Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/792

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Again, let it be remembered that Texas will produce a cotton crop, marketed in 1898-'99, above the average of the five ante-war crops of the whole country, and nearly equal to the largest crop ever grown in the United States before the war. Texas could not only produce the present entire cotton crop of the United States but of the world, on but a small part of her land which is well suited to cotton. When these facts are considered, perhaps the potential of that great State in wheat and other grain, in cattle and in sheep, as well as in cotton, may begin to be comprehended.

The writer is well aware that this treatment of a great problem is very incomplete, but it is the best that the leisure hours of a very busy business life would permit. If it discloses the general ignorance of our resources, the total inadequacy of many of our official statistics, the lack of any real agricultural survey, and the necessity for a reorganization and concentration of the scientific departments of the Government as well as of a permanent census bureau, it will have served a useful purpose.

If it also serves to call attention to the meager average crops and the poor quality of our agriculture as a whole down to a very recent period, it may suggest even to those to whose minds the statistics of the past convey but gloomy and "doubtful views" of the future, that the true progress in scientific agriculture could only begin when substantially all the fertile land in the possession of the Government had either been given away or otherwise distributed. So long as "sod crops" and the single-crop system yielded adequate returns to unskilled farmers, no true science of agriculture could be expected, any more than a large product of wool can be hoped for in States where it has been wittily said that "every poor man keeps one cur dog, and every d—d poor man keeps two or more."

Finally, if I shall have drawn attention to the very effective work which is being done in the agricultural experiment stations by men of first-rate ability, I shall have drawn attention to a great fact. This work has already led to a complete revolution from the

    the insurance, and, when summer fallow is introduced, the cost of the summer fallow. Suffice it that these figures for 1898—a year of high charge for seed and one which yielded a fraction over the average in product—prove conclusively an average of all charges of less than five dollars an acre for the cost of the product. In different years under these conditions the cost of the wheat varies from a little over twenty cents to approximately thirty-five cents per bushel. The cost of oats, which are cultivated with the wheat mainly for use on the farms, ranges from ten to fifteen cents per bushel.

    These are facts. The pending question in this discussion is, How much land, occupied by owners but not now in use, is there in this section of the country on which similar results can be attained, with better results by individual farmers who possess mental energy and practical skill? The figures given by the chiefs of the agricultural experiment stations may rightly be taken in the solution of this question