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solutely necessary, to give the grain a long enough growing period. To this end the ground should be fall-plowed. It can then be seeded, after a working over with a disk harrow, and no precious time be lost in plowing.
Vegetable-growing in the interior is affected by the same conditions. Rapid-growing crops, as radishes, lettuce, turnips, and the like, develop quickly and to perfection; usually also potatoes, peas, the cabbage tribe, carrots, parsnips and beets are successful,—that is to say, they succeed three years out of four, it being understood that early varieties must be planted. Here, again, experiments would indicate that the Yukon valley affords more favorable conditions than the Copper river valley. In the latter place potatoes have never been a pronounced success, while in the former they have seldom been a pronounced failure. In the sisters' garden at the Holy Cross Mission, located on the banks of the Yukon, in latitude 62°, potatoes are a staple crop, and the writer has eaten new potatoes, cauliflower and carrots the first week in August at that place. At Eagle, latitude 64°, potatoes have not only been grown, but have matured so as to keep over winter with excellent success. At Dawson, on the Canadian side, a hundred miles east of Eagle, the writer has seen large and successful market-gardens and collections of fully matured spring grain.
From the results of experiments and the experience of settlers during the past five years, we can safely draw these conclusions: (1) Rapid-growing vegetables can be raised anywhere up to and beyond the arctic circle; (2) spring grains and vegetables requiring a full season's growth for development can usually be grown south of the arctic circle; (3) success depends more on local conditions than on latitude. In some regions grains fail, while in others, farther north by several degrees, they succeed in the same season. It is believed that the valley of the Tanana is particularly well-adapted to agriculture. It runs approximately in an east and west direction, is some twenty-five miles wide on the average and about four hundred miles in length, with high mountains to the north and farther off to the south also. The valley itself is rolling, with here and there rounded hills; and the soil, though light loam, produces large timber for the latitude. The valleys of the Sushitna and Kuskokwim rivers are probably equally good. Each contains many thousands of square miles, and prospectors report that they succeed in raising good gardens. Moravian missionaries on the Kuskokwim and in the neighboring valley of the Nushagak not only have good gardens but have matured grain on a small scale. Cultivated grasses, so far as they have been tried, have done well in the interior. All along the trail where hay has been carried, and around the camps where horses have been fed, timothy and other grasses have sprung up and maintained themselves. It is too cold for red clover, but white clover survives in some places. In the dry Copper river valley Bromus inermis is apparently the most promising grass.
There is one condition peculiar to the entire in
terior which at first sight appears to be an insuperable obstacle to successful agriculture, and that is that the ground nearly everywhere is frozen to an unknown depth. (There are exceptions near warm springs.) Miners find it frozen to bed-rock, even when the rock lies 200 feet deep. At Rampart the writer has found perpetually frozen ground in the shade of the woods and under a six-inch coating of moss, within ten inches of the top of the ground, in July. The roots of the spruce, in fact of all trees, spread out horizontally in the upper layer of this frozen ground. The vegetation preserves the ice, as sawdust does in an ice-house. Where the ground is cleared, it rapidly thaws. In cultivated ground that had been cleared two years, the frost lay two feet deep; and in one place on the Yukon, where the ground had been cleared for many years, a well twenty-five feet deep was dug without reaching frozen ground. The frost is, therefore, no obstacle to plant culture.
Isolated small herds of dairy cows are the only cattle which have so far been wintered in the interior. Herds of beef-cattle, numbering a hundred head or more, are driven from the coast to the large mining camps every summer. These maintain themselves well on the trail, but are butchered in the fall. Stock-raising and dairying must eventually become important branches of Alaskan agriculture, particularly in the coast region. Grains are not always sure to mature, but feed can be grown in any quantity. The grass lands of southwestern Alaska afford an excellent range, and here cattle can run out the greater part of the winter. In the interior, eight months' stall-feeding will be necessary. Galloways and West Highland cattle should be chosen for Alaskan conditions because of their hardiness.
As instances of the abnormal conditions which obtain in the interior settlements, it may be mentioned that hay is worth $160 per ton at most river points, and more, even twice that, when land transportation is necessary. The past summer, 1905, the writer saw a small herd of dairy cattle at Fairbanks whose milk the owner sold for $2.50 per gallon. Twenty-five cents a quart is cheap for fresh milk at any interior point, and ordinary dairy cows are worth from $400 to $500 a head. These conditions, of course, will change rapidly and radically as soon as railroads and wagon-roads are built, so as to make travel and transportation less onerous and costly.
The future success of agriculture in Alaska will depend on the development of varieties of grains and vegetables that are especially suited to the climate. That such varieties can and will be developed, either as a result of crossing or through the gradual adaptation of varieties that already exist, cannot for a moment be doubted. It must be borne in mind that the seed so far used has been grown, for the most part, in regions much farther south. Small quantities of grain from Finland and northern Russia have been tried at the experiment stations, and these have invariably done better than native sorts. In course of time Alaska will develop varieties of its own, and when this is done agricul
establish his actual residence in a house on the land and must reside on and cultivate the land continuously, in accordance with law, for a term of at least five years. An occasional visit to the land, once in six months, or oftener, does not constitute legal residence. If these conditions have been complied with, the title can be acquired at the expiration of five years. Settlers are beginning to take advantage of this law, indicating a desire for permanent residence. The writer has knowledge of two hundred homestead entries.
The wealth of Alaska is in its minerals,—gold, copper, coal and oil. No man yet knows how extensive these deposits are. Each year, new discoveries are made. But enough is known to make it certain that the mineral wealth will attract a large population. It will cause the building of railroads and trails and wagon-roads. Several such roads are already building. Rich deposits of placer gold have been found over very extensive areas. It is found in many places on Seward peninsula and on tributaries to the Tanana, the Forty-Mile, the Sushitna and the Kuskokwim, while gold-bearing quartz is abundant in southeastern Alaska and elsewhere. Copper ore in apparently inexhaustible quantities has been found in a belt more than 200 miles long, from the headwaters of the Tanana and the Copper to Prince William sound. Excellent coal has been located on the Matanuska and in Controller bay in enormous quantities, and coal of less excellence is found in a dozen other places. Oil has been located in several places on the coast, and tin mines are being developed on Seward peninsula. The markets which these great interests must produce will, for many years to come, if not for all time, be the chief impulse to the development of agriculture in the larger part of the territory that
ALASKA 97is adaptable to the production of crops or stock. Gradually farming will become an established industry. The mines of California were at one time the chief incentive to the development of farming and fruit-growing in that state.
The forest belts, and their nature, have already been referred to. It remains to say a word on their economic value. No estimate of their actual value can be made. The forests make life possible in Alaska. Without them the white race would have to live as do the Esquimaux. To import the timber needed for fuel, for mining, for buildings and for structural purposes of all kinds would be well-nigh impossible, with prices prohibitive. At interior settlements, right in the midst of the forests, lumber is worth $100 a thousand board feet, and at the mines, as, for instance, on Cleary Creek, less than twenty miles from the sawmills at Fairbanks, it is worth $225 per thousand. What it would be if it had to be imported can scarcely be imagined. While the forests seem an impediment to progress to the pioneer of the present, their value will be increasingly appreciated as the country is settled and years pass. And it is the forests of the interior that have the greatest value and should receive the most fostering care. Enormous areas of timber are annually destroyed by forest fires in the interior, to say nothing of that consumed for steamer fuel and other legitimate purposes. The next generation will sorely miss this timber. It cannot be replaced. Growth is slow in those latitudes, and a lifetime is but a fraction of the period required to mature a tree. If the indiscriminate destruction is not stopped in the interior, and that soon, and existing forests jealously guarded, development must suffer and permanent settlement be retarded, if not made impossible. The heaviest timber in the territory is in southeastern Alaska; and there the best part has been set aside as a forest reserve, with a view to its protection. This is wise. But there is much greater need of protecting the smaller timber in the interior. On the coast there is practically no danger of forest fires: the rains prevent that; and the forest-clad gorges and mountain sides are, as a rule, so inaccessible that the timber does not readily fall a prey to the woodman's axe. Nature herself protects the forests in the coast region; but in the interior they are open to every sort of destruction, and their loss will be grievously felt by the future inhabitants.
The fisheries should be mentioned because they constitute one of the great resources of the territory. However, they have but a distant bearing on the development of agriculture. The canneries are worked chiefly by Chinese labor. The ships that bring the crews also bring provisions for the season, and when the season closes all connected with the industry leave Alaska. But the value of the fisheries as a source of wealth cannot be measured. Practically every mile of the 26,000 that measure the coast is good fishing ground. Only the salmon streams, and to a slight extent the halibut fishing, have so far attracted the attention of fishermen; yet the annual value of the product amounts to millions.
|ROPICAL AGRICULTURE is not a system. It is merely a name applied to the miscellaneous agricultural practices that are more or less peculiar to the torrid zone. It is applied to certain cultures. The writings on tropical agriculture are devoted chiefly to a discussion of particular crops, rather than to a body of principles; or, if principles are discussed, they are those that underlie agriculture in temperate regions, only the application of them being modified. It is significant that we do not write of "temperate agriculture": the fundamental agricultural writings happen to have been elaborated in temperate climates; the term tropical agriculture has been applied to later writings that devote themselves to a particular and contrasting field.
What we know as the tropics is not homogeneous territory in any respect. It lies between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn; it is the torrid zone: but within this zone are all kinds of geological formations and soils, all ranges of rainfall, all varieties of exposure to sun and wind, and even all kinds of climate, for there are all degrees of elevation. The region is practically only a division on the map. Some of the crops grown between the Tropics are temperate crops occupying elevated districts. Any treatise on tropical agriculture will be found to include crops that grow well in great regions in the United States, as, for example, tobacco, maize, rice, cotton, sweetpotato, sugar-cane. Tropical crops are not necessarily those that require a very high temperature: the most characteristic are those demanding a continuously frostless climate, as coffee and cacao. Those tropical plants that mature in a short season may be grown far beyond the two Tropics, for the summers of the temperate zone may be tropical while they last. Thus, tobacco is always included in tropical agriculture; yet it thrives also in Wisconsin and New England. Some of the tropical plants have been brought to their greatest perfection in extra-tropical regions. If there is tropical agriculture within the temperate zones, there is also temperate agriculture within the torrid zone, as in the cattleranging on the high lands. It will be seen, therefore, that it is impossible to limit discussion of agricultural principles or even of agricultural practice by the boundaries of the torrid zone.
When we speak of tropical agriculture, we instinctively think of crops rather than of live-stock. Animal husbandry is relatively small in the tropics. There is a rising interest in stock-raising in the tropics, but this industry can never be expected to occupy the commanding position that it does in cooltemperate zones. Very likely the English system of botanic gardens, which have stood in the place of experiment stations, has had some influence in developing the plant side of tropical agriculture.
Three considerations seem largely to determine some of the main features of cropping practice in the tropics: The long growing season and the absence of winter relieve the necessity of forehandedness in providing for food and shelter, and thereby take away incentive; the climate enervates; the great purchasing populations of the earth are outside the tropics, and therefore tropical agriculture, so far as it is commercial, is essentially an export business. It is now the general tendency for tropical countries to become dependencies of the northern nations. The climatic considerations make for shiftless and easygoing practices; the economic consideration makes for single-crop cultivation in a wholesale way. Mixed husbandry, as it is understood in temperate climates, is practically unknown within the tropics, at least at low altitudes. These considerations, and others, have retarded the study of fundamental questions in the agriculture of the torrid zone. This agriculture is really undeveloped; as such, it offers an almost virgin field for energetic study, organization and development. The tropics have been exploited rather than settled: that part of the earth needs permanent settlement and the kind of development that ensures a careful mixed husbandry.
Temperate agriculture is distinguished by straw grains, sod, forage crops and grazing. Tropical agriculture lacks these elements as distinguishing features (excepting rice among the cereals), and it is very heterogeneous in its characteristics. The leading commercial crop industries in the tropics are coffee, cacao, rubber, banana, coconut, many palm products, manila hemp and other textiles, spices, many dye stuffs and drugs, together with many others that are also adapted to subtropical or even midtemperate climates, as tea, sugar-cane, cotton, maize, tobacco, rice, citrous fruits, sweet-potatoes, peanuts. The literature of tropical agriculture is mostly a discussion of the methods of growing these crops.
The subject of tropical agriculture has now become of prime interest to the inhabitants of the United States in consequence of the development of territorial extension within the torrid zone. We shall now need to follow the English and other European nations in developing what are technically known as colonial industries, having reference to the products and practices of tropical regions. No great schools of agriculture have developed within the tropics, and the field of research is all but untouched. The American's interest in tropical agriculture is chiefly in Porto Rico, Hawaii and the Philippines; accounts of these islands, therefore, for the present purpose may stand for the types of the agriculture of the torrid zone.
Following are leading treatises on tropical agriculture: H. Semler, Die Tropische Agricultur, 4 vols. (2d ed. of vols. 1-3.1897-1903); M. Fesca, Der Pflanzenbau in den Tropen and Subtropen (1904); H. A. A. Nicholls, Tropical Agriculture (1897); P. L. Simmonds, Tropical Agriculture (3d ed. 1889); Sagot et Raoul, Manuel Pratique des Cultures Tropicales (1893); Henri Jumelle, Les Cultures Coloniales, 2 vols. (1901); J. Mollison, A Text-Book of Indian Agriculture, 3 vols. (1901); Thos. A. C. Firminger, A Manual of Gardening for Bengal and Upper India (various editions); G. Watt, Economic Products of India, 7 vols. (1889-1893; index 1896); C. G. W. Lock, Coffee: Culture and Commerce (1888); E. de Wildemann, Les Plantes Tropicales de Grande Culture; Cafe, Cacao, Cola, Vanille, Caoutchouc (1903); J. Hart, Cacao (1900); H. Jumelle, Les Plantes a Caoutchouc et a Gutta (1903); W. Bramet, India Rubber, Guttapercha and Balata (1900); H.Lecomte, Le Vanillier (1901); W. Kriiger, Das Zuckerrohr und seine Kultur (1899); G. Haarsma, DerTabaksbau in Deli (Sumatra) (1891); C. Bald, Indian Tea: its Culture and Manufacture (1903). Other writings on the special crops will be mentioned under those crops in Vol. II. Some of the journals devoted to tropical agriculture are: Der Tropenpflanzer (Berlin); Journal d'Agriculture Tropicale (Paris); The Tropical Agriculturist (Colombo, Ceylon); West Indian Bulletin (Barbadoes); Teysmannia (Buitenzorg, Java); Bulletins of the's Lands Plantetuin (Buitenzorg); Indian Mercuur (Batavia, Java); circulars of the Royal Botanic Gardens (Peradeniya, Ceylon); Indian Agriculturist (Calcutta); Revue des Cultures Coloniales (Paris).
A GENERAL VIEW OF TROPICAL AGRICULTURE By F. S. EARLE
In tropical countries, most of the crops are dif- high hills. When they pass on to lower lands
ferent from those grown in the North, but the beyond, they have lost their moisture. Lands to
principles underlying their culture are the same, the north and east of mountain ranges, therefore,
The practices based on these principles, however, are wet, while those to the south and west are
must vary with every change of condition. The dry. On the mainland, the eastern slopes of the
most obvious change in condition found on reach- continental divide have a heavy rainfall, while the
ing the tropics is the much more uniform tempera- western sides are dry, the conditions in many
tare. The heat is less intense than that sometimes places being those of a desert. On the moun
experienced in temperate regions, and there is no tainous islands there is always a wet and a dry
cold sufficient to interrupt the growth of plants, side, with strikingly different types of vegetation.
It must not be supposed, however, that growth On many of the small, low islands the rainfall is
in the tropics is continued and unvaried through- scanty.
out the year. The seasons for the most part are Topography exercises a strong influence on
well marked, and are determined by the rainfall agriculture. Modern labor-saving implements and
and not by temperature. In most tropical coun- machines have nearly all been devised for use in
tries there are distinct wet and dry seasons, and level countries. The opportunities and needs of
agricultural practice must be governed accord- the great expanses of level fertile lands in the
ingly. Even in those regions in which the rainfall central United States have furnished the incentive
is abundant in all the months there is a more or for invention in this direction. In rough, broken
less definite periodicity in the growth of plants, and mountainous lands, agricultural methods must
and this must be taken into account by the planter, always be more primitive. Much of the cultivated
In the American tropics the rainfall is largely land of the American tropics lies on or among
determined by the topography. The prevailing steep mountains. The varying elevations presented
winds are from the northeast. As they come in by a rugged topography strongly modify agri
from the sea, laden with moisture, precipitation is cultural possibilities. Some tropical crops are
caused when they encounter mountain ranges or adapted to moist, hot, low lands; others will thrive
only in the cooler temperatures found at higher altitudes.
The texture and composition of the soil is a factor of the utmost importance in determining agricultural practices. In many places, the rich low lands are stiff and tenacious, becoming very hard when dry and very soft and sticky when wet. They are underlaid by an impermeable clay subsoil, and much ditching is required to drain them sufficiently for most crops. Much of the land devoted to sugar-cane is of this character. Sugar lands are proverbially difficult to cultivate. There are other heavy sugar lands, however, without a
adoption of clean cultivation and constant tillage on the more broken uplands would be disastrous. Under tropical conditions fermentation and nitrification are proceeding continually in the soil, not being interrupted by cold. Vegetable matter of all kinds is quickly decomposed; such accumulations of humus as are common at the North are seldom found. Tillage tends to increase these activities and to make the reserve plant-food in the soil available. Taken in connection with the heavy rainfall of most of these regions, which so quickly washes or leaches out unused soluble matter, excessive tillage will result in quick exhaus
clay subsoil, that overlie porous or cavernous rocks which afford perfect natural underdrainage. Here no ditching is required and no ridging up of the rows, since perfectly level culture gives best results. On such soils the object is to retain water, not to get rid of it. Tropical soils vary greatly in fertility. Some, as the sugar lands above described, are very rich and remain productive for many years even under the poorest possible management; others are thin and very quickly exhausted. There are all kinds of gradations between the two extremes. Population is small in the American tropics, and thus far, as a rule, only the best lands have been cultivated. This will not always be the case, as is shown by the tide of immigration and development now setting in this direction. The western movement of population has reached the Pacific ocean, where it is confronted by the legions of Asia, and it must of necessity turn southward. Modern sanitary science is fast robbing these tropical countries of their menace to health, and the fable that a white man cannot work in the tropics has been long since disproved. As the pressure of population increases, methods for utilizing the poorer tropical lands will be devised. Where the climate is so propitious, useful crops of some kind can be secured even from the poorest and thinnest soils. Tillage, so universal in the North, is poorly understood and scarcely practiced in the tropics. It is true that a crisis has now been reached, and on the low lands it has become absolutely necessary to adopt the better and more economical methods of cultivation, especially with products, such as sugar, that meet fierce competition in the world's markets. On the other hand, the
tion of fertility. In a broken region, too, frequent stirring and loosening of the soil causes it to be washed away much more quickly, and fields so treated would soon be ruined by gullying. Besides its action in promoting nitrification and hastening the solution of the mineral food elements, the chief function of tillage is to conserve moisture. In many tropical regions the rainfall is excessive, for a part of the year at least, and the problem is to dispose of surplus water rather than to conserve it. Moreover, many of the cultivated tropical crops were originally forest plants and thrive best under what are practically forest conditions. It often happens, therefore, that methods which to northern eyes appear exceedingly shiftless and neglectful are in reality the best that could be adopted.
Agricultural methods in the western tropics are, for the most part, still very primitive. The settler clears a space in the forest. The fallen trees are burned where they lie and seeds or young plants of whatsoever kind are planted among the blackened stumps and logs, by means of a sharpened stick or hoe. Vines and bushes are cut down with the machete from time to time, but no other cultivation is given or required in the rich virgin soil. When the planting ceases to be productive, the land is more than likely abandoned, to grow up in vines and bushes; or, if grass springs up, it may be utilized for pasturage, while other tracts of forest are cut down for the growing of crops. In the older and more densely populated regions, these abandoned fields are utilized for a second planting by cleaning the surface with a hoe or with the crude native plow drawn by oxen. This plow is little more than a crooked stick shod with