Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]


CHAPTER XL.

AGRICULTURE AND HORTICULTURE.

Part 2


CROP CONDITIONS - TREES AND NATIVE FLORA - TYPES OF SOIL - LIMESTONES - EARLY FARM METHODS - BARNS AND FENCES - FALL WORK - THE GRASSHOPPERS - THE CENTENNIAL DISPLAY - MODERN FARMING - CEREALS - GRASSES - CLOVERS - FIELD, FORAGE AND SILO PLANTS - FARM TRUCK - VEGETABLE GARDENING - FARM AND CROP STATISTICS - EXPENSE OF RAISING CORN IN KANSAS - HORTICULTURAL STATISTICS.

THE CENTENNIAL DISPLAY.

Up to this time the great advantages in farming were unknown throughout the eastern portions of the United States. In 1876 at the Centennial Exposition, Kansas, through the efforts of Alfred Grey of Quindaro, then secretary of agriculture, ex-Governor Glick and others, exhibited the wonderful farm products and natural resources of the state and county. This exhibit was one of the many wonders of the exposition, and attracted much attention. Such a thing as corn stalks eighteen feet high was unheard of and hard to believe. In those days this exhibit was a wonder, and one of the best advertisments this state ever has had. The goods were there and you could see for yourself, and from that time on Kansas began to settle more rapidly.

MODERN FARMING.

In recent years no industry has made greater or more wonderful progress than argiculture. The many modern improvements are transforming farm life, formerly so hard, into more peaceful and agreeable existence. Farm life today offers more inducements than at any previous time in. the history of our country.

All things considered, Wyandotte county possesses as many natural advantages as any section in the United States. First in importance is the fertility of her soils, producing year after year, without the aid of artifical fertilizers, as good returns per acre as any section. If you will take the pains to examine the agricultural reports for the last twenty years you will ascertain that we have not had a single crop failure; that some of our soil has been farmed for more than half a century and produces as good crops as in the earlier years. Wyandotte county soils produce all the crops grown in this climate, raised by farm, orchard and garden.

CEREALS.

Wheat, the most important agricultural crop, grows well on all soils. The ground should be plowed early and shallow. The production varies from ten to forty bushels per acre, and the grain is worth one dollar per bushel. Harvest Queen is the most popular variety in Kansas, being a soft variety of high quality. Wheat is one of the safest and most profitable crops to grow, as there is always a market for it at good prices.

The acreage in oats has largely increased during the last two years, owing to better crops, some fields yielding as high as seventy bushels per acre. This cereal is worth from thirty-five to forty cents a bushel. Texas Red is the variety most largely planted.

Corn grows best on rich loamy soils - river bottoms, prairie or uplands - yielding from thirty to seventy-five bushels per acre. It is worth from forty to fifty cents per bushel, and is one of easiest and most profitable crops to grow. It can be handled cheaper than any other grain crop, requiring less help and money to care for it, and is also the cheapest crop to store and carry over. Corn is the world's greatest cereal. No other crop can be compared to it, in quantity and quality of yield. A number of stockmen raise corn for forage and find it a profitable crop for feeding.

GRASSES.

Kentucky blue grass may well be called the king of pasture grasses. It is the most valuable and nutritious and grows well on all limestone soil. It is the grass of the famous and fertile limestone soils of Kentucky, is the breeder's ideal forage and produces the finest stock in the world. As a permanent pasture goods it has no equal and is the best of all domestic varieties. As soon as the land is cleared, or closely grazed, the wild grasses yield to bluegrass without artificial seeding. It is the standard of all lawn grasses.

Red Top is one of the most useful grasses we have, grows well everywhere but is best suited to moist soil. On wet soil it thrives with the greatest vigor, where other grasses will not succeed. It is one of the best of pasture grasses, grazing being a benefit and almost a necessity for its perpetuation.

Orchard grass is one of the most valuable of the pasture varieties, and thrives well both in the open sunlight and in shady places. It is excellent for woodland pasture. In rich soil two crops may be raised in a season. It is one of the most important perennial grasses for hay and permament[sic] pasture.

Timothy is the most popular of all grasses for hay, and the standard by which all other hay is compared. It does best on a rich moist soil and is at its best for cutting when in the later stage of bloom-when the bloom still lingers on one fourth of the top of the head. A crop of one or two tons per acre is cut in July and a second crop in September. This crop is, in many places harvested, cut with a binder the same as wheat, and threshed for geed, yielding from five to ten bushels per acre, and worth from two dollars to two and a half dollars per bushel.

English Blue Grass has become thoroughly naturalized in Wyandotte county and is especially valuable for permanent pastures where the soil is not too dry. It will succeed, however, on poor soils, as the roots penetrate deeply. This variety makes good hay, and cattle thrive on it either in the green or dry state.

Bromis Inermis is a valuable and comparatively new grass. It is very hardy and drought-resisting and makes a firm, thick turf; is a most valuable forage grass and in all locations yields large crops.

Johnson grass is a species of sorghum; a rapid grower, with a long cane-like root. The leaf and stalk resemble sorghum. It grows well on most soil, and withstands dry weather. When used for hay it should be cut just as it comes into bloom.

CLOVERS.

Perhaps the most important forage plant is alfalfa. It succeeds well upon all alluvial soils and will thrive well under proper care and management on the timbered lands. An average of four cuttings are made each year. The yield varies from three to four tons per acre. The third crop is the best seed crop and may be cut and threshed for that purpose. Alfalfa may be used for more purposes than any other plant, with the exception of corn and wheat, is readily eaten, and is preferred by all kinds of stock and poultry. While it prefers rich limestone soil, it will grow luxuriantly on strong stiff limestone clay, if the latter is made rich with manure. Alfalfa also grows on sand when the sand is fertilized, and stone soils, deficient in lime, must be supplied with that material to bring good results.

Red clover is one of the most valuable crops grown and it succeeds well throughout the county on all classes of soil. With proper management, the soil may be kept in a high state of productiveness. From one to two cuttings are made each year. The second crop may be harvested for seed, yielding from four to six bushels per acre, and worth from fifteen to twenty-five dollars per acre. Red clover is also valuable as a fertilizer for exhausted land, being plowed under as a green manure.

White clover for lawn purposes is very desirable on account of its creeping stems, and remains green all through the season.

Practically every valuable grass known to the world grows well in Wyandotte county.

FIELD, FORAGE AND SILO PLANTS.

Winter vetch is a hardy legume sown in the fall with rye as a winter covering crop, it prevents washing or leaching of soil and at the same time being a nitrogen gatherer, enriches the soil, also furnishes a valuable hay or pasture.

Canada field peas are valuable for cattle feeding and for green soiling.

Cow peas, soy beans, and all legume plants, on account of the nitrogen-producing bacteria on their roots, add valuable plant food to the soil, and much cheaper than it is possible to be obtained in any other way. They also make excellent hay.

Kaffir corn is one of the most valuable forage plants known, withstanding drought much better than corn. It is a sure crop under all conditions, producing heads of grain from eight to twelve inches long, and makes the best of poultry feeds.

Jerusalem corn, brown dourrah and yellow milo maize are similar to the Kaffir.

FARM TRUCK.

Potatoes form our most important truck product and are grown largely on the river-bottom lands. The early Ohio is the only variety grown in a commercial way. The land yields from one hundred to two hundred bushels of saleable potatoes per acre, varying in price from thirty cents to one dollar per bushel. Commercial growers plant from forty to three hundred acres. The harvest begins as soon as the potatoes are ripe enough to ship, in July, and this continues until the entire crop is disposed of. The ground is then sown to turnips, or some other quick growing crop, which is plowed under as a green manure.

Late cabbage is grown in large quantities, the farmers growing forty acres or more on the Kansas river bottoms for market and "kraut." It is one of the best paying crops and often planted as a second crop.

VEGETABLE GARDENING.

A great change is progressing in commercial gardening, great crops of those vegetables which now constitute winter necessities are forced in hotbeds and greenhouses, in order to have a constant supply of new vegetables for the table.

The most important field-grown vegetable is asparagus, coming as it does in the early spring, the first vegetable from the garden, and by cutting it back every other day it may be had fresh and green for a period of at least six weeks. Being a hardy perennial plant, it may be grown on the same ground for twenty years without renewal.

Rhubarb is also an important perennial plant, is forced in hotbeds and greenhouses for early market and commands good prices.

In order to produce early vegetables to the best advantage, a quick early maturing soil, with an abundance of manure, is absolutely necessary. The soil must be easily cultivated, hold moisture readily and be well drained.

Having suitable climatic conditions, good home markets with the best transportation facilities, the demand greatly increasing and prices high, gardening is destined to become a great enterprise. Nowhere do vegetables succeed better than in this county, and nearly every important variety known is successfully grown by her market gardeners.

Wyandotte county produces more vegetables than any other four counties in the state, as shown by these statistics: value of crop marketed in 1908, $181,221; in 1909, $102,224; acres in vegetable gardens, 1,116. Owing to the excessive wet spring and early summer of 1909, the planting in acreage was reduced, causing a shortage in the amount usually produced.

FARM AND CROP STATISTICS FOR THE COUNTY.

The following table shows acres, product and value of field crops in Wyandotte county for 1909:

Crop Acres Product (bu.) Value
 
Winter wheat 8,643 164,217 $165,859.17
Spring wheat 35 622 561.74
Corn 6,496 188,384 111,146.56
Oats 1,482 66,690 26,676.00
Rye 27 675 472.50
Irish potatoes 5,560 611,600 342,496.00
Sweet potatoes 397 64,711 53,710.13
Millet and Hungarian 36 81 648.00
Sorghum for forage 24   288.00
Kaffir corn 10 30 180.00
Jerusalem corn 3 9 54.00
Timothy 2,272    
Clover 1,626    
Blue grass 4,057    
Alfalfa 825 *5,245 57,695.00
Orchard grass 135    
Other tame grasses 242 *89 801.00
Prairie grass fenced 10,078    
      Total 41,948 $760,588.10
*Tons.

The above figures are from the 1909-10 report of the State Board of Agriculture, State of Kansas, Seventeenth Biennial Report, page 986.

The following table shows the quantity and value of farm products in the county for 1909:

>
Products Quantity Value
Field crops, acres, 41,948 $760,588.10
Animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter,   81,704.00
Poultry and eggs sold   23,213.00
Wool clip, pounds, 1,800 342.00
Butter, pounds, 440,503 117,281.69
Milk sold,   136,707.00
Honey and beeswax, pounds 3,171 444.38
Wood marketed,   609.00
    Total value   $1,120,889.17

The following represents the value of farm products in Wyandotte county for 1910:

Products Quantity Value
Field crops, acres, 38,035 $683,146.30
Animals slaughtered or sold for Slaughter   54,561.00
Poultry and eggs sold,   23,921.00
Butter, pounds, 421,220 118,630.00
Milk sold,   211,548.00
Honey and beeswax, pounds, 801 120.15
Wood marketed,   40.00
 

      Total value   $1,091,966.45

These figures are from the Seventeenth Biennial Report, Kansas State Board of Agriculture, page 987.

EXPENSE OF RAISING CORN IN KANSAS.

Questions indicated by the following statements were sent to the best informed corn raisers in the various portions of the state where corn is largely grown, to ascertain if possible the actual expense connected with its raising, by the bushel and by the acre. Those of whom the questions were asked were requested to give only figures representing actual experience for several years, rather than theory, and "such as others can safely accept." The following is from Thomas J. Watson, Connor, of this county:

Plowing, per acre $1.25
Harrowing .20
Planting with check row planter .50
Seed $ .15
Cultivating 1.20
Husking and cribbing forty bushels 1.25
Wear, tear and interest on tools .52
Rent on land (or interest on its value) per acre 3.00
    Total cost $8.07

Value of land $40 per acre. Average yield per acre for ten years, thirty-five bushels.

HORTICULTURAL STATISTICS.

The acreage and product of small fruits in Wyandotte county for 1908 are here given:

Variety Acres Crates
 
Gooseberries 68 3,240
Strawberries 242 6,472
Raspberries 157 10,379
Blackberries 50 -1,935
Vineyards (8-pound baskets, grapes) 373 85,666

The total value of all fruits for 1908 was $155,545.

The acreage of gardens was 1,116 and the value of vegetables sold, $102,224.


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