Monday, March 19, 2018

Early history of wheat in North America

In 1493, Christopher Columbus brought wheat to the Caribbean though the islands have never been large wheat producers.

It was until the first permanent European colonies were successful in the 1600s, that wheat began to be grown on a large scale.

In 1521, the Spanish introduced wheat to Mexico, which by 1735 was exporting the cereal to the West Indies. In 1620, the Pilgrims introduce wheat to Massachusetts, though the colony, like the Caribbean was ill suited to its culture.

Wheat was so highly valued that during times of scarcity, residents of the New Netherlands were forbidden from trading it with Native Americans so that the precious stale could be reserved for European consumption.

The long harsh winters in eastern North America made growing wheat more difficult that it was in the more temperate parts of Europe. In the 1620s, and 1630s, colonist grew spring wheat and by 1624 they harvested a surplus of grain.

In 1664, however, disease claimed the crop, spurring colonists to try winter wheat instead. By 1839, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa were producing a quarter of the nation’s wheat and corn. Just before the Civil war began, the production of these states had soared to half the national total, while wheat production along the Atlantic coast tumbled from 69 percent in 1840 to 39 percent by 1860.

As early as 1841, farmers grew durum in Montana, and in 1864 Russian immigrants introduce it to North Dakota, where it remains an important crop.

American wheat production underwent revolutionary changes during the 19th and early 20th centuries as a progression of mechanical innovations transformed the wheat harvest and made the United States the undisputed world leader in farm mechanization.
Early history of wheat in North America
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