitably.
The sugar bounty law of 1889 was repealed by the state
legislature in 1891,
so the bounty paid under this act was for
the beet sugar manufactured in 1890.
$14,000.
The amount paid was
In 1895 the legislature enacted a law providing for
five-eighths of one cent per pound bounty.
This law stip­
ulated that no money would be paid upon sugar from beets for
which as m u c h as $5.00 per ton had not been paid to the pro­
ducer, nor from beets raised by a manufactxirer of sugar.
Under this act the state paid $47,067.50 in bounties in 1895.7®
^Johnson,
p p , clt. , 19.
6 7 I b i d . , 21.
®®Esther S. Anderson, "The Sugar Eeet Industry of Nebraska,"
in Conservation Department of the Conservation and Survey
Division, University of Nebraska, Bulletin IX, ed. 2, (1937),
19.
6 ^This law was Intended to aid the farmer as much as
encourage the manufacturer.
The corporations owning the factories
usually had relatively large tracts of land in beets which they
raised themselves.
70
Basset, ojg. c i t . , 39.
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-261The federal law of 1890 was repealed in 1894 under the terms
of the Wilson-Gorman tariff act.
The amount of federal funds
paid to Nebraska sugar producers by the law of 1890 was $249,724.0u71
This amount when added to the total sum paid by the state—
$61,067.50— made a grant total of $310,791.50 received by the
manufacturers of sugar in Nebraska to 1896.
B y state appropriation the work of Professor Nichelson,
at the experiment station, was extended to determine the
possibilities of sugar beet production.
In 1896 a school was
opened at the agricultural college to train young men in the
best methods of sugar beet culture and in the details of
72
factory methods of sugar making.
As the beet sugar industry
was a new enterprise in the state, as well as in the United
States, many difficulties were experienced in its early de­
velopment.
The farmers did not know proper methods of cul­
tivation or what land was best suited for the crop.
Climatic
conditions were not favorable, as 1890 was too dry and 1891
too wet for producing good yields.
dry years of the middle
Then came the extremely
*90*3 and this discouraged many
farmers from continuing or entering the business of raising
beets.
However, the farmers around Grand Island persisted
in their efforts.
Lewis Hoch'e, a French expert in beet culture,
was engaged to supervise the growing of beets and through him
new methods of cultivation were introduced.
Sufficient beets
were supplied to the factory except during the years 1894,
7^ I d e m .
7^Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1896), 312.
/
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-2621900, and 1901.
The plant was Idle during these years because
of adverse weather conditions and lack of beets.
The limited
crops raised were sent to the Norfolk factory for processing.
Through the influence of Heyward G. Leavitt, who had been
instrumental in getting the Oxnard brothers interested in the
Grand Island factory, the Standard Land and Cattle Company
at Ames, Nebraska, planted 500 acres of beets in 1893.
Mr.
R. M. Allen, manager of the company, was Interested in the
establishment of a factory in that vicinity, for he saw pos­
sibilities of utilizing the by-products of the factory in
the fattening of cattle and sheep.
In 1893 a contract was
made to process the beets from the 500 acres planted and have
the pulp returned at a nominal price.
used for stock feed.
This, then, would b e
Encouraged b y this experiment, an attempt
was made to erect a factory in 1895 but this endeavor failed
to materialize.
However, a fac t o r y was constructed in 1899,
and made its first run of beets in January 1900.
The period
of operation was brief, as the factory closed down in 1906,
due to an Inadequate supply of beets because of adverse
weather conditions.
This factory was moved to Scottsbluff
in 1910.73
Because of the favorable reports of the experiment
station, as well as of some beet growers in different parts
of the state, it was thought that beets could be grown in
almost all sections of Nebraska.
There was considerable
^^Anderson, ojg. clt. , 19.
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-263enthusiasm and demand for factories to be established in
practically every part of the state.
This wave of sugar
beet interest was at its height during the 1890*s and the
early years of the twentieth century.
None of the attempts
to build factories were successful,^4
Experience eventually proved that climatic conditions
in the eastern part of the state were generally unfavorable
to the production of beets.
Beet culture was, therefore,
discontinued and the factories moved west.
raise beets with a high sugar content,
In order to
the mean temperature
should be around 70° F. during the growing season.
require a long day with plenty of sunshine.
Beets
An abundance of
moisture is necessary in the early stages of growth to in­
sure roots of good size.
This should be followed by a
period of less rainfall, much sunshine and cool nights, for
the development and storage of sugar.
Hot weather and too
much moisture in the fall will likely cause the beets to
start growing again and decrease the sugar content.
The best soils for the raising of sugar beets have been
found to be the fine sandy loams and silt loams.
should be porous to assist in drainage.
The soils
The beets require
a rather high content of organic matter in the surface soil
and b o t h the soil and subsoil should contain sufficient
75
fine material to enable them to retain moisture.
^4For a treatment of the demand for beet sugar* factories
see the J o h nson MS, 26-30.
^ E s t h e r s # Anderson, "The Beet Sugar Industry of Nebraska
as a Response to Geographic Environment," in Economic Geography,
1, (1925), 378.
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-264The sections of Nebraska w h i c h were found to be best
suited to the culture of sugar beets were the Irrigated
districts of the North Platte,
the Platte, and the Republican
river valleys of western Nebraska.
Climatic and soil conditions
were found to be favorable and moisture supply regulated by
irrigation.
Of these three regions, the North Platte area
became the most important.
Grand Island was the eastern limit
of sugar beet production.
As has been previously stated, the sugar factory at Ames
was moved to Scottsbluff in 1910.
There were certain devel­
opments before this time which caused the change of the site
of the factory.
After the passage of the Reclamation Act,
1902, b y the federal government, a group of men saw the
possibilities of bringing thousands of acres In the North Platte
Valley under irrigation.
These men formed the Tri-State Land
Company as the contemplated irrigated territory lay in the
corners of the three states of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
The result of the work of the land company was the building
of the Tri-State Canal, now known as the Farmers Canal.
Leavitt was the main force in this project.
Mr.
He induced the
land company to buy large tracts of land which the new
irrigation project would serve.
Also,
some land irrigated
by older canals was purchased and plans were made for beet
production.
Another factor that entered into the development of the
North Platte Valley was the extension of the railroad into
?6johnson, o p . clt. , 32.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-265the area.
The Burlington built a line through the valley
in 1900-1901.
This helped to solve the transportation and
marketing problems of those who were interested in the
sugar beet industry.
In the spring of 1908 the Great Western Sugar Company
began growing beets in the North Platte Valley.
The company
used improved methods of cultivating beets and this caused
farmers who had been growing the crop to adopt the new
methods and increase thdlr acreage.
By 1910 sufficient
beets were grown to warrant the construction of a factory,
and the Ames plant was moved to Scottsbluff.
At that time
the factory had a daily capacity of 1200 tons of beets, but
it was later increased in size to handle 2,000 tons per day.
77
Other factories built in the area were located at the following
cities:
Gering, 1916; Bayard, 1917; Mitchell, 1920; Minatare,
1926; and Lyman, 1927.^®
Although sugar beet production started in Nebraska in
1890, the greater part of its development occurred after 1914.
There were apparent reasons for the slow growth of the sugar
beet industry.
Principal among them were the hesitancy of
farmers to adopt the growing of beets, the repeal of the state
and federal bounties, and weather conditions.
Through a
process of experimentation and readjustment it was eventually
determined which sections of the state were best suited for
beet culture.
77
The development of irrigation also played an
Anderson,
7®Idem.
ojd.
c i t . , 20.
x
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-266iraportant part in the rapid growth of the industry after 1914.
There are no reliable data regarding the acreage of sugar
beets before 1910, and none regarding production, yield,
price before 1915.
and
By 1910 there were 10,000 acres in beets
and by 1914 the acreage had more than doubled— 22,000 acres.
In 1920 Nebraska farmers harvested 72,000 acres of beets.
This
represented an increase in acreage from 1914 to 1920 of 227
rpQ
per cent. rs?
Naturally the demands for food stuffs during
the period of the war influenced this development as the
price per ton of beets more than doubled from 1915 to 1920.
Although the price of beets was high in 1918, acreage was
reduced because of the entrance of many young men into the
army.
Vacancies were thus created in cities which the
men and women field workers could fill with higher wages
and less labor than caring for beets.
Also, the high price
of wheat caused many farmers to plant more wheat and less
beets,
since they could realize more money with less expend­
iture of labor.
By 1920 the acreage and price of beets had
increased while the wheat acreage and price had dropped
slightly.
This indicated that the high price paid for beets
made more profit for the farmer than did wheat.
These changes
in acreage indicate that beet production of the irrigated
regions of western Nebraska Is influenced not only by the
geographical conditions of that section but also by the price
of beets and the price of competitive crops.
The beet grower
responds immediately to the economic factor of price In the
79A p p e n d l x , Table 8, xix.
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[
-267management of his industry*
In the production of beets the farmer knew, before each
crop was planted, the price he w o u l d receive for his products.
The sugar factories had field superintendents who selected
field men.
These field men w o u l d make contracts with the
farmers for the production' of a certain acreage of beets to
be delivered at the factory at a designated price per ton.
In this w a y the farmer could manage his enterprise accordingly
and his returns would depend only upon the yield as the price
was already known.
winter.
seed.
Contracts were usually made during the
Field men also assisted the farmers in securing good
The farmer usually made a contract with his laborers
to care for and harvest the beets, and the field men helped
the farmer in obtaining his workers.
The growers, also, were
given advice by representatives of the factories on the proper
methods of cultivation and handling of the beets in order to
have the sugar content as high as possible.
In these various
ways the grower and manufacturer worked together and, although
there w ould occasionally arise disagreement between the two
parties, it is claimed that the sugar beets of the state
80
were produced more scientifically than other crops.
The growth of the sugar beet industry in western Nebraska
helped to stimulate the development of some counties in that
region.
A s an example, Scottsbluff County had 421 farms in
SOAnderson, o£. c l t ., 381.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-2681900 and 1,391 in 1920.®^
This increase was due primarily to
the extension of irrigation and the development of the intensive
farming that sugar beets require.
The increase of population
in 1920 over that of 1910 was 147 per cent.®®
The sugar beet industry continued to develop after 1920
during the period of agricultural depression.
The livestock industry in Nebraska was not stimulated
in its development during the war period as much as the crop
production aspect of farming.
Prices of livestock were high
and the purchasing power favorable during most of the war
Q«X
years.00
However,
the raising and feeding of farm animals
was not always profitable on account of the high cost of
feed, especially corn.
The number of hogs on farms of the state increased slight84
ly during the six-year period.
The average annual number
of hogs in the five pre-war years was 3,736,000 and in the six
war years (1915-1920), 3,964,000,
The hog business was mainly
a market enterprise, but it was also a universal farm activity,
as nearly every farm had some hogs.
Producers found that
hogs helped to conserve the fertility of the soil and also
found that they could secure quicker returns from hogs than
from cattle.
Attempts were made to increase hog production during the
Q^-Ibld. , 383.
8®Nebraska Blue Book, (1950), 383.
® ^Appendix, Table 12,xxviii.
84
A p p e n d i x . Figure 11, xxii.
/
/
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-269-
n
lr
to?
war times.
The State Board of Agriculture, in a resolution
January 1918, placed special emphasis on the need of increas­
ing the number of hogs in order to meet the demands for meat
products.85
In 1917 there were 66,000 fewer hogs in the state
than in 1916*
The number increased the next year because the
corn crop of 1917 had not properly matured and only a small
proportion of it could be sold on the market.
to feed It to livestock.
It was necessary
Also, the urgent demands of the Pood
Administration for increased pork production stirred the
patriotic Impulse of the farmer to feed more hogs.85
However,
the number of hogs in 1918 did not reach the number on the
farms in 1916.
This number dropped over 400,000 in 1919 as
compared w i t h 1918, and a further decrease by almost as much
from 1919 to 1920.8?
The principal reason for the lack of response of hog
producers to the plea for increased production was the high
t
1
price of feed.
With corn reaching a high of $1.44 per bushel
in 1919, the farmer did not consider it profitable to feed
hogs on a large scale.
Even when the purchasing power of hogs
was high in 1918 and 1919, production was not particularly
profitable because corn and other feeds were relatively
higher than hogs.
The cattle industry made a marked recovery from the
decline that had obtained in the years 1910-1914.
® 5Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
85Filley, >o£. clt. , 86.
The
(1918), 59.
^ A p p e n d i x , Table 9, xxi.
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Sandhills area developed into Nebraska*s leading cattle
raising section.
The cattle in this region had been improved
and were kept on pasttire until two or three years old and then
shipped to the feedyards of the east or to market#
Some were
sent to the irrigated districts and finished on alfalfa,
beet pulp and other feeds,®8
A good many farmers in the corn belt kept cows of the
beef or dual purpose type for the raising of feeder calves.
On smaller farms,
a creamery.
the cows would be milked and cream sold to
Calves from some of these farms were sold to other
farmers, who purchased such animals and finished them for
market.
Some farmers kept their calves and bought enough
more from neighbors to feed out a carload or two.
On the
larger farms cows were kept only for the production of feeder
calves.
These usually were fed on the same farm and sold as
baby beef, or as two- or three-year-olds.89
Prom these two sources of supply the number of cattle on
farms in the state in 1919 reached the highest point since
1909.
It usually took about five years for the cattle in­
dustry to be built up after a low point had been reached.
Under the stimulus of higher prices and because of the urgent
appeals of the state and federal governments for food, the
cattle producers and feeders responded with an increased
number of cattle.
By 1920 Nebraska was ranked as the third
8 8 Condra, "Soil Resources," o j d . clt. , 255.
8 9Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1917), 358.
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leading beef cattle producing state in the Union.90
From a low point in 1914 of 1,883,000 head, the number
of beef cattle Increased to 2,940,000 in 1919.
This was a n
increase of over 1,000,000 head or an average annual Increase
of 176,000.
A decrease took place from 1919 to 1920 of over
300,000 head.91
The price of cattle rose sharply during the time as did
the price of other farm products.
Although the purchasing
power of cattle was not so great during the years 1917-1919,
the price reached its peak of $49.30 per head on the average
throughout the state.
Cattle can consume roughage which
might otherwise go to waste and with the rations worked out
by the experiment stations, many farmers found it profitable
to raise and feed cattle, when at the same time it was not
very profitable to feed hogs.
Native grasses in the grazing
areas helped to keep down
costs of production and with improve­
ment in many of the herds
of the state, cattle could b e forced
to market in a year or two if desired.
op
For Nebraska the number of cattle marketed in 1918 was
93
1,712,071.
Nebraska contributed more cattle to the markets
94
of the country than any other state in this year.
During
the entire period from 1915 to 1920 the number marketed ranged
" Y e a r b o o k , U. S. D.
9^-Appendix, Table 9,
A., (1921), 238.
xxi; Figure 11, xxil.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr., (1920), 18.
93Filley, o p . c i t ., 86.
94Y e a rbook, U. S. D. A., (1921), 280.
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-872from the peak in 1918 to 1,194,305 in 1916.95
The improvement in the quality of the cattle of the state
was noticeable during this period.
Results were being obtained
from the work of previous periods in getting livestock producers
to improve their herds.
The United States Department of Agri­
culture made a report of the relation of pure-bred beef cattle
to all beef cattle, as based upon census returns of January 1,
1920.
For Nebraska the data may be summarized as follows:
14,441
17.85
56,598
17
62.63
38.24
3
36,197
farms reported pure-bred beef cattle
per cent of beef cattle farms reported pure-breds.
farms reported beef cows 2 years old and over.
grade cows 2 years old and over per grade bull 1
year old and over was the ratio reported from beef
cattle farms.
per cent of the farms with beef cows reported
having beef bulls.
per cent of the farms with beef bulls reported
having pure-bred beef bulls.
per cent of all beef cattle in Nebraska were pure-breds.
of
the pure-bred beef cattle were Shorthorns,
27,418 were Herefords, 4,640 were Aberdeen-Angus,
and the small remainder was distributed among
other breeds.96
Although the report indicates that there was only a
small per cent of the beef cattle of Nebraska in the register­
ed pure-bred class,
the situation of this state was about
average for the country.
beef
cattle of
Slightly over 3 per cent of the
the
country were reported to be pure-breds and
all
the cattle farms of the nation reported
11 per cent
of
pure-breds.
In the latter respect Nebraska ranked slightly
above the average for the country.
The small number of pure-bred beef cattle reported from
95Filley, o p . c i t . , 86.
96Y e a rb o o k , U. S. D. A.,
(1921), 241-244.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-273this state did not necessarily mean that the quality of
Nebraska*s beef cattle was not high.
There was an increas­
ing number of high grade cattle produced.
The farmers dis­
covered that in a period of hi g h prices feeding scrub cattle
was not a profitable venture.
The grazing area in the Sand­
hills region was carrying on its business of cattle raising
with more and more pure-bred and high-grade stock.97
The sheep raising and feeding aspect of livestock farming
continued much along the same lines as in the previous period*
The farm flock was the main feature of the sheep Industry,
and the number on the farms of the state increased slightly
Q O
during the six-year period.
The average annual number on
farms during this time was 401,000, as compared with 379,000
99
during the five pre-war years.
Altho ugh the Increase in numbers of sheep was small, there
was an Interest manifesting itself in this feature of livestock
farming.
In 1916 the president of the State Board of Agri­
culture reported that the sheep department of the state fair
had b e e n increasing in quantity and quality each year.^"90
In 1917 the sheep exhibit was the largest in the history of
the fair.^9^*
This interest was sustained and sheep raising
became of some significance after 1920.
Even though a
relatively small number of sheep were raised in Nebraska,
® 7Condra, "Soil Resources," o p . cit•, 255.
98
Appendix, Figure 11, xxii.
99
N e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1925), 102.
^°°Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
1 Q 1I b l d . , (1918), 30.^
(1915), 17.
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-274there were a great many fed in the state.
The price per head
of sheep more than doubled from 1916 to 1919— $5.40 in 1916
and $11*90 in 1919*^®^
The fact that sheep were considered
to be economical feeders influenced some to feed during the
time of high prices.
Marketings of sheep reflected the number
which were fattened in the feed yards of the state.
These
statistics show the marketings from 1915 to 1920:103
1915— 1,534,054
1916— 1,807,076
1917— 1,061,310
1918— 1,069,366
1919— 1,183,652
1920— 1,014,192
The livestock industry of Nebraska responded strongly
to the appeals of the government to produce more food to
meet the demands of the war.
There was, of course, the
stimulus of high prices for hogs, cattle, and sheep, but
grain was relatively higher than livestock.
Although the
number of hogs produced was not so large as the needs seemed
to require, many Nebraska farmers fed hogs when profits were
very small and, no doubt, in many cases when practically
no profits were earned*
flourished.
’T h e ;cattle and sheep feeding Industries
Cattle especially staged a revival from the
depressed situation preceding 1915*
The development of the dairy enterprise that had begun
in the previous period continued during war times*
This
progress was not so much in the increase in number of milk
cows as tin improvement of herds*
The average annual number
/
3-Q^Mebr* Agr. Statistics. (1925), 102.
103Quoted from Filley, og. clt, , 86*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-275of milk cows on farms in the state during the five pre-war
years was 612,000 while the average from 1915 to 1920 was
104
630,000,
Prices of dairy cows rose with the general
rise in the price level and reached a peak of $85,00 per
head in 1919.105
At the same time, feed prices were high.
It was estimated
that feed for dairy cows had risen 100 per cent from 1914 to
1917 in some cases; building materials,
80 per cent; labor,
30 per cent; while milk had risen only 40 per c e n t . ^ ®
This
discouraged many farmers from venturing into the dairy business.
Also, the Nebraska farmer was unwilling to enter upon dairying
when he was receiving high prices for his grain and other
livestock.
Most of the milk cows were scattered rather
generally over the state but the number of strictly dairy
herds was increasing.
It was on these dairy farms that improvement was being
made in the herds.
The dairyman not only considered it a
good business to have better stock but he was also urged to
increase his production for patriotic reasons.
The policy
committee of the Nebraska Conservation Congress advised
the farmer to weed out the unprofitable cows, keep more cows,
and feed them better.
This committee also suggested that by
increasing the number of dairy cows on the farm, forage,
which otherwise would be wasted, could be utilized.
Also,
keeping of dairy cows was the best method of maintaining
104$jebr, A g r . Statistics, (1925), 101.
• ^ ^Appendlx, Figure 13, xxiii.
^ 0 °Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1917), 289.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
the fertility of the soil***’07
One of the means of improving dairy herds, in order to
increase production of dairy products, was by eliminating the
poor cows from the herd*
Cow testing associations were formed
in some parts of the state.
The main purpose of these
associations was to furnish the dairyman a means of determin­
ing what each cow in his herd was producing.
About 26 men,
having a total of around 400 cows, would form a cooperative
organization.
Smaller groups would be formed and two or more
of the small groups would unite and operate together.
A
competent supervisor was employed and he would spend one day
of each month on each of the 26 farms.
take samples of milk from each cow.
He would weigh and
The milk would be
tested for butter fat content and each cow would be credited
with the total amount of butter fat contained in the milk for
that day.
The costs of keeping the cow were also computed.
In this w a y profitable and unprofitable cows were determined
108
in a few months' time*
In 1916 there were cow testing associations formed in
Lancaster, Merrick, Gage, and Pawnee counties.
Information
spread about the successful work of these associations, and
an increasing number of such cooperative groups w e r e formed.
Increased production of dairy products, without materially
increasing the number of milk cows, resulted from the work of
the cow testing associations.
107
I b id., 79.
1 0 8 I b l d . , (1916), 368*
/
/
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-277Another means of Improving the herds was by replacing
the common cattle w i t h recognized dairy breeds.
Quite a few
pure-bred and high-grade cows of the Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire,
and Guernsey breeds were imported from Wisconsin and Minnesota.
In 1920 there were 7,800 pure-bred dairy cattle in the state.109
Some of the best herds were started at this time.
The increase in the price of butter and butterfat no doubt
influenced the dairy farmer to improve his cows as much as
possible.
margin.
High costs of feed caused him to work Cn a narrow
Prices of butter and butter fat increased from 24
cents per pound in 1915 to 58 cents in 1919.110
increase of over 141 per cent.
This was an
However, the price of corn
increased by 136 per cent over the same period of time.
The farmer found that with the use of unsalable roughage,
together w i th a grain ration, he could make a profit in his
dairy business when he had weeded out his low-producing cows.
During this period another Invention that served the dairy
industry was being used in Nebraska.
The labor problem be­
came more and more acute as men were conscripted for the
army and as farm laborers were attracted to the cities by the
lure of high wages.
The milking machine reduced the amount of
man labor required, .as well as the drudgery of milking.
This machine was practicable only on farms with comparatively
large dairy herds where time which could be profitably em­
ployed otherwise was saved by use Of machine milking.
109Yearbook, U. S. D. A.,
l l O p i H e y , q £. cit. , 29.
(1922), 324.
1 1 1Appendix. Table 2, li.
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Labor
-278costs were also reduced by this means.
Butter was the chief dairy product of Nebraska.
Much
butter was made and consumed on the farms of the state.
The
growth of commercial dairying during the war period can be
indicated by the pounds of creamery butter produced.
In 1914
there were 36,343,424 pounds of butter made by creameries
in the state.
For the five years 1916-1920 there was an
average annual production of 46,019,484 pounds.
During these
five years the peak of production was reached in 1915 when
62.477.000 pounds were put out by the creameries.112
Necessary steps had been taken to put the dairy industry
of the state on a sound basis by 1920.
This development, wi t h
additional influences after 1920, caused the dairy Industry
to grow in the next decade.
The number of horses and mules in Nebraska reached the
highest peak of all time during 1917-1919.
In 1918 there were
113
1.167.000 of these animals in the state.
The high prices
of the preceding years had stimulated horse raising, but
beginning in 1920 the number began to decrease noticeably.
While there were numerous breeders of pure-bred stock and a
number of farmers who made it a practice to raise a few
horses as a side issue, horse raising was not a leading
114
industry by 1920.
The main reason for this preceptible
change in the horse industry was the increased use of auto,
1 1 2 p n i e y , ££.
clt., 87.
11^Nebr. A g r . Statistics, (1925), 100.
114Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1920), 19.
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-279truck, and tractor*
This caused a decrease in demand for
horses and mules and a consequent fall in prices*
The result
was a lagging interest in horse-breeding.115
The years from 1915 to the middle of 1920 were an era
of great prosperity for the Nebraska farmer.
His farm enter­
prise was geared to a high productive capacity under the
stimulus of high prices and favorable purchasing power of
the products to be sold.
The appeal of the- government on a
patriotic basis that "Food Will Win the War" found the farmer
of Nebraska responding in an earnest endeavor to produce the
necessary supply of food that was demanded.
B y midsummer of 1920 the prosperity, w h i c h had been
enjoyed b y Nebraska farmers for 20 years, ended rather
abruptly.
At the close of the year some of the agricultural
products were selling at pre-war prices.
When corn had
been husked and was ready for market, it was worth from onefifth to one-fourth as much as in the preceding spring and
lift
summer.
It is of interest to contrast the report of the
resolution committee of the State Board of Agriculture in
January 1921 with the optimistic report of the secretary
117
just one year before.
That part of the committee's
report dealing with conditions during the latter part of
1920 was as follows:
H B p o r trends in numbers and prices of horses and mules
see A p p e n d i x , Figure 12, xxiii.
The supplementing and re­
placing; of horses and mules by power farm machinery is
treated in a later chapter.
115Filley, o p . 3blt. , 41.
11*^Page 234.
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-280"These are strenuous days for agriculture.
During the war and the years Immediately following
the armistice, the farmers rallied to the call of
their government and produced abundant food at
high cost.
The sudden drop in prices of farm
products has caused all livestock and grain farmers
serious financial embarrassment— so serious that
many find themselves completely bankrupt.
They
are compelled to pay notes given for labor and
equipment to raise corn at a time when corn is
w orth only one-fourth of the former price.
We,
therefore, recommend the extension of existing
loans at reasonable rates of interest where needed,
and urge both the state and national governments
to extend all possible legitimate aid in tiding __
agriculture over this unusual and trying period.11■L'L8
The condition of the farmer was Indeed serious.
Labor,
supplies, and machinery costs had advanced decidedly since
1914.
As long as he could get good prices for his products
the farmer had been able to meet these costs and make a
profit.
The cost of labor was relatively very high as there
was a forty per cent decrease in labor supply since the out119
break of the war,
and wages of farm laborers had increased
136 per cent from 1915 to 1920.
120
Many of the men who had
i
entered military service did not return to the farm.
Wages
in trade and industry had increased rapidly and this drew
many farm laborers to the cities.
The crops of 1920 had to
be cultivated and harvested with high priced labor a n d sold
at a comparatively low price.
Transportation rates had risen gradually from 1916 to
1919 and very sharply during 1920 and 1921.
In 1921 freight
rates on wheat shipped from towns as Alliance, Columbus,
^^ A n n u a l R e p o r t . St.y Bd. Agr.,
(1921), 87.
119Ibid., 62.
120Filley, o£. c l t . . 46.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
or Geneva to Omaha or Chicago ranged from 155 to 172 per
cent of pre-war rates and rates on hogs and cattle from 141
to 181 per cent.121
This served as an additional item of
cost to reduce the already shrinking income of the farmer.
i
The condition that the farmers found themselves in was
due naturally to the war-time situation.
to the appeal for increased production.
They had responsed
On the average there
was a general Increase in the acreage planted to crops and
/
the number of livestock kept on the farms from 1915 to 1920.
Agricultural production had reached a high point in 1919 and
1920.
Not only was the acreage of those years high but the
yields were also relatively abundant.
This marked Increase
in production of farm products would continue to be profitable
only as long as high prices prevailed for agricultural products.
The costs of production had rapidly mounted as the margin of
cultivation had been extended.
Farmers felt eertain that
pre-war prices were gone forever, as the high prices had
/
/
prevailed after the war was ended.
Accordingly, farm opera­
tions were adjusted to the war-time price level.
Land values,
expenses of production, and standards of living were all
adjusted to this new price level.
Then suddenly in the stammer
of 1920 prices began to drop.
As a majority of the farmers were not expecting a decline
in prices, very few of them had taken any precautions to cope
with such a situation.
During the war years large numbers of
1 2 1 Hinman, o p . cit., 52.
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farmers incurred increased indebtedness instead of liquidating
their bank loans and paying their mortgages.
This is evidenced
by the Increase which took place in the loans and discounts
of the country banks during this period.
For both national
and state banks in Nebraska loans and discounts increased
from $212,567,000 in 1915 to $442,763,000 in 1920.122
represented an increase of 108 per cent.
This
In a time of rising
prices, inflation, and general business optimism, the farmers,
like other business men, made many unwise investments.
They
were not only willing to go into debt unwisely, but all too
often the bankers encouraged them to borrow more money than
they really needed to carry on their operations.
In 1920 when the farmers ought to have been saving their
money and paying off some of their debts, they were forced
into heavier debt by circumstances over which they had little
control.
It has been stated that the costs of putting in
the spring crops were high.
If he did not have the cash to
handle this operation, the farmer had to use his credit.
In fact, practically everything the farmer had to buy in order
to do his planting In 1920 was at its highest cost.
This
situation resulted in increased borrowing at the banks.
As has been noted,
the f a r m e r ’s exports were going
abroad less rapidly in 1920 than the years before.
The
foreign countries were cutting down their Imports and were
buying only in small amounts.
Our country stopped extend­
ing loans to foreign nations, and the means of making
1 2 2 p i n ey#
op, pit., 93.
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purchases by the use of the credit of our government had
stopped*
These factors tended to cause our principal agri­
cultural commodities to accumulate in this country*
Farmers
wanted to hold their products for better prices and tried to
extend their credit.
banks*
This increased the burden upon the
As the deposits of the banks in the state began to
decrease, due to decreased income of the farmers, loans could
not be extended to the farmers.
Those who had large interest
payments to make because of land and machinery purchases found
themselves in an unfortunate position.
Toward the close of 1920 and the beginning of 1921 the
country was definitely in a condition of deflation.
This
condition ushered in a period of agricultural depression
which was to last for some time.
The war period, 1915-1920, was a time of inflation and
of increased prosperity for the Nebraska farmer.
High prices
prevailed during the entire period, except the last six months
of 1920.
Costs of production did not rise as rapidly as
prices of the farmer*s raw materials which he sold.
This
meant that the purchasing power of farm products was high.
Farmers bought freely and a general spirit of optimism pre­
vailed.
From 1910 to 1920 the value of total farm property
increased by 101 per cent, and that of land and buildings
by 105 per cent.
The average price of land per acre in
southeastern Nebraska was $182.00, although some land brought
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-284as high as 2?303.00 per acre.123
Even in the high plains region
sales of land were recorded for $110.00 per acre.124
The
sharp rise in land vfiues took place from 1917 to 1920, when
the average increase in price per acre for the entire state
was 72 per cent of the 1916 value.
One consideration was uppermost during the war period,
viz., increase production to meet the demand for foodstuffs.
The urgent appeals of the Food Administration, as expressed
in the slogan,
"Pood Will Win the War," were heeded by the
farmers of the state under the stimulus of favorable prices
and on the basis of patriotism for their country.
Demand for
farm products was great because of the need of the Allies in
Europe, as well as the need at home.
The amount of farm
products exported during this time was extremely large.
The state was organized to produce and conserve food
through the Conservation and Public Welfare Commission created
by the state legislature.
Farmers were aided directly by the
extension service which had been established by federal aid,
as provided in the Sraith-Lever Act of 1914.
The work of the
county agents was particularly effective in aiding the farmers
to control animal and plant diseases and insect pests, improve
i
livestock,
select seed adaptable to soil and climate, demon­
strate better methods of seeding and cultivation, encourage
rotation of crops and maintain soil fertility, and eliminate
123Hinman, ojo. c i t ., 27.
124Idem.
i
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waste and Increase production in every way possible.
Western Nebraska had passed through its period of tran­
sition and it was determined which lands were suited for
farming and which lands for ranching.
The cultivation of
thousands of acres of new lands in the west helped to increase
production.
Farmers received liberal credit from the banks of the
state as well as from the newly created farm loan banking
system of the federal government.
On account of the labor
shortage, labor saving machinery was purchased and many
farmers purchased additional land by the use of credit agencies.
Aided by the various factors of the times farmers in­
creased their production markedly.
By 1918 about 1,000,000
more acres of land had been placed under cultivation than
the average acreage of the five pre-war years (1910-1914),
The number of livestock increased also.
>
true in the case of beef cattle.
This was especially
By 1919 there were over
800,000 more beef cattle in the state than the average of
the pre-war years.
Climatic conditions were generally favorable during
the period.
The one outstanding exception was the winter
killing of 75 per cent of the winter wheat crop of 1917.
This caused a shortage of wheat not only in Nebraska, but a
similar condition prevailed in the country as a whole.
The
wheat situation influenced the government in establishing
the policy of a guaranteed minimum price of $2.20 per bushel
for wheat.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Sugar beets began to be rai sed in rather large quantities
during these years.
This enterprise was confined closely to
the irrigated regions of the state.
Dairying continued its development chiefly by means of
improving herds through cooperative testing associations
and by importing increased numbers of pure-bred stock,
especially bulls.
Horse raising was of decreasing importance due to the
increasing number of automobiles, trucks, and tractors.
The prosperity of the Nebraska farmers came to a
rather abrupt end in the summer of 1920.
The favorable
position held by the farmer in the purchasing power of his
products became less favorable in 1919 and by the end of 1920
the purchasing power of farm products had lost its advantage.
The post-war deflation had begun and this ushered in a long
period of depression for the farmers of Nebraska.
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CHAPTER
XI
t
DEPRESSION AGRICULTURE, 1921-1930
The deflation in prices which had begun in mid-summer
of 1920 continued through 1921,
The price level dropped from
an average of 226 in 1920 to 143 in 1921,
In periods of de­
flation prices of agricultural products fall more rapidly
than prices of manufactured goods and wages.
The price of
corn dropped from $1,16 in 1920 to 34 cents in 1921,
Wheat,
during the same time, fell in price from $2.09 to $1.07; oats
from 69 cents to 27 cents; cattle $44.00 per head to $32,00;
and hogs from an average value of $20.90 to $13.50 per head.
In most instances, the price of farm products decreased nearly
50 per cent.
Other commodities decreased in price only 15
per cent during the same time."*"
As prices of farm products fell more rapidly than prices
of other commodities,
ed.
the farmers purchasing power was lower­
From 1920 to 1921 the purchasing power of corn decreased
from 94 per cent of the pre-war level to 43 per cent; wheat
from 114 to 92; oats from 84 to 52; hogs from 122 to 86
(1919-1920); and cattle from 89 to 70 (1919-1920).2
After 1922 there was some recovery and price stability
until 1929.
Especially during the period 1924-1928 prices
and purchasing power of some farm products were somewhat
favorable.
At no time, however, did the prices of the
•*-H. C. Filley, “The Purchasing Power of Nebraska Farm
Products," in Annual Report, St* Bd. Agr., (1926), 224.
2A p p e n d l x , Table 11, xxvl; Table 12, xxvlii.
-287-
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commodities the farmer had to b u y decrease to a level with
agricultural prices*
This meant that the farmer's costs of
production were higher relatively than the income he received
from his products.
From the agricultural point of view,
depression commenced in 1920 and continued beyond 1930*
the
In
1929 a world-wide major depression began and again agricultural
products led the decline in prices.
From an average price of
over one dollar a bushel during the period 1924-1928, wheat
dropped to seventy-four cents in 1930 and had a purchasing
power of 72.
Prices of oats, barley, and alfalfa fell also.
Alfalfa was selling for $14.84 a ton in 1926 and $8.45 in
1930.
A discussion of the period of deflation and continued
depression after 1930 does not fall within the scope of this
treatise.
It is significant to note that the farmer had not
recovered from the deflation of 1920-1921 before another such
period came.
The latter experience has been more severe and
disastrous than the former.
The depression of the 1920*s was considered unusually
severe b y the farmers of Nebraska.
"The truth is that we
are passing through the most severe period of agricultural
activities we have ever experienced."
A significant aspect
of the whole period, in the minds of the farmers, was that
farm prices had dropped below the pre-war level, while prices
for the things which the farmers had to buy remained near
the war-time level.
,__ —
-
/
®From the secretary's report to the State Board of Agri­
culture in 1922.
Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1922), 19.
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-289The farmer had a just grievance in this respect.
In the
preceding chapter it was demonstrated4 that the index numbers
of Nebraska farm prices were higher than the index numbers of
prices paid by farmers for the commodities they purchased
during the war years.
this advantage.
After 1920 Nebraska farm products lost
In every year from 1921 to 1930 the index
number, as based upon a 1910-1914 average, of prices of
Nebraska farm products was below that of the commodities the
farmers had to buy.w
This condition has been clearly presented by the Rural
Economics Department, University of Nebraska, by means of
comparing the index numbers of Nebraska farm prices with the
price relatives of certain commodities the farmers purchased.
Table 6.
Comparison of index numbers of Nebraska
farm prices with wholesale price relatives of selected
commodities Nebraska farmers purchased, 1921-1930.
(1910-14-100)6
Year
Lumoer ' White ' Harness
xndex
Boots
Nos.
Lead
and
Nebr.
Shoes
Farm
Prices
187
165
24j6.0
204.6
108
1921
184
112
176
231.1
180.0
1922
207
176
227.8
181.8
113
1923
127
180.5
184
218
1924
227.8
229
220.6
184.4
186
1925
145
224
183.5
1926
185
150
217.3
187.2
1927
142
171
206
228.0
167
196
201.6
1928
142
245.2
1929
195.2
203
236.0
146
173
204
119
229.9
187.0
1930
158
4Page 233.
®H. C. Filley, "Effects of Inflation and Deflation upon
Nebraska Agriculture, 1914 to 1932," In Agr. Exp. Sta. Research
Bulletin 72, 12.
g
"■
Ibid., Chapter III. For explanation of the term "price
relativeM see Appendix, xxvl.
Explanation of Table 6 has been
taken freely from Chapter III of Filley, "Inflation and Deflation."
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
290Table 6 t con*t.
X&eO*'- ■ CSlTT<56" ' 'BahbecC' " ■STEeeT “ Fort-
I 3 5 T “i
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
T7275 ' ’
170.6
196.1
192.2
182.4
162.7
166.7
180.4
182.4
--- —
Wire
Rails
205
158
173
190
177
168
168
163
165
153
T6T
143
152
152
152
152
152
152
152
152
land
Cement
'r— T 5 g —
119
124
122
118
115
112
110
106
106
1 Coal
for
house­
hold
use
"
5 1 5 --186
187
160
157
162
159
161
149
152
Nebraska farmers were usually heavy purchasers of certain
kinds of building materials.
Lumber, cement, and white lead
were used in large quantities.
In general, farm homes, shpds,
barns, and other farm buildings were constructed of wood,
the foundations of cement.
and
Paint was necessary in order to
preserve the lumber and keep the buildings in good repair.
A comparison of the index numbers of farm prices with the
price relatives of the three items of building materials
(Table 6) shows that in every year lumber and white lead
were considerably higher than farm products.
The price
relatives are quo.ted in terms of wholesale prices.
Handling
and transportation charges would widen the spread in the
comparison.
After 1924 cement was lower in price relatively
than farm products, b u t this commodity could not be used
unless a building was constructed.
The result was that
farmers who built at that time paid a high price for their
material.
The many thousands who wanted to improve their
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-291homes and construct better sheds and barns to take care of
their grain and livestock were unable to do so.
Leather goods were high during the period.
Comparing
Column 2 w i th Columns 5 and 6, we see that harness was extreme­
ly high.
The most favorable year for buying harness was 1926
and even then the price relative was 217.3 and the index
number of farm products 150, or harness was about 70 per cent
higher than farm produce.
Boots and shoes were not quite so
high as harness, but at no time were prices of these
commodities at the same level as farm products.
The price relatives of calico were higher than the price
index of farm products.
However, calico was not so far out
of line as were boots and shoes.
In both instances, the farmer
was at a disadvantage in purchasing power.
As these items
constituted a good part of the wearing apparel of the members
of a farm family, it meant increased cost of living for the
farmer.
The farmer was particularly interested in the price of
iron and steel products because the use of iron and steel in
the manufacture of farm equipment Increased considerably during
and after the war.
Farmers used large amounts of barb wire*
Column 8 of Table 6 indicates the relative difference in
price between farm products and barb wire.
For most of the
years the difference was not so great as in many of the other
items shown in the table.
Although farmers did not buy steel rails,
they were
interested in the price of this industrial product because
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the price of steel rails enters into transportation costs.
The price of steel rails was fixed at #43.00 per ton in 1923
i
and remained at that point during the rest of the period.
|-
The price relative of this commodity and the index number of
Nebraska farm prices almost reached an equality in 1926.
Spread of price relatives of steel rails and index numbers of
farm prices did not show so wide a margin as some items the
farmer had to buy directly.
Coal prices reached their highest point in 1921 when they
were 115 per cent higher than the pre-war level.
In the same
year prices of farm products were only 8 per cent higher.
After 1921 coal prices dropped rather steadily but at no time
to the same level as prices of farm products.
In 1929 there
was almost relative parity between the two items.
At the same time that the index numbers of Nebraska farm
prices compared unfavorable with the price relatives of commodi­
ties the farmers purchased, it is well to note the purchasing
power of particular farm products.
The price of wheat had
reached its peak in 1920 when the farmers received on the
average #2.09 per bushel.
However, the purchasing power
was only 14 per cent higher than the pre-war level, while in
1917 it was 48 per cent higher.
During the period 1921-1930,
there were only three years, from 1925 to 1927, when the
purchasing power of/wheat was 100 or above.
The same situation
prevailed for corn except that the most favorable years of
purchasing power of this grain were in 1925, 1928, and 1929.
7A p p e n d i x , ,
T able 11, xxvi.
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n
-293Oats and barley did not reach the pre-war level in purchasing
power.
In the case of oats, the range was from 52 in 1921
to 86 in 1928; while barley ranged from 40 in 1921 to 90 in
1924.
Corn, oats, and barley are not considered as cash
crops and are principally marketed through livestock.
In the case of hogs, purchasing power was below the pre­
war level during the first five years of the period, and equal
to or above that level the last five years.
ly more profitable for the farmer than crops.
Hogs were relative­
The purchasing
power of cattle was low until 1928 when it was above the prewsj? level
and remained above during the next two years.
8
Not only was the farmer at a disadvantage in purchasing
power but he also bore a heavier share of the tax load than
those engaged in other occupations.
Federal,
state, and local
taxes in the United States had steadily increased from the
time of independence to the World War period.
This increase
was due to the increase of population, more and more services
rendered b y government, and the general rise in the price
level9 accompanied by a higher standard of living.
The farmer
was not affected to any great extent by the increase in federal
taxes.
His interest was in state and, particularly, in
local taxes.
State taxes increased of necessity during the war years
and immediate post-war years.
The general price level had
risen and expenses of state government were increased.
QAppendix. Table 12, xxvlli.
9 Filley,
ojc. ci t . , 52.
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In
-2941919 when 15 the price* level was nearly double the pre-war
level, the legislative appropriation bill was the largest in
the history of the state.
It was this legislature that author­
ized the first levy for the new Nebraska capitol.
legislatures further increased appropriations,
improving highways.
Later
especially for
Tax receipts in 1928 and 1930 were more
than five times as great as in 1914,
At the same time the
increase in population was small and in neither iy28 nor 1930
was the general price level 50 per cent higher than in 1 9 1 4 , ^
Local governments secure nearly all their revenue from
the general property tax.
In recent years, the state has
secured only about 12 or 13 per cent of the total amount pro­
duced by the general property t a x * ^
The expenditures of
local governments increased along with federal and state
expenditures during the war period.
Following the war, ex­
penditures continued to rise because of increased services
performed b y the local divisions of government.
These
expenditures were mostly for schools, roads, bridges, and
urban improvements.
As a result, after 1913 tax levies by
local governments increased more than state tax levies.
12
The bulk of the farmer*s taxes were paid under the general
property tax.
As the expenditures of local subdivisions of
government increased, tax levies became higher.
Although
some of the expenses of the local governments were taken care
/__________
1 0 I b i d . , 57.
i:LIbid., 65.
12 Idem,
“
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-295of by bond issues,
the tax rate increased in order to take
care of the interest on bonded indebtedness.
When farm
prices fell in 1920 and 1921 the farmer’s ability to meet his
tax payments was lessened.
As the agricultural depression
continued and the general price level did not decline as
much as the price level of farm products, it became increas­
ingly difficult for the farmer to pay his taxes.
The average farm price index for Nebraska from 1922 to
1929 was slightly less than 35 per cent above the pre-war
level.
During the same time the wholesale price index
averaged slightly above 44 per cent.
In none of these years,
however, did the amount of levies under the general property
tax fall below 122 per cent of the 1915 levy.
13
was 184 per cent
higher.
In 192? it
On the basis of the taxable assessed valuations in 1929,
it was estimated that the farmers and other farm owners paid
s t a t e ’s
-^4
fully two-thirds of the/general property tax.
Farm lands
and improvements
alone constituted 56.28 per cent of the total
assessments.
addition there were the assessments on farm
In
lands under lease or contract, livestock, grain, farm machinery,
and automobiles, trucks, household goods and miscellaneous
15
property w h ich was assessed on the farm.
As the purchasing
power of farm products was lower than in pre-war years, the
farmers after paying taxes could buy less goods than before
the war.
Laborers, professional men, and business men who
1 3 Ibid., 6 6 .
^ H a r o l d Hedges, "Sources of Tax Revenue in Nebraska,"
in Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Apjr., (1951), 97.
^ 5 Idem.
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were employed in the cities were relatively prosperous from
1921 to 1929,
Wages, fees, and profits had risen more than
the cost of living*
These city residents paid a proportion­
ately smaller share of their incomes for taxes than the
farmers.
The belief of the farmer that injustice and inequal­
ity existed in the matter of taxes had considerable foundation.
Another thing that increased the cost of production of
the f a r m e r 13 enterprise out of proportion to the prices the
farmer received for his products was the high cost of labor.
Not only was farm labor high but the wages of industrial
workers were relatively still h i g h e r . ^
Employees in trade
and industry were able to maintain or even increase their
wages during the period of depression agriculture.
due to the fact that labor was highly organized.
This was
The Nebraska
farmer recognized this and repeatedly pointed out that labor
was protected by national legislation while farming was not.
Especially at the time when the McNary-Haugen bills were
before Congress was this view brought out.
In a debate, in
1925, before the Nebraska Crop Growers Association, on the
McNary-Haugen bill, Mr. C. B. Steward stated what appeared
to be the view of a large proportion of the farmers of the
state.
"Labor has been protected from the competition of
cheap foreign labor by the Restrictive Immigration Act, the
Adamson Act, the eight-hour law and favorable working con­
ditions.
— -- * 1,1
■
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
(1923), 355.
1 7Ibi d . , (1925), 215.
^
/
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-297Labor Is usually the largest single item in the cost
of production of all commodities*
In producing cereal
crops and taking care of livestock in Nebraska it is the
largest Item of cost.
Farm wages In the period 1921-
1930 averaged *140.19 per month with board.
average was $27*00*^®
In 1914 the
Farm wages had Increased about
49 per cent.
Farmers were affected by wages paid to Industrial
workers, for the cost of production of manufactured goods
includes the price paid for labor.
If farm equipment sells
at a high figure because wages of labor in making that
equipment are high, the farmer's costs of production are
increased and he must deny himself some of the comforts and
luxuries he might otherwise buy.
Keeping in mind that the
average index number of farm products in Nebraska from 1922
to 1929 was less than 35 per cent above the pre-war level,
the average index number of weekly industrial wages for the
/
same period was 122.5 per cent higher in New York stale
19
factories than the June, 1914 level.
Wages absorbed about 44 per cent of the gross earnings
of railways during 1921-1930.20
After a slight decrease
in the post-war years railway wages advanced until a
high point was reached in 1930.
The hourly wages of
■^Filley, ojo. cit. . 47*
•^Computed from statistics in Ibid. , 50.
2 0 Ibid., 49.
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-298car repairers were 189 per cent higher and of section men
140 per cent higher than in 1914*
21
Nebraska farmers were
definitely affected by the high wages received by railway
workers, as this added to freight rates which in turn
reduced prices for farm products.
M any of the products raised on the farms of Nebraska
were shipped to the industrial centers of the East and some
were shipped abroad.
The prices which Nebraska farmers
received for these products were the prices paid at eastern
markets less processing,
handling, and transportation charges.
Most of these products were bulky and the transportation
charges amounted to a considerable part of the eastern market
price.22
This meant that Nebraska farm products sold for
less on the local markets than on the eastern markets.
High wages for labor with the low purchasing power
of Nebraska farm products contributed to the depresses
condition of agriculture.
Freight rates rose rapidly during 1920 and 1921.
The
average rate per ton mile increased by 80 per cent from 1916
to 1921.^
In 1921 freight rates on wheat shipped from towns
in Nebraska to Omaha and Chicago ranged from 155 to 172 per
2 1Ibl d . . 48.
22
Idem.
Idem.
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-299cent of the pre-war rates.
On cattle and hogs the rates were
141 to 181 per cent of the pre-war l e v e l . F r e i g h t rates
remained fairly high during the period after 1921, especially
on short hauls, but there was a gradual decrease on long hauls.
The rates on wheat remained higher than those on some
other commodities.
This increased the difficulties of the
wheat farmer and caused many, especially in the eastern part
of the state, to abandon wheat growing and increase the
feeding of livestock.
The State Board of Agriculture protest25
ed against "excessive" freight rates on farm products.
At
the same time, 1924, the State Railway Commission had called
a conference of the public utility commissions of the neigh­
boring states at which conference a hearing would be held
before the Interstate Commerce Commission.
The purpose of
the hearing was to correct the "unjust regulations and rates.
Apparently some success resulted from these efforts and
during 1924 rates on some farm products were slightly de­
creased from some shipping points.
The rates on corn and
wheat from Chappell to Denver, and on hogs to Omaha decreased.
On the other hand, rates on wheat and corn from Chappell to
Omaha, and on hogs and cattle to Denver remained at the
27
existing high level.
^^Eleanor Hinman, "History of Farm Land Prices in Eleven
Nebraska Counties, 1873-1933," in Agricultural Experiment
Station Research Bulletin 7 2 . 52.
^ ^Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1923), 51.
^Idem.
P7
Ramey Whitney, "Agriculture in the Specialized Wheat
Area of Nebraska," M. A. Thesis MS in University of Nebraska
Library, 38; 41.
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-300It is estimated that the freight, terminal expenses, and
commission for shipping a carload of livestock had increased
about 80 per cent in the ten years previous to 1 9 2 8 . ^ 8
Probably this estimate was rather high as the average rate
per ton mile in 1929 was 52 per cent of the 1916 rate, while
in 1921 it had been 80 per cent*^^
Transportation costs influenced to a greater extent prices
of most products sold and purchased in this period than in
the pre-war years.
As already suggested, it not only brought
about Important changes in crop systems but also contributed
to the disadvantageous condition of the farmer in attempting
to manage his enterprise in order to stay within the bounds
of his shrinking income.
Another condition contributing to the agricultural de­
pression of the time was the production of a surplus of farm
products which could not be marketed abroad.
Nebraska farmers
*
realized the influence of the surplus upon the decline of
prices of their grains.
The crops of which the farmers in
the state produced a surplus could hardly be raised profit­
ably.
The price of the surplus fixed the price of the whole
product.
The surplus of the country, in order to be disposed
of, had to be sold abroad where it came in contact with the
surpluses of other countries.
In some foreign countries
operating costs were lower than those of the American or
Nebraska farmer.
As a result the prices of these crops were
2®Dan Hildebrand, “The Truth About Country Buying," in
Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1928), 621.
^ 9 Filley, o j d . c l t . , 48-49.
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-301fixed by world market conditions,30
There was some complaint by the farmers of the state that
they were urged to produce abundantly, but the price paid for
their products was determined after the amount produced be­
came known.
Therefore, the more the farmer raised, the lower
the p r i c e ‘received for it.
Large production was penalized,
as often a large crop sold for less than it cost the farmer
to produce it.
farmer works,
MThe energy and intelligence with which the
the number of hours he spends, the cost he
incurs in producing crops— none of these are considered in
31
the price he receives for his wares."
The situation with which the farmers were faced regarding
over-production was not confined, of course, to the farmers of
Nebraska.
The World War had created an increased demand for
exportable products.
Responding to this demand, the United
States put millions of new acres Into production.
From 1914
to 1919 the productive acreage of the nation increased from
334.268.000 to 375,637,000.
Of these 41,369,000 new acres,
22.153.000 were planted in wheat.
Many of these acres were
unprofitable to farm in ordinary times but yielded fair
profits for the first few years that the soil was cultivated
and while the demand was good.
The market created by the war was not immediately lost
when the war ended.
For a few years the United States
pursued a policy of lending to the foreign nations to enable
**°Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1925), 23.
3 ^From the secretary*s report, Ibid., (1923), 27.
^ N e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1929), 179.
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-302them to purchase from us.
Also, It required a few years for
European countries to rebuild their productive machinery.
When the lending policy of the United States was abandon­
ed and the foreign countries began to produce again, the ex­
ports of agricultural products began to decline.
The follow­
ing table indicates the trends of exports after the World War
years:
Table 7.
Exports of corn, wheat, pork, beef and total value
of agricultural products exported, excluding forest products,
by years, 1921-1930,
Also average annual exports 1915-1920
and 1921-1930.33
Year
Average
1915-1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
A
A M f i At A
Average
1921-1930
Year
Average
1915-1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
Average
1921-1930
1106;
Corn, in! Wheat, in­
cluding
eluding wheat
corn meal,
1 flour.
(1,000 b u . ) | (1,000 b u . )
41,023
70,906
179,490
96,596
23,135
9,791
24,783
19,819
19,409
41,876
10,270
i
*
»
»
i
»
i
i
i
i
i
*
i
i
238,316
369,313
282,566
224,900
159,880
260,803
108,035
219,160
206,259
163,387
153,247
53.710
215,850
.... .
■ -- - ■*■■■
' '■ ■
i Beef and its products,
i
i total.
(1,000 lbs.)
f
i
i
i
i
»
.......... «
•
472,608
1
•
203,815
'
•
222,462
1
»
194,912
*
*
185,372
'
•
190,211
'
»
152,320
*
*
151,531
*
•
106,595
’
•
101,303
1
•
102,080
*
•
161,060
'
1
1
1
I
Pork and
its products,
total.
(1,000 lbs.)
i
i
i
i
•
i
i
»
i
»
»
»
1,704,959
1,522,162
1,516,320
1,794,880
1,934,179
1,400,149
1,172,685
1,012,668
1,046,306
1,112,394
1,138,588
*
1,365,034
Total value of Agr.
products, excluding
forest products.
(1.000 dollars)
2,548,784
2,607,641
1,915,371
1,799,169
1,867,098
2,280,381
1,891,739
1,907,864
1,815,451
1,847,216
1,495,907
1,942,784
33Yearbook, U, S, D. A,, (1923), 1110; (1925), 1237; (1927),
(1930), 943; (1931), 946, 948, 949; (1932), 859, 861, 862.
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The exports of corn were not significant because of the
small amount sent abroad.
Prom 80 to 85 per cent of the corn
of the nation was fed to livestock;
therefore, In order to
determine the exports of corn one must examine the amount of
livestock products exported.
Columns 4 and 5 of Table 7 show
that in b o t h instances the amount of pork and beef sent abroad
from 1921 to 1930 decreased to a large extent in the case of
beef and a lesser extent in the case of pork.
Comparing the
average of 1915-1920 with the average of 1921-1930, there was
a decrease of 193 per cent in the case of beef and about 24
per cent in the case of pork.
The exports of wheat fluctuated from year to year, but
the average for the period 1921-1930 was over 10 per cent less
than the average for 1915-1920.
Heavy wheat exports of 1925
were due to the fact that there was a serious shortage in those
countries which were the principal competitors of the United
States in the production of this cereal.
At the same time
that there was a decrease in the export of wheat, production
increased in this country.
The average annual production from
1916 to 1920 was 799,083,400 bushels; from 1921 to 1930 the
average was 830,517,200 b u s h e l s . ^
Wheat production did not increase in Nebraska until toward
the end of the period.
However, the Nebraska wheat farmer was
affected by the national trend of production.
It has been
estimated that there were 200,000,000 bushels of wheat in
S ^Nebr. A g r . Statistics« (1930), 152.
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-304-
excess of consumption produced annually in the United States
>
during the post-war years, and a surplus of 100,000,000 bushels
existed annually from 1919 to 1929; 150,000,000 bushels in
1929; and 200,000,000 bushels in 1930.^
In 1925 when the ex­
ports of wheat were at a high point, relatively speaking,
Nebraska had a short wheat crop.
The 34,150,000 bushels
raised was 24,000,000 less than in 1 9 2 4 . It was computed
that if the short crop of 1925 were made into flour of 42
pounds to the bushel and an allowance of 2,676,000 bushels
be deducted for seed for the next crop, there would be a
surplus of 1,321,908,000 pounds of flour after the people of
Nebraska had consumed their share of 70 pounds of flaur
per capita.
This surplus would be enough to last Nebraska
for nearly 15 years provided the population did not increase
materially . ^
In general, the trend of exports was downward after 1920.
In 1921 slightly more than one acre in five was required to
produce the net exports; bj'- 1930 less than one acre In seven
was required.^®
,
In 1920 the nation exported about 17*4 per
cent of its agricultural products.
dropped to 13.5 per cent.
In 1921 this proportion
The year 1925 witnessed some re­
covery, the per cent being raised to 16.1.
After this the
trend was downward and the decrease from 1929 to 1930 was
^ ^ o u i s H. Douglas, “Present Status of Agricultural A d ­
ministration, “ M. A. Thesis MS in University of Nebraska
Library, 23-24.
^ A p p e n d i x , Table 2, v.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1926), 28-29.
3®Dowell and Jesness, American Farmer and Export M a r k e t , 83.
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from 12*2 to 10,2 per cent.'*^
In examining his situation, the farmer of Nebraska laid
great stress on the surplus of farm products.
He felt that
there was inequality in the relations between Industry on the
one hand and agriculture on the other.
He claimed that the
surplus crops were the only American products whose domestic
price was fixed by world conditions at a level below that of
the home market.
Especially was the protective tariff singled
out as a measure protecting the products of industry against
foreign competition and maintaining an American level of prices
above the world level.
It was these high prices that the farmer
had to pay for the things that he bought.
injustice.
"Herein lies an
Our tariff makes a farmer buy in a protected market
and pay a high American price for all that he buys.
The sur­
plus makes him sell HIS WHOLE CROP, those products of which
we export a surplus whether for domestic or foreign consumption,
in a free trade market, at a world price much lower than the
t
general plane of protected American prices for what he b u y s . " 40
Considerable criticism was directed against the FordneyMcCumber tariff act and the Webb-Poraerene and Edge laws which
gave to Industry control of its own marketing and permission
to combine for exporting finished goods.
The State Board of
Agriculture drew up a formal resolution in 1927 favoring the
reduction of the excessive tariff protection that was given,
Y e a r b o o k , U. S. D. A., (1932), 34.
40prom the secretary's report, Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.
(1925), 23.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-306to "non-agricultural industries."41
It was pointed out that
a higher tariff on export farm products would not aid the
farmer, since more of such products were exported than im­
ported.
The government should, however, treat industry, trans­
portation, and agriculture equitably and remedial legislation
should be enacted.
There was considerable support given to
the McNary— Haugen bills when these measures were being con­
sidered by Congress.4^
Even though there was over-production of farm products
during the period of depression agriculture, the farmers of
the nation continued to Increase the total production of
their crops.
This was also true of the farmers of Nebraska.
They could hardly do otherwise.
In the face of falling prices
the individual farmer attempted to increase his volume of
production in order to increase his income.
The f a r m e r ’s
business was different from that of the manufacturer.
The
manufacturer could determine his production program in ad­
vance.
His costs, also, could be figured in advance, and to
a large degree his volume of sales and prices.
He could
increase production in a short time if conditions were
favorable or he could decrease his output by discharging
laborers and diminishing his purchases of raw materials.
The farmer, on the other hand,
could not adjust his
production to changes in demand for his products.
The
4 1Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr., (1927), 43.
4^See reports of the secretary, Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd.
Agr., (1924-1926).
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-307raising of crops Is necessarily a slow process.
Several
months m ay intervene between the planting of a crop and
the harvesting of the same.
Demand may change during that
time, as was the case in 1920.
Weather conditions determine
the total production of crops to a great extent.
If a farmer
reduces his acreage, weather conditions may be so favorable
that a larger crop will be produced than when a greater
acreage is planted.
F 0r instance, in 1927 Nebraska farmers
reduced the corn acreage by almost 200,000 acres from that of
1926, but the number of bushels harvested exceeded the 1926
crop by 109 per cent.4*^
The farmers may influence production
by methods of cultivation, regulating soil fertility, and
determining acreage planted, but they cannot control yield
because they cannot control the natural elements which deter­
mine growing conditions.
The farmer also cannot withhold his products from the
market for any great length of time.
perishable or semi-perishable.
All his products are
Storage rates are high and
there is loss in shrinkage when crops are held for any length
of time.
The farmer is practically forced to sell on a
market which is subject to rapid fluctuations.44
Also it is
impossible to speed up production on the farm, as usually
only one crop is raised each year.
The farmer's turnover of
capital is therefore limited and this prevents him from
making rapid adjustments to meet changing conditions.
^ A p p e n d i x . Table 1, li.
44Filley, o p . c i t ., 42.
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An individual farmer may adjust his program of production
in such a way that he believes the greatest benefits will
accrue to him.
However, because the amount of any product
raised on one farm is so small in relation to total production
of the nation, there is no appreciable effect of one farmer*s
program upon price.
The result is that each farmer will con­
tinue to manage his enterprise as he sees best.
Prom past
experience there is little likelihood that farmers of the
nation could unite on a plan whereby they voluntarily regu­
lated production of any single product or group of products.
Because the farmers have been unable to organize, there
necessarily must be some agency that would promote such a
program if regulation of production is desired.
agency to do this is the government.
The logical
The period of depression
agriculture manifested clearly that the farmers were unable
to protect themselves.
Prices of farm products fell, while
prices of commodities produced by groups which were organized
and could in some degree protect themselves, remained high.
Hence,
the farmers of Nebraska continued to pay relatively
high prices for the goods they purchased.
Because of low prices for grain and livestock, decreased
purchasing power of Nebraska farm products, relatively high
prices paid for commodities purchased, over-production, heavy
taxes, high wages paid for labor, and high freight rates,
income of Nebraska farmers was relatively low.
the
From inform­
ation received from account books kept by farmers and from
farra-raanagement surveys, an indication of the income of owners
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-309of farms in the state can be determined.
The average annual
farm income after operating expense had been deducted from the
gross income during the period 1921-1930 was $1,673.60.
The
average annual return on the capital invested when figured at
five per cent interest was #1,545.10.
This means that the
average farm owner of Nebraska received $128.50 per year for
45
his labor.
Although the number of farmers reporting income
and expenditures was rather small, they can be taken as a
cross section of the farmers of the state, and a general
conclusion can be drawn that the farm owner*s wages were not
very high.
It is very likely that the majority of farmers
do not compute their own or their family's labor as an item
of cost in their farm enterprise.
Neither do they calculate
a definite return on their capital investment.
Their attention
is directed principally to the farm Income and if that item
/
is larger than the operating expense they figure their farm
has made a profit for them.
Farming was not a prosperous
enterprise during the depression period.'
In the two preceding chapters it was mentioned that the
value of farm property was a criterion of material prosperity*
In both of the former period^ 1900-1914 and 1915-1920, the
value of.farm property increased markedly.
It would naturally
follow that a decrease in value of farm property would indicate
an unorosperous condition.
In 1920 the total value of all
farm property in Nebraska was $4,201,655,992.
45Computed from statistics in Filley,
ojd.
In 1930
ol.t., 75.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
valuation had decreased to $2,935,029,721,
a decrease of about 33 per cent.
This represented
The value of land and
buildings declined over 48 per cent,46
The drop in the general
level of prices accounted for some of the decreased valuation
of farm property, but the principal reason was the decline in
the prices of farm products.
L a n d values constituted by far
the greatest part of the total value of farm property and
as the farmer's land failed to return even costs of production
in some years, it was logical that the value of land would
decrease.
The price of land per acre had reached its peak in 1920.
After this year there was a general decline in price.
In
seven southeastern counties land sold by warranty deed averag­
ed $165 per acre in 1921 and in 1930 it was selling for $115,
This meant that land had decreased $50.00 an acre or almost
43.5 per cent in selling value.
In two east-central counties
the average price fell from $134 to $114 per acre, or 14.6
per cent decrease.
Land value was $29.00 an acre in Logan
county in the Sandhills region in 1921 and $10 in 1929.
was a decrease of 190 per cent.
This
But in 1930 the value of
land had staged a recovery and was selling for $22.00 per
acre.
B o x Butte county presented an interesting trend in
land values.
From a high of $43.00 in 1920 there was a
decrease to $23.00 in 1926, but in 1929 land was selling fbr
$36.00 per acre.47
This recovery in Box Butte county no
^ F i f t e e n t h Census
(1930), Agriculture II, Pt. 1,
1218, 1269., - .
....
^ H i n m a n , o j d . c i t . . 25.
'
’
.
'■
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-3 1 1 -
doubt was representative of conditions in some of the other
high plains areas.
Wheat acreage was increased, and the price
of beef cattle was high from 1927 to 1930.
Also the growth
of the seed potato industry had its influence in raising the
48
value of the land.
The farmers who had purchased land when
prices were
high, especially from 1917 to 1920, found it difficult to
meet interest payments.
Farm expenditures did not decrease
as rapidly as farm income, overhead expenditures remained
practically stationary, and taxes and freight increased.
previously stated, net farm income generally was small.
As
The
largest part of this Income had to be used in many cases to
meet payments on the farm Indebtedness.
Those farmers who
carried a heavy loan on their farms had to use extreme
economical methods in carrying on their farm enterprise in
order to meet the interest payments.
In order to renew their mortgages, .farmers tried to
refinance their indebtedness by borrowing from individuals,
banks, or the Farm Loan Bank.
Considerable credit was ex­
tended by the banks of the state, as was indicated by their
49
loans and discounts.
However, it became increasingly
difficult for farmers to receive loans from the banks, as
their credit facilities had been extended almost to the
limit during the years of inflation.
Many of the state
banks found it difficult to maintain solvency and some had
/
48Ibid., 23.
49Fllley, ojo. clt., 93.
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-312/
to close their doors.
Nearly 100 banks had to close during
1924, 23 in 1926, 19 in 1927, 44 in 1928, and 106 in 1929*50
The credit facilities of the farm loan banking system
were used to an increasing extent.
In 1922 outstanding loans
!
in Nebraska which had been granted through the Federal Farm
Loan Bank at Omaha amounted to $20,600,000*
amount had increased to $48,292,105.51
increased to $60,414,897.32
By 1928 the
In 1929 the sum was
This sum represented only a
small part of the total farm indebtedness of the state.
The
total farm-mortgage indebtedness of Nebraska in 1920 was
$451,600,000.
This amount had increased to $617,930,000 by
1925— about 37 per cent.
After 1925 there was a decrease,
so by 1930 the farm-mortgage Indebtedness amounted to
$590,000,000.53
As a result of inability to meet interest as well as
principal payments, many of the borrowers deeded their farms
to the mortgage holders.
In other cases the holders of
mortgages foreclosed when the borrowers were unable to pay
the loans.
In the seven southeastern counties mentioned
above there were 315 foreclosure sales from 1921 to 1930;
in the two east-central counties, 156; in Loga.n county, 108;
5Q Ibld. , 100.
3-*-Eugeen Wallace Youell, “The National Farm Loan Associ­
ations,H M. A. Thesis MS in University of Nebraska Library, 98.
32Martha C. Weaver, “Nebraska Farm Mortgages," in Nebraska
Studies in Business No. 30, University of Nebraska Publica­
tions, 22.
53I b i d . , 7-8.
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-313and In B o x Butte county, 153*54
In addition to foreclosure
sales there was quite a large number of token transfers,55
"The large number of foreclosure sales and token transfers
in 1922 and la.ter years is an excellent index of the severity
of the effects of the deflation upon Nebraska fermers,"55
Al t h o u gh Nebraska farmers experienced unfavorable econ­
omic conditions during the period of depression agriculture,
they continued to develop their enterprise in a rather marked
degree.
Noted post-war readjustments took place along various
lines of farming.
In the face of over-production and other
attendant difficulties of the depression,
there was expansion
in acres in farms and in some of the major crops of the state.
From 1920 to 1925 the number of acres in farms increased by
2,076,006;
and from 1925 to 1930, 2,683,790 new acres were
brought under cultivation.
During the decade 1920-1930,
57
the number of farms increased by 5,041,w
The trend of acreage represents the development of
farming and the plans of the farmers better than any other
aspect of agriculture.
Any significant increase or decrease
in acreage of crops during the period 1921-1930 was due
primarily to the shifting of acreage from one crop to another,
as deemed most advisable and profitable by the farmer,
54Filley, o£. c i t . , 115,
.
This includes transfers of title to farm land for
from $1.00 to $100 and "other consideration,"
Ibid, , 116,
5
6 Idem.
§ry
■
■
■
'
United States Census of Agriculture (1925), Pt, 1, 1122.
Fifteenth Census (1930)» Agriculture II, Pt. 1, 1204.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-314Noticeable changes took place in the acreage trends of
wheat and corn.
As previously noted, corn acreage had been
58
gradually decreasing since 1900
but began to Increase just
previous to 1920 and continued until 1930.
From 1921 to
1925 the number of acres in corn increased from 7,419,000 to
9,100,000 or an average annual Increase of 168,100 acres.
From 1925 to 1930 there was close to 9,000,000 acres in corn
59
each year.
The increase in corn acreage took place in all parts of
the state.
counties.
Especially was this true in the northwestern
In Dawes, Sheridan, and Box Butte counties the
acreage increase was 68 per cent from the average of the four
years 1917-1920 to the average of 1922-1925.60
In this area
there was not so much shifting from some crop to corn but
rather utilization of land that had been previously slimmer
fallowed and also breaking of new land and bringing it under
cultivation.
Varieties of corn had been developed which
were adapted to the western country.
Even though the price
of corn was low, the farmers found that they could increase
their Income enough to pay expenses, and also they could
practice diversified farming to a greater extent than formerly.
The raising of corn resulted In Increasing the number of
livestock in this area.
More hogs were raised than formerly,
^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 1, lii.
^ A p p e n d i x , Table 1, ii.
^°Annual Rep o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1927), 679.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-315and this section produced feeder pigs which were shipped to
eastern Nebraska.
Many farmers in eastern Nebraska found it
profitable to buy the western feeder pigs because of the
prevalence of hog diseases which have, at times, caused heavy
losses to the eastern feeder.
The farmer in the east also
found it to his advantage to buy the feeder pigs, as work in
the fields in the spring was heavy and he could be relieved
of the extra labor at farrowing time.®-*The Increase in corn production in the state as a whole
was due principally to the expansion of the livestock program,
which will be considered later in this chapter.
High freight
rates compelled the farmer to market much of his crop surpluses
in a concentrated form.
Also,
the low price of corn encouraged
the farmer to feed it rather than sell it on the market.
Although hog prices varied considerably and cattle prices
were low during the early part of this period,
the price of
livestock was relatively higher than that of feed crops.
Corn continued to be N e b r a s k a ’s most Important crop
during the entire period 1870-1930.
By 1930 more than one-
half of the acres in cultivation was planted to corn.
This
was three times the acreage of wheat, four times that of oats,
02
and ten times that of barley.
About 75 per cent of the corn
was fed in the counties where it was produced,
and 85 per cent
61Austin MS, 129.
flp
Stewart, et a l . , ’’Corn in Nebraska," in Nebraska Agri­
cultural Egtenslon Circular 136, 3.
/
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-316of the corn crop was fed to livestock*63
as grain,
Some corn was sold
especially in the northeastern part of the state,
on the Omaha market.
A change in the trend of wheat acreage occurred after
1920*
If the year 1917 is excluded because of winter killing
of 75 per cent of the crop, there had been a gradual increase
gR
in the number of acres planted in wheat since 1895*
In
the early 1 9 2 0 ,3 a decrease took place.
In 1921 there were
3.967.000 acres and In 1925, 2,673,000 acres.
an average annual decrease of 258,200 acres.
This represented
During the next
five years acreage increased again so that by 1930 there were
3.810.000 acres in wheat.
During the years 1921-1925 the acres w h ich had previously
been planted in wheat were given over principally to corn.
In the eastern part of the state there was a shift back to
corn after the price of wheat had dropped.
The eastern farmer
could not compete with the lower cost producing areas of the
west.
He turned his attention again to livestock farming
which was conducted on an intensive scale in some sections.
There was also some decrease in wheat acreage in the central
part of the state.
Relatively speaking, wheat prices were
high but high costs of production and especially the high
freight rates of the period made wheat raising an unprofitable
venture In the eastern and some portions of the central part
of the state.
63I b l d . , 47.
64Beulah Scott, HA Study of the Geographic Unity of the
Corn Belt,'1 M. A. Thesis in University of Nebraska Library, 85.
6 5A p p e n d l x » Figure 2, vil.
6 6A p p e n d i x . Table 2, v.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-317Tlie problem of what to raise in place of wheat presented
itself to the farmers In some parts of Nebraska.
At the
annual meeting of the Nebraska Crop Grower*s Association in
1924 the problem was thoroughly discussed but no definite
recommendations were made.
In the South Platte territory
more corn, alfalfa, oats, and sweet clover replaced wheat.
Many farmers eliminated wheat entirely, while many more
reduced their acreage.
However,
there was a large number
who realized that wheat fitted in the rotation system and
furnished an early cash crop.
These farmers continued
to grow wheat even though the crop was not always profitable*®®
In western Nebraska the problem was not so acute as In
other parts of the state.
The west needed wheat, as it was
found that the best combination in a rotation of crops was
wheat and corn*
aq
Parts of the western territory had devel­
oped into wheat growing regions during the war period.
farmers had purchased tractors, combines,
machinery.
The
and other expensive
When the price of wheat dropped after 1920 and
remained low these farmers continued to raise wheat because
they had their money invested in machinery adapted principally
for handling wheat.
They had discovered that after the sod
was broken,wheat produced better than other important crops.
The continued production in western Nebraska and other semiarid regions of the country helped in keeping the price of
6^Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. Agr.,
68I b l d . , 286.
69
Ibid., 255.
(1924), 243-279*
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-318wheat low.
The costs of production were low In the western
wheat growing area because of the use of labor saving
machinery.
It was estimated that the use of the combine
reduced the cost of harvesting by one-half as compared
with the binder-thresher method.
Cost of production records
kept b y farmers showed that on the average from 1927 to 1930
the production costs per bushel of wheat were:
Cass county,
850; Douglas, 82<tf; Saunders, 77^j Fillmore, 65{^; while in
Perkins county on non-fallowed ground wheat could be pro70
duced at 49^ per bushel.
These costs were, no doubt,
representative for most of the state, so one can readily
realize why the eastern farmers shifted their crop system
to raising feed for a livestock program.
These data also
indicate why the western farmer continued to raise wheat.
Wheat acreage in Dawes, Sheridan, and Box Butte counties
increased by 140 per cent for a four-year average from 1917
71
to 1920 to a similar average for the years 1922-1925.
This is significant as this was the time when the total wheat
acreage of the state was being reduced considerably.
In the
southwestern specialized wheat area wheat occupied about onethird of the farm land each year during the latter part of
72
the period 1921-1930.
The increased production of wheat
was one of the outstanding indications of the continued
development of western Nebraska.
^ A r t h u r M. George, "Wheat Production Costs in Nebraska,11
Nebraska Agricultural Extension Circular 839, 2.
7 ^Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1927), 679*
72Whitney MS, 158.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-319The Increased acreage and production of wheat after 1925
was due to the better price received for the grain.
This
price continued relatively high until 1929 and this encouraged
the farmers to plant more acres in wheat.
The upward trend in acreage of spring wheat during the
war period ended rather abruptly In 1920.
During the follow­
ing decade winter wheat crowded it out so that the production
of spring varieties of wheat was confined largely to the
western tiers of counties of the state.7®
Ninety-five per
cent of the total wheat acreage in the state in 1930 was in
winter wheat.74
During this period when acreage of wheat was decreasing,
the acreage of feed crops increased.
production has been noted.
The increase in corn
Oats acreage increased slightly,
but production decreased somewhat on account of unfavorable
75
yields.
Increased oat acreage was most noticeable in the
Intensive livestock area of the northeast7® and in the north77
west.
The average annual acreage for the entire state from
1921 to 1930 was 2,493,900 acres as compared with 2,425,000
78
acres from 1915 to 1920.
Barley as a feed crop came into prominence during the
7 ^Kiesselbach, et al., “Winter Wheat Varieties in Nebraska,"
Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 283, 6.
75
A p p e n d i x , Table 3, vi; Figure 3, vii.
^ A p p endix, Figure 4, xii.
76Austin MS, 133.
77Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1927), 679.
/
7 ® A p p endix, Table 4, ix.
/
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-.320period of depression agriculture.
'This will be considered
in Chapter XII.
The hay crop of Nebraska was of particular importance
during this period because of the large number of livestock
in the state.
The acreage of wild hay cut was smaller during
the years 1921-1923 than in the preceding years.
In 1924
the acreage of wild hay was considerably larger than in
several preceding years and remained large during the rest
79
of the period.
As a forage crop prairie hay ranked first
in acreage in the state, but second to alfalfa in production.
Holt, Rock, Brown, and Cherry counties were the important
80
wild hay producing counties of the state.
The trend of tame hay acreage from 1921 to 1930 was
slightly downward, as was also production.
Production
decreased rather sharply from 1925 to 1930.®^
The decrease
was due principally to a lower acreage of alfalfa during
these years.
Alfalfa, however,
important hay
crop.
entire hay acreage,
continued to be Nebraska's most
In 1925 twenty-eight per cent of the
bothtame and wild, was In alfalfa.
In
this year alfalfa produced more than one-half of all the hay
of the state.
GO
decreased.
After 1925 alfalfa acreage and production
There were 165,000
acres less in alfalfa
in
7®Nebr. A g r . Statistics, (1930), 97.
®°Kelm, Frolik, and Beadle, “Studies in Prairie Hay In
North Central Nebraska," Agr1cultural Experiment Station
Research B ulletin, No. 60, 5.
A p p e n d i x , Figure 8> xvl.
82
x
A p p e n d i x , Figure 10, xviii.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
1930 than in 1925.
Production had decreased by only 42,000
tons, w h i c h indicates that the yield per acre was comparative—
83
ly high.
The decrease in acreage was due to the fact that
sweet clover was replacing alfalfa as a leguminous and forage
crop in some parts of the state, and also that a considerable
part of the crop was winter killed.
The reason for winter
killing was the use of unhardy seed.
Much of the seed import­
ed into the state had been raised in areas located in a
warmer climate than Nebraska's.
When grown from this seed,
alfalfa could not withstand the severe winters that the
state sometimes experiences.
wilt caused some loss.
04.
A new disease called alfalfa
This was true where unhardy seed was
used and in the river valley fields.®®
Although there was a
decrease in acreage of alfalfa toward the close of the period,
this crop was still considered one of the most valuable crops
because of its heavy production of hay and its use as pasture
and a soil building crop.
Rye continued to be unimportant in comparison w i t h other
cereal crops raised.
It did gain in Importance in the Sand­
hills region where, in rotation with corn, it served to
check soil blowing and furnished a late fall and spring
86
pasture.
Some grain was also produced in this area.
^ A p p e n d i x , Table 7, xvil.
8 ^Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1929), 135.
8 5I b i d . . (1930), 205.
8 6I b l d. , (1929), 164.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
There was also some rye planted In the northeastern
part of the state*
in 1930.
Antelope county ranked second In acreage
The main purpose of planting rye in this part of
the state was to have it serve as a green pasture for live­
stock during that time of tlie year when pasturage was scarce*
Acreage and production for the state as a whole decreased
from 1920 to 1925 and then increased from 1925 to 1930.
By
1930 rye acreage and production had reached an all-time
peak.
Compared with corn, wheat, oats, barley, and alfalfa,
it was considered as a minor crop b y most farmers.
The sugar beet industry, which had begun Its main de­
velopment during the war era, continued to grow during the
years 1921-1930.
Acreage of beets increased from 72,000 in
1921 to 92,000 in 1929.
from 1929 to 1930.
There was a decrease of 11,000 acres
Production also increased from a total
tonnage of 773,000 in 1921 to 1,132,000 in 1930.
Because of
improved methods of cultivation and more knowledge in the
handling of beets,
yields per acre also increased.
In the
period from 1915 to 1920 the average yield per acre was
10.43 tons, while from 1921 to 1930 the average yield was
12.30 tons.87
Approximately 75 per cent of the acreage and 80 per cent
of the production of sugar beets were contributed by Scotts
Bluff and Morrill counties.
In 1929 from 2,000 to 4,000 acres
and 20,000 to 30,000 tons of beets were produced annually in
Q 7A p p e n d i x , Table 8, xix.
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-323Buffalo, Dawson, Garden, and Sioux counties,
Dundy and Red
Willow counties in the Republican Valley formerly produced
some beets but this had practically ceased by 1930,88
The North Platte Valley, especially in Scotts Bluff and
Morrill counties,
came to be the Important center for sugar
beet production,
A system of agriculture developed in this
area w h i c h had for its principal crops sugar beets, wheat,
and alfalfa.
Sugar beets and wheat were the two main c a s h
crops, while alfalfa provided forage which was fed with beet
pulp in fattening cattle and sheep.
These three crops were
usually grown in rotation, as the farmers secured larger
yields of all three crops when this system was practiced.
There was a direct relation between the price and the
acreage of sugar beets.
As stated in the preceding chapter,
the beet grower and the sugar manufacturer entered into a
contract, previously to the planting of the crop, by which
they agreed upon the price for the beets that would be
raised and delivered to the factory.
This was the only crop
in Nebraska whose price was determined before the crop was
harvested and placed on the market.
As a result of this
arrangement the price and the acreage of beets usually did
not show the wide fluctuations of other farm crops.
However,
the price factor has been a rather sensitive Indicator of the
amount of acreage planted from year to year.
During the deflation of 1920 and 1921 the price of beets
88N e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1930), 77.
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-324—
dropped from $11.96 per ton in 1920 to $6.59 in 1921.
was almost a 50 per cent reduction in p r i c e . "
This
The acreage
did not decrease because the price of other farm products
had also dropped precipitously and farmers thought they
could receive as high returns from beets as from wheat or
alfalfa.
However, in the next year the acreage decreased
by 17,000 acres.
That year, 1922, was the low point in
acreage of the entire period of 1921-1930.
The price of
beets remained fairly stable until 1925 when price dropped
to $5.95 per ton.
In this same year there was a decrease
of 4,000 acres but the yield was 15 tons per acre, the
highest on record for the state.
This gave the growers
a greater total tonnage than for any year up to that time.
In 1926 the price was raised to $7.88 per ton and acreage
increased by 19,000 acres.
Prices for beets were relatively
stable from 1926 to 1929 and this resulted in a gradual
Increase in acreage.
was harvested.
Irt 1929 a record acreage of 92,000 acres
Even though the price of beets was $7.00
in 1930, the same as in 1929, the growers and the sugar
companies had difficulty in establishing an agreed price.
Consequently much time was lost and the matter was adjusted
so late in the spring that the farmers were unable to plant
as large an acreage as they did in 1929.
The number of acres
was reduced from 92,000 in 1929 to 81,000 in 1 9 3 0 . "
" A p p e n d i x , Table 8, xix.
" E s t h e r S. Anderson, "The Sugar Beet Industry in Nebraska,
Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division, Conservation De­
partment, University of Nebraska, Bulletin 9, (Lincoln, 1935),
91-92.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-325By 1930 sugar beets had become an important factor in
the intensive agricultural system of the North Platte Valley.
They were valuable as a direct cash crop and also as a feed
crop, for their by-products of pulp, tops, and molasses were
used in feeding livestock.
The farmers of this region
learned the value of rotation of crops and of diversity of
agriculture in maintaining the fertility of the soil.
Further,
they learned not to depend upon one crop entirely for their
profits.
The livestock industry of Nebraska during the period of
depression agriculture was outstanding because farmers found
it relatively more profitable to raise and feed livestock than
to raise crops to sell directly on the market.
There was an
increased production of livestock and livestock products
primarily because of the increase in freight rates, which
made it necessary to market farm surpluses in a concentrated
form.
Another reason for the development of livestock pro­
duction was that farmers found it necessary to distribute
their labor over as large a part of the year as possible.
Farmers could not rely only upon the raising of crops, as the
purchasing power of farm products was low.
In eastern
Nebraska the shift in acreage from wheat to feed crops was a
definite part of the livestock program.
On account of the
relatively high cost of production and the low price, wheat
was unable to compete with the feed crops, so it was not
raised extensively in the eastern part of the state.
The
increased production of corn in western Nebraska also en­
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
couraged the raising of livestock,
especially hogs.
In the
sugar beet areas feeding of cattle and sheep became important,
as the by-products of the sugar factories could be used for
this purpose.
By 1930 it was estimated that Nebraska farmers
were receiving 70 per cent of their cash income through the
sale of livestock and livestock products, and that a great
deal of the other 30 per cent came from the sale of grain and
QT
roughage w h i c h were fed to livestock.
The trend of hog production in Nebraska was sharply upward
92
from 1920 to 1925, and less pronounced from 1926 to 1930.
In 1921 Nebraska farmers had 3,556,000 hogs and 5,983,000 in
1924.
This was an increase of 2,427,000 or 68 per cent In
93
four years. ° It has been stated that the raising of grain
crop
as a cash/was not a profitable enterprise because of low prices
for grain and high freight rates.
From 1921 to 1923 hogs
were relatively high compared with other farm products.
In
1920 Nebraska produced a record corn crop and the crops of
1921 and 1922 were nearly as large.
Cheap corn and a
relative good price brought about a profitable period in the
hog industry.
The hogs took care of the surplus corn.
This
stimulated the hog industry so that by 1923 production was
at a high level and the surplus of corn began to disappear
which caused it to rise in price.
By 1924 corn was higher
9-*-Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. A g r . , (1931), 181.
9^ A p p endlx, Figure 11, xxii.
9 5A p p e n d i x , Table 9, xxi.
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in comparison with hogs and the hog producers and feeders
were losing money.
This causea them to get their hogs to
market as rapidly as they could.
In 1924 there were 6,470,973
94
hogs marketed from Nebraska farms.
This was the largest
number marketed in any one year during the entire history of
Nebraska agriculture.
price declined in 1924.
With the heavy market receipts the
However, prices did not; drop to an
extremely low level, as they were largely maintained by the
demand from foreign countries.
More pork was exported in 1924
than in any other year of the period 1921-1930.95
This
indicated that foreign buyers watched our markets very closely
and bought when prices were low.
The unprecedented run on the hog market in 1924 reduced
the number of hogs In the state considerably.
In 1925 there
were 1,165,000 fewer hogs in Nebraska than In 1924.
As the
supply of hogs and pork decreased, prices began to rise.
From a low point of' $10.00 per head in 1924 the price rose
to $19.50 per head In 1927.
produce more hogs.
This influenced the farmers to
By 1928 the number had increased to
5,492,000 or an increase from 1925 of 674,000 head.
The
number of hogs remained practically the same until 1930 but
the price somewhat declined.
Purchasing power of hogs was
96
equal to or above the pre-war level from 1926 to 1930.
This accounted at least in part for the large number of hogs
94Filley, ojo. c i t ., 86.
95Table 7, page 302.
9^Appendix, Table 12, xxviii.
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-328in the state during the latter part of the period.
The production of hogs tended to move in four of fiveyear cycles.
Prom a low in 1921 there was an increase in
numbers until 1924; then as price dropped production decreased
in 1925.
Prices began to rise and production was stimulated,
so that there was another high point in the number of hogs
in 1928.
Then prices began to drop again and another low
in production was reached in 1929.
The hog enterprise in Nebraska was the most important
aspect of livestock farming in the period of depression.
During this time Nebraska gained second place as a hog pro97
auclng state.
The cattle industry was at a low ebb during the greater
part of the period 1921-1930.
The general trend of the number
of beef cattle on the farms of the state was downward.
In
1921 there were 2,413,000 cattle in the state and this number
increased to 2,774,000 in 1924.
After 1924 the number de­
creased until a low point of 2,153,000 was reached in 1928.
Comparatively slight increases occurred during the next two
98
years.
Cattle prices steadily decreased from 1921 to 1926.
The .average annual price per head was $29.87.
In 1927 the
price was better and from that year until 1930 the average
price was $44.05.
^ 7Nebr. Agr. Statistics,
(1930), 83.
9 3
A p p e n d i x , Table 9, xxi; Figure 11, xxli.
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-329During the period of low prices the cattle feeders, and
producers were In difficult circumstances.
The Investment
In cattle was considerably greater than in hogs and the turn­
over was not so rapid.
The purchasing power of beef cattle
was relatively low and did not reach the pre-war level until
1928."
Marketing of cattle was neavy until 1927,
the peak being
reached in 1926 when 1,863,825 were sent to market from
Nebraska farms.
This was the largest number of cattle marketed
in any one year for which data are a v a i l a b l e . T h e
marketed Included cattle of all types.
number
Many livestock breeders
/
found it difficult to continue in their enterprise on as large
a scale as previously,
so they reduced their herds.
The dairy
business had been growing quite consistently and low milk and
/■
butterfat producing cows were weeded out and sent to market.
Veal calves, which were by-jjroducts of that industry, were
sold and these made up an Important source of beef.
Another important development in the cattle industry
aided in the increased number of cattle sent to market
before 1927.
The American public was demanding meat of the
younger beef type.
The large, older type of beef cattle was
not in demand by the packers and this change in dietary habits
of the public caused beef production methods to change.
On
the range country a quick-maturing younger animal was replac­
ing the big steer.
This change caused the producers to
^ A p p e n d i x . Table 12, xxviil.
lOOFi^ i ey # o p . clt. , 86.
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-330dispose of the surplus older animals.
From these various
sources— reduction of breeding herds, sale of dairy veal
calves, and disposal of older stock on the ranges, and
regular sale of cattle from the feed lots— *the market
receipts were large and this reacted unfavorably upon prices*
By 1927 the supply had been decreased to such an extent
that demand began to influence prices and a more favorable
situation began to prevail for the cattlemen.
A longer period of time is required to rebuild beef herds
than droves of hogs;
so the cattle industry did not respond
in any noticeable degree to the rise in price until 1929.
The Nebraska Sandhills ranches had reduced their beef cattle
herds previously to 1927, but with more favorable prices
cattle raising began to increase.
101
The production of beef cattle tended to move in cycles
the same as hog production.
However, the cycles were about
15 years long, while cycles of hog production were only 4
or 5 years long.
The period from 1921 to 1930 was too short
to note the recent cycle of cattle production.
If one began
with the low point of 1914 when there were 1,883,000 cattle
in Nebraska, the trend was toward an increase because of
favorable prices and the peak was reached in 1919 when the
cattle population numbered 2,940,000.
Then with unfavorable
prices in the following years, the number of cattle was
reduced and a low point reached in 1928 when there were
Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr. , (1928), 645.
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2.153.000 cattle in the state*
W i t h favorable prices pre­
vailing again, more cattle were raised and fed after 1928.102
A lthough the cattle Industry of Nebraska had its reverses,
the same condition prevailed in other cattle producing and
feeding states.
For several years prior to 1930 Nebraska held
third place among the states of the Union as a cattle state.103
The feature of livestock farming that showed the greatest
proportionate gain during the period of depression agriculture
was the raising and feeding of sheep.
From a low point of
600.000 in 1922 the number of sheep in Nebraska doubled by
1930.
The greater part of the increase took place after
1925, as the average annual increase was about 84 per cent
greater from 1926 to 1930 than from 1922 to 1925.104
Also,
the number of sheep fed in Nebraska was larger by 17 per cent
from 1926 to 1930 than from 1921 to 1925.105
The trend of the price of sheep was downward from that
of the war years.
However, from a low in 1921 and 1922 prices
moved upward to a high in 1925 and held to a level only
slightly below 1925 until in the winter of 1929-1930.103
A significant feature of the economic aspect of the
sheep enterprise was that prices held up so well while the
number of sheep and lambs increased.
This was due in part
10 ^ A ppendlx, Table 9, xxl.
103Nebr. A g r . Statistics, (1930), 83.
104Computed from Ibid. , 121.
105
—— —
Computed from data in Filley, ojd. clt. , 86.
103Annual Report, St. Bd. Agr., (1931), 594.
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to the Increased per capita consumption of lamb and mutton
which created a greater demand.
One thing that contributed
to this demand was the activity in business and industry,
especially in the northeastern part of the United States
where most of the mutton and lamb were consumed.
When the
business depression began in the fall of 1929 the demand was
107
reduced and the price of sheep began to fall.
This
naturally resulted in a reduced number of sheep on farms and
in the feed lots.
However, this condition took place after
1930.
Another reason why the number of sheep Increased In
Nebraska was that sheep were economical feeders.
These
animals would consume roughage that could not be disposed of
in any other way.
Also, labor costs could be saved by turning
the sheep into the corn fields and fattening them in "this
manner.
In a period of depression farmers found a new
source of Income in keeping a flock of sheep.
The farm flock provided new sources of income from the
sale of the fleece and from the sale of lambs.
not sold at the same time of the year.
These were
This provided an
opportunity for the farmer to add to and spread his income
more during the course of the year.
108
The farmers of the state had also increased their know­
ledge of caring for sheep, and much of the prejudice against
1 Q 7I de m .
1 Q 8 I b i d . . (1925), 605.
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handling these animals had disappeared*
By 1930 the farm flock of sheep was a rather common
sight in some parts of the state*
However, the important;
aspect of the sheep industry was the feeding of lambs and
sheep which had been secured from the western ranges.
were fed in rather well defined areas.
Sheep
The Scottsbluff
section was the leading area, and other regions were located
in the central Platte Valley and in parts of eastern Nebraska.
This state ranked second in the number of sheep fed.^°®
The trend of the number of horses and mules in Nebraska
decreased rather sharply during the period of depression agri­
culture.^^®
From 1921 to 1930 there was a reduction of over
one-fifth in the total number of these animals.
The prin­
cipal reason for this trend was the increased use of tractors
and trucks on the farms.
and the cost high.
saving machinery.
The supply of farm labor was low
This caused many farmers to purchase labor
This was partidularly the case after 1925
when prices of farm products began to rise and the purchasing
w , v
HI
power was higher.
Under the impetus of high prices during the war years,
a decided interest was manifested in pure-bred livestock.
This interest was carried over into the next period, as
increasing numbers of farmers became concerned with improving
their herds.
The agricultural college, county agents, and the
Improved Livestock Breeders Association encouraged better
l°9Filley, o£. clt. » 85.
H °Appendlx, Figure 12, xxiil.
^■■^A more extended treatment of this development will
be presented in Chapter XIII.
J
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-334breeding programs*
the
A noticeable increase in/demand for purebred sires took
place*
W i t h the improvement of herds the farmer discovered
that more economical and rapid gains were made by his live­
stock and this brought larger returns and a quicker turnover.
The pure-bred livestock breeder found a good demand for
his stock and prices were favorable.
The selling price of
pure-bred stock averaged higher than the market value of
livestock sold.
This situation existed in nearly all parts
of the United States.
Some pure-bred animals sold for as
IIP
high as $100,000 per head.
The number of pure—bred animals on farms in Nebraska did
not Increase in any marked degree, but the number of highgrade animals was larger than before.
The period of deflation
beginning in 1929 caused less interest in livestock improve­
ment and prices of good stock dropped to almost the market
113
level.
The period of depression agriculture, 1921-1930, b e gan
with the deflation in the mid-summer of 1920 which lasted
through 1921.
Prices of farm products fell precipitously
and the purchasing power of grains and livestock was much
lower than during the pre-war years.
Low prices and low purchasing power prevailed during
112Abram W. Epp, “An Economic History of Agriculture
in Gage County, Nebraska,” M. A. Thesis MS in University
of Nebraska Library, 42.
115Idem.
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f
-335the larger portion of the entire period.
There was some
recovery by 1925 but this did not last long, for the world
wide business depression began In the fall of 1929.
Nebraska farmers had to pay more in proportion for the
commodities they purchased than what they received for the
products they had to sell.
leather goods,
The price of building materials,
iron and steel products, clothing, coal, and
other commodities remained close to war-time levels.
Taxes Increased during this time and the farmer paid a
disproportionate share of the general property tax which
was the principal source of revenue particularly for the
local governments.
Wages paid for farm labor were high and
wages in some industries remained on a war-time level.
This
tended to keep the price of industrial products high.
Freight rates were also relatively high and reduced the
price the farmer received for his products.
There was an over-production of farm products, as exports
of agricultural products decreased.
The Nebraska farmer
criticized the protective tariff and legislation protecting
organized labor.
He felt that the government should enact
legislation for his benefit and,
therefore,
favored the
McNary-Haugen bills.
As a result of the conditions which kept the cost of
production high and the price of farm products low, farm
income was reduced and in many cases the farmer received
little or nothing for his labor.
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The value of farm property decreased by one-third from
)
1920 to 1930, while land values were reduced by about 48 per
cent.
The indebtedness of the farmers of Nebraska rose
during this period and credit facilities were restricted.
As a result, many farmers lost their farms while others had
to practice the strictest economy in order to meet interest
and principal payments.
Crop production changed considerably from the war years.
Because of high freight rates grain was not raised so much
to be sold on the market but fed to livestock and marketed
in concentrated form.
Any change in acreage at this time
was a shifting from one crop to another.
Fewer acres of wheat
were planted and more acreage devoted to feed crops.
Acreage
and production of corn, oats, barley and hay increased.
The
eastern Nebraska farmer reduced his wheat acreage and in some
instances quit raising it altogether.
There was some increase
in acreage of wheat in the western portion of the state
because costs of production were less than in the east.
The
/
sugar beet Industry flourished during this time and became
concentrated mostly in the North Platte Valley.
Livestock was found to be more profitable than
cash crop production.
This was due to the high freight rates
and the necessity of the farmer distributing his labor more
evenly over the year.
the fsrms of the state.
Hogs increased in large numbers on
The largest number of hogs ever
marketed from Nebraska was in 1924.
There was a slump in
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f,
-337the cattle industry until 1927 but a considerable number of
cattle were fed during these years.
The largest number of
cattle marketed from Nebraska was in 1926,
The sheep aspect
of livestock farming showed an outstanding development.
The number of sheep in the state doubled from 1922 to 1930.
Feeding of lambs and sheep assumed significance, as Nebraska
became the second largest sheep feeding state in the Union.
Sheep aided the farmer in diversifying his farming.
The number of horses and mules decreased because of the
increased use of power machinery on the farm*
Improvement in livestock was marked, but it received a
set-back when the world-wide depression began in 1929.
Other phases of agricultural development occurred during
the period of depression agriculture.
These will be presented
in the next chapter.
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CHAPTER XII
DEPRESSION AGRICULTURE. 1921-1930.
(continued)
The major developments of Nebraska agriculture during
the period 1921-1930 were presented in the preceding chapter.
There were some phases of the evolution of farming which had
been progressing,
especially since 1900, but had not become
outstanding until the 1920's.
Among these phases was the increased importance of some
crops w h i ch hitherto had been considered minor by the farmers
but now came to be accepted either in the general farming
system or in localized areas.
Barley,
potatoes came Into prominence.
sweet clover, and
In the livestock Industry
dairying became pronounced and was considered an Integral
part of livestock farming of the state.
In addition to these developments In crop and dairy
farming there was the continuation of the movement to improve
farming.
Farmers practiced rotation of crops and maintenance
of soil fertility to a greater extent than before.
New and
better methods of cultivation, as well as adaptation of crops
to soil and climate, were more widely used.
On account of
the economic conditions of the farmer, diversification was
found to be advantageous.
Through the encouragement of the
College of Agriculture, farm management records were kept by
some farmers thus determining on a business basis Just what
their farm enterprise was producing in the way of financial
returns.
-338-
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The preceding developments will be considered in this chapter.
Although minor in comparison with other aspects of farming,
they fitted into the general scheme of farming, rounding out
the agriculture of Nebraska as it had evolved by 1930.
Barley as a grain crop had not found favor with the
farmers of Nebraska previous to the twenties because <£ the
difficulties of handling it (due to the barbed beards) and
because it was thought that it caused sore mouth in livestock.
There was also prevalent an idea, that some correlation existed
between barley production and chinch bug infestation.
Farm
mills for grinding barley did not come into common use until
after 1920.
For these reasons the acreage and production of
barley remained relatively low.
The increase in barley acreage began about 1918 but did
not become pronounced until the latter part of the decade
1920-1930.
In 1921 there were 199,000 acres in barley and
725,000 in 1930.
This was an increase of almost 265 per cent.
However, most of this increase took place from 1927 to 1930.
In the former year there were 246,000•acres and in the latter
year 725,000, or an increase of 198 per cent in these four
years.
At
ohe same time production was almost trebled.^-
The most noticeable increase in barley acreage occurred
in the northwest section of the state.
In Dawes, Sheridan,
and Box Butte counties acreage increased by 51 per cent from
^•Appendix, Table 6, xv; Figure 7, xvi.
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-340a four-year average from 1917 to 1920 to a similar average
from 1922 to 1925.^
greater.
The rate of increase after 1925 was still
The northwest area was a deficient corn section
and as the number of cattle and hogs increased, barley was
found to give quite dependable yields while corn production
was uncertain.
W i t h the planting of barley the farmers had
a feed grain for their livestock and at the same time added
another crop to their system which aided in diversifying
farming.
There were several reasons why barley growing increased
in the state.
New varieties were developed which were either
beardless or smooth-awned types.
The beardless varieties
did not prove satisfactory in Nebraska.
Through the work of
the Minnesota experiment station, a variety was developed
without the rough edges of barbs on the beards.
was called Comfort.
This variety
It was an early variety and yielded well.
Velvet barley was another Minnesota variety, a later maturing
type than Comfort.
Trebi barley was yet another strain
introduced into the state and was well adapted to growth
under irrigation.
A.
The Nebraska experiment station distributed Comfort
barley seed for the first time in the spring of 1928.®
Farmers immediately saw its advantages over the older var­
ieties and planted more of it in the succeeding years.
^Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1927), 679.
3 Ibid., (1929), 168.
4 I b i d . , (1923), 570.
5I b i d . , (1929), 106.
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There
was distinct correlation between the planting of Comfort
barley and the Increase of acreage and production in 1925
and the following years*
Planting of barley on an Increasing scale fitted in
well with the general program of the farmers in reducing
their wheat acreage and increasing the acreage of feed crops
in order to take care of the large numbers of livestock.
a spring crop, barley would compete with corn and oats.
As
The
acreage of corn increased as was mentioned in the preceding
chapter.
Corn was the standard grain for fattening livestock
so barley could not compete with it.
Farmers discovered that
acre
the/costs of producing oats and barley were about the same
but barley, on the average, produced more pounds of feed to
the acre.
The experiment station found that b y comparing the
two grains over a period of five years, 1923-1927, barley
produced 42 per cent more pounds of grain per acre than oats.
Also, barley as compared with oats was a more concentrated
grain and better suited for feeding fattening cattle, sheep,
and hogs.
These merits offset the advantage which oats
might have had over barley, and account, in part, for the
noticeable Increase of barley acreage and the slight decrease
of oat acreage from 1925 to 1930.
Also, the decrease in the
number of horses and mules in the state resulted in a lower
^Harold Hedges and F. F. Elliot, "Types of Farming in
Nebraska," Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 244, 10.
^Annual Report. St. Bd. Agr.,
(1929), 167.
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-342demand for oats and a decrease in acreage followed.
The experiment station carried on a testing program over
a number of years dealing with the comparative value of
different feed grains.
Results Indicated that ground barley
was approximately 90 per cent as valuable as shelled corn for
hog feed.
Oats were 60 per cent as valuable as corn.®
Another reason w h y Nebraska farmers began to raise more
barley was that it was quite a dependable crop and matured
earlier than corn.
In the period 1921-1930 the average
annual yield of barley was 26,56 bushels per acre; corn
25.81 bushels; and oats 29.11 bushels.
Although oats yielded
more bushels per acre, barley produced more pounds per acre
than oats.
Barley could be used four to six weeks earlier
than corn for fattening hogs.
It furnished, therefore, a
new feed when feed was scarce and aided the farmer in finish­
ing his hogs earlier for market.
Another crop that came to be raised in increasing amounts
during the 1920's was sweet clover.
A few decades previous
to this time most of Nebraska's farmers considered sweet
clover to be a weed.
Some farmers noticed that when cattle
had access to it along the roadside the animals seemed to
relish it and a few farmers planted it, especially in the
central and western parts of the state.
However,
there was
no widespread planting of sweet clover until in the decade
under consideration.
8 Ibid., (1930), 581.
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— 343—
The acreage of this crop Increased from 32,082 acres in
1920 to 245,994 acres in 1925*
However, the largest Increase
In acreage took place from 1925 to 1930.
In the latter year
there were 1,126,000 acres In sweet clover.
This represented
an increase of almost 358 per cent from 1925 to 1930.9
Sweet clover was found to be valuable for several purposes.
From two-thirds to three-fourths of the acres planted were
used for pasture.
Cattle were found tfco relish it if turned
into the field when the clover was young and tender.
There
was some danger of the cattle bloating but this was eliminated
materially by giving them access to other kinds of forage,
such as wild hay or straw.
Because of the comparative ease
in getting a stand and of the luxuriant growth, sweet clover
could stand heavy pasturing by cattle, hogs, and sheep.
Some sweet clover hay was cut, especially before the
plants grew too large.
The stems
are
large and woody in the
later part of the season and then the crop
for hay as when cut earlier.
e.mount was not very large.
silage.
is
not so good
Also seed was raised but the
Some farmers cut the crop for
Taking care of it in this manner made the woody stems
succulent and cattle relished it.
This method of handling
sweet clover, however, was not very widespread.
Sweet clover ^is: a leguminous crop and this caused its
popularity to spread in some parts of the state.
In eastern
Nebraska, where corn was the principal and, usually,
9N e b r . A g r . Statistics,
(1920), 86;
(1925), 73;
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the most
(1930),
-344prof It able crop, a short-time rotation was desired by the
farmers.
As sweet clover was a biennial and alfalfa a per­
ennial plant,
alfalfa.
the farmers much preferred the clover to the
It was often difficult to get a good stand of
alfalfa and when once secured the farmers were reluctant to
plow it up in two or three years.
Sweet clover fitted
into the rotation system very well here.
three— year rotation was used.
On many farms a
Sweet clover was seeded with a
spring sraall-grain crop and this was followed by two years
of corn.
As this rotation was repeated every three years,
soil fertility was maintained at a satisfactory l e v e l . ^
Many farmers in other parts of the state came to prefer
sweet clover to alfalfa in their rotation system.
It allowed
them a more flexible manner of handling their crops, as they
could respond more rapJdly to changes in price.
It was a
common practice for some farmers to plow under the sweet"
clover as a green manure.
In this way humus was added to the
soil as well as nitrogen.
The soil building qualities of
sweet clover made it a valuable plant for Nebraska farmers.
"There is probably no doubt but that the systematic rotation
of crops and the resultant increase in soil,fertility and
yields, has come about many years sooner than would be the
case' had we not possessed this truly invaluable plant
[sweet cloverj."
11
The increased use of sweet clover as a leguminous crop
1 0 Stewart, et. al., "Corn in Nebraska," Agricultural
Extension Circular, No. 136, 23.
^ D . L. Gross, Extension Agronomist, "Sweet Clover
Management," in Annual R e p o r t , State Board of Agriculture,
(1930), 133.
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had some effect on the acreage of alfalfa.
The number of
acres of alfalfa decreased from 1925 to 193012 while, as
previously stated,
sweet clover acreage increased.
By 1930
there were 1,165,000 acres of alfalfa raised for both seed
and hay and a total of 1,126,000 acres of sweet clover.^®
In other words,
the number of acres in sweet clover almost
equalled the alfalfa acreage.
A crop that became important in the 1920's in certain
local areas was potatoes.
The first settlers in Nebraska
territory usually planted potatoes for home use, and as
population increased the acreage of potatoes also became
larger.
After 1900 the acreage of this crop declined tem­
porarily but soon became larger again.
Since 1915 the trend
of total acreage planted in the state had been downward but
production remained on quite an even level until 1925 when
there was an i n c r e a s e . ^
After 1915 potato production was in the direction of a
specialized farm enterprise.
The crop was grown for commercial
purposes and this resulted in certain areas developing as
potato producing regions.
potato growing areas:
north central.
There came to be three leading
the western,
the central, and the
Climatic and soil conditions were the chief
reasons for this development.
^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 10, xvlii.
13Nebr. A g r . Statistics. (1930), 53, 73, 76.
•^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 9, xviii.
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-346The western region consisted of two divisions.
One
division was north of the North Platte River and extended
to the South Dakota line.
The leading potato producing
counties in this district were Box Butte, Sioux, Dawes,
and Sheridan.
The other division Included the North Platte
and Lodge Pole valleys and the table lands south to the
Colorado line.
Chief counties in production of potatoes
in this division were Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Cheyenne,
15
Kimball, and Deuel.
The western region, was the heaviest
potato producing area of the state.
Of the total crop
of the state from 1921 to 1929 this area produced 46 per cent*^®
The central region developed in the Platte Valley center­
ing particularly in Buffalo and Dawson counties.
The farmers
in this region became interested in potato growing during the
war years when prices were high.
Acreage increased up to 1921
and in 1922 was about three times what it had been the year
before,
and the yield was almost five times as great.
There
was a bumper crop in the state that year and the price dropped
from $1.20 a bushel in 1921 to 4?^ in 1922.^
This caused
a decrease in acreage in the region but during this period
of decline in the number of acres planted, improvement was
made in handling the potatoes.
The farmers shifted from
Early Ohios to Cobblers because the Cobblers did not produce
15Esther S. Anderson, “The Potato Industry in Nebraska,"
in Economic Geography, VI (1930), 39.
16I b i d . , 37.
•^ N e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1930), 102.
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-3 4 7 -
a second growth before they were dug and did not become
knobby,
as did the Early Ohio s.
the selection of seed.
Another improvement was in
Formerly the growers used their own
seed but it was found that the imported seed was better,
most of the farmers bought new seed every year.
so
Pump irriga­
tion developed so that the amount of moisture could be con­
trolled.1 ®
The central region became the chief source of potatoes
for eastern Nebraska ms.rkets.
in late July, August,
These markets were supplied
19
and September.
The north central region came to be located primarily
in Brown county.
This area supplied table stock potatoes
during the time between those of the early crop of the central
region and the late crop of the western region.
The development,
20
as well as improvements, in potato
culture was due in large measure to the work of the Nebraska
Potato Improvement Association, orgariized in 1919.
21
Through*
the work of this agency farmers were informed about diseases
of the potato and how to combat them.
New and better methods
of cultivation, better seed selectibn, improved marketing
methods, grading and packing of the potatoes, and other
matters pertaining to potato growing were considered by the
1ft
Annual Report,
St. Bd. Agr.,
..
Anderson, o p . c i t . , 43.
20Ibid., 37.
pi
Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1928), 398.
(1920), 18.
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-348association.
.
At the annual meetings of the organization
results of tests and experiments carried on hy the experiment
station were given to the farmer.
Experts from other states
were called In to give the results of improved potato culture
in their areas.
What the association attempted to do was to
bring about improvement in the yield and at the same time not
p p
necessarily increase acreage. ^
There was some success from
these efforts.
Prom 1920 to 1930 potatoes ranked fourth in total value
of all crops . ^
During 1921-1929 the average annual shipments
of commercial potatoes amounted to almost 2,958,000 bushels
24
or 4,929 carloads.
Seventy-five to 85 per cent of the carlot
shipments were sent from the six leading potato-growing counties
of the western region.
Some of the principal markets which
received Nebraska potatoes were Chicago, Omaha, St. Louis,
p c
Memphis, Kansas City, and Houston.
Potatoes worked into the crop rotation systems of the
producing areas.
Intensive and careful tillage was practiced.
This resulted in putting the soil in good condition and in­
creased yields of crops following potatoes continued for a
number of years.
Considerable organic mat'cer was added to
^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 9, xviii.
^3Anderson, o j d . clt. , 37.
^ N e b r . Agr. Statistics, (1950), 90.
OC
“
Anderson, o j d . cit. , 51.
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-349the soil by decayed roots and plants and this increased its
fertility.
If a rotation was practiced, it was discovered
that disease in potatoes was decreased to some extent.^®
A significant development of the potato Industry was the
growing of certified seed in the upland areas in western
Nebraska.
The practice of certifying seed began in 1919 and
the first commercial lots were sold in 1922.27
This phase
of potato culture developed under the supervision of the agri­
cultural college and the Nebraska Potato Improvement Association.
The quality of the seed potatoes produced in the western
section was high and the demand for the seed increased.
The
certified potatoes were raised from carefully selected seed,
which had been treated for disease before planting.
The
growers rogued the crops two or three times to remove diseased
plants.
Inspectors examined the fields and in some years
quite a number were rejected.
As the growers increased their
knowledge about handling the crop for seed production, rejec­
tions became fewer.
Certified seed production increased from
45.000 to 152,000 bushels in the years 1921-19i8 and to
428.000 bushels by 1930.
The average annual production from
1921 to 1930 was 178,100 bushels.22
On account of the high quality and relative freedom
from disease, Nebraska seed potatoes were in demand among
2 6 Ibid., 50.
2 7Annual R e p o r t . St. Bd. A g r . , (1927), 579.
2®Nebr. A g r . Statistics. (1930), 90.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-350Southern growers.
Arkansas,
Experiments conducted in Louisiana,
and Texas in 1923 demonstrated that Nebraska cer­
tified seed potatoes were superior to those of most of the
northern states.
They showed less disease than the others
and produced a higher yield per acre.
In Louisiana the
Nebraska certified seed produced 45.3 per cent more than
uncertified seed and averaged 144.6 bushels per acre of
prime potatoes.
In the same test Wisconsin certified seed
averaged 139.8 bushels per acre.^®
Nebraska seed was sold principally in the south.
more seed was sent to Texas than to any other state.
Usually
Louisiana,
Oklahoma, Oeorgia, and Alabama each received about the same
amount of seed.
seed.
Tennessee and Arkansas also bought Nebraska
In 1923 a shipment was sent to the Bermuda Islands
and in 1926 three carloads were sent there.
The southern growers wanted seed for early planting,
so a method was developed which caused potatoes to sprout
and grow more rapidly.
Potatoes must have a period of rest
of from two to three months before they will start to grow.
In 1927 a few carloads of certified seed were treated with
ethylene chlorohydrin.
Then they were shipped Immediately
to Florida and the Eermuda Islands and planted.
Nebraska
certified potatoes which had not been treated were planted
at the same time.
The result was that the plants from
29Professor G-. L. Tiebout, Department of Horticulture,
University of Louisiana, "Nebraska Certified Seed Potatoes
in Louisiana," in Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr. , (192.4), 463.
50Annual Report, St. Bd. Agr., (1927), 580.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-351the treated seed came through the soil from six weeks to two
months earlier than the untreated seed.
This treatment proved
to "be an important factor in the South where the growers
wanted seed to plant in the early winter.
New potatoes could
be placed on the market continuously after this, because they
could be grown at all times of the year in the South.
This
treatment made it unnecessary for the seed to be stored away
for a period of time before it would sprout and grow.3'*'
The Nebraska grower of certified seed potatoes could
command a premium of one dollar or more per hundredweight
32
above the price of table stock or uncertified seed.
By
1950 the demand was such that buyers were willing to pay a
higher premium for Nebraska seed than for seed from most
of the other states.
Also by this time the Nebraska growers
had developed strains of the Bliss Triumph potato that could
compete w ith the seed of any region which produced the same
variety.33
The dairy industry had not developed to any great extent
before the 1920*s.
The number of milk cows in the state had
34
continously increased from 1870 to 1910,
but most of the
cows were kept on the farms of the staoe and the milk and its
3 ^Anderson, og. c i t ., 49-50.
3 2 I b i d . , 48.
33Annual Report,
fj
St. Bd. Agr.,
(1931), 658.
A
A p p e n d i x , Figure 13, xxiii.
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-352products consumed by the farm family or sold to local stores.
There were some dairy herds established before 1910 but these
were relatively few in number.
From 1910 to 1920 the general
trend of the number of ml lit cows in the state was downward.
No doubt the scarcity of trained labor, which was needed in
the dairy business, was a contributing factor in the slow
development.
Nebraska farmers,
too, looked upon dairying
as very confining and as long as they could make money
raising crops and feeding cattle and hogs they were not
much Inclined to milk cows.'5®
It has been noted in previous chapters that certain
developments occurred in the dairy industry before 1921 which
served as foundations for the progress made during the twenties.
At the beginning of the new century the hand cream separator
and the Babcock tester came into rather general use.
Later
the milking machine became available and helped solve the
labor problem.
Balanced rations for dairy cows were re­
commended by the experiment station,
and the State Dairym e n ’s
Association stressed the need of better care for milk cows.
Progress had also been made in combating diseases of
milk cows, especially tuberculosis.
Just before the beginning
of the decade 1920-1930 cow testing associations were planned.
Through these agencies a record of the production of each
cow was kept and on the basis of the results obtained, poor
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1922), 211.
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producing cows could be eliminated.
were beginning to be formed also.
Dairy bull associations
A number of farmers would
buy a pure-bred sire, or sires, and in this way the cost
would be distributed instead of being borne by one man.
The
plan was that through the use of better sires the dairy herds
could be improved very noticeably.
All these factors served as foundations for the building
of the dairy business during the twenties.
However, it is
very unlikely that the progress made at this time would have
taken place if it had not been for the depressed economic
conditions of farming.
The dairy sections of the United States
did not feel the effects of the period of deflation during
1920 and 1921 as did the crop growing and livestock producing
sections..
There was no line of the farming business in which
36
prices held up as well as in the dairy business.
Many
farmers realized that by keeping a herd of dairy cattle they
could diversify their farming, distribute their labor more
evenly during the year, receive an income every week,
and,
at the same time, utilize roughage that would otherwise be
an absolute waste.
Also, by keeping a dairy herd soil fer­
tility could be built up and maintained.
Depleted land could
37
be brought back to a high state of production.
In order to understand the growth of the dairy business
in Nebraska, one must examine the price factor rather carefully
36 I bid., (1923), 354-355.
5 7 I b i d . , (1925), 380.
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-3 5 4 -
Professor H. C. Filley of uhe rural economics department,
University of Nebraska, has compiled data which indicate the
relatively good conditions of the dairy industry during the
period of depression agriculture.
The following table is
quoted from his data:
Table 8.
Farm values of dairy cows in the United States and
price relatives; local prices paid producers for butter and
butterfat in Nebraska and price relatives; and purchasing
power of butter and butterfat, 1921 to 1930.
Price relatives
on 1910-1914 basis.
i Butter and butter. fat. local prices
Price 1 £rice j
, Price
Price
i relatives
relative
i
61.20 *
150
* .32
141
48.69 '
119
125
» .28
119
' .39
172
48.68 *
154
49.94 '
' .35
122
119
1 .36
158
48.35 1
134
' .37
161
54.73 *
175
59.24 '
145
• .40
188
73.47 1
180
' .43
183
83.99 1
206
' .42
135
* .31
82.80 1
203
Dairy Cows
Year
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
Purchasing
power, butter
and
butterfat
94
86
116
103
103
105
116
123
120
94
The price of dairy cows in the United States dropped in
1922 as a result of the general deflation of prices during
the preceding 18 months.
However, a recovery began in 1924
and the general trend of prices was upward during the balance
of the period.
The margin between the price received for
dairy products and the cost of production determined primarily
the price of dairy cows.
If costs of production remained
stationary, the price of cows would fluctuate with the change
3 8 H. &. Filley, "Inflation and Deflation," in Agricultural,
Experiment Station Research Bulletin 72, 29.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
in the prices of milk and other dairy products.
As costs of
feed, labor, and other items that make up the cost of pro­
duction changed,
a lower price of dairy products was not
always reflected in a change in the value of cows.
The dairy
farmer did not sell his cows until he was sure the lower
price of milk was likely to continue.
As the price of milk
and butterfat remained relatively high during the period,
the price of dairy cows generally increased,39 because the
favorable prices for the dairy products resulted in a con­
tinued demand for cows, especially from 1925 to 1929.
The price of butter and butterfat in Nebraska (Column 4)
was relatively higher than the price of grain and livestock.
Although the profits from dairy products were not large, they
were larger than those received from most other farm products.
From 1921 to 1930 the purchasing power of butter and butterfat
was higher than
that
of other farm products.
During the
entire period of ten years purchasing power was above the
1910-1914 level.
In the case of other products the pre-war
level was reached or surpassed in only three years by corn,
three by wheat, none by oats and barley,
three by cattle.
five by hogs, and
41
In Nebraska t h e ,years 1926-1929 were the most favorable
for the dairy industry.4^
By this time various lines of
development had taken place.
In considering these it is
39Ibid., 20.
40 I b ld., 31.
4 ^Appendlx, Tables 11 and 12, xxvi, xxvili.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1931), 254.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
necessary to consider some aspects of the steps in the pro­
gress made by the dairy business in the United States as a
whole.
The dairymen of the country conducted a nationwide cam­
paign to increase the per capita consumption of dairy products.
This campaign was conducted by the National Dairy Council,
and Nebraska agencies, interested in promoting the dairy
industry, cooperated in carrying on this endeavor.
Nebraska Dairymen's Association,
The
the Nebraska Dairy Develop­
ment Society, and the State Department of Agriculture used
various means of advertising the value of milk and dairy
products as human foods.
Great stress was laid on the health
value of these products.
The claim was made that "scientific
authorities make it clear that the increased use of dairy
products, milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream, will do more
for Individual health and community prosperity than any other
43
single factor in food consumption."
An estimate was made
that 22 cents of the average consumer dollar was.spen/fc for
dairy products.
According to scientists and food authorities,
35 cents of every consumer dollar should be spent for milk
and its products "in the Interest of child growth and adult
44
health and efficiency."
W i t h the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment and
^Frora the manager's report to the Dairy Development
Society, in Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1930), 347.
44M. D. Munn, "The Three Cardinal Principles of Efficient
Dairying," in Ibid. , 349,
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-357enactment of the Volstead Act,
the consumption of beer and
other alcoholic beverages decreased decidedly.
The National
Dairy Council seized the occasion to a.dvertise the value of
using milk in place of beer,
in factories,
especially among the workers
shops, railroads,
et cetera.
Eecause of the effects of the advertising campaign,
better knowledge of the food value of milk, decrease in the
use of alcoholic beverages,
and other minor factors, the per
capita, consumption of milk increased by 28 per cent from 1917
to 1928.
4-5
The population of the United States was increasing
on the average about one and one-half million people every
year.^®
This growth of population,
together with the increased
per capita consumption of milk, naturally made the demand
for milk high which in turn aided in maintaining a favorable
price for the product.
Total consumption in the United
States of dairy products in terms of milk increased by 23
per cent from 1921 to 1 9 2 6 . ^
The annual per capita con­
sumption of dairy products in continental United States had
a milk equivalent in 1928 of 94.2 p3'allons, in 1929 of 94.5
4.7a
gallons, and in 1950 of 95.1 gallons.
The Nebraska Dairy Development Society played a signifi­
cant role in advancing the dairy interests of Nebraska.
The
society was organized in 1924 and held its first annual
meeting in January 1925.
At the organizational meeting the
following resolution was adopted:
"The Nebraska Dairy
^ A n n u a l R e o o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1929), 274.
A R ---------------------------* 1~ 1
•^°Ibid., 334.
~^Ibid. , (1928), 280.
^ ^ A g r i c u l t u r a l Statistics (1939), 378
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-358Development Society is to be devoted to the best interests
of the farmer in this State and to encouraging and aiding him
in any present dairy activities and to the development of the
business as a whole along constructive and practical lines,
having in mind continually that to be successful it must be
compensatory,11
The society was to function for five years,
but in 1928 arrangements were made to continue the organiza­
tion for another five-year period * ^
The above resolution indicates the general purpose of
the society.
Its main efforts were along the following lines
of dairy Improvement:
associations
increase the number of herd improvement
(formerly called cow testing associations), aid
the dairy farmer of the state to purchase good dairy stock,
assist the Nebraska breeder in disposing of his surplus
stock, organize and promote dairy calf club work, and en­
courage better care in the handling of dairy products in
order to insure higher quality of the products sold.
The main purpose of the dairy herd improvement associa­
tions was to increase efficiency in the production of the
state's. dairy herds.
This could be done by eliminating the
poor producing cows and replacing them with better cows.
It was the contention of some dairymen that one-third of the
cows in the state were not profitable producers.
Therefore,
the way to eliminate these cows from the herd was to test
4 8
President’s Annual Report to the Nebraska Dairy Develop­
ment Society, in Annual R e p o r t , St. Ed. Agr., (1925), 424-425*
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1929), 318.
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-359each cow as to her productive efficiency.
>
The number of herd improvement associations and the
number of cows tested increased as follows:^®
Year
Wo. Associations
192.4
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
No. Cows Tested
2
6
10
16
23
28
31
904
2,462
3,542
5,860
7,369
9,867
10,322
In order to determine the effect of testing cows on
the production of milk a comparison is made of the average
annual production per cow in the state and per cow in the
51
herd improvement associations:
Year
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
Average annual
production per
cow in Nebr.
(lbs.)
3,553
3,814
3,917
4,042
4,040
4,180
4,300
4,406
5,364
5,950
Average annual pro­
duction per cow in
herd imp. associa­
tions, (lbs.)
No data available
before 1926
7,000
7,094
7,620
7,806
8,014
The work of the herd improvement associations not only
increased the productive capacity of each cow within the
herds of the associations but also helped to raise the
average production per cow for the state.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
51I
bid.,
(1927), 281;
LIbld.
, (19:
341; (153TT, 317.
This increase
(1929), 323;
(1928), 302, 313, 322;
(1931), 317.
(1930),
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-360for the entire state was about 67 per cent from 1921 to 1930.
At the same time the number of cows in Nebraska increased
only slightly more than 15.7 per cent.52
It was the contention
by the leaders in the dairy industry at the beginning of the
period that the same volume of milk could be produced by twothirds of the number of cows then in the state.
Although
this objective had not been reached by 1930, definite progress
had been made in increasing the productive capacity of each
cow.
The average butterfat yield per cow in Nebraska in 1921
53
was from 150 to 160 pounds. *■
In 1930 the average production
of all cows reported in dairy herd improvement associations
was 307.7 pounds.
This was 74 per cent more than the average
54
Nebraska cow produced at that time.'"
In 1S28 the dairy development society set up a standard
of production for dairy cows which called for 300 pounds or
more of butterfat per year and the use of sires whose dams had
produced 'at least 500 pounds of butterfat per year.
The
average annual returns above feed costs of cows which pro­
duced the following pounds of butterfat were to be used as
55
a gauge for determining the profitableness of a cow:
100 pounds
200
"
300
11
400
"
500
"
$14
54
96
138
178
52 N e b r . A g r . Statisties. (1930), 121.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1922), 211.
54I b i d . , (1931), 317.
5 5 l bid., (1929), 328.
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-3 6 1 -
It was reported that the average annual income over feed
cost per cow enrolled in the herd improvement associations
during 1929 was $96.00.
On the other hand, the average
Nebraska cow returned only $41.00 above cost of feed.
This
meant that the average cow in the herd improvement work was
133 per cent more efficient than the average Nebraska cow.®®
In reviewing its work of the preceding five years, the
dairy improvement association in January 1929 claimed con­
siderable credit for the improvement in milk production
in the state.
In addition,
its report showed that the
organization had purchased for 1,042 Nebraska breeders,
farmers,
and dairy club members a total of 2,588 dairy animals, includ­
ing 253 pure-bred sires, 540 club calves, and 1,818 cows and
heifers.
In making these purchases, 211 Nebraska breeders
were assisted in disposing of their surplus breeding stock,
57
including 162 pure-bred sires.
The society also advised the dairy farmer regarding
better care and balanced feeding for his herd.
Stress was
laid upon Improving the quality of dairy products.
Eecause
of lack of proper care milk often soured or became off-flavored*
The resulting low grade of cream placed Nebraska dairy pro­
ducts at a disadvantage on the market.
If Nebraska's dairy
products were to compete successfully in the domestic and
world markets,
it was necessary to improve the quality of
those products.
56Ibid., (1930), 341.
57I bld., (1929), 319-320.
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-362A rather significant method of arousing interest in
dairying was the organization of dairy calf clubs.
This
work was carried on by the dairy improvement society and
the agricultural college.
Where five or more boys and girls
were interested and could secure an older person who was
interested in dairy work to assist and lead them, a dairy
calf club was organized.
The club could be sponsored by a
commercial club or other organization of the community and
the dairy improvement society would secure a dairy calf
for each member of the club.
Each member had to keep a
record of his work in handling his calf.
Each club was
to hold at least six meetings a year; usually more than
six meetings were held.
At each meeting a lesson sent out
by the agricultural college was studied.
The lessons
described the phase of the work which was applicable to
the age of the calf and the time of the year.
The first
year's lessons covered the work from the time the calf was
secured until it became a heifer;
the second year covered
breeding, feeding, and care until the heifer became a cow;
and the third year's work dealt with information regarding
the first lactation.
58
In 1921 there were 6 clubs with 55 members.
In 1930
the number of clubs had increased to 98 and membership to
897.59
Through the work of the clubs interest was aroused
58I b i d., (1927), 290.
59I b i d., 289; (1931), 314.
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-363among the members.
Also, farmers in communities having a
club often increased their interests in dairying and improve­
ments resulted.
The chief manufactured product of milk in Nebraska was
creamery butter.
In 1921 Nebraska*s creameries made '66,653,000
pounds of butter.
The amount had increased to 97,109,702
pounds in 1929, or an increase of over 45 per cent.
The 1930
production dropped to 85,484,491 pounds because of the de­
pression that had begun in the fall of 1929.60
The price
of butterfat dropped from 42 cents in 1929 to 31 cents in
1930.-
This discouraged many farmers from increasing the
production of their herds of dairy cows.61
The number of gallons of ice cream made in factories
increased about 56 per cent from 1921 to 1929.
The manufacture
of cheese increased from 61,000 to 3,294,175 pounds during the
same period.®^
Although the amount of ice cream and cheese
manufactured in the state was not outstanding, Nebraska ranked
fourth among the states of the Union in the making of creamery
butter in 1929 and the preceding years.6®
The dairy industry
made its most significant strides in development during the
twenties.
t
Mention has been made from time to time of the question
of improving and maintaining the fertility of the soil of the
state.
From 1900 to 1930 this matter was kept before the
farmers by those interested in general farming development.
S ONebr. A g r . Statistics. (1930), 86-87.
slFllley, ojs. c i t . , 29.
®^Nebr. A g r . Statistics. (1930), 86-87.
6 3 I b l d . . 86.
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-364Progress had been slow In getting most of the farmers inter­
ested in this matter because the soil of Nebraska seemed to
be inexhaustible to them.
It was only where land showed
definite signs of soil depletion that steps were taken to
rebuild its fertility.
Some farmers, however, did follow the
practice of keeping the soils of their farms in a high
state of productivity.
This question of soil fertility was
considered seriously by a good many farmers during the 1920*s,
and closely allied with it were other matters dealing with
general Improvement of farming in the state.
The systems of rotation of crops which were best suited
to the various sections of the state were well recognized
by 1930.
In eastern Nebraska the practice of rotating grain
crops with sweet clover, red clover, or alfalfa was rather
general.
Many thousands of acres which formerly showed
definite signs of depletion had been built up to a relatively
high state of fertility.64
The results of corn yield contests
showed that from year to year the best results were secured
from soils having high fertility supplied chiefly by legume
crops.
Many of the contestants produced their bjest yields
from corn planted on soil which had been in a legume crop one
65
to three years previous to the high c o r n yield.
In central and. western Nebraska the corn yield contests
proved that land which had been recently broken from a legume
crop was quite likely to produce a low yield of corn.
64Annual Re p o r t , St. Ed. Agr., (1930), 134.
6 5 Ibld., (1929), 182; (1930), 135; (1931), 129.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
The
-365abundance of nitrogen over-stimulated the growth of the corn
plant and when dry and hot weather came the corn suffered*
Some farmers planted cane, sudan grass, or kaffir for a couple
of years before planting the ground to corn.
However, alfalfa
or sweet clover had a definite place in the rotation system of
crops in these sections of the state.®®
On the table lands of the western part of the state the
farmers were raising winter wheat and corn in rotation.
They
had tried winter whea.t and summer fallow but were getting away
from this method as they found that more grain could be
produced from raising the two crops and there was less chance
67
of a complete failure.
In the Sandhills a rotation of corn and rye was used.
The Rosen variety of rye gave relatively good yields and
provided green pasturage at those times of the year when
such pasture was usually scarce.6®
Closely related to the question of maintaining soil
fertility was the matter of diversification of farming.
his report to the State Board of Agriculture in 1924 the
secretary referred to the need for diversification of the
farm enterprise.
"Under present-day conditions it is im­
possible to make our farms pay if we undertake to put our
eggs all in one basket,
and be dependent upon the profits
from a limited range of operations ."®9
®® I b l d., (1931), 130-131.
6 7 I b l d. , (1926), 313.
6 8 Idera.
®9From the secretary's report,
Ibid.,
(1924), 30.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
In
-366As has been said, the economic conditions of the period
1921-1930 aided in the diversification of farming.
Larger
numbers of sheep were raised, the dairy industry developed,
increased numbers of livestock were produced and fed, and
grains and other crops came to be used in rotation so that
the farmers who followed rotation and diversification came
to depend less and less upon a one-crop system of farming.
E v e n in a specialized area of farming such as the
potato producing districts,
the heavy 3'ields and consequently
low prices in 1922 and 1928 caused the growers to lose money,
which in turn caused them to realize the need of planting
other crops in addition to potatoes.
Corn and wheat were
being r aised in increasing quantities.
This practice tended
70
to offset the losses of poor potato years.
In the sugar beet area of the North Platte Valley,
the
farmers did not depend upon the raising of sugar beets
entirely but fbllowed a rotation of wheat, alfalfa, and beets.
Then the by-products of the beets were fed with the alfalfa
for fattening sheep and cattle.
The impression must not be left that all farmers in the
state were diversifying their farming, but during the twenties
Increasing numbers were carrying on some system whereby they
need not depend upon only a single crop for their returns.
Definite improvement in farming by the choice of crops
adapted to conditions in Nebraska had evolved by the twenties.
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1929), 647*
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-367Farmers had learned that except for Improved methods of tillage
little could be done to adapt the environment to the needs of
the crops raised, but a great deal could be accomplished by
adapting the crop to the environment.
For example, as farming ■
/
proceeded westward the crops had to be selected for relative
earliness and small vegetative size.
These characteristics
made them adaptable to conditions of low moisture supply and
a short growing season.
On the other hand, in the eastern
/
part of the state where the growing season was longer and the
moisture supply greater, varieties of crops would b e chosen
to mature later and have a larger vegetative growth.
The adoption and adaptation of Turkey R e d winter wheat
varieties, of alfalfa, of Kherson oats, and of locally
developed types of corn showed the need of selecting crops
which were best suited to the conditions of soil
mate
of.
and
clir
iM'ebraska.
In addition to the adoption of crops best suited to the
physical conditions of the state, there had been Improvement
through plant breeding and selection of varieties by the end
of the 1 9 2 0 ’s.
This work was a result of the efforts of the
United States Department of Agriculture, various state
experiment stations,
e.nd individual crop growers.
As a result of plant breeding, winter wheat varieties
were developed from the original Turkey Red type and had
replaced it to a large extent.
The chief varieties were
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-368Nebraska No. 60, Nebraska No, 6 , and Kanred.
The first two
selections were developed at the Nebraska experiment station,
while K anred was a result of the work of the Kansas station.
The chief merit of these improved wheats was their higher
)
yield.
Higher yield was the result of some quality, or
qualities,
such as rust resistance,
ance, ana so on. 71
superior winter resist-
Nebraska No. 60 was first distributed to the farmers of
the state in 1916,
and gained favor immediately.
During
twenty year’s in experiment station tests it yielded six
per cent more per acre than the original Turkey wheat.
It was estimated that by 1950 ninety-nine per cent of the
winter wheat acreage in Nebraska was of the hard red Turkey
type and about one per cent consisted, of the soft red var­
ieties.
Of the hard red winter wheat acreage about 65 per
cent was of Nebraska No. 60, 15 per cent of Kanred, and
about 20 per cent of ordinary Turkey and other selections.
In the early part of the twentieth century Bluestem was
virtually the only variety of spring wheat grown in Nebraska.
It was unsuitable to conditions, being too late in ripening.
By the middle of the 1920's Bluestem had been replaced by
early and fsr better types.
Marquis spring wheat originated
in a breeding nursery of the Canadian government and became
71 T. A. Kiesselbach, "Improved Farm Crops," in Annual
H e o o r t , St. Bd. Agr., (1926), 696-697.
?2t . A. Kiesselbach, Arthur Anderson, and C. A. Suneson,
"Winter Wheat Varieties in Nebraska, 11 Agricultural Experiment
S cation Bulletin 283, 4.
7 3 Idem.
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-369the most popular in Nebraska.*74
In the case of oats,
the original Kherson variety was
improved by the Nebraska experiment station and the result
was Nebraska 21 oats.
This new variety outyielded the
ordinary K h erson oats about 8 to 10 per cent.75
oats was an early,
be widely used.
Eurt 293
high yielding variety that also came to
A variety known as Kanota was an improved
type produced by the Kansas experiment station.
It found
some acceptance in this state.
The main work in the breeding and selection of corn
was in the direction of improving a type best suited to
local conditions.
Corn was found to be more variable in
response to its habitat than small grains.
Through exper­
imentation it was found that corn adapted to western Nebraska,
as compared wi th corn adapted to eastern Nebraska, ripened
16 days earlier, was 2.3 feet shorter, bore the ear 1.9 feet
closer to the ground, had 51 per cent as much leaf develop­
ment, and yielded 43 per cent as much grain.
The ears of
western corn were 19 per cent shorter, circumference was 10
per cent smaller,
shelling percentage 9 per cent lower,
kernel 20 per ceno shorter,
per cent less.
the
and shrinkage of ear corn 6.5
77
The corn types raised in other parts of the state ranged
between these two extremes.
74Klesselbach,
From eas'i to west,
the character-
"Improved Farm Crops," 695, 697.
7 ^Annual R e o o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1923), 570.
76 I b i d . , (1951), 91.
77Klesseloach, "Improved Farm Crops," 697-698.
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-370istlcs of the eastern type of corn would, recede and the
characteristics of the western type would become more
prominent.
Experimental tests and investigations in the corn belt
states during the late twenties Indicated that a definite
improvement in the yield of corn would result from selecting
a smooth, dimple dent, heavy, horny starch, longer, and more
slender type of seed ears than had been in general use.
The
plants from such seed not only were found to yield more when
shelled, but were also smaller and earlier maturing.
Their
moisture requirement was not so great as for the larger
plants of the other types and they matured earlier, thus
avoiding danger from early frost.
78
The latest development in corn breeding by 1930 was in
experimental work of producing hybrid corn.
The experiments
conducted at the experiment station from 1927 to 1929 did not
produce results w h i c h were thought to warrant unqualified
recommendation by the station for the planting of this type
of corn under conditions in Nebraska.
However,
the station
saw the possibilities of hybrid corn and continued the
experimental work on a large scale.
79
Not only had there developed improvement in crop farming
by the twenties, but also Increased efficiency in animal
production was evident.
Better sires, more intelligent
^ A n n u a l R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
7 9 I b i d . , (1930), 198-200.
(1929), 220.
r
\
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-371breeding, hog cholera control, better regulation regarding
tuberculosis among cattle, balanced rations,
and production
of types of animals to satisfy the dietary demands of the
public, were some of the results which tended to give animal
80
husbandry its share in increased agricultural efficiency.
Mechanization of agriculture pla.yed an important part
Q “1
in increasing the efficiency of the farmer.
Costs of labor
were reduced and better tillage methods were practiced.
All these
things combined gave
war an increased output per man, or
to agriculture since the
a gain in efficiency of
29.5 per cent by 1930.
In addition to the major developments
83
in the evolution
of agriculture in Nebraska during the period of depression,
there were other adjustments in farm growth which aided in
rounding out the farming enterprise to give it the character­
istics that it
The value
recognized.
possessed by 1930.
of barley as a feed crop became generally
Tests showed that it was 90 per cent as valuable
as corn for fattening hogs.
The prejudice of Nebraska farmers
against the planting of barley was overcome by the develop­
ment of, smooth— awned varieties.
After Comfort barley was
8 0 I b i d . , (1931), 167.
®^Discussed in Chapter XIII.
8 8Annual R e p o r t , St. Bd. Agr.,
(1931), 168.
^ P r e s e n t e d in Chapter XI.
t
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distributed to the farmers in 1928,
of this grain was marked.
the increase in production
Acreage increased b y 265 oer cent
from 1921 to 1930*
Sweet clover was another crop that had come to be generally
accepted by Nebraska farmers.
It was no longer considered
as a weed but as an important pasture and soil building crdp.
Sweet clover
is
especially adaptable to a short rotation
system as it
is
a biennial plant.
Nebraska look
upon it favorably,
crop and sweet clover
can
Farmers in eastern
for corn
is
their main
be used to better advantage than
alfalfa in a three-year rotation plan in this part of the
state.
The total acreage of sweet cLover in the state In­
creased 358 per cent from 1925 to 1930.
Potato production developed into a specialized enter­
prise during the twenties.
Three areas of the state produced
potatoes on a commercial basis.
The central area raised
potatoes for the early market;, the western area for the late
market, and the north central area for the intermediate
market.
The western area produced the largest amount of
commercial potatoes.
The certified seed potato enterprise of the western area
became prominent during the period.
Seed of good quality was
supplied to some of the southern states and to the Bermuda
Islands.
/
The dairy industry made noticeable progress during the
period of depression agriculture.
Building upon the develop—
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merits which h<-,d occurred previously,
steps were taken to
increase the efiiciencjr of tne enterprise*
The relatively
nigh price of butterfat was a prominent factor in encouraging
tne ddiry business to expand*
Herd improvement associations
were formed to eliminate the poor producing cows*
National
advertising campaigns were conducted to explain the health
value 01 milk as a food*
This aided to increase the per
capita consumption of dairy products by 25 per cent from
1921 to 1926.
The Nebraska Dairy Development Society, organized in
1924, aided in increasing the number of herd improvement
associations.
It also helped the dairy farmer to purchase
good dairy stock and assisted the Nebraska breeder to
dispose of his surplus stock.
Dairy Calf Clubs were also
sponsored b y the society.
As a result of the improvements in dairying the produc­
tion of milk per cow in the state increased 67 per cent from
1921 to 1930 while at the same time the number of ccws in­
creased by only 15.7 per cent.
Butterfat yield was also
improved and the manufacture of creamery butter increased
45 per cent from 1921 to 1929.
The farmers of Nebraska had generally come to recognize
the need of maintaining soil fertility by 1930.
Definite
systems of rotation of crops had been worked out to apply
to the different sections of the state.
Diversification of
farming was practiced by increasing numbers of farmers.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-374Iraproved efficiency in farming had developed as a result of
the adoption of crops which were adapted to the environment
of the state.
Plant breeding and selection further improved
crop farming,
and increased efficiency was evident in animal
husbandry.
large scale.
Power farming was beginning on a comparatively
All these things aided in increasing the
efficiency of the farmer and in developing farming enter­
prises w h i c h were particularly suitable to the different
QA
parts of the state. ^
Q A
For the types of farming areas see Hap 5, page 19.
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CHAPTER XIII
FARM MACHINERY
T h ough mention has been made occasionally of the use of
different hinds of machines in cultivating the crops of
Nebraska, no definite effort has been^made to present the
evolutionary development of farm machinery in the state.
The purpose of this chapter is, first, to present in a gen­
eral way the Introduction of newly invented and improved
farm implements during the period of expansion and, second,
to dwell more in detail upon the mechanization of farm opera­
tions during the period of readjustment.
The story of the use of improved labor-saving machinery
on the farms of Nebraska is similar to that of other Great
Plains Stages.
The Civil War provided an impetus to the
invention of farm machinery.
With new machines in use, men
could be released from the farm for service in the army with­
out any decline in agricultural production.
Nebraska was
just beginning its history at the time of the war;
therefore
it would be natural for settlers as they moved into the
state,
if their means were sufficient,
to take advantage of
the new implements as they were manufactured.
The first concern of the pioneer farmer was breaking
the sod.
In many settlements only the most wealthy of the
settlers owned a breaking plow.
These plows were heavy
and usually required two or three yoke of oxen to pull them.
^Gustav Adolph Bade, "A History of the Dutch Settlement,
Lancaster County, Nebraska," M. A. Thesis MS in University of
Nebraska Library^ 132.
-375-
Re produced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-376Steel p l o w 8 had been widely used in the prairie regions
by 1850.2
It can be safely assumed that the early Nebraska
plows were made of steel.
The chilled iron plow was put
into use in 1870 in the United States and as it was not nearly
as expensive as the cast steel plow, It became more widely
used.0
Early plows were single-share walking plows, usually
drawn b y oxen.
These continued to be used during the 7 0 * 3
and early 8 0 ’s when horses were replacing oxen as the motive
power.
Even after the introduction of the sulky plow, it
appears that the walking plow was favored for breaking sod. ^
The riding or sulky plo\v was in general use in states
east of Nebraska b y 1880 but about that time it lost favor
partly because it was a two-wheel affair and partly because
5
the work performed by it was not satisfactory.
Shortly after
this, w h e n the three-xvheel sulkies were introduced, the
demand for the riding plow increased. , The sulky plow was
2Leo Rogin, "The Introduction of Farm Machinery in Its
R e l ation to the Productivity of Labor in the Agriculture of
the U n i t e d States During the Nineteenth Century," in the
University of California Publications in Economics, (Berkeley,
1631), X, 34.
3 I b i d . , 35.
^ I b i d . , 50.
Ro g i n states that a contributor to the
Country Gentlemen In 1876 from Adams Co. Nebr., stated that
in his section breaking was done w i t h a plow having two
12-inch bottoms drawn by a span of horses and one yoke of
oxen.
5Ibid.,39.
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introduced in Nebraska during the 1 8 8 0 «s and came into
general use during the following decade.6
There is mention of the use of the gang clow in differ­
ent parts of the Mississippi Valley by the later 60's, but
the greater cost,
as well as the heavy drought, prevented
it from being widely used.
There wav: no notable widespread
use of the gang plow in the United States during the nine7
teenth century.
It was during the 1 9 0 0 ‘s that the gang
plow began to come into this state.
At first only four
horses were used to pull the plow, which was a heavy load
for them.
time.
The big hitches were not used or made at that
In the following decade proper hitches became avail­
able, hence six horses could be used.
This caused the gang
plow to come into rather general use.6
Early settlers usually planted “sod-corn" as their first
crop after the sod was broken.
In order to get the soil in
proper cultivation for the next crop, especially if it was
wheat,
cross plowing would be done.
It appears that quite
often the farmers had to resort to laboriously repeated
plowings before the seed could be planted.
The harrows
used were crude "A— shaped" drags made of boards or logs
nailed together and with pegs or spikes driven through them.
Otherwise brush tied together would be dragged across the
fields in order to prepare the seed bed.
Spike-tooth
6 Intervlew with Dr. H. C. Filley, University of Nebraska
Dept, of Rural Economics.
Interview with Mr. J. H. Flodman,
Wahoo.
^Rogin, o£. c i t ., 41.
8Dr. H. C. Filley Interview.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-378harrows began to come into the state in the late 70's and
early 80* s, and the next decade saw an increasing use of the
improved straight-tooth harrow as well as the spring-tooth
harrow.®
Disc harrows were manufactured in this country before
1880^® but it was not until after 1892 that this implement
began to be sold in rather large quantities.11
It appears
safe to conclude that the disc harrow was not in general
use in Nebraska until after 1900.12
At first the straight
disc was used and later the cutaway machine came in.
The
latter type proved more popular than the former among the
farmers.
After the seed bed was prepared the early settler sowed
the small grain broadcast.
Seed was scattered by hand at first
but later several devices were used.
The hand rotation machine
consisted of a sack strapped to the shoulder with a mechanism
at the bottom of the sack operated by a hand crank.
As the
farmer walked along and turned the crank the seed was scattered
in a rather wide circle.
introduced.
In the 70's the end-gate seeder was
This consisted of a rotation machine attached tu
the rear end of the wagon box.
Power was provided by a sprocket
w h e e l bolted to one of the rear wheels of the wagon.
A cog
chain connected the sprocket wheel with the mechanism of
the seeder,
enabling the farmer to sow his grain
^Bade MS, 133.
^-°Rogin, o p . c l t . , 63.
11
Idem.
l^See Bade MS, 135.
I
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-379quite evenly.
13
After the grain was sown broadcast there
necessarily followed the operation of covering It by the
harrow or some kind of drag.
The “force-feed” or press drill was invented about
1851 but did not come into general use until some time later.
In Nebraska, the decade of the 1880's witnessed the introduc—
14
tion of this implement and by 1890 it was in general use.
The first machine was a six-row drill four feet wide.
Then
the Hoosier eight runner drill was used and gradually larger
machines came into general use.
first, was the hoe drill;
drill,
The type of implement, at
this was superseded by the shoe
and later the disc drill came to be the one the
farmers desired.
The shoe drill eliminated, in large measure
the difficulty from clogging when there was trash in the
field.
This had been the principal objection to the hoe
drill.
However,
the latter machine could penetrate the
soil and cover the seed better.
overcome by the disc drill.
Both difficulties were
This type of implement made
it possible to seed ground prepared with little labor or
even to “stubble in" without any previous preparation of the
seedbed.
This drill proved to be especially popular in the
western part of Nebraska.
15
It has been estimated that in a normal working day
(10 hours)
a two-horse drill could sow 9% acres, a three—
^■^Rogin, o d . c i t ., 202.
^ 4E pp MS, 16; Gardner MS, 41; Flodraan Interview.
•^5Rogin, o p . c i t . , 198-9.
i
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—380—
horse drill ll£ acres, and a four-horse drill about 16
acres.
Although the use of this implement as compared
with the end-gate and rotation seeders did not effect a
saving of labor or time, it was realized that certain ad­
vantages resulted from its use.
these:
Among the advantages were
less seed was required than by broadcasting methods,
economy was realized when grass seed was sown at the same
time the small grain was seeded, and more certain and larger
yields resulted.
It was the general opinion that the wheat
crop was Increased by one-eight, after the drill came into
general use.
In the planting of corn the incoming pioneer farmer, in
early times, often did not possess a corn planter.
Accord­
ingly, he would mark his field with a home-made implement
by nailing boards together in such a way that, with markers
driven into the boards, the rows would be evenly spaced.
As
this implement was dragged both ways across the field the
marks would cross at right angles with each other and later
the corn would be planted with a hoe at the Intersections.
Those farmers who owned a corn planter would mark their
fields only one way*
One man drove the team hitched to a
planter and another man worked a lever and dropped the corn.
In the late 70's walking two-row markers were introduced and
about the same time single-row corn planters.
Later in the
1 6 I b l d . , 208.
•^Yearbook, U. S. D. A., (1899), 318.
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-381BO* s the double—row corn planters carne to be used*
lister was placed on the market about 1890.
The corn
Its general use
in Nebraska did not take place until the later 1890's and
some farmers still prefer the surface planting implements.
Corn was usually cultivated by a one—horse two— shovel
cultivator.
This meant that only one side of the row could
be cultivated at a time.
In the 70* s a different type of
walking cultivator began to be introduced.
The shovels on
this implement were arranged in such a way that the row could
be straddled and both sides cultivated at the same time.
During the late eighties the walking cultivator was in general
use in the state.
Even by 1880 a few of the more prosperous
18
farmers were using riding cultivators
but this implement was
not generally adopted in the state until after 1900.
In harvesting small grain and hay the early settlers
had only the scythe or cradle.
use.
Later the reaper came into
The first patent granted by the federal government for
a reaper was to Obed Hussey in 1833; the following year
Cyrus H. McCormick took out his first patent.
The sale of
"Che first Hussey reaper in 1833 marked the appearance of
horse-drawn harvesting machinery in this country.
McCormick
sold his first machine in 1840 and by 1844 had developed a
fairly practical implement.
His subsequent business was such
18A u stin MS, 77.
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-382as to identify the introduction of the reaper with his
machine.
In the spring of 1847 McCormick moved to Chicago
and erected the first reaper factory in the West.
As the grain was cut by the early reapers, it lay upon
a platform and a man had to walk along and rake it off by
hand.
L ater a self-raking feature was added.
This machine
carried the grain on a platform and raked it off in bunches.
Both of these types of reapers were used in Nebraska, the
self-rake type being the more common until the middle 7 0 ’s.
The grain was picked up from the ground and tied by hand,
shocked,
and later stacked.
The M a r s h Harvester was invented in 1858 but was not
sold to any extent until some years later.
This machine
was an advance over the reaper in that it carried the grain
to a table, where two men,
standing on the machine, tied the
grain into bundles with bands made from the straw.
By 1870
the annual production in the United Stages of these mabhines
had reached one thousand.
20
However, the dominant type of
harvesting machine in this country from 1860 until the twine
binder was introduced in 1880, was the self-raking reaper.
21
It is ra-cher difficult to determine when Marsh Harvesters
were introduced in Nebraska.
22
19Epp, MS, 5.
29Rogin, on. c i t . , 107.
2 1 Ibid., 95.
2 2 Eade MS, p. 132 states that in 1,876 a Marsh Harvester
was purchased by two settlers of the Dutch colony in the southern
part of Lancaster county.
The Epp MS, p. IS, gives the impression
that this machine was introduced in Sage County about tne same
cime.
$fe
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
It appears that there was a general use of the harvester
before the late 70*&.
According to Rogin23 the binding of
grain on the ground was almost a thing of the past In Nebraska
oy 1876#
Headers and still greater numbers of harvesters
were used for harvesting small grain.
One can conclude from
the fact that headers were in use in the state during the
24
70*s
and the self-binder began to be introduced in the
latter part of the same decade and the beginning of the 80's,
that the harvester was not in such general use in Nebraska
as it was in states farther east.
The first self-binder used wire to tie the bundles.
It is generally believed that the first wire binder of the
type that became successful was marketed by 1873.
These
25
binders cost from 8300 to $400. '
This type of binder was
26
introduced into Gage County in 1877
and into Polk County
2.7
in 1879.
Wire oinaers were to be found in otner parts
OQ
of the settled portions of the state by 1880.
Wire binders were not' satisfactory arid when the twine
binder was put on the market in 1880, on a commercial scale,
29
it soon replaced the wire binder.
There had been a few twine binders placed on the market
23oj2. cit. , 110.
^ 4 i b i d . , 106; Flodman Interview— Mr. Flodman stated that
headers were in rather common use in Polk County in '77— *78.
^^Rogin, ojc. c i t . , 113.
26Epp MS, 16.
27
Flodman Interview.
^®S^e Austin MS, 77.
^%togin, o£. c i t . , 116.
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*•384“
before 1880 but in that year Deerlng put out 3,000 machines
for commercial use*
The Deering binder was, in principle,
a combination of the Marsh style of harvester with the
Appleby twine binder mechanism*
This machine met with such
success that practically all important manufacturers of
harvesting machines obtained the rights to apply the Appleby
patent to their harvesters*
Manufacturers, in their attempts
to meet the demand for the twine binders, made an excessive
output in 1883*
This over-supply, together with the keen
competition smong the manufacturers,
price of about £100.
caused a reduction in
This helped to increase the demand
and adoption of the machine.*'
Twine binders cane into use in Nebraska around 1882.
At first there was no carrier for the bundles but in a few
years this feature was added.
.Nebraska farmers readily
adopted this machine and by the end of the decade practically
all small grain was cut by this method.
In fact, by 1890,
the manufacturers of the country had practically ceased to
make the harvester and wire binder.
A small number of self-
rake reapers were made largely for the harvesting of flax.*"
Most of the corn of the state during the period of
expansion was harvested from the standing stalks.
fodder was wanted, a heavy knife
cut it by hand.
If the
(corn knife) was used to
These knives were often made from scythe
/
3 0 I b l d . , 117.
31Epp MS, 16; Austin MS, 77; Flodman Interview.
32B o gin, oj3. c i t . , 118.
,X
1
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-3 8 5 -
blaaes.
M a n y farmers made a corn cutter of* the sled oattern*
Attached to the sled on either side was a knife that would
cut uhs corn as the sled was pulled between the rows#
Two
men on the sled would gather the corn and lay it in bunches
to be shocked or later gathered#0,5
Corn harvesters of the
sled pattern were sold commercially in the late S O ‘s.
As a result of the combined work of many inventors,
a
macnine was produced which was much like the present-day corn
binder.
Llost of the early corn binders were constructed as
a modified form of the McCormick reaper.
However, a machine
of a different type was invented by A. S. Peck of Geneva,
Illinois,
and patented in 1892.34
This machine was made
with two divides, one passing on each side of a row of corn.
A sickle cut the stalks and these were carried back in a
vertical position to the binding mechanism.
The bundles were
"kicked out" to a carrier and then were dropped where desired.
The corn was later placed in shocks.
This type of corn binder
was an adaptation of the self-binder for small grains and was
readily adopted by farmers In the corn raising states.
The
corn binder had come into general use in Nebraska by 1900.
A l t h o u g h threshers had been in use In the United States
since the decade of the forties, not all Nebraska pioneer
farmers had access to, or had the means to buy, one.
Home
33Some of the corn sleds had a knife only on one side
and one man could take care of the corn.
34Eugene Clyde Brooks, The Story of Corn and the_ West­
ward Migration, (New York, 1916), 225.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
made flails were used to beat the grain out of the heads.
The straw was usually placed on a she-t or a threshing floor
in the barn before the flail was used.35
threshing was
to the center.
Another method of
to place the grain in a circle with the heads
Then horses or oxen were driven around on the
grain thereby separating the kernels from the straw.
straw was then removed with a fork.
The
Grain and chaff were
separated by being dropped through the wind; or two men swung
a sheet to create a breeze as the grain was dropped.35
As the acreage of small grain expanded and as the har­
vesting machines were more widely adopted, other than machine
methods practically precluded threshing the grain.
The old
methods were too slow and laborious.
The first threshers knocked the grain from the straw
but did not separate the two.
Then separators were developed
but the grain was not cleaned very well of the chaff; soon,
however,
the winnowing feature was added to the separator.
It seems that the first threshing machines were itinerant
concerns, or else one farmer in the neighborhood owned an
outfit and the other farmers paid him to thresh their grain.
Some of the farmers of the state, owning large barns, threshed
their own grain with small machines during the winter months,
but these threshers often were provided only with separators
and hand operated fanning mills were used for cleaning the
grain.
35Eede MS, 132.
36Epp MS, 5.
i
£
/
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-387Early threshers were propelled by horse power.
were two types of these machines:
There
the tread type of power
where the horses would walk upon an endless tread—mill, and
the sweep type where several horses could b e hitched to a
large overhead wheel, or to a mechanism on the ground, and
driven in a Circle.
In both types, of course, the proper
mechanical connection had to be made with the separator.
The tread power type was the most popular with small threshers,
while an improved form of .sweep power came to be used for the
large machines.
Improvements in horse power threshers con­
tinued until the steam engine came into use during the 80 * s.
horse-propelled threshers were being used in Nebraska
^7
during the 1 8 7 0 's.*"
No doubt there were threshing machines
during the previous decade but the early models did not
separate the wheat from the chaff.
The grain thresher of the
70*s cleaned the grain but even in the 80's the separators
r j; Q
lacked a grain elevator-, self-feeder, and stacker.*■
Most of the early Nebraska threshing outfits were of the
larger sweep type requiring from 8 to 12 horses to furnish
the p o w e r .1"
A large crew of men was required to operate
the threshers..
a weigher,
One or two band cutters, one or two feeders,
a sacker and, if the straw was stacked, usually
four additional men were needed.
A small two— horse tread
37Bade MS, 133, states that the first thresher in the
Dutch settlement was used in 1872 and in 1878 one of the
settlers bought a new machine for $600.
This could tnresh
from five to six hundred bushels of wheat per day*
38Epp MS, 16.
^ I d e m . ; Rogin, ojo. cit., 185.
i
■j*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
type of thresher required a crew of about five men.
The
smaller machine could thresh about 155 bushels of wheat per
day and the larger ones from 300 to 600 bushels.40
About 1880 steam engines were introduced in the United
States to furnish power for the threshers.
Nebraska itinerant
or contract outfits readily accepted this new kind of power.
By 1885 steam was replacing horse power in Gage County41
and by 1890 this kind of power was in general use in the
state .42
W i t h the use of this new power,
separators of
larger capacity were purchased and this made for an economy
of labor.
The threshing machines were improved to the
extent that by 1900 many of them were equipped with automatic
band cutters,
self-feeders, weighers,
and blowers.
They had
wider cylinders and had double the capacity of the earlier
machines.
The majority of the machines could thresh from
1,000 to 1200 bushels of grain per da.y a.nd some reports were
as high as 2,000 bushels per day.43
These newer improved
machines saved 'the labor of from 5 to 7 men in their operation
It is interesting to note how much it cost a Nebraska
farmer to have his grain threshed in those days.
Underwood,
Mr. C. P.
living two miles north of Danbury, Nebraska,
reported the following costs for threshing 4,627 bushels of
40Rogin, oo. c i t . , 185.
41S p p MS, 16.
42A ustin MS, 77.
45See Bade MS, 157.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-389wheat and 300 bushels of rye In 1 8 9 7 i44
Machine
threshing fee-----$105.00
50.00
10 men 5 days--------------1 man 3 days---------------3#00
37.50
5 teams 5 days-------------Board of men 5 days— ----—
20.25
Feeding teams--------------4.00
Total----- $219.73
Apparently it took five days to thresh about 5,000
bushels of grain or an average of 1,000 bushels a day.
Total cost per bushel was about 4.4 cents.
Although there seems to be no tangible and definite
evidence of the fact, the writer believes that the increased
use of improved farm machinery played a rather Important
part in the expansion of agriculture in Nebraska during the
period 1870-1900.
It is true that the Nebraska farmer could
not always, and even if he desired, take advantage of the new
machines as they were placed on the market.
Generally this
was a period of low prices and low purchasing power for farm
produce.
This condition, probably, was offset to a certain
extent by the fact that as farmers moved into Nebraska they
did not have to discard an old machine with no market value
but could select "che best there was on the market at uhe
■Dime— if they had the money.
In the older states farmers
had to take a loss if they wanted a new improved machine in
place of their old obsolete one.
This meant practically a
total loss of their previous investment.
44Annual R e p o r t , St;. Bd. Agr. , (1897), 103-4.
Mr.
Underwood was reported to be a "reliaole, painstaking,
Intelligent, systematic farmer in Nebraska, one who 'keeps
books', hence knows just what he is doing..."
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-390During the three decades,
1900-1930, outstanding changes
in farm mechanization took place.
The first two decades
were times of general prosperity for the farmer.
The general
price level of the country rose from 82 in 1900 to 103 in
1910 and then more than doubled by 1920.
In general, the
prices of agricultural products rose faster, especially
during the first part of the decade 1910-1920 than the
general price level.
This meant high purchasing power for
the grain and livestock the farmer had to sell.
He could,
accordingly, buy the new types of farm implements on the
market, whereas during the 80's and 9 0 's the low farm Income
prevented him from always doing so.
As the Nebraska farmers prospered during the early part
of the twentieth ce'ntury, they availed themselves of the
constantly improved types of machinery.
Riding Implements
for most kinds of field work were then on the market.
This
was probably another incentive to buy the new machinery.
Two-row cultivators, gang plows, hay loaders, manure spreaders,
portable grain elevators, gasoline engines, tractors and
tractor machinery,
and other new equipment aided the farmer
to produce more abundantly and to take part of the drudgery
out of farm life.
W i t h the exception of the farm tractor, few radical
changes in the type of machinery took place in this period.
The changes were principally along the lines of improving
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-591the ease of operation, of making larger machines, and. of
supplying more durable implements.
It was necessary to make
the machines heavier and more substantial as size increased.
Only a few of the changes in farm machinery other than
the tractor will be considered during the period 1900-1930,
The tractor has so revolutionized farm operations that it
will receive special attention later in the chapter.
Sulky plows were replaced by gang plows on many of the
farms of the state.
Grain drills six and seven feet wide,
planting ten and twelve rows, did away with the smaller
six and eight row drills of the previous period.
The wheat industry experienced the changes in machinery
of the times.
Binders were increased in size, the six foot
machine being the one most commonly used.
These binders were
too heavy for three horses but four horse hitches or eveners
were not available for binders at first.
Farmers solved the
problem b y using two horses as leaders with a boy usually
riding one of the lead horses and drlv* ng both of them.
The
other three horses were driven by the operator of the machine.
Later as the seven and eight foot binders were used they
were equipped with the four— horse hitches and farmers ordin­
arily used six horses to pull these machines.
In the 1910's
lighter binders were placed on the market and these required
only four horsesj accordingly,
was needed.
only one driver and operator
Some of the later binders had an auxiliary
engine attached to operate the binding mechanism and the
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-392horses merely pulled the machine.
This type of binder did
not become very popular.
Large threshing machines were used until the 1920's.
Separators with 30-36 inch cylinders were the most common,
although there were some even larger.
Steam engines fur­
nished the power for these large machines.
also were used to a limited extent.
Large tractors
Practically all the
threshing outfits were itinerant or contract concerns.
The
threshing season lasted well into the fall of each year.
In the 20' s the small threshing machine owned by a group
of farmers began to invade the virtually monopolistic field
of large outfit threshers.
The farmers of a neighborhood
would purchase a separator in common.
This was powered by
a tractor owned by one of the farmers, who would be paid
for the use of the machine.
The grain of the members of the
group w o u l d be threshed first, and after this work was com­
pleted
the group would contract to thresh the grain of non­
members.
In this way inroads were made upon the work of the
large threshers and by 1930 the smaller group owned ma.chines
were beginning to replace the larger ones.
45
A new type of machine that began to make its appearance
in the late 2 0 ' s in the wheat fields of Nebraska was the com­
bined harvester and thresher,
combine.
commonly known simply as the
Although there had been combines used in the
45For the way in which the Dutch farmers of Lancaster
County handled the financial aspect of their group-owned
thresher see Bade MS, 147.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-393bonanza wheat; ranches In California as early as the 1880*s,
it was generally thought this machine would not be practic­
able east of the Rockies because the wheat could not be left
standing until ripe enough to be combined.^®
When it was
discovered that this new method of harvesting could be used
in the Great Plains region,
the introduction of the combine
was rapid.
The combine was first introduced in the hard winter—wlceat
47
belt about 1917.
In 1927 more than one-half of the wheat
of this region was harvested with combines.48
This type of
harvesting machine appeared in Nebraska around 1920, although
it was not a;- readily accepted here as in some of the other
wheat producing states.
Kansas had 14 combines in 1917;
49
8,274 in 1926; and about 20,000 by 1928.
In Nebraska there
were 1,602 combines in 1987 (the first year of enumeration)
and 3,391 in 1930.50
In corn cultivation the two-row planter and two-row
lister replaced the one-row machines on some of the farms
of the state.
The two-row cultivator was used extensively
in the corn growing districts.
A two-row cultivator,
especially designed for cultivating listed corn, also came
into general use.
for fodder,
As an increasing amount of corn was cut
the improved corn binder was purchased by many
^ Y e a r b o o k , U. S. D. A., (1930), 18.
47W. E. Grimes, "The Effect of Improved Machinery and
Production Methods on the Organization of Farms in the Hard
Winter Wheat Belt," in Journal of Farm Economics, X, 226.
4 8I d e m .
^ Y e a r b o o k , U. S. D. A.,
5QNebr. Agr. Statistics,
(1930), 13*
(1950), 88.
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*
-394of the farmers.
Machinery for harvesting corn developed
rather slowly but by 1930 there were some mechanical corn
pickers in use although the grea-c bulk of the crop was
harvested by hand.
Corn shellers, previously operated by hand, came to be
powered b y stationary gas engines or tractors and a few
farms used electrical power for this purpose.
shredder also was introduced
after
1900..
The corn
This machine
would cut the stalks, blades, and husks into small pieces,*
thereby making it more valuable as a feed for livestock.
Silage cutters were Improved to the extent that the fodder
and grain were cut and curried by a blower-apparatus through
a pipe over the top of the silo.
powered by tractors.
Machines,
These machines were usually
either stationary or portable
were coming into use for the grinding of corn and other
grain for feeding to livestock.
The gas engine or tractor
was used to furnish the power for the grinders.
It was previously mentioned in this chapter that the
tractor,
during the period under consideration, constituted
the most radical change or innovation in farm machinery.
The demand for increased production of agricultural products
during the World War period served as an impetus to apply
power machinery to step up the production and meet the de­
mand.
Since the World War, marked changes have taken place
in production methods employed on the farm.
automobile,
“he truck,
The’
the tractor and machinery that goes
wit h it, have been instrumental in bringing about these change
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-395In fact the transformation has been so marked that It could
properly be called an "Agricultural Revolution".
Some idea of the magnitude of the change can be gained
by some comparisons pertaining to the United States as a
whole.
From 1870 to 1925 the average area of improved farm
land cultivated by each farm worker increased from 32 to 49
acres, or slightly more than 50 per cent.
During the same
period the value of machinery in terms of the 1913 dollar
increased ten-fold— from $270,000,000 to $2,700,000,000.
By
the same standard of measuring value, machinery per farm,
worker Increased from $36 to $200, a gain of 450 per cent.
51
A meri can farmers employed about 40 per cent more machin­
ery in 1925 than In 1910.
This reduced the cost of hired
labor about 25 to 30 per cent.
Technical progress made It
possible for fewer farmers to increase agricultural pro­
duction by 16 per cent during the four years 1925-1928, as
52
compared w it h the years 1919-1922.
It is estimated that the total primary power on farms,
excluding man power, increased from 1.6 horse power per
worker in 1870 to 4.1 in 1920.
The following is an estimate
of the total power utilized on the farms of the United States
in 1924:
animal power,
31 per cent; tractors, 16 per cent;
motor trucks, less than 4 per cent; stationary engines, 12.5
per cent;
windmills,
slightly over 1 per cent; and electricity
^ Y e a r b o o k , U. S. D. A., (1930), 16.
^ A u s t i n A. Dowell and Oscar B. Jesness,
Farmer and the Export M a r k e t , 129.
The American
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-3965.5 per cent.
53
Although all parts of the country were affected by this
technical progress,
the western grain growing regions have
been most influenced.
By 1930 mechanical power was replacing
horse power in heavy work, such as plowing and disking, in
all parts of the country.
In the Corn Belt and Wheat Belt
power machinery was being used for cultivating row crops and
for harvesting of grain.
Nebraska felt the influence of the technological changes
in agriculture.
As the tractor was the key instrument in
effecting these changes, it is the chief implement to consider*
The decade of the 1 9 1 0 ’s witnessed the introduction of the
farm tractor and accompanying machinery into the state.
However,
this kind of farm equipment did not come into general
use until after 1920— in fact not until after 1925.
In 1918
there were 4,746 tractors in the state and 8,888 in 1920,
an increase of 87 per cent in three years.
In the five
years from 1921 to 1925 the increase in number was not as
great,
there being 10,628 in the former year and 13,733 in
she la.tter year.
per cent.
This represented an increase of only 29
However,
from 1925 to 1930 the number of tractors
increased markedly— from 13,733 to 38,524, an increase of
180 per cent.
If one considers the period of 1918-1930
/
53Lewis Cecil Gray, "Agricultural Machinery," in Encyclopoedla of the Social Sciences, I, 552.
^ ^Y e a r b o o k , U. S. D. A.,
(1930), 16.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-397j.nclusive, the im:i-bcr of tractors during these 1? years
increased by 711,7 per cent.55
i'V.ri-_, one person ocxore 197-0, tractors vere used to
su;'
.-.ie -Orsc pomer on tne farm.
host of the tractors
--ere used mainly for the heavy vorh, especially plominp.
is pos s1
It
e -iio.t t -.c _•i an price of horse c and niles bet'-reen
rfl'j a no 1- 'a inf In enced cone farmers to buy tractors instead
r
i
1 r-
-
*3^6
'-ne of the common nnhes of the eaj‘ly tractor *:as the one
cyli no.e** 'Jitan.
After 1919 nhen the For dson tractor appeared
use cf the tractor b< cose acre t'nerol althouyxh erperience
prove•
’ thet f e Fordcan ear not pove-rful enouyh for certain
■’
•"inc.s of f r rn T*orh end un suited, for other types of ” orh.
de
. c , therefore,
11all-purpo seM
arose for an
She
tractor uni cli
the manufacturers have attempted to supply.
The use of pover machinery v;as of vital importance
to the development of the specialised, ■'■heat prominp area of
smth-ectern he-brash a.
In order to meet the demands
durian the boric har reriod, the farmers desired to plot;
A
thousua•"s of acres of sod 3.nr
put the ;;rrui:d is;to •-heat.
I
been levs lo^ec" then as it "c.r
a
.
;
a.or t
SC 0.1
O
i.'.'p
.
c.
v:
IC.OI:in
“T v .
r.
* - -r r •
•
•-
x.
U o ; ig
0ivi:
hO
) 39.
App
(19"0),
Appeneix,
Finure 1
19" •
the nun 1:(=-r1 cXX* *j
Uiitil 193 5 ancl
rise in the trend, especially ±roi
•96y p 0
en f in , Finurc In, m i l l for or aC6 ^ren'J. ox
horses, and mule’s'. "'It mill be noted that the peah of the
trend v:ar reached in 1911— about the time bmctoro mere
com.in;-: into the state.
*5bcbr. Ayr. Statistics,
-■
>
— ■ «►
~ .
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-398problem,
the farmers who had steam engines, which they had
"been using for threshing, decided to use them for plowing*
A large steam engine could pull a ten—bottom breaker plow or
two ten— foot discs and drills*
Many of the farmers bought
large kerosene or distillate burning tractors*
In this
manner thousands of acres of sod were turned under and orepared as the seedbed for wheat.57
In harvesting their wheat crops in this area the farmers
used their big machinery.
to four binders each*
The large tractors pulled from two
The wheat was threshed by large
separators having a capacity of two to three thousand bushels
per day.
With the price of wheat at $2.00 per bushel,
the
large, clumsy tractors, with their heavy cost of operation,
and the binder-thresher method of harvesting the grain were
satisfactory from an economic point of view.
But after 1920,
when the price of wheat fell to a dollar or less per bushel,
smaller and more efficient tractors were purchased and com­
bines came to be used in harvesting the grain.
The major
58
portion of the wheat in 1926 was harvested by combines.
Between the experience of the large scale wheat farmer
of the southwest with his large tractor and the farmer of the
eastern part of the state with his small tractor,
there was
developed a tractor that could perform most of the drawbar
and belt work required on Nebraska farms.
The 3—plow and
57R a m e y C. Whitney, "Agriculture in the Specialized
Wheat A r e a of Nebraska," M. A. Thesis MS in University of
Nebraska Library, 32.
58rbid. , 33.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-399the 4-plow tractor came 'into use and some farmers demanded
a 6-plow tractor,59
At first the farmers tried to use their horse drawn
Implements behind the tractors.
Also, manufacturers were
cautious about producing the heavy tractor implements be­
cause the necessarily higher price might interfere with th e
sale of such Implements.
It came to be recognized, however,
that the power of the modern tractor necessitated the more
strongly built attachments so that when a farmer engaged in
power farming he usually bought some tractor implements,
especially a plow,
tandem dish, and cultivator.
When tractors were first purchased by Nebraska farmers
it was intended that the power furnished by the machines
should supplement horse power,
heavy work on the farm.
especially in performing the
As the use of the tractor increased,
it was no longer confined to supplementing horse power but
became the main source of power on numerous farms.
Some
farmers began to use their tractors for nearly all of the
farm work.
As he gained experience in handling his machine,
the operator found that it could perform much of the work on
the farm formerly believed possible only by the use of horses.
This development has naturally resulted in a decrease in the
number of horses and mules on the farms of Nebraska,
00
59A s a rule the farmers of the western part of the state
reauired larger tractors than those in the eastern part
because they had more ground to take care of and the topo­
graphy of the land is such that the larger machines could
be used more satisfactorily.
59Of course the Increased use of automooiles and trucks
has contributed to the decline in the number of horses in
the state as a whole,
i
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-400In 1921 the United States Department of Agriculture conducted
a study of the changes In work stock after the purchasing of
tractors In the winter wheat area- of the country.
This survey
Included 15*7 farms in Phelps and Kearney counties in Nebraska*
It was found that the
actual reduction per farm was 2.2 horses
or 30 per cent of the
number previously used before the
purchase of a tractor.
a potential reduction
number previously used.
It was also determined that there was
of 3.1 horses per farm or 45^ of the
The
reason why the farmers kept
more horses than they needed was the low price at the time*
After 1920 the price trend of horses and mules fell precip—
ltously
and farmers felt that they could not afford to
sell at the tlme.®*^
For the state,
as a whole, the number of horses and
mules decreased from 1,061,000 in 1920 to 850,000 in 1930.®®
This meant a decrease of almost 25 per cent.
This decrease
corresponds rather closely with that on the farms of Phelps
64
and Kearney counties for 1921.
A comparison
of the trends
in the number of horses and mules and of tractors shows that
during the entire decade, 1920-1930, the amount of work
stock decreased,
the sharpest drop being after 1925, while the
number of tractors Increased,
the sharpest increase occurring
^ A p p e n d i x . Figure 12, xxlil.
6 2 Hbward Ross Tolley and W. R. H u m p h r i e s , "Tractors and
Horses in the Winter Wheat Belt, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska,
in U. S. D. A. Bulletin 1 2 0 2 , (1924), 45.
® 5Nebr. A g r . Statistics. (1930), 120.
6 ^ A p p endix. Figure 14, xxix.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-401after 1925.65
The replacement of the horse by the tractor has caused
the acreage previously used for raising feed crops fed to
horses and mules to be reduced.
The United States Department
of Agriculture in 1927 estimated that from fifteen to twenty
million acres in the nation had been released from producing
feed crops and were now used for purposes of raising food
_
66
products.
Replacement of the horse and buggy by the
automobile has had a similar effect.
Where work stock has
been r e d uced to two or three head per farm it pays the
farmer to buy oats and hay rather than raise them.
Illinois,
in 1920,
In
59 of 286 farmers who had previously
raised hay considered it more prorltable to buy hay after
they had purchased their tractors.
Apparently the tractor has, in part, influenced a change
in the cropping systems of Nebraska farmers.
A slight re­
duction in acreage and a rather sharp reduction in production
of tame hay and oats occurred from 1920 to 1950.
This
was the beginning of a trend that became more pronounced,
especially in the case of oats,
as more Internal combustion
engines were used in place of horses.
It Is more profit­
able for the farmer who is doing most of his farm work by
®®Again, one must be reminded that the tractor alone
was not responsible for the decrease of horses but trucks and
automobiles exerted their influence In the trend also.
660. E. Baker, "Land Use," in Yearbook, U. S. D. A.,
(1927), 413.
67L. A. Reynoldson and H. R. Tolley, "Changes Effected
by Tractors on Corn Belt Farms," in U. £3. D. A., Farmers
Bulletin 1 2 9 6 , (1922), 8.
^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 8, xvi; Figure 4, xil.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-402power machinery to hire horses when he may need them than to
feed the animals the year around.
Because of such a condition
it would not pay him to raise feed crops as he did formerly.
Tractors
^ave effected a decided economy of human labor.
One man operating a tractor can perform a greater amount of
farm work than by the use of horses.
speeded up.
Farm operations are
For Instance, in the case of plowing the tractor
can operate.when the ground is too hard and dry for the horse
plow.
The speed of the tractor need not be reduced on account
of high temperatures, whereas when horses furnish the power
the speed of opera.tion must be materially reduced.
In the study made by the United States Department of Agri
culture previously referred to, a comparison was made of
various farm operations with the use of tractors and of
69
70
horses.
The results were as follows:
Operation
Power Used
Acres per day
Plowing
3-plow tractor
2-plow
"
Horses
8.6
6.5
2.7
Disking
3-plow tractor
2-plow
"
Horses
30.8
Harrowing
3-plow tractor
2-plow
'*
Horses
51.4
39.0
26.3
Cutting Grain
3-plow tractor
2-plow
M
Horses
23.2
19.7
15.6
21.6
16.7
®^This study was made in Illinois.
^^Reynoldson and Tolley, o p . cit., 4<
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
In plowing,
the 2-plow tractor saved from 2.5 to 30 days
of man labor during the year and the 3-plow tractor from 30
to 35 days.7"*It is noted that this study was made in the Corn Belt
and no survey was made regarding corn cultivation.
help was required for cultivating,
Where
the purchase of a tractor
would not eliminate hired help entirely.
In order to do
this it would be necessary to have a tractor suitable for
this operation and to use the proper kind of cultivator—
the two-row or four-row tractor implement.
The farmer of
course, would have the alternative of reducing his corn
acreage so that it could be cultivated by the family help.
The above study was made in 1921.
Since then improvements
have b e e n made in tractor design so that by 1930 suitable
tractors for this farm operation,
as well as others, were on
the market.
According 'to Nebraska corn yield contests
72
a 38 per
cent reduction in the amount of man labor expended per acre
iy r z
of corn up to husking time was made from 1924 to 1930.
It was determined that In eastern Nebraska a farmer could
take care of about 120 acres In 1930 as compared with 80
acres In 1924;
in central Nebraska 150 acres as compared
with 100 acres; and in western Nebraska 220 acres as compared
71
I b i d . , 6.
7 2 Conducted under the supervision of the College of Agri­
culture.
73P. H. Stewart, et a l . , "Corn in Nebraska," College of
Agriculture, Extension Circular N o . 136, 43.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-404with 150 acres*
74
These data indicate the improvement that
was made in seven years in the cultivation of corn.
The use of the tractor has also effected an economy
of man labor in the production of small grain.
the federal Department of Agriculture,
According to
for a normal day's
work of 10 hours in 1921 the following results were secured
in comparing the sowing and cutting of wheat by horse power
and tractor power in three counties in Nebraska:75
Sowing
Phelps County
Saline
"
Keith
»
Phelps County
Keith
"
Phelps County
Saline
"
Keith
»
Phelps County
Saline
"
Keith
"
(Horses)
7.8 foot drill
1 man, 3.5 horses
ii
7.8 "
«
1
4.3
n
6,7 "
'«
1
" , 3.3
Sowing (Tractor)
Tractor drill,
1 man
”
11
1.7 men,
Cutting (Horses)
binder
1 man, 4.8 horses
ii
x
it
, 4.4
ii
«
1
"
4.0
Cutting (Tractorj
3 men
binder
ii
2
"
"
2.9
"
11.4 acres
11.9
"
10.8
H
17.8 acres
36.4
"
13.8
11.3
13.1
20.0
16.0
35.1
This report is not complete, as it does not state the
size of the equipment used by tractor-drawn as compared with
horse-drawn implements.
Although more men are required to
operate a tractor-binder the increased number of acres cut
per day as compared with the horse-powered binder would
effect a saving in hired help for the harvest season.
A comtarison has been made in the amount of time required
74 Idem.
7 ^Yearbook. U. S. D. A.,
(1922), 1053-4.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-405to produce one acre of 20 bushel wheat at the end of the
nineteenth century with the time required in 1925,
At the
former time it required 8 hours and 27 minutes to produce
one acre of wheat in central N e b r a s k a , w h i l e
in 1925 it
took 7 hours, if the wheat was cut with a binder,
77
hours if cut with a combine*
and 5
W i t h the saving in human labor resulting from the use
of the tractor, it follows that one man can take care of
more acres*
The effect has been to increase the size of
farm which one man can cultivate as a paying unit.
Of 629
tractor owners in Illinois in 1917 and 1919, thirty per cent
Increased the size of their farms by an average of 84 acres
*78
per farm.
One hundred fifty-seven farmers in Phelps and
Kearney Counties, in 1921, reported an average increase of
79
44 acres per farm after the purchase of a tractor.
As
previously stated, according to the Nebraska corn yield
contests,
it would be very likely that Nebraska farmers would
want to increase the size of their farms, because they
would be capable of taking care of more land than before a
tractor was purchased.
The farmer would face some difficulty in expanding his
cultivated area in regions of well established agriculture
where farms are already well defined, where fields are
76
Rogin, og* clt., 218.
77I b i d . , 228.
7®Reynoldson and Tolley,
7 ^Tolley and Humphries,
o jd .
c lt. , 7.
op. c l t ., 44.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-406fenced in small units, where buildings are well constructed,
and, 01
still greater importance, where men hold title to a
given piece of lane and there is no way to expand except to
rent or buy from another.
In 1925-1930, when the number of tractors in the state
increased markedly,
the size of farms Increased, on the
average, from 329.0 acres to 345.4 acres.
an increase of only 4 per cent.
This represents
However, the number of
acres brought under cultivation was 2,683,790 more in 1930
SO
than in 1925.
From these data one can conclude that the
influence of the tractor was not very important in increas­
ing the average size of farms in Nebraska.
There is no question that Nebraska farmers by the use
of tractors have economized in the use of hired labor, and
have been able, if circumstances permitted,
the amount of land that could be cultivated.
to Increase
These result­
ants of the use of power machinery would naturally be of
advantage to the farmer as there would normally be an Increase
in gross income.
However, the cost of the tractor and the
more expensive 'attachments used with it have increased the
amount of the farmer's capital investment and, therefore,
have increased the cost of farm operations.
In the study of tractors and horses in the winter wheat
belt,
1122;
it was found by the federal Department of Agriculture
8 QUnlted States Census of Agriculture, (1925), Pt. 1,
Fifteenth CensulTI (19307, II, Pt. 1, 6.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
that oi the 157 farmers in Phelps and Kearney Counties the
average increase of investment in farm machinery in 1921
resulting from
the purchase of a tractor
was as follows
Cost of
Cost of
tractor---------------------- -——— §1327
implements for__tractor—— __ —— — ' 278
,
Total------- #1605
value of work horses displaced— — $242
Value of horse-drawn implements
sold—
2
Total
$244
244
Net increase in investment— ------------ $1361
The average annual cost of operating tractors for
drawbar work in the same counties was s.lso determined.
Items Included under costs were depreciation,
repairs
interest,
(parts and upkeep), fuel, oil, and minor costs such
as taxes,
insurance,
and housing.
In 1921 the average cost
was §357;
in 1922 the cost was reduced to §260; and in 1923
O P
to §251,
Q
fT
The average life of a tractor was 6,8 years.
In order to compare costs of farming in 1921 with
tractor power and with horse power the Department of Agri­
culture asked 84 farmers who did not own tractors to cooperate
/
in determining their costs of horse power.
It must be kept
in mind that the farmers who owned tractors did not dispose
.
/
^•Tolley and Humphries, ojd c i t . , 48.
® ^ I b i d . , 32-37.
In a recent investigation, 1937, by the
University of Nebraska college of agriculture cost data were
secured on 23 tractors in Nemaha County, 26 in Buffalo County,
and 31 in Cheyenne County.
According to these data costs
ranged from $199 to $349 per year depending upon the size of
the tractor.
Frank Miller, et a l . , "Cost of Tractor Power
on Nebraska Farms," in Nebraska Experiment Station Bulletin
3 2 4 , (1937), 17.
®*^Idem,
According to the Nebraska study in 1937, the
average life ~>f the tractors, as estimated by the ^farmers,
ranged from li to 20 years, or a total or weighted average
of 13 years.
Miller, ojd. clt. , 5,
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-408of all of their stock and, hence, had the expense of feeding
the animals*
Also the reduction in man labor was an item to
be considered in determining costs of tractor farmers.
The
following constituted the costs of farmers owning tractors;^4
§557
Tractor cost------------------5^ 7
Work Stock---------- — — ------Total--------------------""§74
Cost of power with horses only-----662
Increase in cost of power due to using tractor- 2 I 2
Saving in family and regular hired labor
(8 mo. at §50 per mo.)
--40
Net increase in cost of power and labor due to
using tractor--------------------------------- §172
On farms having no tractors, it was found that the annual
average cost of horse power was §608,®® as compared with total
power costs of §874 on farms using both horses and tractors,
or a difference of §266 per year.
This would indicate that
tractor power would be more expensive than horse power.
How­
ever, the comparison is only on the basis of the kind of
power used and does not consider time and labor saved in power
farming and the possibility of farming more land.
The survey in 1921 indicated that' the average net in­
crease In investment per farmer was §1561.
earned an adequate return, for example,
seven per cent, which
was a common rate of interest at that time.
to slightly more than §95.00 a.nnually.
in the cost of power was §172.
This should have
This would amount
The net annual increase
Therefore, farmers using
tractors in Phelps and Kearney counties wou^-d have to Increase
their annual farm income by §267 plus taking care of the
84Tolley and Humphries,
o jd .
clt., 47.
8 5 I b i d . , 55.
i
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-409initial cost of power equipment if they were to conduct a
profitable business#
The most natural thing for the farmer
was to increase his acreage under cultivation in order that
more grain could be produced#
This, as has been stated, he
did by expanding his farm by 44 acres on the average.
This
did not necessarily insure him adequate returns on his invest­
ment but as will be presented later other factors entered
into farming as power machinery became more common.
In some instances it was found that mechanization resulted
in loss of profits in Nebraska#
was small,
Where the cultivated acreage
the returns could not take care of the heavy
capital outlay and overhead costs.
This resulted in a reversion
to horse-drawn implements on the smaller farms#®®
During the years Just previous to 1920 the automobile
was becoming a part of the equipment on many farms of the
state.
In the decade of the twenties the automobile became
so common among farmers that a farm without an auto was un—
87
usual.
In 1930 there were 129£58 farms in Nebraska
and
88
122,765 automobiles on these farms.
This meant that, on
the average,
there was almost one automobile to every farm.
The total number of autos on farms in Nebraska increased
each year, with the exception of 1923.
began in 1924.
A sharp increase
89
8 ®For an example of this see Bade, MS, 147*
8 7Fifteenth C e n s u s , (1930), Agriculture, II, Part I, 6.
8 8N e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1950), 88.
8 8A p p e n d l x , Figure 14, xxlx.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-410-
A1though the automobile had economic value to the farmer
its greatest asset was its social value*
The more rapid mode
of travel brought farm people into closer relationship with
urban conditions and aided in reducing the isolated existence
of many farmers*
Farmers could travel more and make more
contacts than previously.
At the same time the automobile
tended to break down the social solidarity of the neighbor­
hood and to reduce the feeling of intimate relationships
between farm homes.
According to one writer,
"Like every other major invention, it (the
automobile] has furthered social differentiation,
and has Increased the relative advantage of
ability and education and the possession of
capital.
It puts a premium on foresight, ini­
tiative, mechanical aptitude, and ability to
deal with men; and imposes a corresponding handi­
cap on those who lack these qualities.
Oldfashioned, standardized farming is ceasing to be
a. refuge for the routineer.
Along with increased use of the automobile, Nebraska
farmers have used the farm truck to aid them in carrying
on their enterprise.
The number of trucks on farms in the
state did not increase very rapidly from 1920 to 1924.
the
year
In
former year there were 5,233 trucks and in the latter
6,906,
an increase of about 32 per cent.
Beginning
in
1925, however,
the number increased rapidly, from 8,468 in
91
1925 to 20,473 in 1930.
This represented an increase of
92
almost 141 oer cent during these six years.
9 o H. W. Peck, "The Influence of Agricultural Machinery
and the Automobile on Farming Operations," in Quarterly
Journal of E c o n o m i c s , XLI, 543.
^"Nebr. Agr. S t a t istics, (1930), 88.
^ A p p e n d i x , Figure 14, xxix indicates _graphieally the^
increase of the number of trucks on farms from 1SW0 to 1930,
I
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-411The above figures Indicate that the truck did not become
an important factor in hauling farm products until the late
20*s.
Along with the development of automotive transportation
came the construction of better roads.
From 1910 to 1920 there
was an improvement in the roads of the state.
roads were graded and maintained by farmers.
Many miles of
The graded roads
were difficult to travel following rains, but during dry
weather they were a great improvement over the old roads or
wagon trails of earlier years.
were
In the following decade roads
further • improved,, with main highways being herd
surfaced and many miles of secondary roads constructed as
all-weather roads.
Increased use of the automobile and truck and better
roads have extended the market area available to the farmer.
In some instances hauling by automobile and truck has saved
93
two-thirds of the f a r m e r ^
A study,'mads
.
time in delivering his products.
previous
to 1930,
showed that before the
introduction of trucks the market points used by a certain
group of farmers averaged ? miles from the farm; afterwards
94
the average distance to market points was 18 miles.
The
part played by the motor truck in the transportation facilities
of the nation has been stated thus:
"It is the mission of the motor t r u c k t o
bridge the gap in our national transportation
system that still remained after rail and water­
way transport had made ours the most highly
veloped transportation country of the world.
^ Y e a r b o o k , U* S. D. A.,
(1930), IS.
^Idem.
^Eastman,
These Changing Times, 41.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-412Before the Introduction of the farm truck, Nebraska
grain was hauled to railroad stations with horses and wagons#
Livestock was hauled by the same method or driven to the •
nearest railroad stockyard to await shipment.
By 1930 an
increasing amount of the products of the farm were hauled
by truck,
either to the nearest railroad station or directly
to the larger markets at Omaha, Sioux City, South St. Joseph,
and Denver.
If a farmer did not own a truck, commercial
truckers were ready to do his hauling.
The development of automotive transportation facilities
had its Influence in developing certain specialized areas of
agricultural production in the staxe.
An example of this
would be the specialized wheat area of southwestern Nebraska.
In many instances,
15 miles
farmers had to haul their wheat as far as
to the nearest railroad.
a team and wagon was needed.
Faster transportation than
Slow speed trucks hauling 50-
80 bushels of wheat were introduced about 1916 and used well
into the 1920's.
Then high speed trucks with a capacity as
high as 160 bushels of grain came to be used extensively.
A few farmers trucked their corn and wheat directly to the
Denver market and some hauled their livestock to Omaha or
Denver.
95
In the eastern part of the state the placing of light
speed trucks on the market increased the popularity of the
farm truck in that section.
This type of truck came into use
in the late 20's and no doubt helped to Increase the number
®®Whltney MS, 37.
Reproduced with permission o f the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-413of trucks on the farms over the state.
The Omaha market received an Increasing number of live­
stock by truck during the decade 1920-1930.
Cattle receipts
by truck increased from 1.5 per cent of total receipts in 1920
to about 25 per cent in 1930.
Receipts of hogs by trucks
increased from 6.7 per cent of all hog receipts to about 47
per cent in 1930.
For calves the increase of percentages of
total receipts during the same period was from 9*6 to about
38, and for. sheep from 2.5 to about 13 per cent.®^
There have been some outstanding effects on agriculture
of the increased use of farm machinery.
The farmer is using
less labor per unit produced but he is investing more of his
capital in machinery.
Farm wages were relatively high
and prices for machinery relatively low following the World
War.
This condition induced the farmer to invest heavily
in machinery to replace hired labor.
In 1930 farm wages
were about 174 per cent of pre-war wages, while the price of
farm machinery was, on the average 162 per cent of pre-war
prices.98
Table 9 indicates the increase in Investment of
Nebraska farmers in machinery from 1860 to 1930.
97 Basil S. Wendt and Harold Hedges, "Truck and Rail
Transportation of Nebraska Livestock to the Omaha Market,
Experiment Station Bulletin 2 7 5 , (1932), 2.
9 ^Yearbook, U. S. D. A . , (1950), 115.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-414Table 9.
Value and per cent of increase or decrease
of machinery in Neoraska and in a corn—growing d's—
trict and a wheat-raising district, 1 8 6 0 - 1 9 3 0 . "
1 Total value
i
Year
* for state
i
' Per Cent
1 Increase
1 for state
i
1860
205', 564
1870 'c. 1,239,773 ,
7,820,917
1880 ;
16,468,977 !
1890
1900 ! 24,940,450
1910
44,249,708 !
1920
153,104,448
1925
111,799,000 .
1930
150,925,000
4
Per cent of in­
crease or decrease '
i
1920- 1930.
1 a. Northeast i
1 corn-growing i
Year • and livestock t
i
• district
i
'(Total value)
■L
1
1
1860
1870
1880 *d.
1890 « 2,221,074
1900 * 4,790,100
1910 • 7,516,854
1920 ' 28,425,643
1925 ' 20,036,735
1930 ' 26;697;394
Per cent of in­
crease or decrease
1920- 1930.
a*
b.
c.
d.
e.
-L_
1
1
t
1
1
1
J
I
1
T
1
1
502.8
530. 9
110.6
51.4
77.4
246.0
-26.8
34.9
Average
1
value per*
farm in
*
state
1
**
74
;
101
123
145
205
341
1,231
852
;
1,166
Per Cent
Increase
per farm
in state
-01.5
Per Cent
increase
(Corn
district)
—
115.6
63.7
271.4
-29.6
25.0
-06.1
36.5
21.7
17.9
41.5
66.3
261.0
-30.8
36.9
-05.3
b. Special­
ized Wheatraising
district.
Total value
1 Per
1 Cent
•Increase
•(Wheat
'district)
d.
e.
i -------
374,020
335,080
1,146,211
6,832,840
5,035,382
10,809,299
•
'
'
»
'
-10.7
242.1
496.1
-26.3
114.7
*
458.2
Counties— Antelope, Boone, Burt, Cedar, Cuming,
Dakota, Dixon, Knox, Madison, Pierce,
Stanton, Thurston, Wayne.
Counties——Banner, Cheyenne, Deuel, G-arden, Keith,
Kimball, Perkins.
Computed on gold values, being 80 per cent of
currency values reported.
No comparisons made before 1890 as Cheyenne county
only one organized in wheat area by 1880.
Garden county not y^t organised.
" T e n t h Census, (1880), III, 125-6; Eleventh Census,
(1890), X, 218-9; Fourteenth Census, ( 1 9 2 0 ) , V ! , Pt. 1, 681^,
690-8; U. S. Census of Agriculture, (1925), Pt. 1, 1134-1147
Fifteenth Census, (l930), III, Pt. 1, 932-9; Statis
Abstract of U. _S. , (1931), 642.
Reproduced with permission o f the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
The increase in "the total value, as well as "the oer
cent of increase,
of the sixties,
for the state as a whole during the deca.des
seventies, eighties, and nineties was primarily
due to the expansion of agriculture in the state.
The large
number of farmers coming into the state naturally caused an
increase in the total value of farm implements.
The average
value per farm and the per cent of Increase in value per
farm show that the amount of investment of each farmer wap
small.
In 1860 each farmer, on the average, had a capital
Investment of $74 in machinery.
to $101 in 1870; to $123 in 1880;
$205 in 1900,
This amount had Increased
to $145 in 1890;
and to
The rate of increase of investment during
these decades was constant, although not outstanding.
It was In the decade 1910-1920 that the investment in
farm machinery reached Its highest point.
The amount of farm
capital in machinery increased from $44,249,708 in 1910 to
$153,104,448 in 1920.
per cent.
trend.
This represented an increase of 246
The average investment per farm indicates the same
The rise from $341 in 1910 to $1,231 in 1920, or an
increase of 261 per cent, shows the manner in which the
average farmer in the state purchased machinery to carry on
his enterprise.
It was during this decade that the farm
tractor was introduced and the more expensive machinery which
went w i t h it was purchased by the farmer.
This was also the
time of high prices during the period of inf la. cion caused by
the World War.
The farmer either had the money to invest in
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-416machlnery or had access to local or federal credit facilities*
It is significant to note that total investment in farm
machinery for the state and for each farm in 1930 was not as
great as in 1920.
There was a decrease from 1920 to 1925 on
account of the deflation of the early *20*s.
This made it
difficult to purchase new equipment and lowered the value
of that o n hand.
From 1925 to 1930 an increase again took
place, even though a world-wide depression had begun in 1929.
The comparison was made between two rather specialized
agricultural areas of the state in the matter of investment
in farm machinery.
It is natural that the total amount in
each decade is greater in the corn-growing and livestock
district because of more farms and greater population than
in the specialized wheat area of the southwest.
However, as
the wheat district developed the per cent of capital invest­
ment in machinery increased at a more rapid rate than in the
corn producing area.
In fact, from 1920 to 1930 this area
increased its investment by 58.2,per cent, while the corn
area and the state as a whole shows a decrease during the
same time.
Wheat production in the semi-arid regions of the
state lends itself to the use of power machinery more
readily than corn production In the eastern areas on account
of the topography of the land.
It was to the Interest of
the farmers In the wheat area to expand production by increas­
ing acreage.
and combines.
This could be done by the use of large tractors
Therefore,
the investment in machinery increased
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-417ln this part of the state to a greater degree than In other
areas.
W i t h tne marked increase in investment of capital the
Nebraska farmer increased his total expense of production,
it has been noted in this chapter that the investment by
certain classes of farmers was calculated to have increased
§1361 by 1921,
vjs.s
As this was in the period when power farming
oeginning to be a factor in the general farm enterprise
of the state,
there is reason to believe that, by 1930,
some
farmers had increased their investment to a greater extent
than this amount may indicate.
Although the investment of the
average farmer was §1251 in 1920 and §1136 in 1930, Table
9 Column 4, farmers in specialized producing areas would
necessarily have an investment several times this amount.
This would mean that such farmers would have to meet
their machinery costs with fairly immediate cash payments
which had to come from the gross value of the products of
farm operations.
A heavy overhead expense would be incurred
w h i c h the farmer could do little to control.
The expense of the machinery was offset, in part, by
economy in hired labor.
This was true in great measure,
but formerly the farmer could adjust his labor costs in a
more flexible manner than he could later when there was the
constant overhead cost of machine production.
Family and
farm labor costs were not always met to their lull nominal
value from the products produced,
and tne failure of ohe
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-4 1 8 -
farm business to return such values did not usually result in
insolvency for the farmer.
In the case of the machine farmer these costs cannot be
readily adjusted.
When yields are poor and orices low,
overhead expense continues and those farmers who have Invested
heavily in labor saving machine^find themselves faced w i t h
bankruptcy or the prospect of abandoning the farm.
Improved machinery has had its effect upon tillage and
production.
A saving of human labor has been noted.
order to offset the costs of machinery,
effected a saving in hired labor.
In
the farmer has
Efficient tillage machinery
accomplishes more effective cultivation, resulting in a larger
yield per acre.
Machinery makes it possible to perform some
of the tasks formerly beyond the capability of human labor.
Corn, w h i c h by reason of too early or too late planting,
as
was necessarily frequent under the old methods of production,
does not mature properly.
Shredders and silage cutters have
made possible more efficient utilization of feeds.
The intro­
duction of the combine and the increase in the use of the
tractor In wheat production have made it possible for the
individual whea.t farmer to produce more wheat in the level
semi-arid lands of the state.
This In turn has resulted In
some reduction in the margin between the cash expense and
income
ver farm, provided the amount of wheat sold remained
the same.
The wheat; farmer has,
to increase the size of his farm.
100Gray,
therefore, been inclined
it.is has enaoled him to
o p . cit., 552.
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-419utilize his machinery in a more efficient manner and to increase
his farm Income; moreover,
large scale wheat production has
tended to be a cheaper method of production than the old
direct labor method. -*-01
From 1919 to 19o0 the increased use of power machinery
has resulted in a 9.6,6 per cent decrease in the number of
103
horses and mules in Nebraska.
This condition prevailed
over the entire United States.
The decrease in the number
of work animals in the country at large was 29 per cent.103
Such a situation has aggravated and prolonged the agricultural
depression which began in 1920,
The demand for feed for horses
and mules has been reduced and at the same time the cultivation
o f 'large areas of semi-arid,
level lands has been stimulated
by the mechanization of agriculture.
Just as increased pro­
duction is accompanied by a lowered price level, so is a
decreased demand.
The result has been a general fall in
prices of agricultural products.
As the tractor and larger machinery reduced labor re­
quirements
for the production per unit of farm products,
increased agricultural production and expansion came to
depend less and less upon an increase in 'agricultural popula­
tion.
It has been estimated that from 1870 to 1980 the acreage
of improved land per farm worker increased aoout fifty per
cent,
and the product per worker nearly doubled during the
101 Yearbook:, U. S. D. A., (1952), 415.
1 Q 2 N e b r . A g r . Statistics, (1950), 120.
10 ^Yearbook, U. S. D. A., (1932), 416.
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same period.104
This has caused a redistribution of the working force
of the country.
Other social effects that may be mentioned
are the following:
minimizing the arduous and disagreeable
features of fa.rm life, raising the farmerfe sta.ndard of
living,
increasing the social contacts of the farmer, break­
ing down of the rural neighborhood, and others.
tion of the social effects
■'produced,
An examina­
in part, by mechanization
of farming is not included in this treatise.
104bray, oj£. c l t . , 553.
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CHAFTER XIV
SUMMARY
Agricu~ture is based upon the physical foundations
of soil, climate,
and altitude*
The three principal soil
areas of Nebraska are the loess region of the southeastern
half of the state,
the high plains of the west, and the
sandhills region in the north-central part.
Average annual temperature of Nebraska varied over a
period of 58 years from 51° in the southeast to 45° in the
northwest.
The mean temperature for the state was 49°.
The average precipitation for the state from 1876 to 1934
was 25.50 inches.
Variation was from an average of 34 inches
in the southeastern part to 16 inches in the western part.
About 69 per cent of the rainfall occurred during the growing
season.
A study of rainfall ahows that the state has had
alternating periods of wet and dry years.
The general slope of the state is to the east and south­
east, the elevation decreasing at the rate of ten feet per
mile.
Altitude varies from 5,340 feet near the western
border to 840 feet in the southeast.
The growing season for
crops ranges from 165 days in the southeast to 100 d^s.
in
the northwest.
Soil,
climate, and altitude were the basic factors in
determining the evolution of the various systems of farming
which had developed in Nebra.ska by 19o0.
Another foundational factor in the evolution of Nebraska
-421-
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-422agriculture was the settlement of the state.
Naturally,
the
physical factors could not have produced an agricultural
community unless people had used them for productive purposes.
The population of the state in 1870 was 122,993;
it had increased to 1,062,656.
Great Migration."
government,
emption Act,
in 1890
This period is known as "The
The liberal land policy of the United States
taking the form of the Homestead Acts, the Pre­
and the Timber Culture Act, played an outstanding
role in the settlement of Nebraska.
Of equal, perhaps even greater importance was the influence
of the railroads.
By 1870 there were 705 miles of railroad
in the state and in 1890 this had Increased to 5,407 miles.
The Nebraska lines made connections with the railroads of the
East.
This enabled immigrants to travdl to Nebraska, and
products of the stax;e could be shipped to outside markets.
Aid was given by federal,
state, and local governments in the
construction of the roads.
It was in the Interests of the railroads to have Nebraska
settled as rapidly as possible.
By means of land departments
the roads advertised the state throughout the nation and
even in foreign countries.
Pamphlets were the usual method
in advertising the merits of Nebraska to the prospective
immigrant.
The subject matter of these pamphlets was ofuen
based upon imagination rather than fact, and exaggeration
sometimes figured in extolling the virtues of the state.
Private and state agencies were also at work placing
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-423Nebraska before the world.
Private land companies aided
settlers in securing land in a legitimate way and sometimes
were organized for speculative purposes.
The state legislature
estaolished a Board, of Immigration which was designed to use
various measures for attracting settlers to the state.
Potentialities of the range cattle industry in the west
were realized by 1870 and this aided in drawing people to
Nebraska.
The cessation of the Civil War in 186c enabled many
veterans of that conflict to take advantage of the libers.1
land policy of the government.
Many of them came to Nebraska.
The panic of 1873 tended to produce a discontented class in
the East who were willing to go West and attempt to better
their economic status.
As a result of these various influences a migration
had set in by the late 70*s with Nebraska as its destination.
By the middle 80*s it had attained the proportions of a boom.
By the year 1888 the crest seems to have been reached.
After
this year many of the settlers left the western part of the
state because of a series of dry years.
The drouth continued
into the 90's and crop failures coupled with the depressed
economic conditions of the time caused some sections of the
west to be virtually depleted of population.
Most of the settlers who came to the new state were
native Americans.
The states contributing liberally to
Nebraska’s population were Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, New York,
/
Pennsylvania, and Missouri.
I
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-424Foreign nationalities were also represented during the
period of settlement.
From 1870 to 1900 the countries con-
ti iouting the largest numbers of settlers were Grermany,
Sweden, Bohemia, Ireland, Denmark, England and Wales, and
Russia.
Often the foreigners settled in colonies.
The
railroads aided the foreign settlers in securing land and
in some instances helped in transporting and locating colonies
of Europeans here in Nebraska.
These early settlers were accustomed to farming under
more humid conditions than were found in Nebraska.
Adjust­
ments and readjustments which were necessary in order to
meet environmental conditions in this state make up a large
part of the story of the evolution of Nebraska agriculture.
The life of the early settlers, though full of hardship,
was easier than that of settlers in many of the other states.
The pioneer stage was comparatively short.
This was due to
the absence of forest lands, so that the soil could be brought
under cultivation immediately, and to the uniform fertility
of the land, which allowed settlers’ farms to lie contiguous
for many miles, thus permitting the benefits of mutual
assistance.
Settlements also followed the railway lines
not
and although/every settlement wa;
in close proximity to
a railroad, the distances were not extremely great.
That the early settlers experienced hardships Is well
known.
Recurring drouths, grasshopper plagues, prairie fires,
and the Indian menace were familiar to the pioneer farmer in
Nebraska.
Lack of timber and the difficulty of finding an
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-425adequate supply of water In many instances were factors which
contributed to the exigencies of the first settlers.
The first concern of the early farmer was the breaking
oj.
the sod and the planting of
was usually soo. corn.
a
crop.
The first crop planted
This was pls.nted by chopoing a hole
with a hoe or an axe in the upturned sod and dropping the
seed in ohe hole.
Implements used were crude and cumbersome*
and ofien were homemade affairs, such as the early corn
marker and the brush harrow.
Some encouragement was given by the territorial and
later the state legislatures to the farmers to plant trees
and certain crops which were thought to be adaptable to the
physical conditions of Nebraska.
A territorial board of agriculture was established
in 1858 with.Robert W. Furnas as president.
The board became
a leading instrumentality in promoting agriculture throughout
the history of the territory and state.
Money was appropriated
by the legislature to aid the board in its endeavors.
major portion of the funds
fair.
A
was. used to carry on a state
Awards were given by oi'ic board to encourage various
aspects of farming.
Especially in the early years of its
existence, the board encouraged timber culture.
The setting
aside of one day a year for the planting of trees had its
inception in the state board of agriculture.
In 1885 the
legislature made April 22, J. Sterling Norton's birthday, a
legal holiday to be known as Arbor Day.
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-426Taking advantage of the Morrill Act, the stace legislature
took an iraportc’.no step in promoting and encouraging agri­
culture when on February 15, 1869, it enacted a law providing ■
for the es oablishrneno of a state university, and connected
with the university an agricultural college was to be or­
ganised at an early date.
The board of regents arranged
for the opening of the college of agriculture in 1872.
This
has been one of the most potent agencies in promoting
scientific agriculture in the State of Nebraska.
The evolutionary development of agriculture in Nebraska
during the period 1870-1950 manifested two general character­
istics.
The first was general expansion from 1870 to 1900;
the second, the readjustment of agriculture to physical and
economic factors based upon scientific knowledge and effort,
1900-1930.
Separation of the two characteristics at 1900
was arbitrary.
However, in the decade from 1895 to 1905
definite changes in farming were evident.
Previously to this
decade people had settled in virtually all parts of the
state.
Their primary objective in the farming process was
to bring land under cultivation.
Not much attention was
given to methods of farming, maintaining soil fertility,
selection of new crops, and adaptation of older varieties
to the varied environmental conditions of the state.
Costs
of 'oroductlon were low and Nebraska farmers could compete
with farmers of older states even though the prices and
purchasing power of farm products were low.
Land was cheap
and taxes relatively low.
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The favorable conditions existing during the ceriod of
expansion began to disappear during the later 30's and early
90's.
Farmers experienced a series of dry years, and poor
economic conditions resulted from the panic of 1895.
Lany
farmers were _aced wiijn. virtual ruin oy the succession of
crop failures -coming just before and following the financial
pani c.
The "hard times" of the nineties were not an unmixed
evil.
Leading agriculturists of the state contended that
Nebraska agriculture had grown too rapidly and the retarding
of that growth would force a more stable development with a
greater ultimate agricultural prosperity.
Realization that the general evolution of farming must
change was manifested by the leaders of agricultural or­
ganizations.
It ?.ras just before and immediately following
the year 1900 that such matters as maintenance of soil
fertility, rotation of crops, diversification of farming,
better cultural methods, improvement of livestock, selection
of better seed, and adaptation of crops to environment were
discussed in a larger measure than before.
In the decade of transition agricultural education was
begun which enabled the farmer in the later period to adjusu
his farming enterprise to produce larger returns.
The state
legislature accepted the r^rovisions of the Hatch Act of 1887,
and the experiment station was established in connection with,
the College of Agriculture.
After 1900 the experiment station
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-428—
began to give to the farmers a body of scientific knowledge.
Farmers1 lnsti^uoes were conducted In various Nebraska cities.
In 1901 provision was made for teaching agriculture In the
scnools of the staue.
Botanical and geological surveys were
being made to aid the farmer in his work.
After 1900 the
chief characteristics of the development of agriculture were
those of readjustment and Improvement.
During tne period of expansion corn was the principal
crop raised.
In fact, it continued to be the main crop in
the sta_ce during the entire period of agricultural development.
In 1370 there were 172,675 acres in corn.
This increased to
1,919,600 acres In 1880; to 3,072,800 in 1890; and to
8,093,464 acres in 1900.
again until 1923.
The acreage of 1900 was not equalled
From 1870 to 1900 production of corn
Increased from 5,000,000 to over 210,000,000 bushels.
This
state came to be recognized as an integral part of the Corn
Belt by 1890 and by 1900 was ranking fourth in corn production
among ,t.he states of the Union.
Corn was usually fed to livestock.
was sold as a cash crop.
A rather small portion
On account of the increasing supply
in Nebraska, as well as in the other Corn Belt states, the
price of corn was, with few exceptions, low during every
year of the period 1870—1900.
When the supply was small,
as in 1894, the price was higher but the farmer was not
particularly benefited because he had little corn to sell.
The usual price was below thirty cents per oushel; only in
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-429six out of the thirty years of the period did the farmer
receive a higher average price.
also low.
Purchasing power of corn was
Only in two years, 1890 and 1894, was ourchasing
power equal to, or above, th4 average of 1910-1914.
Although the price and the purchasing power were low,
the farmers continued to produce corn because of low costs
of production, the small capital invested, and low labor
costs.
They also lived in the hope that future years would
bring prosperity and higher prices.
Wheat was the principal cash crop of the Nebraska farmer.
As agriculture was expanding, wheat production increased in
somewhat the same manner a? corn.
The increase in acreage
was from a low of 128,333 acres in 1870 to 2,066,825 in 1900.
This increase was not steady, however, as there was a decrease
from 1885 to 1895.
The farmers of the eastern and south­
eastern parts of the state turned to livestock production
at this time, for they discovered that corn yielded better
than wheat and a saving could be made in freight rates by
condensing their crops into livestock.
However, as the
poor conditions of the nineties came the ea.stern farmers
turned back to the raising of wheat because livestock was
relatively lower in price than wheat.
Although wheat production increased in a marked degree,
it did not grow in as great a measure as it would otherwise
have because the t 3rpe of wheat planted was not adapted to the
climatic conditions of the state.
About 85 per cent of the
wheat grown before 1891 was spring wheat, and in 1899 about
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-43097 per cent of the wheat acreage was in this type of wheat.
The farmers were not satisfied with spring wheat and this
helped to account for decreased production after 1885.
Wheat
was an unadjusted crop during the period of expansion.
A I gnough winter wheat of the hard Turkey Red variety
had been brought into Nebraska in 1875 by ISennonite' immigrants,
Nebraska farmers delayed general acceptance of it until its
superiority over spring wheat had been demonstrated.
change to winter wheat took place just after 1900.
The
In 1894
winter wheat acreage amounted to 16.5 per cent of the total
for the state.
In 1909 there was 91.85 per cent of the total
wheat acreage in winter wheat.
This rapid transition was due
to the development of new drought and winter resistant varieties,
superiority of yield over spring wheat, and the availability
of a crop that would result in greater diversification of
the crop system of the farmer.
With the adoption of winter
wheat Nebraska became a leading wheat producing state.
At the time when Nebraska agriculture was expanding
many different crops were raised besides corn and wheat.
The two most important were oats and barley.
Oat acreage
and production constantly increased from 1870 to 1910.
-This
increase was due to the value of oats as a feed for horses
and young stock, the difficulty of substituting any other
crop for it in the general farming system, and the low cost
of handling and growing the crop.
tfith. the introduction of
Kherson o-ats from Russia the problem of securing a variety
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-431that was adapted to environmental conditions of the state
/
was solved.
Earley and rye were considered as minor crops in Nebraska.
Barley production did not become outstanding until smoothawned varieties were produced during the decade of the 1920‘s*
H,ve came
to be used particularly forpasturage in the
late
fall and early spring.
The
native grasses supplied an abundance ofhay for the
early settlers, but as thousands
of acres of sod were broken,
this source of supply diminished, and fa.rmers began to plant
some of the tame grasses such as red a.nd white clover, blue
grass, and timothy.
Although the acreage of tame grasses
increased during the period of expansion, it was not until
alfalfa came into prominence after 1900 that tame hay
production became significant.
Potatoes were planted by the farmers for home use.
Commercial production of this crop did not take place until
about 1920*
/
Other minor crops produced were chicory, flax, buckwheat,
sorghum for molasses, broom corn, and tobacco.
None of these
crops became an important farm enterprise in.. Nebraska,
but the fact that they were planted by.some farmers indicated
the chief characteristic of the time, i. e., expansion.
If one or more of the minor crops had developed into promin­
ence, greater diversification would have resulted.
The factors which encouraged the growth of the livestock
f
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-432industry in Nebraska during the period 1870-1900 were the
abundance of native grasses;
especially corn;
the production of feed crops,
location of near markets and processing
plants at Omaha, Sioux City, Denver,
and St. Joseph; and the
transportation of meat under refrigeration after 1868.
Hog raising was an important aspect of livestock farming.
The trend in the number of hogs increased to 1881 when there
were 1,320,000 hogs on Nebraska farms.
From 1882 to 1892
there were on the average each year 1,250,000 more hogs than
in 1381,
After 1892 the number declined un'cil a low point
was reached in 1900.
The price of hogs was low and the pur­
chasing power was seldom equal to the 1910-1914 average.
This
did not deter the farmer from raising hogs, for feed and
labor costs were low.
There was a very close interrelation
between corn production and the raising and feeding of hogs.
The range cattle industry dominated the ca.ttle production
aspect of Nebraska, farming.
From 186? to the late 1880's the
range areas of central and western Nebraska carried thousands
of head of cattle each year.
By 1900 the range cattle
industry had generally diss.ppeared because of the spread of
farms into the western areas, poor economic conditions of the
later 8 0 's and early 9 0 ‘s, governmental policy against enclos­
ing public lands, and the quarantine laws of the state.
At the same time that Phe range cattle industry developed
in the west, there was considerable feeding of cattle in the
eastern part of the state.
The eastern farmer usually secured
his stock from the ranges and fattened it for market.
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Catule
production and feeding was considered as a profitable enter­
prise by Nebraska farmers until tlie poor conditions of the
middle 90*s.
A change in' the cattle industry by 1900 was
recognized by the stockmen of the state.
No longer could they
rely upon the range to furnish an adequate supply of feeder
stock, and accordingly an adjustment had to be made.
Although the number of milk cows increased steadily with
the expansion of agriculture, the dairy products were consumed,
for the most part, on the farms.
There were a few dairy herds,
but dairying as such did not become prominent until the 1920's.
As long: as Nebraska farmers could secure satisfactory returns
from raising•crops and feeding livestock they were unwilling
to carry on the confining; work of dairying.
Sheep raising was confined to the range and was considered
an incidental part of the livestock enterprise, although
large numbers were fed in the eastern feed lots in the late
80' s.
Horses and mules replaced oxen as the motive power for
farm implements during the 80's and 90's*
The number of these
dra.ft animals constantly increa.sed with the expansion of the
farming process.
Little progress was made in introducing pure—bred livestock
into the state until the eighties.
Farmers began to use pure­
bred sires to a limited extent by the end of the period of
expansion.
This resulted in improving the quality of the
herds of livestock on some farms in the state.
I
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-434Tne Per*iod of readjustment from 1900 to 1930 manifested
various changes in the general evolution of agriculture in
Nebraska.
The years following the depression of the 1890* s
cind preceding the beginning of the World War were years of
prosperity for the Nebraska farmers.
Climatic conditions
were generally favorable for agricultural production in all
parts of the state.
Prices of farm products were rising,
and their purchasing power was high.
There was an incre&sim
demand for foodstuffs because of the growth of population
in the country, and exports aided in bolstering the demand,
although the general trend of agricultural exports was
downward.
'The value of farm property in. Nebraska increased by 178
per cent in the decade 1900-1910.
During the same time the
increase in the value of land and buildings alone was 214
per cent.
Not only were these years 1900-1914 a time of material
prosperity for Nebraska farmers, but they also saw the
beginning of scientific farming.
Better methods of tillage,
adaptation of the farming system to physical and economic
conditions, maintenance of soil fertility, rotation of crops
balanced rations for livestock, means of combating insect
pests and diseases of crops and livestock, ana selection of
oetter varieties of crops were matters which were oeginning
to occupy the attention of the farmer.
The western part of the state be;..an its development as
a crop producing area.
This was a period of transition for
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-435the western section, as it had not been definitely decided
by 1914 just which parts would be devoted to farming and which
parts to ranching.
There was a decrease in the production of corn during
this time but an increase in the wheat industry.
From 1910
to 1914 Nebraska produced an average annual surplus of 41.4
million bushels
of wheat.
Winter wheat had come to fill
a need in the crop system of many parts of the state.
Pro­
duction of oats
increasedslightly, while barley and rye
continued to be
regarded as minor crops.
Potato production
decreased, but certain areas of the sta^e were developing
potentialities for producing this crop on a commercial scale.
Alfalfa was the important new crop of the time.
It filled
a distinct need as a soil building and as a protein forage
crop.
Alfalfa proved to be a great aid in the development of
the livestock industry.
- The number of hogs in the state increased during this
period.
But the beef ca:tle industry flourished until 1909
when a distinct shortage of feeder steers occurred.
cows followed the same trend as beef cattle.
Milk
Sheep were no
longer fed and managed in large numbers, but the farm flock
was quite commonsat this time.
demand and prices were high.
Horses and mules were in great
The supply was not sufficient
to meet the demand for draft animals.
Heavier and larger
machinery and better tillage methods caused this condition
to prevail.
Encouragement was given to dairy development oy
a federal tax on oleomargarine and the invention of the hand
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f
-436cream separator and the Babcock tester.
The possibilities of
the dairy industry were beginning to be realized.
During "the last months of 1914 Nebraska agriculture was
experiencing the effects of the war in iiiurooe.
From July to
the end of the year the price of wheat rose from 69 cents to
$1.00 per bushel.
This was an indication of the conditions
that were to follow.
The six years, 1915-1980, constituted
the period of agriculture and war and were characterized by
the inflation of prices during the World War and immediate
post-war years.
High prices of agricultural products prevailed during
the time.
Wheat rose to $2.09 per bushel by 1920.
Costs
of production did not rise so rapidly as prices of the
farmer's raw materials which he sold.
Consequently the
purchasing power of farm products was high.
Farmers bought
freely and a general spirit of optimism prevailed.
Farm
property increased in value by 101 per cent from 1910 to
1920.
The average price of land in southeastern Nebraska was
$182.00 per acre, although some land sold for as high as
$303.00 per acre.
The sharp rise in land values took place
from 1917 to 1920 when the average increase in price per
acre for the entire state was 72 per cent of the 1916 value.
One consideration was uppermost during the time of the
war, viz., to increase production to meet the demand for
foodstuffs.
Under the stimulus of good prices and i:>atriotlsm,
Nebraska farmers responded to the appeal of the rood Aaminis—
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tration, as expressed In the slogan "Food 7/ill Win the War."
The increased war demand resulted in the exportation of large
quantities of farm products.
Farmers came to look upon the
foreign markets as an outlet for their surplus commodities.
The farmers in Nebraska geared their productive machinery
to meet the demand.
They were aided through the extension
service which had been established by federal aid, as provided
in the Smlth-Lever Act of 1914.
County agents and other
workers of the extension service aided in Increasing "Che pro­
duction and preservation of food.
Western Nebraska had passed through its period of transition
and it; had been determined which lands were suitable for
farming.
The cultivation of thousands of acres of new lands
in the west helped to increase production.
Farmers received liberal credit from financial agencies.
This aided them in purchasing labor saving machinery and
additional land.
By 1918 the cultivated area of the state had increased
by about 1,000,000 acres from the average of the five pre-war
years, 1910-1914.
A large proportion of the new acreage
was planted in wheat.
Because of the high price of grain
farmers were inclined to sell their crops and not feed
livestock.
However, thfe number of beef cattle in the state
increased so that there were 800,000 more in the state in
1919 than the average of the pre-war years.
Climatic conditions were generally favorable for crop
production during this period.
The one outstanding exception
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M
was the winder killing; of 75 per cent of the winter wheat
crop in 1917.
Practically the entire winter wheat belt
experienced, uhis s^.ne condition and the nation faced a short­
age of wheat.
The wheat situation helped to influence the
government in establishing the policy of a guaranteed price
of 92.20 per bushel for wheat.
Sugar beets began to be raised in rather large quantities
during these years.
This enterprise was confined closely to
the irrigated sections of the state.
Dairying continued its development chiefly by means of
improving herds through cooperative cow testing associations
and by importing increased numbers of pure-bred stock.
The number of horses and mules declined during the war
years because of the increasing number of automobiles,
trucks,
and tractors in use on the farms of the sts.te.
Wa r -time prosperity of the Nebraska farmers came to an
abrupt end in the summer of 1920.
The favorable position
held b y the farmer in the purchasing power of his prod_ucts
became less favorable in 1919 and by the end of 1920 had lost
its advantage.
Post-war deflation lasted through 1921 and
ushered in the period of depression agriculture, 1921—1930.
L ow prices and low purchasing power prevailed during
the larger portion of the entire period.
There was some
recovery by 1925 but Dhis did not last long as the world­
wide depression began in the fall of 1929.
Nebraska farmehs paid more in proportion for the
commodities they purchased than they received for the products
Reproduced with permission o f the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
they 'had to sell.
Taxes increased during this time, and the
farmer paid a disproportionate share of the general property
tax w h i c h was the chief source of revenue, particularly for
the local divisions of government.
Wages paid 'for farm labor
were relatively high and wages in some industries remained
on a war-time level.
This tended to keep the prices of
industrial products high.
Freight rates were also relatively
high and this added to the farmers costs of production.
There was an over-production of farm products as exports
of agricultural products decreased.
In order to secure a
larger gross income the farmer produced more than in war times
and this added to the surpluses of agricultural commodities.
As a result of the conditions wh i c h kept the costs of pro­
duction h i g h and the price of farm products low, net farm
income was reduced and in' many cases the farmer received
little or nothing for his labor.
The value of all farm property decreased by one-third
/
from 1920 to 1930, while land values were reduced by about
48 per cent.
The Indebtedness of the farmers Increased and
credit facilities were restricted.
As a result, many
farmers lost their farms while others had to practice the
strictest economy in order to meet interest and principal
payments.
Crop and livestock production changed considerably from
the war years.
Because of high freight rates grain was raised
less generally to be sold on the market but more frequently
to be fed to livestock and marketed in concentrated form.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-440Fewer acres were planted to w h e a t 'and more to feed crops.
Production of corn, oats, barley,
and hay increased.
There
was some increase in the acreage of wheat in western Nebraska
because of lower costs of production than in the eastern part
of the state.
The sugar beet industry flourished and became
concentrated in the North Platte Valley.
.
The value of barley as a feed crop became generally
recognized and ~he acreage increased by 265 per cent from
1921 to 1930.
Development of smooth—awned, high yielding
varieties and ownership of small feed grinders and “portable
m ills” helped to popularize barley.
Sweet clover came to be generally accepted by the farmers
of the state.
It was comparatively easy to get a good stand
of this crop and it produced abunda.ntly.
It's value as a
soil building crop made it acceptable to the farmers,
especially in the eastern part of the state where a short
rotation of crops was desirable.
Sweet clover replaced
alfalfe in some parts of the state, as it was a ' biennial plant
and made the rotation of crops flexible to meet the changes
in prices of the different crops.
The total acreage of
sweet clover increased 358 per cent from 1925 to 1930.
Potato production developed into a specialized enterprise
during the 1920's.
Three areas of the state— western,
central,
and north— central— produced potatoes on a commercial scale.
The certified seed potato enterprise of the western area
becajne prominent.
Seed of good quality was supplied to some
of the southern states and to the Bermuda Islands.
The livestock industry was found to be more profitable
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
than cash crop production.
High freight rates and the necessity
of the farmer to distribute his labor more evenly over the
year were chief reasons for this situation.
The price of
hogs was relatively hig'her than the price of feed grains and thus
they were raised in large numbers.
There was a slump in the
cattle industry until 1927, but a considerable number were
fed during these years.
Sheep raising and feeding showed an
outstanding development.
The number of sheep in the state
doubled from 1922 to 1930.
Horses and mules continued to decrease in number because
of the increased use of power machinery,
and this in turn
affected the use of feed crops.
The relative high price of butterfat during the period
of depression agriculture was a great stimulus to the dairy
industry.
Increased per capita consumption of milk aided in
keeping the price high, and the demand was supplied because
of improvement in the dairy herds of the country.
In Nebraska
the production of milk per cow Increased 67 per cent from 1921
to 1930, while at the same time the number of cows increased
only 15.7 per cent.
Butterfat yield was also improved and
the manufacture of creamery butter increased 45 per cent
from 1921 to 1929.
The development of agriculture during the entire period,
1870-1930,
was influenced by the use of labor saving-machinery.
During the early part of the period farm implements were com­
paratively erude and required considerable human laoor to
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-442operate them.
Toward the close of the period of expansion
riding implements, such as the cultivator, the sulky olow,
and the self-binder were in general use.
Improved machinery
of a ner.vier type oegan to be used after the turn of the
century.
The gang plow, improved threshers, two-row cultivators,
and press drills were purchased freely by the farmers of Nebraska
during the time of prosperous agriculture.
Significant changes in farm machinery came during the
war years.
Investments in machinery by ohe farmers of Nebraska
increased 246 per cent from 1910 to 1920.
was introduced during this decade.
The farm tractor
Trucks and automobiles
on the farms of the state increased in numbers.
‘
T he marked
increase in power equipment occurred after 1925.
on farms increased 180 per cent from 1925 to 1930.
Tractors
At the
same time farm trucks increased in number bjr 141 per cent.
By 1930 there was on the average about
one automobile on
every farm in the state.
W i t h the purchase of power machinery the capital invest­
ment of the farm increased noticeably..
A heavy overhead
expense was incurred which the farmer could do little to
control.
The increased expense of farm operations was
largely offset by a reduction in labor costs, improved methods
of tillage resulting in larger yields,
and more acres cultivated
by each farmer.
that from 1820 to 1920
It has been estimated
the acreage of Improved land per farm worker increased about
50 per cent,
and the product per worker nearly doubled.
i
i
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
From 1919 to 1930 the Increased use of improved farm
m.-.cliinery resulted in a 26#6 per cent decrease in the number
of horses and mules in the state.
In the evolution of agriculture in Nebraska from 1870
to 1950 there have been two general groups of factors which
have influenced the development of farming.
In the one
group are included the physical and biological elements,
such as climate, topography,
and adaptation of plants.
soil type, diseases, Insect pests,
In the second group are those of
an economic character, including land, capital, labor, prices
of farm products, relative costs of production, and changes
in cultural practices.
The physical factors, except for erosion and soil
depletion, were essentially the same in 1930 as in 1870.
Within this 60-year period outstanding changes in farming
occurred because the farmers learned by experience and
education to adapt their enterprise to soil and climatic
conditions of uhe state.
When one considers the fact that
the early settlers came from places where they were accustomed
oo farming under more humid conditions than were found in
Nebraska, the rather slow process of adaptation can more
easily be understood.
Yields of crops have been determined, for the most part,
by the physical e.nd biological factors.
Over a period of
years the farmers learned to choose their crops by the relative
dependability of yields of those crops.
Ey 1930 corn, wheat,
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-444oats, b a r l e y and alfalfa were the major cultivated crops In
all parts of the state.
These crops utilized millions of
acres of land and were important in the livestock system of
farming.
Corn, alfalfa, oats, and barley were the feed crops
which made it possible for Nebraska farmers to produce pork,
beef,
and mutton in large quantities.
Wheat had been for many
years before 1-930 the main cash crop of the farmers.
The economic factors were controlling forces in the
evolution of Nebraska agriculture.
The farmer considered not
only yields in working out his farm enterprise but also
the system of farming which would,
the maximum financial returns.
in the long run, produce
That the farmers of the state
did not always use a system which brought high returns, is
obvious.
It was, and is, a most difficult task for the
farmer t o adjust his enterprise to meet constant changes of
an economic nature.
The greatest advantage did not always
come from high yields.
The farmer had various crops
adaptable to environmental conditions, yet they were not all
equal from the viewpoint of net returns.
On account of change
in demand or conditions of production in other parts of the
world,
the purchasing power of one crop may be lower than
that of another.
Because of changes in economic conditions
the Individual farmer has had to adjust and readjust his
farming enterprise in order to secure the system of farming
/
w hich will bring the largest profits.
It is evident that commercial agriculture depends upon
many fluctuating factors.
Scientific knowledge may adapt
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-445proauctive processes to the environmental conditions, but it
cannot control
the demands for its products.
Agriculturists
have enlarged the economic hazard of their occupation byincreasing their dependence upon non-agricultural commercial
products for carrying on their operations.
That was a very
natural tendency during the period of prosperous agriculture
and h i g h wages for labor.
It has been difficult to change
-Ghe tendency even in a period of depression with hosts of
unemployed.
A
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-iTable 1. Corn
♦Acreage, production, average yield per acre, and average
price per bushel, by years, 1870-1930,
Year
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
Acreage
172,675
174*168
200,767
200,000
350,000
700,000
850,000
1,013,158
1,291,000
1,523,400
1,919,600
2,149,200
2,364,120
2,813,303
3,235,298
3,526,475
3,879,123
3,865,158
4,097,067
4,097,067
3,072,800
4,762,840
5,572,523
6,241,226
2,309,254
• 7,806,526
7,962,657
8,042,283
7,559,746
8,013,331
8,093,464
7,740,556
7,817,962
6,629,982
7,995,559
8,035,115
7,325,000
7,472,000
7,621,000
7,266,000
7,425,000
7,425,000
7,609,000
Production
5.163.000 bu,
7,228^000
7.589.000
7,000,000
x .finn _nnn
106.129.000
93.150.000
144.217.000
149.543.000
55.310.000
167.652.000
157.145.000
157,278,895
13,855,524
125,685,069
298,599,638
2.41,268,490
158,754,666
224,393,268
<1-1 /-v a Tr\ r\d A
Yield
29,9 bu.
41.5
37.8
35.0
10.0
40.0
30.0
38.0
42.0
41.0
31.0
27.4
34.9
36.0
37.7
36.5
27.4
24.1
35.2
36.5
18.0
35.2
28.2
25.2
6.0
16.1
37.5
30.0
21.0
28.0
26.0
14.1
32.3
26.0
32.8
32.8
34.1
24.0
27.0
24.8
25.8
21.0
24.0
Price
$0 .32
.22
.16
.26
•66
.17
.25
.18
.16
.21
.25
.39
.33
.24
.18
.19
.20
.30
.22
.17
.48
.26
.28
.27
.50
.37
.13
.13
.20
.23
.27
.40
.46
.30
.36
.36
.33
.38
.56
.55
.48
.47
.60
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-
11-
Table 1. Corn, con't.
Year
Acreage
Production
Yield
Price
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
7,610,000
7,100,000
7,100,000
7,400,000
9,240,000
6,954,000
7,030,000
7,560,000
7,419,000
7,296,000
8,244,000
8,716,000
9,100,000
8,994,000
8,805,000
8,937,000
9,144,000
9,171,000
114,150,000
173,950,000
213,000,000
192,400,000
249,480,000
123,086,000
184,186,000
255,528,000
207,732,000
182,400,000
272,052,000
191,752,000
236,600,000
139,407,000
291,446,000
212,701,000
237,744,000
235,695,000
15.0
24.5
30.0
26.0
27.0
17.7
26.2
33.8
28.0
25.0
33.0
22.0
26.0
15.5
33.1
23.8
26.0
25.7
.55
*63
.61
.66
1.34
1.38
1.44
1.16
.34
.44
.65
.76
.89
.64
.74
.78
.77
•65
♦Nebraska Agricultural Statistics. (1923-1924), p. 60;
(1930), p. 95.
Price per bushel from 1870 to 1894 Is
quoted from Nebraska Agricultural Statistics; from 1895
to 1930 from H. d. Gilley and Arthur M. Hauke, "Local
Prices of Farm Products In Nebraska, 1895-1932," In
Nebraska Experiment Station Bulletin 284, p. 13*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Figure 1.
Five-year annual avera.g© of acreaste
production, yield and price of corn, 18^0-19^0.
(Cornniled from Table 1)
A
*
D U .s h s .l-i
Wi ' U m -2.HO
H8
ZOO
HO
l.oe
.80
.10
.50
80
.3 0
M0
.10
t
'65
SO
5>5
05
/O
2.0
35
Opper series of numbers on left shows millions of
acres; lower series shows price per bushel,
npoer series of numbers on right shows millions of
bushels; lower series show's yiel-i oer acre.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
30
-iv Table 2. rtiieae
♦Acreage, production, average yield per acre, and average
price per bushel, by years, 1870-1930,
Year
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1386
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1397
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
Acreage
128,333
177,572
209,836
231,226
311,983
346,938
376,521
376,000
1,059,000
1,154,300
1,520,315
1,958,500
1,657,000
1,772,990
1,950,280
1,755,252
1,579,727
1,642,127
1,560,021
1,404,019
1,418,059
1,205,350
1,253,564
1,228,493
1,250,700
1,232,252
1,385,043
1,893,286
2,114,592
2,018,619
2,066,825
2,456,543
2,525,150
2,687,324
2,313,688
2,472,692
2,376,569
2,535,000
2,571,000
2,663,000 .
2,394,000
3,098,000 '
3,123,000
3,475,000
3,668,000
3,876,000
3,540,000
Production
1,848,000 bu
1,829,000
2,560,000
.3,584,000
3,619,000
3,400,000
4,330,000.
5,640,000
13,872,900
13,043,590
12,922,677
13,840,000
18,300,000
27,481,300
28,325,000
19,828,000
17,449,000
16,585,000
14,508,000
16,848,000
15,315,000
18,080,000
15,670,000
10,687,889
8,754,900
14,787,024
19,390,602
27,452,647
34.679,309
20,791,776
24,801,900
42,006,885
52,726,451
42,157,560
31,453,943
48,002,603
52,288,692
45,911,000
44,295,000
47,686,000
38,760,000
41,574,000
55,052,000
62,325,000
68,116,000
71,018,000
68,550,000
Yield
Price
14,4 bu. $0.57
10.3
.81
.69
12.2
.69
15.5
.54
11.6
.56
9.8
.72
11.5
.81
15.0
.49
13,1
.84
11.3
.73
8.5
.97
7.1
.67
11.0
.70
15.5
.42
14.5
.57
11.3
.47
11.0
.53
10.1
.83
9.3
.52
12.0
.76
10.8
.73
15.0
.50
12.5
.40
8.7
.49
7.0
.46
12.0
.46
14.0
.63
14.5
.64
16.4
.52
10.3
.52
12.0
.53
17.1
.56
20.9
.56
15.7
.77
13.6
.77
19.4
.60
22.0
.71
18.1
.82
17.2
.94
17.9
.87
16.2
.80
13.4
.85
17.6
.73
17.9
.80
18.6
1.08
18.3
1.14
19.4
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-V-
Table 2. Wheau, con't.
Year
Acreage
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
997,000
3.828.000
4.384.000
3.593.000
3.967.000
4.177.000
3.174.000
3.061.000
2.676.000
3.077.000
3.630.000
3.672.000
3.548.000
3.810.000
Production
Yield
Price
13,764,000 bu
43.141.000
60.675.000
60.480.000
59.875.000
59.838.000
31.388.000
58.519.000
34.150.000
40.085.000
73.826.000
69.919.000
56.555.000
73.275.000
13.8 bu
11.3
13.8
16.8
15.1
14.3
9.9
19.1
$2.06
1.98
2.05
2.09
1.07
.97
.90
12.8
13.0
20.3
19.0
15.9
19.2
1.00
1.44
1.31
1.15
1.07
.97
74
^Nebraska A gr i cultural S tatistics, (1923—1924), p. 58;
(1930), p. 94.
Price per bushel from 1870 to 1894 is
auoted from Nebraska Agricultural Statistics; from 1895
to 1930 from "K.‘ tf."Tilley and Arthur M. Hauke,
Local
Prices of Farm Products in Nebraska, 1895-1932,
in
Nebraska Experiment Station Bulletin 284," p. 16.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Table 3. Winter Wheat and Spring Wheat
♦Acreage of w i n t e r and spring wheat and per. cent of
total wheat acreage of winter wheat and spring
wheat for Nebraska, by years, 1891-1930*
Acreage
Per cent
Year
Winter Wheat
Wi n t e r Wheat
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
198,883
206,838
202,701
206,366
177,475
161,502
145,352
191,865
63,315
799,861
1,283,333
1,895,362
2,183,494
1,880,394
2,091,393
2,041,560
2,213,000
2,265,000
2,430,000
2,109,000
2,788,000
2,825,000
3,125,000
3,325,000
3,601,000
3,240,000
597,277
3,016,000
3,716,000
3,335,000
3,762,000
3,942,000
2,822,000
2,794,000
2,493,000
2,881,000
3,457,000
3,492,000
3,354,000
3,622,000
1,006,467
1.046.726
1,025,792
1,044,334
1,054,777
1,223,541
1,747,934
1.922.727
1,955,304
1,266,964
1,173,210
629,788
503,830
433,294
381,299
335.000
332.000
306.000
233.000
285.000
310.000
298.000
350.000
343.000
275.000
300.000
400.000
812.000
668,000
258.000
205.000
235.000
352.000
195.000
183.000
196.000
173.000
180.000
194.000
188.000
♦ Ne b r a s k a Agricultural Statistics,
Spring Wheat
16*50
16*50
16.50
16.50
14.40
11.66
7.68
9.07
3.14
38.70
52.24
75.06
81.25
81.27
84.58
85.90
87.30
88.10
91.25
88.10
89*99
90.46
89.93
90.65
92.91
91.53
59.88
78.79
84.75
92.81
94.83
94.37
88.90
93.47
93.16
93.63
95.23
95.10
94.53
95.06
83.50
83.50
83.50
83.50
85.60
88.34
92.32
90.93
96.86
61.30
47.76
24. 94
18.75
18.73
15.42
14.10
12.70
11.90
8.75
11.90
10.01
9.54
10.07
9.35
7.09
8.47
40.12
21.21
15.25
7.19
5.17
5.63
11.10
6.53
6*84
6.37
4.77
4.90
5.47
4.94
(1923-1924), 56, 57;
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
(1930),
Figure
Five-year annual average of ecrpppp
oroeuction, yield, and price of Thcat, 1870-la?0
(Comoiled from Table f:)
w“ *
FFod c4c+»'or>
C M iilv O f W
B liJ
Z *"
|v»
to
J
JL
-?. do
4
/ 06
/6
is
Upper series of numbers on left shows millions of
acres; lower series shows price per bushel.
Uooer series of numbers on right shows millions of
bushels; lower series showrs yield per acre.
Figure.?-.
Five-year annual average of acreage, production,
and yield of winter and spring wheat, 1395-19F0.
(Comoiled from Nebr. Agr. Statistics (19SF-19P4),
56-57; (19?0), 94.
Pro du fli’o ki
.* r C F W \ \ jo n a 'i
C M U U p m s fttlP
W rrtVe-r- w K e<nJk" = B \o .cJk .
Numbers on left show millions of acres.
Dooer series of numbers on right shows millions of
1 "bushels; lower series shows yield per acre.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
7if
-VlliTable 4. Oats
♦Acreage, production, average yield per acre, and
average price per bushel for Oats, by years, 1870-1930.
Year
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
Acreage
36,379
38,553
44,453
80,000
84,156
125,000
138,339
135,000
192,500
192,500
245,800
325,300
400,119
540,161
648,193
700,048
742,051
922,369
1,014,606
1,085,628
1,053,059
1,368,977
1,615,393
1,599,239
1,567,254
1,676,962
1,794,349
1,668,745
1,752,182
1,715,804
1,732,962
1,972,991
1,795,422
2,014,463
1,886,270
1,886,270
2,450,000
2,524,000
2,549,000
2,366,000
2,532,000
2,500,000
2,275,000
2,250,000
2,175,000
Production
1,226,000 bu
1,226,000
1,667,000
2,400,000
1,944,000
4,375,000
3,500,000
5,400,000
6,429,500
6,160,000
5,284,700
6,976,000
9,417,600
21,630,000
21,844,000
24,028,000
21,865,000
25,365,000
26,177,000
29,963,000
22,430,000
48,599,000
43,131,000
23,988,585
19,747,690
39,911,696
34,092,631
51,731,095
56,245,042
51,474,120
37,778,572
39,065,222
62,121,601
59,426,658
57,908,489
58,474,370
72,275,000
51,490,000
56,078,000
53,360,000
70,896,000
34,750,000
55,510,000
59,625,000
69,600,000
Yield
Price
33.7 bu. $.27
.22
31.8
.14
37.5
.24
30.0
.45
23.1
.19
35.0
.21
25.3
.15
40.0
.17
33.4
.23
32.0
.26
21.5
.37
21.4
.25
23.5
.20
40.0
.19
33.7
.19
34.3
.19
29.5
.21
27.5
.19
25.8
.15
27.6
.39
21.3
.23
32.3
.23
26.7
.22
15.0
.36
12.6
.22
23.8
.11
19.0
.12
31.0
.18
32.1
.20
30.0
.19
21.8
.27
19.8
.32
34.6
.26
29.5
.28
30.7
.23
31.0
.25
29.5
.35
20.4
.42
22.0
.41
22.6
.35
28.0
.33
13.9
.41
24.4
.35
26.5
.38
32.0
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-ixTable 4. Oats, con*t.
Yea r
Acreage
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
2,200,000
2,250,000
3,038,000
2,531,000
2,133,000
2,400,000
2,585,000
2,408,000
2,456,000
2,456,000
2,699,000
2,537,000
2,441,000
2,392,000
2,480,000
2,485,000
Production
Yield
Price
70,400,000 bu. 32.0 bu. #.40
79,875,000
35*5
.38
.57
115,444,000
38.0
.69
56,188,000
22.2
.65
32*8
69,962,000
.69
34.6
83,040,000
.21
27.1
70,054,000
.29
23.3
56,106,000
.36
33.0
81,048,000
.42
31.0
68,768,000
.43
27.4
73,953,000
.39
20i7
52,516,000
.43
28.6
69,813,000
.44
33.0
78,936,000
.40
34.8
86,304,000
.32
32.2
80,017,000
♦ Ne b ra s ka Agricultural Statistics, (1 9 2 3 —1 92 4 ), _p.65,
(1930), p. 95*
Price per bushel from 1870 to 1894 is
quoted f r om Nebraska Agricultural Statistics; from 1895 to
1930 from H. C. Filley and Arthur M. Hauke, “Local Prices
of Farm Products in Nebraska, 1895-1932," in Nebraska
Experiment Station Bulletin 284, p. 18*
/
4
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Table 5* Rye
♦Acreage, production, average yield per acre, and average
price per bushel, by years, 1870-1930.
Year
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
Acreage
544
722
793
1,875
1,828
3,125
5,575
40,000
75,000
72,700
32,110
38,200
53,480
64,176
67,585
69,407
68,733
82,480
115,472
81,372
79,745
95,694
103,350
98,183
78,546
64,408
62,476
59,352
58,758
62,319
61,073
155,475
160,139
156,936
136,534
125,611
95,000
88,400
85,000
63,000
50,000
52,000
55,000
120,000
122,000
Production
12,900 bu.
13.000
12,300
30.000
32.000
50.000
92.000
640.000
432,500
192,280
385,320
424.000
932,800
1,026,080
1.098.000
923.000
894.000
891.000
1.570.000
1,085,083
1,052,634
1,502,396
1,498,575
991,648
479,131
598,994
1,055,844
1,008,984
1,104,650
997,104
867,237
2,332,125
3,250,822
2,228,491
2.157,237
,360,000
661,000
944.000
676.000
880.000
1.740.000
1.952.000
Yield
23.7bu.
18.0
15.5
16.0
17.5
16.0
16.5
16.0
19.1
16.4
12.0
11.1
17.4
16.0
16.3
13.3
13.0
10.8
13.6
13.3
13.2
15.7
14.5
10.1
6.1
9.3
16.9
17.0
18.8
16.0
14.2
15.0
20.3
14.2
15.8
18.0
21.0
17.0
16.0
10.5
16.0
13.0
16.0
14.5
16.0
Price
ft.48
.49
.35
• 49
.67
.45
.37
.40
.24
.41
.57
.71
.40
.35
.32
.33
.32
.35
.48
.25
.52
.60
.39
.35
.48
.30
.22
.32
.34
.38
.40
.46
.36
.37
.55
.48
.44
.59
.60
.61
.60
.75
• 56
.60
.74
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Table 5. Rye, con*t.
Year
Acreage
1915
1916
1917
191?
1918
1Q19
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
200.000
192.000
215,000
388,000
200,000
129.000
151.000
188.000
199.000
189.000
205.000
253.000
274.000
249.000
262.000
333.000
Production
3,500,000 bu.
3,072,000
3,354,000
5,005,000
3,244,000
1,819,000
1,918,000
2,106,000
2,289,000
2,740,000
2,522,000
2,606,000
4,110,000
3,486,000
3,694,000
4,995,000
*Nebraska Agricultural Statis t ic s , ('
(1930), p. 96^
Yield
Price
17.5 bu. $.73
16.0
1.16
15.6
1.55
12.9
1.35
16.3
1.1C
14.1
1.03
12.7
.60
.65
11.2
.56
11.5
.97
14.5
.71
12.3
.76
10.3
.77
15.0
.77
14.0
.76
14.1
.38
15.0
5-1924), p. 67
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
F i
cigure
4. ^Five-year annual average of acreage
production, yield, and price of oats, 1870-19^0.
/\cre*
(Compiled
from Table 4)'
odi^rj-ron
5 £fliMi'orx.s)
___
_
iif
wr
ii
° F*->'ce
bM.)
\«1S
'80
Yitdl
ie«.j ,
7.SSO
.
'&S
90
9er
<300
o<r
IO
1S>
9.0
Upper series of numbers on left shows millions of
acres; lower series shows price per bushel.
Upper series of numbers on right shows millions of
bushels; lower series shows yield per acre.
l.wc
Figure 5.
Five-year annual average of acreage,
production, yield, and price of rye, ISTO-IQ-TO.
(Compiled from Table 5)
FJ-oduc + for*
C<Oi\Wows.B«.)%
So
a
1-20
.Jo
---------Yield.
O r n c
Vper
I« n!f ’«o
X5
ao
<34-
iqoo
cs
ao
4JT
CBa.)
Upper series of numbers on left shows 100,00-ots of
acres; lower series shows price per bushel.
Uuper series of numbers on right shows millions of
’ bushels; lower series shows yield per acre.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
°
o
Figure 6.
Comparison of five-year annual average
of acreage and production of corn, wheat, and
oats, 1870-1930.
(Compiled from Tables 1, 2. and 4)
Uo
too
o
Vo
90
/o
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Table 6* Barley
♦Acreage, production, average yield per acre, and average
price per bushel, by years, 1870-1930.
Year
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
Acreage
8,058
8,513
12,117
11,833
14,549
16,741
21,363
21,667
22,750
80,000
89,900
142,200
156,000
163,800
168,714
177,150
172,088
173,809
156,428
82,590
84,242
88,454
90,223
76,690
59,818
49,051
45,617
42,880
40,307
36,276
33,374
74,293
65,378
64,070
68,555
66,498
120,000
116,000
118,000
114,000
127,000
120,000
113,000
110,000,
113,000
Production
Yield
Price
233,700 bu.
252,000
309,000
355,000
355,000
375,000
470,000
520,000
568,750
1,600,000
1,186,680
1,270,000
3,588,000
3,623,880
3,551,000
3,862,000
3,786,000
3,076,000
3,520,000
1,822,111
1,457,387
2,405,949
2,002,951
920,280
340,967
1,393,048
907,778'
943,360
1,092,320
943,176
587,382
1,118,688
2,033,256
1,704,262
1,878,407
1,828,695
3,360,000
2,413,000
2,773,000
1,988,000
2,350,000
1,320,000
2,486,000
1,760,000
2,656,000
29.0 bu.
29.6
25.5
30.0
24.4
22.4
22.0
24.0
25.0
20.0
13.2
8.9
23.0
22.1
21.0
21.8
22.0
17.7
22.5
22.0
17.3
27.2
22.2
12.0
5.7
28.4
19.9
22.0
27.1
26.0
17.6
16.0
31.1
26.6
27.4
27.5
28.0
20.8
23.5
17.5
18.5
11.0
22.0
16.0
13.5
$.58
.41
.35
.76
.78
.39
.29
.26
.33
.37
.42
.55
.42
.37
.33
.33
.31
.37
.52
.30
.57
.37
.33
.31
.43
.24
.19
.24
.25
.30
.33
.41
.33
.33
.31
.31
.31
•50
.46
.43
.45
.60
.42
.49
A*"*•
.47
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-XV-
Table 6, Barley, con*t.
Year
Acreage
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
i
q o i
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
105,000
110,000
213,000
343,000
217,000
256,000
iq q non
199,000
242,000
255,000
251,000
233,000
227,000
246,000
430,000
647,000
725,000
Production
Yield
Price
3,255,000 b u
3,080,000
5,644,000
3,660,000
5,577,000
7,424,000
A.Qifi.finn
4,915,000
4,356,000
7,522,000
6,275,000
5,662,000
4,699,000
7,577,000
14,018,000
18,892,000
22,330,000
31#0 bu.
28.0
26.5
16.5
25.7
29.1
24.7
18.0
29.5
25.0
24.3
20.7
30.8
32.6
29.2
50.8
$.42
.75
.98
.85
i;oo
.50
.28
.47
.44
.63
.54
.58
.55
.51
.50
.33
♦Nebraska Agricultural. Statistics« (1923— 1924), p.66;
(1930), p. 95#
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Figure .7
Five-year annual average of acreage,
production, yield, and price of barley,
(Compiled from Table 6.)
f”7 d u ''3*
I 100,800>sa
s\
Acre
s
---------------------------------
—---------------------
(- W lilfio n * .
b u .)
.to
.Co
/e
o a-
'9o
/O
Upper series of numbers on left shows 100,000*s of
acres: lower series shows price per bushel.
Upper series of numbers on right shows millions of
bushels; lower series showrs yield per acre.
Figure 8.
Five-year annual average of acreage, production,
yield, and price of tame hay, 1870-1950.
(Compiled from N e b r . Asv . Statistics ( l 9 ^ 5 - 1 9 f ,
68; (1950), 97.
Ae.re.5
P ro
H OmMli'ons
(millions ~T.)
Pyo
tcM)
"Prt’c e
(per T )
/tvs'
'*e
Icr
90
9o-
oa
Upper series of numbers on left shows millions
of acres; lower series shows price per ton.
Upper series of numbers on right shows millions of
'1tons; lower series shows yield per acre.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-xvliTable 7, Alfalfa
♦Acreage, production, average yield per acre , average
price per ton, by years, 1902-1930.
Year
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
Acreage
202,000
238,000
256,000
316,000
366,000
456,000
548,000
615,000
701,000
745,000
825,000
971,000
1,022,000
1,191,000
1,128,000
1,083,000
882,000
1,180,000
1,233,000
1,196,000
1,163,000
1,163,000
1,358,000
1,300,000
1,258,000
1,283,000
1,155,000
1,095,000
1,135,000
Production
Yield
♦♦1,302,000 T ♦*4.12 T
3.67
1,341,000
3.16
1,451,000
3.37
1,847,000
3.20
1,972,000
3.09
2,166,000
2. 66
1,982,000
2.64
2,178,000
2.57
2,033,000
3.13
3,199,000
3.43
4,085,000
3.00
3,384,000
2.40
2,599,000
1.75
1,544,000
2.60
3,068,000
2.70
3,329,000
2.36
2,823,000
2.07
2,407,000
2.60
3>024,000
2.40
3,259,000
2.32
3,016,000
2.04
2,566,000
2.57
3,297,000
2.28
2,633,000
2.52
2,759,000
2.62
2,974,000
Price
**$9.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
12.50
9.50
10.30
9.00
9.30
7.40
6.20
7.60
17.00
20.00
16.00
10.00
7.50
12.00
11. 00
10.09
12.35
14.84
9.00
10.69
11. 33
8. 45
*1902— Report of Nebraska Bureau of Labor and Industrial
Statistics, U90~jL^19Qg;, P. 297.
1903 and 1504,‘T b i d . , (1903-1904), p. 137.
1905, Ibid. . (1^05^1906), p. 194.
1906 and“l907, Ibid., (1907-1908), p. 336.
1908 and 1909, I b i d ., (1909-1912), p. 259.
1910 to 1924, Nebraska Agrlcultural Statistics, \J.y<5o;,
p. 85.
1925 to 1930, Ibid., (1930), p. 98.
♦♦Complete statistics on production, yield, and prise not
available before 1905.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
_
.
-xviii-
tion vip?dV e ^ f ar ^imUa1 averaS e of acreage, oroduc✓2 * 3 letd, and price ox potatoes, 1870-1970
(-,q£n?plino frgm .— r *
Statistics (1927-1924), 59;
(1930) , 102.
Prices from 1896 to' 1970 from Filler and
* Hauke,"Local Prices of Farm Products," 95 )
Pro d a c_4Ca„
1 H o i I.OOnft
"■■I”"
4.10
Ai’e-li
Ao
it rtf
,{p
e r A ),
s3o
Upper series of numbers on left shows thousands of
acres; lower series shows price per bushel.
Upper series of numbers on right shows 100,000*s of
bushels; lower series shows yield per acre.
Figure 10.
Five-year annual average of acreage,
production, yield, and price of alfalfa, 1905-1970
(Compiled from Table 7)
Pro
Cl O o . o o o T.la?
\s.
_
Upper series o.f numbers on left shows 100,000*3
1acres; lower series shows price per ton.
Upper series of numbers on right shows 100,000*s
tons: lower series shows yield per acre.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
°
-xlxTable 8, Sugar Beets
♦Acreage, production, average yield per acre, and average
price per ton, by years, 1910-1930.
Year
Acreage
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
10,000
14,000
20,000
24,000
22,000
26,000
41,000
51,000
43,000
59,000
72,000
72,000
55,000
58,000
64,000
60,000
79,000
82,000
86,000
92,000
81,000
Production
♦♦
298,000 T
425,000
473,000
485,000
601,000
718,000
773,000
703,000
640,000
754,000
933,000
923,000
1,036,000
1,02-1,000
1,054,000
1,132,000
Yield
♦♦11.60 T
10,34
9,22
11.35
10.16
9.93
10.72
12.78
11.04
11.80
15.00
11.70
12.60
11.90
11.45
14.00
Price
♦♦$5.59
6.17
7.22
9.96
10.90
11.96
6.59
7.79
7.45
7.53
5.97
7.88
7.96
6.9 8
7.00
7.00
♦Nebraska Agricultural St a tlstlcs« (1925), p. 86;
(1930), "p. 102,
♦♦Complete statistics on production, yield, and price
not available before 1910*
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-X X -
Table 9. Hogs and Cattle
(excluding milch cows)
♦Number and average price per head, by years, 1870-1930.
« ..... .
t
Hogs
Year
•
Number
1870
1871
1872
1373
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
!
,
,
,
.
125,000
76,200
102,800
121,300
128,500
77,100
80,900
170,500
255,700
607,600
698,700
1,320,000
1,316,227
1,526,823
1,786,383
1,679,200
2,312,784
2,382,168
2,334,525
2,264,489
2,309,779
2,309,779
2,586,952
2,198,909
2,088,964
1,316,047
1,289,726
1,263,931
1,327,128
1,353,671
1,313,061
3,839,889
2,918,316
2,889,133
2,860,242
2,888,844
3,004,398
4,080,000
4,243,000
3,904,000
3,436,000
3,951,000
4,267,000
.
.
*
*
'
1
'
*
*
*
1
1
1
1
'
'
1
'
1
'
'
'
J
Price
t
$6.64
7.75
5.24
4.91
4.10
3.66
6.65
6.65
5.64
3.03
5.21
5.10
6.90
7.96
7.29
6.25
5.08
5.49
5.72
7.08
5.62
4.23
5.23
6.02
8.05
4.90
5.01
4.77
5.38
5.32
6.01
7.17
8.35
8.73
6.43
6.51
6.60
8.70
6.25
7.25
11.00
10.90
8.80
!
'
1
'
1
*
*
1
1
*
'
'
*
1
'
*
1
1
1
*
1
*
'
1
1
1
'
1
1
'
'
*
1
1
'
'
1
■
'
*
Cattle
Number
113,000
54,500
65,400
73,200
87,800
79,000
86,900
195,400
205,100
369,000
428,000
505,040
692,941
1,190,000
1,368,500
1,505,350
1,535,457
1,048,200
1,079,747
1,187,611
1,306,372
1,345,563
1,614,676
1,566,236
1,613,223
1,193,785
1,062,469
1,019,970
1,213,764
1,395,829
1,521,454
2,406,165
2,333,980
2,403,999
2,355,919
2,379,478
2,450,862
3,366,000
3,265,000
3,200,000
2,318,000
2,225,000
2,002,000
|
Price
$24.54
27.06
22.35
22.41
21.47
20.46
18.23
19.33
20.72
19.43
21.52
21.40
23.00
25.58
26.44
26.14
24.69
24.29
21.08
18.96
17.03
16.73
16.59
16.17
15.70
13.68
17.86
19. 53
26.82
27.92
30.38
25.88
20.86
19.71
17. 48
17.34
18.42
19.00
19 .00
20. 00
21. 90
22. 50
24.50
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-xxlTable 9. Hogs and Cattle, con*t.
i
Hogs
1
i
i
t
Number
i Price
Year
i
1913
1
3,798,000
$11.40
1
11.80
3,228,000
1914
1
'
10.90
3,809,000
1
1915
*
9.40
1
4,266,000
1916 '1
1917
*
14.00
1
4,200,000
4,250,000
24. 40
*
1918
1
1
3,825,000
26.50
1919
1
1
20.90
3,436,000
1920
1
1
13.50
3,556,000
1921
1
'
10.00
4,100,000
1922
1
12.00
1
5,638,000
1923
1
1
10.00
5,983,000
1924
1
1
13.20
1925
1 , 4,818,000
*
17.60
4,700,000
1926
*
1
19.50
1927
*
4,597,000
1
15.50
5,492,000
1928
1
1
15.00
5,327,000
1929
1
'
16.30
5,086,000
1930
*
i
^ Nebraska Agricultural Statlsties,
(1930)', ”p. 121.
Cattle
t
Number
1,902,000
1,883,000
2,034,000
2,237,000
2,525,000
2,940,000
2,940,000
2,619,000
2,413,000
2,432,000
2,618,000
2,774,000
2,689,000
2,566,000
2,206,000
2,153,000
2,312,000
2,376,000
i
Price
$32.40
38.10
40.80
40.50
44.30
49.30
49.90
44. 00
32.00
26.40
30.60
29.50
28.80
31.90
32.04
43.21
52.34
48.61
(1925), pp. 101, 102;
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-xxil-
Figure 11. Five-year annual average number and price of
hogs, cattle and sheep, 1870-19S0.
(Compiled from Table 9 for hogs and cattle; from Uebr.
Agr. Statistics (1995), 109; (19?0), 191 for sheep.)
Numbtr
£-3,- U O O . O Q O
Prt'c.e. p<Lr he<*L.
S >
•V-5-
■Vb
■*a
<s
j
-
Ae>
•&J-
-?-5-
■to
/jr
■Jo-
JO
SO
/>
Sheeps
I h iv
/Zvs-
Jt0
90
9o~
'900
90-
So
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-xxiv* Index numbers of wholesale prices of all commodities, based
on variable group weights, by years, 1870-1930.(1910-14=100)
Year
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
187 S
1877
1878
1873
1880
1881
1882.
1882
1884
188c
188c
188?
1888
1889
Average
135
130
136
133
126
118
110
106
91
90
100
103
108
101
33
85
82
85
86
81
Year
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1300
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
Average
82
82
76
78
70
71
68
68
71
77
82
81
86
87
87
88
30
9o
92
99
Ye ar
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
Average
103
95
101
102
99
101
125
172
191
202
226
143
147
147
143
151
146
139
141
139
126
*Geor^e F. Warren and Frank A. Fearson,
Prices. (Hew York, 1333), 2o-27.
rl0 ■* p[*** 0 ^ o 7
^~0
.11 e d S t a t e s D e T h e B u r e a u of L a b o r £t •
•
p
001n
10
t '* o;i u p o n 0 -0 * 0 0
i
0
0
©rnl
'
>
2
.
5
.
1
1
part.'lent o f L a b o r h a ? b e e r
•
p
f
O
i
n do"' u s e d b e r e
t o r 'nan-*' ’' o a r s •
Y i e !la l l c O' o 'odi t * o s "
fb4 C O T '
V/bole•
od 1 U
I s b a s e d ivoon M e r b o l e e a l e o r * o e o f 7
0 *VI
c
*
?
P
^
*
I
'
'
?
0
r'
'
10
C
,
'
0
P
.
;
0-4
0
0
,
t_/'
s a l e p r i c e s o-*' far. > "S'-ocvr't.
£
>
*
ab lor 1 1 a d IP
ov.'or o f a -r * c u l t u r a l v' ? o c :c t s & r 1 i s t
: 1 r\
■jp’p 0 0,■<»7 0
*
~
,
*
t
T
o
O
0
*
*
>
0
"
"
^oro-'\
does, n o t r e p r e s e n t t' .a t r u e
T
T
.O
•uni
c
.
l-r t h a n t h e
2.OV 0 A.
o i ‘ i‘e r ■"■ r>:co'*nr*,tp. ea 1 1 P i & 1 OlV O
— * *0 rj O
<p»O '*> *0
•K} ■;c c . 1 o 0 ■--.O' -71; * 'T<
r»e o f '
•-Ia n 1'
c t u r e cl '*ood s
*
*
’
v
o
•
rt •
’
*
<
n
iT
N
.r-.
w
>
*
0
0
0
{
*
yin.'n;x—
0*0 1_*!'
a l o w e r l e v e l ' b a v' w e u l ' a r .
2 ’ 0 0 r '***1Vi-p*. TP’0 0 '* ■■*- t s bei'a c t ■’r e cl -'ooc-.s a l o n e •
’■*|-n d e 7*1
r u r e r as I n n
lose
j- * o
z'-'-n
(->
r>.
-'ov'er
*, * "■* p '•-) *
tk.or
0• <W
>0 0 C. 0 0, 1 - 7 1. - 1 '* 7 0
r.
* -r . ‘
IP■'t ■* ,r. r;
r* * >n *' *■'■{*V-0-'* '•*0*’* V «*• ~
LP o u ,’1■ w - o
-ij* -■-}
v b “ t V n‘n C'.r’ s.1-c
r r~ O C 1 * •
P.
f
^
O*
•
00
•* cr» r•-o
j
to .
■*.':,o. ^ *^0' 0
0 :: O ’” J7'0 1 l' “ J.'
t w
n e n ^ s s a r ~j oc, " 7: - s
«p•<'.V' ; *'■' *’0 • " ”'•
0
'
■
•
‘
ova.rt
.rt
■ .I n f* p a v o b e e n "’cv.lo o'
to o
*'•[*~ ’*■ •s-1•*‘ 0 •*-.
&t~
~o
7^
, “B
-- * T■
-, ftf~:
0
•
»i• . *p ,
~
• ♦
i.
> .v-»ps-•*■•'
.
r j. v 9
: ” '7 :, -0,0 1 ' ,v‘_V
kn■i«
*—r\ * — 1 * f- *
c .-• P' •
t" .o ’--ur c 0.
0 b 9' o >~'
''o i..np.0. •*i*..u i•.■--■.. >"• o
r-o o u n t o t * o n s
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-XXV-
Table 11.
^Nebraska farm price, price relatives, and
purchasing power of corn, wheat, and oats,
by years, 1870-1930.
(1910-1914— 100).
Legend:
P— price; P.R.— price relatives;
P.P.— purchasing power.
—f—
Corn
Year
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1375
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1381
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1387
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1696
1397
1898
1399
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
19C5
1906
1907
1903
1909
1910
P.
P.R.
58
32
22
40
29
16
47
26
66
121
31
17
Ow
K
45
33
IS
29
15
21
58
45
25
71
39
60
33
44
24
18
33
19
35
36
20
55
30
40
22
31
17
87
43
47
26
51
28
27
49
91
50
37
68
24
13
24
13
37
20
42
23
49
27
73
40
84
46
55
30
66
35
65
56
60
33
70
53
56 102
55 101
88
43
P.P.
43
31
21
37
96
26
41
31
32
42
45
69
56
44
OW
41
44
65
47
38
106
57
67
63
130
96
35
r-r *—
oc
52
55
60
90
98
63
76
75
67
74
ill
102
85
Wheat
Oats
|
t P.
P.R. P.P. • P.
P.R. P.P.
56
70
75
52 ! 27
t 57
77
47
61
100
81
22
i
29
69
39
85
62 ; 14
69
63
4-9
64 » 24
85
i 54
67
99
53 ' 45 125
i 56
53
45
58 • 19
39
i 72
58
89
53
81 » 21
i 81
42
40
94
«
15
100
t 49
47
17
52
60
66 «
t 84 104 116 « 23
64
70
t 73
72
72
90
90 » 26
i 97 120 117 « 37 103 100
69
64
i 67
77 t 2.5
83
i 70
56
55
85 • 20
86
57
53
» 42
56 ' 19
52
62
i 5 17
53
82 • 19
70
6o
71 » 19
53
i 47
58
68
58
t 53
76 • 21
65
62
53
i 83 102
118 i 19
51
42
79 » 15
i 52
64
i 76
94 115 » 39 108 132
64
78
i 73
90 110 » 23
78
54
i 50
52
82 « 23
73
61
« 40
49
63 » 82
143
100
36
i 49
86
i
so
86
61
! 45
57
8 ° • oo
46
11
31
57
84 «
1 45
49
33
12
« 63
77 113 *
39
49
79 111 * 18
64
54
70
1 52
64
83 » 20
63
53
64
78 « 19
t 52
91
27
75
66
81 e
t 53
102
88
80 « 32
69
! 56
82
72
79 . 26
69
1 56
77
89
95 109 i 28
1 77
64
72
95 108 « 23
1 77
7?
59
82 i 25
74
« 60
101
92 i 35
38
1 71
125
115
1 82 101 110 » 42
114
113
1 94 116 117 i 41
93
96
1 87 107 104 i o 5
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
-xxvlTable 11. Con*t.
Year
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1326
1927
1923
1929
1930
‘I-« p*
* 47
1 60
1 oC,Fc.,
1 63
' 61
' 56
*134
*133
‘144
•116
1 34
• 44
• 55
» 75
* 83
1 64
t 74
1 78
i 77
* 55
Corn
P.R.
*
p
Oats
P.
P.R.
P.P.
P.
P.R. P.I
30
85
73
80
108
114
206
198
205
209
107
97
90
100
144
121
115
107
97
74
99
104
90
99
133
141
254
244
253
258
132
120
111
123
1?7
162
142
132
120
91
104
103
83
100
132
113
148
128
125
114
92
85
75
86
117
111
102
94
36
72
33
41
35
38
40
38
57
69
65
69
27
29
36
43
39
43
44
40
32
91 96
113 112
96 94
104 105
110 109
104 84
157 91
191
99
178 88
191 84
75
52
80 57
o7
100
115 80
78
118
108 73
118 85
86
121
110
79
70
88
•i
(■t-•]'
.p .
91
109
99
116
111
97
142
132
131
94
43
57
81
97
108
80
97
101
101
94
86
110
101
115
112
121
245
253
264
212
62
81
119
139
153
117
135
143
.141
119
Wheat
o
*Price quo fed f rom Tabl es I, w J •no. 4.
o
• -0 — .*•' 7 .i U i ;
Ur.ri
w
:
J
i
.Ji: L h\d
..
'
i-i; . . >
4- ^ /-■] "’qby
-^
ccnnuf.oe
me
i'AOC A 0
-1
■vie.?* i-t
tvr*” 4
the
nrice of
or a
a cosnodlty each rear
■
f
”
o
o
s tud^r
*
r
O
)
r
>
v
*
o
r
\
c
l
?
.
I
"
)
f
\
&
€
"
■
Tn
rur.iber of' ;Tes re \
n
a
oo
rjr'i ne v;n.^ Lb» as the
the fi vs •'’■ear 1510-1914 aver a
1
1
'
^
•
rp]'g ’’so of ?r ’o(3 relatives nairer. m e cm>tr:ar** son of
" ri e s
-TVy>* r»;o nosr
e and.
ss.r-’- In ord^r
eoynnte m e m r -
The r>r**.ce rela11v*
i
a
s
?
"’ e
a
r
^
c
* tr *
r
t
!'• o
a
v
o
r
a
. »0 V > CJ
*
':->o
is
i
‘
JO*1*! O : £"•^ 1"P
c o r r '-u te d
">'r
s
n
e
"OOY.’P
c
e
s
O
in
o
or an-.- “srt'.e’i
i r rooucc
ce rolative of 1:In•■ v •■•o.d’ct for
d i v id .
;1r ’ •" i s o
rip-.- vi’ r -l.io i' o ;‘ ?.] f c o n ' O ' f ’ t '
n - > p !( i p
r . ) -• <•-. •vi.i-’ e? a .s e e l •
fi .at "’ear "b'~ t‘ t=
-v ip v iv ',
O'* oo or
b e ’^s
f
v a b j '■ i o
m ’e
•-p•- p ov;e r f o t tr.? far
'O
o°
3/
r p i - y i ” i n o '3 t e m i n i :
nrocircts in '"ables 11 sv■>i lb.
>j ? e d
-1
or
:
in
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
?o’oe
-xxvllTable 12.
*iMebraska farm price, price relatives, and curchasing power of barley, hogr , and c a t t l e / b y
years, 1870-1330.
(1910-1914.^100)
Legend:
p— price per bushel for barley, price
per head for hogs and cattle; P.R.— price rela­
tives; P.P.— purchasing power.
__
Year 1
t
18*70 ,
1871
1872
1873 1
1874 1
1675 1
1875 *
1877 1
1878 1
1879 *
1880 *
1681 1
1682 1
1883 ‘
1 8 8 4 ;•
1885 •
1886 '*
1887 *
1888 1
1889 1
1890 »
18-91- *
1832 *
1893 »
1694 1
1895 1
1896 •
1897 *
1698 ‘
1899 1
1900 *
1901 »
1S02
1903 1
1904 «
1905 «
1906 «
1907 «
1308 »
1909 ‘
1o
nn 1
P.
i58
41
L'
76
78
39
29
26
33
37
42
c c.
"Bar! ey
P.R.
116
84
71
15979
59
o
67
76
86
112
42
86
37
76
67
33
67
33
63
31
37
76
~.o 106
30
61
57 116
57 116
67
33
31
63
43
88
24
49
19
39
49
24
25
51
61
50
67
33
84
41
67
oo
T
r
r
67
cO
55
51
65
31
55
51
50 102
94
46
88
43
AR
97
1
P.P.
62
65
52
117
125
67
%j4c
50
74
84
86
109
80
75
72
79
77
89
123
76
141
141
83
81
125
63
57
72
mo
1
79
82
104
73
77
72
72
70
107
102
89
89
Hogs
1 P*
P.R.
. 664
62
775 72
524 49
491
46
410 38
366
34
665 62
62
‘ 665
1 564
52
1 303
28
1 521
48
47
1 510
1 590
64
1 796
74
1 72.9 68
1 625
58
47
* 508
1 549
51
52
1 572
65
* 708
-r
1 562
o’
C*.
1 -,n
1O
7
ca> 39
1 p.ovO
»? 49
56
’ 602
• 805
74
1 490
46
1 501
46
1 477
44
1 1=n:q 50
I \
r^n
J • 49
06
‘ 501
1 717
57
77
* 855
* 873
dl
1 643
60
60
1 551
1 660
62
1 870
81
58
• 625
67
• 725
1 1100 109
Gattle
P.P.
46
55
36
35
30
29
56
58
57
31
48
45
59
73
73
68
57
60
60
81
53
48
64
72
106
65
68
65
70
54
68
83
90
33
59
68
69
G•
c
w
—
OO
67
106
P.
P .R.
2454 88
97
2706
2235 80
2241 80
2147 77
2046 73
1823 65
1933 69
2072 74
1943 70
2152 77
2140 7?
2300 83
2558 92
2644 95
2614 94
2469 89
2429 87
2108 76
1896 68
1703 51
60
1573
1659 50
1617
58
1570 60
1368 49
64
1786
1953 70
2682
96
2792 100
3038 109
2588 93
2086 75
1971
71
1748
53
1734 52
55
1342
1300
68
1900
’JC*
2000 72
2190 79
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
P.P.
65
75
59
60
61
61
59
65
81
78
77
75
77
91
102
111
109
102
88
84
74
75
79
74
86
69
94
105
135
130
135
115
87
82
72
70
73
72
74
73
77
-xxvI11Table 12, Con't.
Barley
Year
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1915
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1929
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
P.
oC
42
49
47
42
75
9S
85
100
50
28
47
/
/!
X*X
/"• rcu
54
58
55
51
50
33
P.R.
122
86
100
96
36
153
200
175
204
102
57
96
90
128
110
118
112
104
102
67
HO£S
P.P.
128
85
38
37
85
122
116
91
101
45
40
68
61
90
73
81
81
74
73
c:*7
OO
p.
p .R.
1090 101
880
82
1140 106
1180 109
1090 101
87
940
1400 130
2440 226
2650 246
2090 194
1350 125
1000
93
1200 111
1000
93
1320 122
1760 163
1950 181
1550 144
1500 139
1630 151
,
P.P.
IC'D
81
104
110
100
70
76
118
122
86
87
63
76
65
81
112
130
102
100
120
Cattle
» P.
f
,£250
.2450
*3240
*3810
•4080
'4050
>4430
*4930
•4990
•4400
*3200
*2.640
*3060
*2950
*2880
»3190
*3204
*4321
•5234
‘4861
P.R.
P.F
81
se
116
137
146
145
159
177
179
158
115
95
110
106
103
114
115
155
188
174
85'
87
113
138
145
116
92
93
89
70
80
65
75
74
68
78
83
110
135
138
*Price quoted from Tables 6 and 9#
i
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Figure 14.
Number of Automobiles, gas engines, tractors,
and. trucks on f a r m s 5 and number of borses and mules in
N e braska by years, 1920-1930.
ivoTo^ CQompil^d from Nebr^ Agr,_ Statistic
( 1 9 £ 9 ) ,
88,
120)
Horses
ia,r, f\a.clgly'e.''j______________________________________________ n»\J flules <a
Uo
12
I\o
ft
Io o
/O
t--1
cto
«o
1c
To
<►0
So
'ao
— ^*S^__Eng nrx.eu$>
30
Aa
T e a c -to r
la
■ T ruck a
_-
r
)<*a0
*i
a=
31
*^
'sr
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
*°
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"Nebraska in Agriculture and Livestock. ■
• “
- -•
"The Range Steer and His Relation to the
Commercial Interests of the World.” 1903, 139-142.
Hildebrand, Dan.
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session 1865, 11 session 1866-1867,
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Purchasing Power of
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Eixperiment Station fleseareh Bulletin 72, 1934.
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Studies
in Prairie Hay In North Central Nebraska. AgrTcuTtural
Experiment Station R e s e a r c h Bulletin 6 0 , 1932.
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Changes Effeated
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_ ~
“
“ ~
~
~ —
Tractors on Corn-Belt Farms.
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Farmers % u T T e ~ n~lf(5Y
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Bentley, Arthur F.
The Conditions of the Western Farmer.
J o h n Hopkins University Studies in His tori c a r "arid Political
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Anderson, Esther S.
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“ “
- - -•
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Barnhardt, John D.
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2 vol­
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Agriculture Beyond the
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Bidwell, Percy Wells and Falconer, John I.
History of
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C u r l e y » Edwin A.
Nebraska. Its Advantages. Resources, and
D r a w b a c k s . New York, 1 9 2 5 . ----------- &—
-----— — ■
Dale, Edward Everett.
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A History of Agriculture in
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A History of the Public Land
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Hough, Emerson.
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The Passing of ohe Frontier.
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Cyrus Hall McCormick:
1856- 1 8 8 4 . New York, 1955.
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Harvest,
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Statistics and Information
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_ _
_ _
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The W e s t :
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A History of Agriculture in Wisconsin.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Schmidt, Louis Bernard and Ross, Earl Dudley.
the' Economic History of American Agriculture.
Readings in
Hew '¥ork,“ T925.
Sheldon, Addison Erwin.
Nebraska, The Land and the People.
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Chicago, 1931.
—
** ~
— —
Lincoln, 1929.
—-•
History and Stories of Nebraska.
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PERSONAL INTERVIEWS
Filley, H. Clyde.
Chairman, Department of Rural Economics,
University of Nebraska.
The author has conferred quite
frequently wi t h Dr. Filley on various aspects of agricultural
development in Nebraska.
The information received on farm
machinery has been especially helpful.
Flodraan, J. H. Wahoo, Nebraska.
Mr. Flodman settled in
Polk County in 1872.
He has a partial record of his early
farming activities.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
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