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Factors Increasing Yield.—As farming methods are improved, the yield of wheat per acre is being increased. Some of the main factors causing the increase are: (1) The use of drills in seeding results in greater immunity against drought and winterkilling, especially if press drills are used; (2) crop rotation; (3) improved methods in plowing and cultivation; (4) improvement of seed by natural and artificial selection, and by hybridization; (5) fertilizing; (6) irrigation; and (7) tile drainage. Factors Decreasing Yield.—Nearly all of the factors just mentioned are inoperative in a new country, for their product gives intensive cultivation, while extensive cultivation is always characteristic of a new country under ordinary conditions. The yield is always low under extensive methods of farming. Such methods lower the fertility of the soil and a further decrease in yield results. The rapid improvement in farm machinery has favored extensive cultivation. It has also cheapened the cost of production, so that comparatively poor grades of land which it was previously unprofitable to work can now be farmed at a fair rate of profit. The operation of these factors is perhaps best shown by the wheat statistics of Australia. From 1873 to 1898 the acreage of all the provinces of Australia except that of Tasmania increased, in some very greatly, while in every province (except Tasmania, where there was a decrease in acreage until the last eight years of the period), the yield decreased, in some cases over one-third. During the ninth decade in New South Wales the increase in acreage was slight and the decrease in yield insignificant, but in the next eight years the acreage increased nearly fourfold, while the yield fell off about one-third. The apparent lack of correlation between increase in acreage and decrease in yield in one or two of the provinces is doubtless due to some other factors. The yield of wheat per acre in different countries is shown in the following table.” Figures in parentheses show limits to
100 * ~
which acreage had increased or decreased by end of decade, in round thousands. The bushel is the unit in this table."
1860 | 1870 1880 1890 1900 1904 |*|| “...”
1898 || 1904
- (37,000) (36,000) (42,000) (47.854)3] ...... . ...... United States...... 12.4 11.8 13.3 14.5 14.0 || 13.7 (3,065) (2,483) (2,158) ...... . ...... . ......
United Kingdom. 25.4 28.5 32.6 27.7 32.9 || 32.4 Australia"............ (977) (1,145) (2,154) ...... . ...... . ...... Victoria............ 12.7 10.1 8.0 ...... . ...... . ...... (252) (333) (1,319) . ...... . ...... . ......
New S. Wales.... 14.3 || 10.6 ...... . ...... . ...... (10) (10) (46) ...... . ...... ......
Queensland...... 0. 11.0 14.9 ...... . ...... I ......
16.4 17.9 18.1 18.6 7.95 6.5 8.0 11.4 18.25 21.5 27.9 29.4 14.15 19.8 17.3 16.3 12.15 12.1 11.5 11.8 ...... . ...... ------ 14.7 10.5 10.6 -----13.75 15.5 14.3 16.8 ...... I ...... ------ - ------ - ------ - ------ 12.7 12.1 ----------- - ------ - ------ 9.2 10.7 10.1 ------ - -----
France is a good example of an older country where the yield is being increased by intensive cultivation. In 1840 the yield was 14.6 bushels per acre, and in 1850, 15.6. The constant and regular rise in the yield per acre for nearly three quarters of a century in France is remarkable. The acreage rose gradually from about 12,500,000 acres in 1831 to about 17,500,000 acres in 1898. If poorer wheat land was brought under cultivation, the advance in methods of culture more than counterbalanced its effect. It is very interesting to compare the United Kingdom with France. The data cover the years from 1871 to 1898 inclusive. In this period the acreage of the
1 Data taken from Yearbook U. S. Dept. Agr., 1902, 1905. Mo. Summary of Commerce and Finance, Jan., 1900, pp. 2039-2065. U. S. Dept. Agr., Bu. of Sta., Bul. 42, 1906, p. 26.
United Kingdom decreased over one-third while the yield increased one-sixth. In the same period the acreage of France increased about one-eleventh, while the yield increased less than one-ninth. Presumably both countries made approximately the same advance in the arts, that is, in methods of production. It does not appear that there ever was a case where an advance in the arts supplanted with wheat a crop more profitable than wheat was before the advance. In increasing her acreage France had to utilize lands of lower yield, thus reducing the average yield of all, while the United Kingdom raised the average by exactly the opposite process, namely, by reducing her acreage in ceasing to sow to wheat those lands of such a low yield as to be unprofitable. In the United States the causes and effects cannot be traced easily or clearly. We see that the greatest increase in acreage was in the eighth decade, but this acreage was located in the Mississippi and Red river valleys. It consisted of some of the most fertile land of our country, and proved to be better wheat land than any which had previously been sown in that grain. Consequently, it was but natural that the yield should rise, especially as there had been but little intensive farming. The rise in yield would doubtless have been constant since that date, had it not been for abnormal natural conditions which seem to have decreased the actual yield slightly in the ninth decade, although the potential yield has increased uninterruptedly. Since the ninth decade the increase in acreage has been comparatively rapid, doubtless largely due to great improvements in machinery, but the arts have advanced rapidly enough to more than counteract these results. The average yield from 1866 to 1886 was 12.2 bushels per acre, while that from 1886 to 1906 was 13.7. There is such a great annual variation in yield that statistics are not conclusive unless they are averages extending over at least a decade. Columella gives 19.5 to 27 bushels as the amount of wheat that the Romans raised per acre. From 1200 to 1500 England raised 4 to 8 bushels per acre, while she raises about 30 now. The testimony of a contemporary observer shows the yield of wheat near Philadelphia in 1791 to have averaged less than 8 bushels per acre. It is now more than twice that amount. The greatest yield of wheat in the United States seems to be in the Pacific northwest. This is perhaps partly due to the ideal weather prevailing there. A long, wet winter with little frost; a cool, wet spring, gradually fading away into the warmer summer; only light rains after blossoming; abundant sunshine and rather dry air toward harvest; and dry weather for harvest seem to be the most favorable weather conditions for the maximum yield. Sixty to 70 bushels per acre were harvested,
even in the sixties. A volunteer crop may give 25 to 30 bushels.
COST OF PRODUCTION.
The itemized cost of raising an acre of wheat in different localities and years is given in the table below:
Harvesting & Thresh. ...... " Harvesting... ... Cutting and Twine. 2.12
3.60 0.72 0.09
Fertilizing... ------- ------ 4.00 } Int, on land: (ins.). 0.39 - 4.00 Int, on mch’ry, etc. 0.89 ...... - -----Interest.... ......! 3.60 2.00, ...... 2.28 ...... | Tax...... 0.71 ......] ...... ... 0.25 0.39|| “...] ... ... ... TTotal Cost. so so $8.28 so.40's?.00s. lossos 1 U. S. Dept. A gr., Bu. of Sta., Bul. 27, pp. 56-59. 2 Eastman, Rev. of Revs., 28:198. * Letter, H. Haynes; loc. cit., & Spokesman-Review, Wash., Oct. 1, 1903. * * Rept. Kan. State Bd. Agr., p. 12, 1902.
* Ency. Brit., 10th ed., 1:217. * Indus. Com., 10:707. Also U. S. Dept. Agr., Bu. of Sta., Bul. 48, 1906, p. 54. * Atlantic Mo., 45:34-35. * U. S. A gr. Rept., p. 369, 1873. • Hartlib, Legacy of Husb.; Rogers. Hist. Agr. & Prices, Eng., 49