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the claim of Hermandez that a wheat native to Chili was found. The Egyptian historian, Manetho, attributed its discovery to Isis.
The Historical Origin of wheat is unknown. The most ancient languages mention it, and under different names. Whether we assume that these names, with the languages in which they are found, became differentiated from a common parent, or whether we assume that wheat evolved and spread over the Old World so independently of man that its name did not accompany its progress, in either case a period of time long enough to antedate our oldest languages will be required. The fact that it has been found in the prehistoric habitations of man, notably in the earliest Swiss lake dwellings, is proof of its antiquity.
The Swiss of the neolithic period cultivated four distinct species of wheat. Wheat seems to have been cultivated in China 3,000 years B. C, and was a chief crop in ancient Egypt and Palestine. The Bible first mentions wheat in Genesis, Chap. 30, v. 14.
Biological Origin.—The botanist calls wheat a grass. The evolutionist has ascended the biological stream one stage farther, and calls it a degenerate and degraded lily, using these terms, of course, in an evolutionary sense. He assumes a great group of plants of a primitive type from which sprang first the brilliantly colored lilies, then the degraded rushes and sedges, and lastly the still more degenerate grasses. From these grasses man developed the cereals, and among them wheat. This is the hypothesis that accounts for most of the facts involved. All of the grass family, Gramineae, are easily distinguished by having only one seed leaf, and for this reason they are known as monocotyledons.
CLASSIFICATION OF THE GRASS FAMILY.1
Andropogoneae: Sugar Cane-Sorghum
Paniceae: Millet-Hungarian Grass
Oryzeee: Indian Rice-Rice
SPhalardieas: Canary and Sweet Vernal Grass
Hordeas: Wheat-Barley-Rye-English Rye-Grass
1 Minn. Bui. 62, p. 392.
The wild animal grasses, Aegilops, found in such abundance in southern Europe, and resembling true wheat in every point except in size of grain, are considered as the nearest kin to wheat. Efforts have been made to develop wheat from ovata, the most typical species. Fabre of Agde, France, claimed that in 1838 he began to improve this plant by selection, and that by 1846 he had obtained a very fair sample of wheat. His results have not been supported by other conclusive experiments, and scientists generally have not accepted them. There was doubtless cross-fertilization.
The accompanying figure represents different stages in the evolution of wheat.1
The above sketch from a photograph shows: (1) ASgilops ovata, a small dwarfed specimen, but one grain of wheat in each head, found in Southern Europe; (2) The same species better grown and developed; (3) Triticum spelta, the cultivated spelt of Europe; (4) Triticum Polonicum, Polish wheat or giant rye; (5) Head of Nebraska wheat. While this is an Instructive comparison, it is very questionable whether No. 5 could be developed from No. 1 in a reasonable number of years.
1 Minn. Bui. 62, p. 81.
The results of recent investigations have shown that improvement by selection is relatively a slow process
Longitudinal.—The migration of wheat has necessarily been closely connected with the migration of peoples, and especially with those of Europe. Consequently its general direction of spreading has been westward, though it is claimed that it spread eastward to China at a very early date.
In the United States, the meridian bisecting the wheat acreage passed through eastern Ohio in 1850, and was about 81 degrees. In 1860 it was 85 degrees 24 minutes, in 1870 88 degrees, and in 1880 it had reached middle Illinois, 88 degrees 45 minutes. The center of wheat production at the time of the census in 1900 was near the east central border of Iowa, the meridian of 95 degrees. This shows that the westward march of wheat proceeded at a much more rapid pace from 1880 to 1900 than from 1860 to 1880. During the last half of the nineteenth century, the center of wheat production moved west about 680 miles and north about 99 miles.
Latitudinal.—As European peoples and their descendants are meeting the demands of increasing population by continually subjecting to cultivation land of colder and of warmer latitudes, the domain of wheat is being extended on both sides of the temperate zones. In 1887 Sering published a map of North America in which he gave as the northern boundary of wheat growing territory a line beginning south of Lake Ontario running fully half way around it, a little north of the northern boundary of the other Great Lakes, through Lake of the Woods, through the southeast end of Winnipeg lake, northwest to the Athabasca river, following this to the Rockies, and beginning again in northeastern Washington.
In 1894 the editor of the Social Economist denied that wheat could be raised in Canada or Siberia north of the 55th parallel. This widespread notion that wheat could not be raised in the far north was gradually dissipated as wheat crept closer and closer to the Arctic circle. Wheat has frequently been matured at Sitka, Alaska, 56 degrees north latitude. At the Sitka station, winter rye, spring wheat, barley, oats and buckwheat matured both in 1900 and 1901. In the Peace river valley, extending 700 miles north of the Canada border, 58 degrees north latitude, enough wheat, barley and oats have been grown to bring about the erection of a 100barrel roller mill at Vermilion, on the Peace river. Spring wheat of the Romanow variety matured at the Kenai station in Alaska in 1899, 60 degrees north. Experiments have shown that winter wheat will ripen here in ordinary seasons. On the Mackenzie river wheat has been grown farther north than 62 degrees. Spring wheat and winter rye have matured perfectly 65 degrees 30 minutes north latitude at Rampart, about 200 miles from the Arctic circle, and at Dawson, equally as far north, over 1000 miles north of the United States. While wheat can be grown this far north, the chances of failure are, of course, much greater than in a climate more temperate. Barley, oats and rye will grow farther north than wheat.
Towards the equator the limits of wheat generally vary between 20 and 25 degrees north and south latitude. It thrives in southern Brazil, in Cuba, and in southern Rhodesia in South Africa at these latitudes.
Altitudinal.—Another very important factor in determining where wheat can be raised is the altitude, which may be considered as the complement of latitude. On the mountain plains of Colombia and Ecuador it grows on the equator. Thus wheat is raised in America from the equator, 10,000 feet above sea level, to Dawson and the Klondike river, 2,000 feet above sea level, and at least 65 degrees 30 minutes north latitude. In the United States the census shows that in 1880, over 80 per cent of the grain was grown at an elevation between 500 and 1,500 feet above sea level. In 1890 the altitudes at which wheat was raised varied from 100 feet below sea level to over 10,000 feet above sea level, and about 70 per cent was raised between 500 and 1,500 feet elevation. It cannot be raised successfully at great elevations in England. The plains and mountain slopes of Sicily produce wheat, the upper limit of its growth having been given in 1863 as 2,500 feet in altitude.
A member of the Manitoba legislature, Mr. Burrows, has claimed that fifteen years of history show that altitudes have very much to do with summer frosts, and that 800 to 1,300 feet above sea level is the best altitude for No. 1 hard wheat in Manitoba. Perhaps the greatest elevation at which wheat has been raised is in Asia on the Himalaya mountains, 11,000 feet above sea level. The four counties of Kansas occupying the center of its famous wheat region have an average elevation of about 1600 feet. The Colorado station has developed a type of wheat adapted to the higher altitudes of the mountain regions, those of 6,000 to 9,000 feet elevation.
Historical and Geographical.—In the western half of Asia, in Europe, and in northern Africa, wheat has since time immemorial occupied the first rank of cereals. It was one of the main crops of the Israelites in Canaan. None was grown in the New World before the sixteenth century. Humboldt says that a negro slave of Cortez found three or four grains of wheat in the rice which served to maintain the Spanish army. This was apparently sown before 1530, about the date when the Spaniards introduced wheat culture into Mexico. In 1547 wheat bread was hardly known in Cuzco, Peru. The first wheat sown in the United States was by Gosnold in 1602 on the Elizabeth Islands off the southern coast of Massachusetts. It was first cultivated in Virginia in 1611, and in New Netherlands before 1622. By 1648 there were several hundred acres in the Virginia colony. Missionaries first introduced it into California in 1769. Cuba saw its cultivation at least as early as 1808. It must have been early introduced into Canada, at least by the close of the eighteenth century, for in 1827 Canada raised over twenty million bushels. The first wheat successfully grown and harvested in the Red river valley was in 1820. Victoria wheat, which had been acclimated by growing 200 years in the tropics, was successfully grown in experiments on Jamaica and the Bahama Islands, 1834 to 1836. There was a prejudice against it, however, and Indian corn was grown in preference. Minnesota's first settlements date back to about 1845. Wheat raising became a regular branch of farming in Argentina in 1882. Such were the historical beginnings of the wheat industry in the western hemisphere. It has now become a more or less important industry over practically all of America lying outside of frigid zone climates.
Quantitative.—Both in the quantity produced and in its value, wheat is the world's king of cereals. Recent statistics show,