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A feature of the wheat industry in the United States that merits special mention is the increased production of durum wheats. These wheats are now widely grown in the semi-arid regions where the annual rainfall does not exceed 10 or 12 inches. In the early years they were a product very difficult of profitable sale, but they are now assuming a strong commercial position. The nature of the grain was not generally understood by American millers until it had been on the market for several years. In Russia it is blended with about 25 per cent of red wheat, and the same practice has been followed with some success in the United States. Many mills are now grinding the grain. A large portion of the durum wheat grown in the United States is exported, chiefly to Marseilles and other ports of the Mediterranean sea. About 10,000,000 bushels were exported during the year ending June 30, 1906. About 2,000,000 bushels were produced in 1902, 6,000,000 in 1903, 20,000,000 in 1905, and 50,000,000 bushels in 1906.
Russian Wheat Production.—Viewed solely from the point of view of its natural resources and economic aspects, Russia is the United States of Europe. It has immense undeveloped areas that would form ideal wheat lands, lands very similar to those which constitute the wheat belt of the United States. European Russia may be divided into two regions distinct as to the nature of their soil by a line running from Bessarabia in the southwest to Ufa in the northeast. In the southeast is the chernozium (black soil) region, and in the northwest the non-chernozium region. Clay, sand and rocky soils are all found in the non-black soil region, which lacks fertility and is chiefly devoted to the production of rye. The black soil zone is an arable plain, vast in extent, very fertile in soil, arising through centuries from the decomposition of accumulated Steppe grasses and sheltered by outlying forests. This plain stretches across the empire to the Ural Mountains, extending completely over 15 provinces' and partially over 12, and even reappearing in Siberia. It is one of the largest fertile sections of land on the globe. In European Russia, the 18 provinces which lie chiefly in the black soil region produce two-thirds of the wheat and only one-third of the rye. Of the 328,000,000 acres of arable land, 59 per cent, or 193,000,000 acres, is located in the black soil region. Of the 197,000,000 acres of cereal crops, 72
per cent, or 142,000,000 acres, is found in the chernozium area. The black soil is of great uniformity in type and composition, varies in depth from a few inches to about 4 feet, and owes its dark color to its high proportion of organic substances (4 to 16 per cent). The Russian Steppes have fully as great a similarity to the Great Plains of the United States in climate as in soil, although greater extremes prevail.
The similarity between Russia and the United States in the natural resources of the wheat growing regions is quite equaled by the dissimilarity in political practice, social theory and economic condition. The Slav does not possess the Anglo-Saxon's proud institutional heritage. The Russian proletariat have no “Uncle Sam” who is rich enough to provide farms for all. There is, indeed, plenty of land, and they do have the Little Father, who is supposed to exercise a paternal care over his people. Sadly lacking in the institutions that are fundamental for progress and prosperity, however, the Russian people have found the Little Father to be far less capable and generous in aiding their material advancement than is essential to its realization. Consequently they have been unable to rise above their ignorance, poverty and misery. A population of exuberant fertility residing in a land of unlimited natural resources, the Russian peasantry have had neither means nor opportunity to attain a higher plane of life. The poor system of land ownership and the antiquated methods of agriculture made Russian wheat a dear wheat in spite of cheap labor and a low standard of living. The future possibilities of Russian wheat production depend upon the social, economic and educational progress of Russia. There are symptoms of improvement in this direction. The extension of peasant land ownership is improving economic conditions. It seems that political and social conditions are at last changing and popular education is growing. In agriculture, better machinery is being introduced, and crops are being rotated. The production of wheat increased 122 per cent in European Russia from 1870 to 1904. From 1881 to 1904 the acreage in wheat gained 57.3 per cent, while that of rye gained only 1.7 per cent, and the ratio between wheat and rye changed from 45:100 to 70:100. The yield of wheat per acre decreases from west to east.
Since the construction of the Great Siberian Railway the actual and potential productive powers of Asiatic Russia, and especially of Siberia, have been an interesting subject for speculation in Europe and America. In the popular conception previous to this event, Siberia was a land of polar nights and eternal snow, the monotony of whose dreary wastes was broken only by the clanking chains of Russia's exiles—exiles who were not always criminals, but who, according to Occidental ideas, frequently represented the very flower of Russian citizenship.
AREA UNDER WHEAT IN THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
(In round thousands )
PRODUCTION OF WHEAT AND RYE IN THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
(In round thousands.)
1895 1896 1897 1898. 1899. 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907.
7 462 12,830 11.087 14 944 14.938 6959 9,645 15.897 20,995 12,823
Bushels 801,413 789,562 712,319 737 501 911,633 920 134 754.927 919 019
911 944 1.009 4 10
1 U. S. Dept. Agr., Bu. of Sta., Bul. 42, 1906, p. 16.
With the completion of the railway, foreign conception underwent a great change, and Siberia suddenly became the “future granary of the world.” Subsequent developments have not met expectations, for the true Siberia is a mean between these conceptions. This enormous country, which is 24 times as large as the German Empire, and nearly twice as large as the United States proper, has a very rigorous climate, and perhaps only half of it is habitable, while a still smaller portion is suitable for agriculture. This still leaves an immense area, however, upon which the cultivation of wheat is not only possible, but probable. Wheat is at present the most important crop of Siberia. It is exceedingly difficult to foretell the rôle which the Russian Empire is destined to play in the world's future wheat production. The possibilities are tremendous. Since, however, they are so largely dependent upon social, economic and institutional evolution, it is very improbable that Russia will duplicate the rapid development of wheat production which took place in the United States. While the development will be gradual, it is probable that Russian production will be one of the great permanent factors in the wheat industry.'
India's Wheat Production.— The two factors which enabled India to become a large exporter of wheat were the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the subsequent development of the railroads. The former gave
stimulus to wheat cultivation. Wheat thrives best on the dry plains of the Punjab and on the plateaus of the central provinces. Agricultural conditions in different parts of India, and meteorological conditions in different parts and in different seasons, are so diverse that the annual production varies greatly and is extremely difficult to predict. India wheat as a factor in the world market is made still more uncertain by the fact that domestic consumption is unusually susceptible to variations resulting from changes in the price that may be obtained in the export markets.
In recent years the annual wheat area in British India has been approximately 28,000,000 acres. About one-fourth of this is planted in the United Provinces, and about one-fourth in the Punjab. Of the remaining wheat area, the Central Provinces
1 Rubinow, Russia's Wheat Surplus, U. S. Dept. Agr., Bu. of
Sta., Bul. 42. 1906.