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Kansas State Board of Agriculture
First Biennial Report




The increase and relative importance of winter and spring wheat in Kansas from 1872 to 1878, inclusive, are shown in the following exhibit:

1872 247,685 2,173,595 64,159 889,346
1873 258,393 4,548,384 145,241 1,445,660
1874 438,179 6,870,606 278,026 3,010,777
1875 505,681 10,046,116 237,523 3,163,287
1876 758,600 11,738,408 264,583 2,881,817
1877 857,125 10,800,295 206,868 3,516,410
1878 1,297,555 26,518,955 433,257 5,796,403

An analysis of the foregoing figures furnishes many interesting results which indicate clearly to the farmer the relative adaptability of the State for winter and spring wheat.

The per cent. of increase in acreage of winter wheat from 1872 to 1878, was 523.06; of spring wheat, 675.28 per cent. The increase in product of winter wheat during the same period was 1,220.04 per cent.; of spring wheat, 664.13 per cent. The average yield per acre for the seven years named, of winter wheat, was 16.66 bushels, while the average of spring wheat was 12.70 bushels, or about three-fourths as much as that of its winter rival.

The increase in a single year, from 1877 to 1878, in the aggregate acreage of the two crops, was six hundred and sixty-six thousand eight hundred and nineteen acres, and is without parallel in the history of wheat production in the United States.

Prior to 1866, owing to the war and its consequent confusion, the Department of Agriculture at Washington was unable to secure returns from all the States, but since that year annual reports embracing returns from the entire country have been issued in regular succession, and from them are gained valuable and at the same time suggestive data as to the part Kansas has played in the advance of the Union the past ten years.

We are indebted to Hon W. G. Le Duc, Commissioner of the National Bureau of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., for many valuable data, from which we ascertain that Kansas ranked twenty-four among the States in 1866; nineteen in 1870, and eleven in 1875. According to the official returns to this department, and the official and estimated product in other States, Kansas ranks first among the wheat-producing States in 1878.


Of late years much of Kansas wheat has been marketed in Chicago, and as indications point strongly to a large proportion of this year's exports centering there and a considerable in Milwaukee, a glance at the transactions in these two leading wheat depots of the West, in past years, can not but afford much food for reflection.

J. Z. Werst, Esq., of Chicago, has placed us under obligation for a chart of the Chicago wheat market, showing the average price for five, seven, ten and twelve years, ending with 1877. Also the market for 1877, to which is added a table showing the crop movements, as indicated by receipts at Chicago, divided off into periods of four months In a foot-note Mr. Werst states that the receipts at Milwaukee average but little in excess of those at Chicago, while prices have favored Milwaukee about two cents per bushel during the last ten years. This he regards as due to a higher standard of inspection. With this difference in mind, Mr. Werst declares the figures will be found approximately correct for Milwaukee. The chart is an exceedingly clear and comprehensive showing, and could only have been completed after months of infinite care and trouble. It is based upon the receipts of wheat as officially reported, and is so divided off in squares with head and side references that the lines indicating the fluctuations of the market are readily followed throughout. A few moments' study reveals the fact, that in the five-year average the highest price per bushel was reached in May, and the lowest price per bushel was in November. The seven-year average shows the highest price in May, and in November the lowest. The ten-year average demonstrates most conclusively the invariable rule, for the highest price is reached in May, and the lowest in November. If aught was needed to clinch the fact of the rule of the market as to range of price, the twelve-year average supplies it, for again we trace with unerring truth the highest price per bushel in May, and the lowest in November. Here we have the lessons taught by experience, the one covering five years, the second covering seven years, the third covering 10 years, and the fourth covering twelve years, and all proving exactly the same result, and that, that in May the wheat market rules the highest, and in November the lowest.

To go more into detail, and taking the twelve-year average as the best indicator, embracing as it does the period from 1866 to and including 1877, we find that the market opens at the first of the year at $1.24 per bushel, and gradually advances to $1.27 on the 27th, thence falling slowly throughout February and into March to the 3rd, when it touches bottom at $1.24-1/2. Rallying, it ascends very like the outline of a precipitous mountain, reaching $1.27 on the last day of March, thence steadily through April to $1.41, and on the 12th of May standing at $1.46, the highest point of the year. Then the downward course commences, the price at the close of the month being $1.39-1/2. On the 9th of June it pauses at $1.37, and showing an upward tendency, reaches $1.38 on the 19th. Stopping there, it again recedes, and on July 8th stands at $1.33. Another little start is made the 14th, marking $1.34. Again a tumble, this time to $1.29 on the 28th, with but little change to the 26th of August, when it goes down with a rush to $1.25-1/2 on September 1st. Once more there is manifested something of an upward tendency, stopping at $1.28 on the 15th, and then sliding off downward, not pausing all through October, and November 10th touching at the lowest figure of the twelvemonth - $1.17-1/2. Up once more, slowly but surely, arriving at $1.21 on November 24th, dropping to $1.20 December 1st, and thence very deliberately to the close of the year at $1.24.

In thus tracing the course of the market in detail, the producer must learn much that should be used to an advantage. He acquires in comparatively no time the knowledge to reach which others have gone on through years, and he must depend entirely upon his own judgment in the management of his own business - our duty being confined to the record as made, and not to shape its making.

The ten-year average shows the price per bushel in May, $1.31-1/2 and in November, $1.02-1/2. Seven-year average, May, $1.29; November, $1.04. Five-year average, May, $1.24-1/2; November, $1.01. The year 1877, indicated singly upon the chart, shows the highest price, $1.76-1/2 in May, and the lowest, $1.01-1/2 in August, with prices ranging from $1.05 to $1.06 in November. The lowest receipts of wheat at Chicago during the ten years ending with 1876 were in 1876, a trifle over ten millions of bushels, and at Milwaukee the same year ten and a half millions. The highest receipts for the period stated were in 1873, thirty-five and a half million at Chicago, and at Milwaukee thirty-two million. The lowest average price per bushel during the past five years was in 1874, 96c. at Chicago, and 98-1/2c. at Milwaukee; the highest average price was in 1876, $1.29 at Chicago, $1.32 at Milwaukee. The average yearly receipts at Chicago for the five years ending with 1876 were twenty and one-half million bushels, and the average price per bushel, $1.11-1/2. At Milwaukee, average yearly receipts, twenty-two and a third million bushels; average price per bushel, $1.42-1/2.

The average yearly receipts at Chicago for the five years, divided in periods of four months, as best indicating the movement of the grain, were, during the months of September, October, November and December, ten and a half million bushels: during the months of January, February, March and April, four and three-quarter million bushels, and during months of May, June, July and August, six and a third million bushels.

In the last statement lies much that must go toward working out the solution of the wide range of prices. While in Chicago speculation has a great deal to do in the fixing of prices, in Milwaukee it has less, as the demand at the latter-named point is largely for milling purposes. The aggregate of receipts and the range of prices at the two places being so clearly allied, it is clear that, notwithstanding the speculation, the "bulling" and the "bearing" of the market, the supply regulates the price, and as in the fall months the supply is considerably more than double that of the winter months, and nearly double that of the summer months, the price ranges accordingly.

Toledo, long one of the most popular markets for Kansas shippers, and the depot into which the State is now pouring its wealth of wheat without stint, would probably make showing very similar to that of Chicago and Milwaukee were her transactions to be placed upon the same basis of representation, and St. Louis and Baltimore as well. The successful inauguration of the barge line between Kansas City and the Gulf promises to make New Orleans a market of no mean importance. Certainly the competition between rail and water, and consequent lessening of the rates of transportation, will be hailed with pleasure, and every honorable measure taken to perpetuate it.

We are indebted to William H. Miller, Secretary of the Board of Trade, Kansas City, Mo., for the following statement of the shipments at that place to New Orleans by water:

Grand Lake No. 2, departed July 5. taking three barges 83,540 bushels corn.
A. J. Barker, departed July 27, taking three barges 62,038 bushels corn.
A. J. Barker, departed August 12, taking three barges 50,538 bushels corn.
Total corn 196,116 bushels.
A. J. Barker, departed August 31, taking three barges 44.198 bushels wheat.

Kansas has a lively interest in the experiments thus made, and will watch with profound anxiety their effects upon future transportation.