United States. Dept. of Agriculture.

Annual reports of the Department of Agriculture online

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and other varieties for growth in the hot arid regions. The develop-
mei^ of quick-maturing, high-yielding dent com for the northern
edge of the com belt has been accomplished by the experts of the

The com plant is very pliable in the hands of skillful breeders.
Ten generations of breeding at the Illinois station have increased the
average protein content from 10.92 per cent to 14.26 per cent, and also
have decreased it to 8.64 per cent; the average oil content has been
increased from 4.70 per cent to 7.37 per cent and diminished to 2.66
per cent

Seed-corn breeders' associations now exist in most of the States of
the corn belt. Seed corn is now largely grown as a special crop.
Pure strains are being developed, new varieties originated, and older
ones improved.

The Florida sweet orange has been hybridized with the cold-resist-
ant trifoliate orange and several new strains with greatly increased
hardiness have been developed, so that the orange-producing area
has been much enlarged. From these hybrids it is expected that
citrus fruits of great value will eventually be grown throughout the
Southern States.

At the Colorado Experiment Station a cantaloupe has been bred
that is resistant to the rust fungus. In South Dakota the third
generation of seedlings of the native sand cherry produce fruits 1
inch in diameter and of good quality. Native Dakota plums and
sand cherries have been hybridized with other stone fruits from
Europe and Asia to combine the hardiness of the native fruits with

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the size and quality, to some extent at least, of the choice cultivated
fruits from abroad. In New Jersey practically all of the important
vegetables have been subjected to hybridizing and breeding, and
many new varieties with desirable qualities have been produced and

Good varieties of wheat have been originated by breeding. The
Minnesota station originated numerous varieties, two of which have
spread over half a million acres, and yield from 1 to 3 bushels more
per acre than the varieties formerly grown. The Maryland and
Michigan stations bred new varieties of wheat, which are now grown
in those States. The winter-wheat belt has been extended farther
and farther north by sowing adapted varieties until it is now grown
in regions which had before been regarded as incapable of growing
it. Winter character has been added to the spring wheats of the
Pacific coast and new hybrids of these wheats are now grown there.

Methods of growing winter oats successfully in Southern States
have been developed of late by some of the southern experiment
stations and varieties of oats adapted to winter culture have been
distributed. The Wisconsin station improved the Swedish Select
oats and 5,000,000 bushels of this variety are now grown by Wiscon-
sin farmers.

The Minnesota station originated and disseminated a promising
variety of flax for seed production, and the North Dakota station
achieved great success in combating the wilt disease of flax by
treating the seed and by developing resistant strains.


The Department has begun experiments to ascertain the effects
of close breeding. Cooperation of the Department with State sta-
tions and farmers has begun to create new strains of farm animals —
carriage horses, in Colorado; cattle for beef production under
southern conditions, in Alabama; the cross of the horse and the
zebra, in Maryland; the reestablishment of the Morgan breed of
horses, in Vermont; sheep especially suited to range conditions, in
Wyoming; a breed of milking Shorthorn cattle, in Minnesota; draft
horses, in Iowa; improved Holstein cattle, in North Dakota; a
breed of hens for high egg production, in Maine.


Trained explorers are constantly traversing foreign and remote
lands in search of promising seeds and plants for trial and possible
introduction into the United States, and from this one feature of the
Department's work many millions of dollars are added yearly to our
national production of wealth.

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From Russia and Africa durum wheat was brought during 1899 to
1902, and thus was laid the foundation of the great crop of this special
kind of wheat in this country, which amounted to 45,000,000 bushels
in 1907, worth $30,000,000 to the farmers, and providing exports of
22,000,000 bushels. The rice growers of the Gulf coast received
superior varieties from the Orient, which have greatly increased the
value of the American rice crop and given to it a firmer basis.

Sugar-beet growing for producing sugar had hardly become es-
tablished in 1897, and the production of that year was only 45,246
short tons of sugar. Since that time this crop has been introduced
into new parts of the sugar-beet belt, with the result that the crop of
this year amounts to nearly 500,000 tons of sugar, worth $45,000,000.


So inmiense has become the production of alfalfa, an introduced
plant, that attempts to estimate its quantity and value fail. It is
supposed that this year's alfalfa hay is worth $100,000,000. This is
the great forage plant and soil renovator of a vast area in the Rocky
Mountain and Pacific coast regions. Its growth is extending east-
ward, and it has become generally established as far east as the longi-
tude of eastern Kansas, and it is partly or fully established in spots
throughout the North Central States, in the limestone regions of
Kentucky and Tennessee, and in a less degree in the North Atlantic
States. Several cold and drought-resistant strains of alfalfa have
been introduced, including an oasis alfalfa from the Sahara, resistant
to alkali; various types of Turkestan alfalfa, resistant to drought;
Siberian alfalfa, resistant to cold ; the sand lucem, a north European
variety, very resistant to cold; Arabian alfalfa, resistant to drought;
Peruvian and Chilean alfalfas, suitable for culture in the Southwest

New varieties of hard winter wheat have been introduced which
have been mostly instrumental in extending the winter- wheat districts
over 200 miles farther north and west, and which give an average
yield of 5 bushels per acre more than the spring sorts.


The Swedish Select, the Tobsk, and the Sixty-day oats have been
introduced and have proved of far greater value than former' local
varieties in the North and Northwest.

A variety of soy bean has been introduced from central China,
suitable for becoming a cover crop for rice lands and greatly needed
by the rice growers of the Southern States.

The best varieties of the date palm, the offspring of the oasis of
the Algerian Sahara, have been introduced and established in the
Southwest. The dry-land olive has been successfully introduced into
Arizona and southern California.

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The value of the prickly pear as a forage plant has been demon-
strated, and this plant is now grown under cultivation and bids fair
to render agriculture practical in regions where the rainfall is too
intermittent to permit the growing of ordinary crops.

The discovery of a simple method of extracting camphor from
twigs and leaves and the demonstration that American-grown trees
contain a high grade of camphor have enabled this Department to
begin the establishment of a camphor-growing industry in Florida.

The basic thought underlying plant introduction has been home
production in place of importations, the production of wealth and
the diversification of products within the Nation in place of depend-
ence upon foreign agriculture.


The State experiment stations, the colleges of agriculture, and the
Department are placing the subject of managing the farm on a
scientific engineering basis. The planning of a new farm or recast-
ing the field plan of the old farm are being reduced to such form
that they are profitably taught in agricultural schools. A number
of the experiment stations have determined the kinds of crop rota-
tions which yield the largest net returns for given soils and agri-
cultural districts. Numerous long-time experiments on State and
branch experiment station farms controlled by the Department are
under way to determine those crop rotations and other methods of
internal management of the farm which will be most profitable and •
best adapted to the family and other available labor.

In cooperation with the Minnesota Experiment Station a method
has been developed of securing under average actual farm conditions
the cost of each farm operation and of each crop, animal, or other
product By us;ng these figures of cost per acre and per unit of
product, and of the crop or other resulting product, a system of sim-
plified farm accounting and cost keeping has been devised. The most
novel part of this system of teaching farm management is farm
maps, which serve in such a simple and convenient manner as an
annual ledger of crop production cost and net income that farmers
can easily use it

Extensive studies are made of the best practices of successful farm-
ers in all parts of the country. Demonstration of the wisdom of
doing things in prescribed ways by calling attention to desirable
results; plans of farm management that raise the income per acre
from a paltry sum to a very profitable one ; instruction in farm prac-
tices in hundreds of particulars, the success of which is readily under-
stood in terms of profitable income — these are lines of work which
have been followed and have produced widespread diffusion of agri-
cultural knowledge and improvement.

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The boll-weevil territory affords a notable example. In 1904 the
Department inaugurated on a small scale what is now known as its
"Farmers' Cooperative Demonstration Work." The initial efforts
met with such emphatic success that the work has been gradually
increased until now the whole cotton belt and many outlying regions
are covered by a large force of trained field agents, all practical farm-*
ers. These men are wielding a wonderful influence among the
farmers of the South to adopt better cultural methods, to use im-
proved seed, and thus to increase their profits.

Striking proof of the success of this work is that the results have
attracted so much attention that voluntary private contributions
toward its extension have almost reached the total amount appropri-
ated by Congress for its maintenance. Large districts which had
been almost deserted on account of the boll weevil are now more pros-
perous than at any time in their history, and many men who have
been renters are buying land and raising cotton profitably as a result
of better systems of management.

Closely related to this work are the farm management investiga-
tions of the Department, consisting primarily of a detailed study of
the practices followed on the most successful farms in well-defined
communities, and the application or adaptation of these practices to
other and less prosperous farms throughout the country. The aim
in all this work is to bring the farm up to its maximum producing
power through systematic management, both as to cultural practices
and as to business methods.

Along this line of work important progress has been made in aid-
ing the farmer to put into practice results of scientific discovery.
Methods of storing the soil with humus without interfering with
established cropping systems have been taught, especially to the
farmers of the cotton States, who keep comparatively little live
stock. The production of hay in the South has increased greatly
where this work has reached. Improved crop rotations have been
devised and put into practice. The principles involved in planning
cropping systems on live-stock farms have been applied. Studies of
weeds have resulted in discoveries that enable the farmer to destroy
«,^k o^^Qus pests as Johnson grass and quack grass at compara-
btle expense.

ctice highly important to the corn crop, that of shallow cul-
, has become prevalent in the com belt and is growing in
sewhere; this counts for increased yield. In wheat culture,
owing and thorough preparation of the seed bed are much
tensively practiced than formerly.

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Dry farming has come to be recognized as an important factor in
our future agricultural progress. Much useful information has been
accumulated to determine the conditions under which crops may be
successfully grown, the best systems of crop rotation, and the tiUage
required for the conservation of soil moisture to adapt new crops to
the dry regions. It seems probable that as a part of this work and
of the reclamation projects, a half billion acres of dry and arid land
will be made available for agriculture in the course of time. The
last ten years have witnessed a remarkable exodus of people from the
eastern parts of the country to the western, especially to the dry part
of the Great Plains. This vast region, formerly considered of little
use for cultivation, is rapidly becoming one of considerable agricul-
tural importance under the guidance of the Department and State
experiment stations.


Soil survejdng was begun by this Department nine years ago. The
reason for this work is the fact that each variety or strain of crop
produces its best in some certain soil and climate, and that for each
soil and climatic condition there are crop rotation and farm-manage-
ment schemes which pay best The object of the survey, therefore,
has been to find the proper soil for the crop, the proper crop for the
soil, and to aid in devising scientific engineering plans for the man-
agement of farms on each class of soil and in each agricultural region.
The survey has now covered 150,000 square miles in all parts of the
United States, a larger area than the total land area of Great
Britain and Ireland, or of Japan. It has led to the growing of
special types of tobacco in the Gulf States, it has made marked
progress in the standardization of soil descriptions, and it has brought
dose cooperation between the National Government and various

In the course of this survey the alkali problem has been solved.
The rise of alkali to the surface had caused the abandonment of wide
areas of land in the belief that when once it has appeared no further
use can be made of such lands. The Department has demonstrated
in widely separated districts in the arid West that the reclamation
of areas unproductive on account of the presence of alkali is both
feasible and economical.

Much attention has been given to the study of soil bacteriology,
and improved strains of nitrogen-fixing bacteria have been devel-
oped and widely disseminated and have proved highly useful in the
inoculation of the various leguminous crops to increase their accu-
mulation of nitrogen.

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Instruction in the conservation of the soil and its fertility by all
available means has been incessantly carried on by the Department,
the experiment stations, agricultural colleges, and by private publica-
tions. The importance of the cover crop to prevent winter erosion
and to hold the humus and fertile elements of the soil for the benefit
of succeeding crops has been one of the most emphatic teachings
and has been prominent in every plan of crop rotation and farm
management. The utilization of leguminous plants for enriching the
soil, such as alfalfa, clover, and cowpeas, has been much extended
throughout the country. So great has been the demand for cowpea,
velvet bean, and crimson clover seed in the South that the farmers
have been unable during the last two years to secure a sufficient
quantity, even at very high prices.


Plant diseases have been suppressed and avoided during the period
under review in a far greater degree than ever before. A true science
of plant pathology has been founded and the discovery of the causes
and treatment of diseases has led to many improvements in me-
chanical methods of utilizing fungicides. Still greater advances
have been made in the direction of plant sanitation, and improve-
ments in the environment of plants as well as in the plants them-
selves have increased production, both in quantity and in quality.
No part of the work of the Department and the experiment stations
yields a more direct cash return than this.


A method of spraying trees has been devised which effectively pre-
vents the bitter rot of apples, a disease which has caused in one year
a loss of over $10,000,000.

A simple and effective method of preventing peach-leaf curl has
been discovered which already saves hundreds of thousands of dol-
lars annually. The peach-twig blight or gum disease of the peach,
in California, is a disease which caused great loss of peaches in that
State, but a method for its control has been discovered. The nature
and method of control of the disease known as " little peach," which
has threatened to destroy the peach industry of Michigan and west-
ern New York, has been determined. A method of controlling the
pear blight, a disease which has destroyed the best varieties of pears
in many parts of the country, including $5,000,000 worth of orchards
in California, has become effective.

A new spray — self-boiled lime-sulphur — has been discovered which
may be safely used in spraying peaches for the control of the brown
rot, a disease which has destroyed annually from 15 to 30 per cent
of the peach crop. This mixture is also a valuable^ general spray, aa
an insecticide, and is effective in the treatment of San Jos6 scale.

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Among numerous discoveries are the causes and the methods of
control of the brown rot of cabbage, turnip, potato, tomato, and egg
plant, and of numerous other bacterial diseases of crops; the wither-
tip and orange blight of citrus fruits, two diseases which have caused
g;reat loss; and the cranberry scald and rot, causes of heavy losses.
The cause of wilt disease of watermelon and cowpea has been
determined and the disease has been avoided by the introduction
and development of resistant varieties of these crops where old
varieties will not grow.

Investigation of the causes of decay of timbers and the methods
of preventing it has resulted in improved methods of handling tim-
bers and in impregnating them with protective substances^ A cheap
and effective method has been discovered for treating fence posts to
prevent decay.


Most civilized nations have quarantine regulations to exclude in-
sect pests, and the United States is the only exception of prominence,
but in this country the subject of remedies against this class of insects
has received the greatest attention. The perfection of the lime-
sulphur-salt wash has practically solved the San Jos6 scale problem,
and recent investigations by the Department as to the use of hydro-
cyanic-acid gas against scale insects on citrus trees have been so
successful as to promise the saving of a large number of orchards of
great value.


The discovery of the original home of the San Jose scale in China
by a learned expert of the Department and the introduction of its^
natural enemy into this country was an achievement of note, but the
economical use of sprays has rendered the attempted establishment
of the natural enemy a matter of comparatively slight importance.
The tremendous effect of the spread of the San Jose scale was begin-
ning to be realized twelve years ago, but in the meantime the efforts
of this Department and of the experiment stations have enabled fruit
growers to save their trees from this in«ect.

Miich has been done in practically utilizing the natural enemies of
injurious insects and in introducing into the United States bene-
ficial insects of one kind or another. This Department has intro-
duced into California the fig-caprifying insect, which has established
a strong Smyrna-fig growing and packing industry. Parasites of
the gipsy moth and of the brown-tail moth have been introduced
which bid fair to relieve New England from the present danger to
orchards and forests, and the rest of the United States from pros-
pective danger.

Hawaii has introduced natural enemies of the sugar-cane leaf-
hopper, which have relieved the sugar-cane crop of that territory
66635— AGB loas 11 ^ T

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from an imin^ise burden. Successful experiments for handling the
parasites of the Hessian fly promise to be of great value to the wheat
farmer. An egg parasite of the imported elm leaf-beetle has been
brought from Europe.

Within the period under review studies of the cattle tick and its
allies have resulted in developing a system of cultural rotation which
enables cattlemen in tick-infested- localities to rid their land of ticks
by a simple and effective process, and a movement under Federal
auspices promises to result in the eradication of this insect.

Great discoveries of enormous value to the health of the people
have been made in investigations carried on concerning the life his-
tory of malaria and yellow fever mosquitoes and of the typhoid fly,
and concerning the causes of the widespread hook-worm disease and
remedies therefor. Measures founded upon these discoveries can
readily be taken, and this will result in freeing large regions from
some diseases.

In work concerning injurious insects, the United States has been a
leader among nations. Other countries have appealed to this one for
as^stance and advice, as well as for men to carry on similar work.


Systematic observations have been made to identify the injurious
and useful birds and wild animals. In a general way it is true that
most of the birds are more beneficial to agriculture than otherwise.
An increasing understanding of this fact has undoubtedly checked
the ruthless destruction of nongame birds and is now promoting their
preservation. Some of these birds are of very large economic value
to the farmer. The services of the native sparrows in destroying weed
seeds have been valued at many millions of dollars annually. Were
it not for woodpeckers and other insect-eating birds there would be
forest destruction. Caterpillars which destroy the foliage of fruit
and shade trees are the food of birds. The scale insects that infest
fruit trees are eaten by no fewer than 57 species of birds. The execu-
tion of the Lacey law for the protection of game is under the ad-
ministration of this Department and the interstate transportation of

[ practically ceased.


Ben saved to the handlers of tobacco leaf
ery of a fermenting process for curing

ctive method of destroying the harmful
er has been discovered and its usefulness

WRS made that the loco disease of range
poison absorbed by certain leguminous

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plants eaten by stock on the range, and this discovery has indicated
methods of control.

Laws have been enacted to protect the farmer against fraud in the
purchase of fertilizers, foods, feeding stuffs, seeds, disease and insect
infested plants.

Increased and wider knowledge of the nutritive value of food and
of the better utilization of agricultural products as human food has
followed the nutrition investigations of this Department, in co(q>era-
tion with the experiment stations and other State institutions Ani-
mal nutrition investigations, begun in cooperation witti the Penn-
sylvania ^xperiment station, are accumulating most accurate and
scientific information, developed by use of the respiration calo-
rimeter, an instrument invented by experts of this Department.

The Babcock test, invented at the Wisconsin experiment station,
a simple method for determining the percentage of butter fat in milk,
has entered more widely into use on the farm during the period xmder
review, and a curd test has been invented for ascertaining the
percentage of casein in milk, a matter of great importance to cheese

Experiment stations have been established in Alaska, Hawaii, Pcnrto
Rico, and Guam, under the supervision of the Department There
is wider and more intelligent use of fertilizers, both farm-made and

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of AgricultureAnnual reports of the Department of Agriculture → online text (page 18 of 108)