Volume Four Number Two
Wheat: Oregon's Golden Future
Pacific NW 1845-1860
October 1860 -- A few days sojourn in the country has enabled us to speak something of the crops, the present season, and the prospect here- after. For Oregon, there was an immense amount of wheat raised this last season. The quality is particularly fine. The yield per acre was generally fair, and in some cases extraordinary. Mr. Hickey, on one of the hills in Yamhill county, on new ground, broke up in February and March, raised 55 bus- hels of wheat to the acre. Generally the wheat was saved in good order.
In a few rare cases, wheat left in shocks in the field was injured by the rains. We wish there were some way of making an estimate of the amount of wheat produced last year; but we do not see how it can be done.
The legislature, now in session, could make provision for this here- after, by requiring assessors, when they make their assessments, to take an account of the amount of wheat crops in the county. It would be well to extend this account so as to embrace various other crops, such as apples, oats, barley; and stock, -- to include horses, cattle, sheep and hogs. To show what can be done by a man and boy, 12 years of age, with two yoke of steer, in raising wheat, without taking into account other crops and the general improvements of a new farm. It can be stated that Mr. Hickey, with the help stated, has raised the past season, more than 1500 bushels.
The prospects of a market for produce are not satisfactory to the farmer. Prices for wheat are low. He does not anticipate a greatly advanced price this present season, but he believes that if our farmers go on increasing their crops, a steady market will ultimately be found, and that, they will hereafter yield remunerating prices. We can not possibly believe that when it shall be known that ship loads of wheat can readily be had here we shall not be long without a market.
A few lots of wheat have been sold in Portland. But the great bulk of the wheat in the country has been scarcely broken. The rise of the upper Willamette will tax the steamboats to their utmost capacity to bring it to market here. Are we provided with purchases? Will not our merchants be prepared to take from the hands of our farmers their great surplus of wheat?
The last overland mail brings the news that the bad weather in England, Ireland and in several portions of the continent had been most disastrous to the grain crops. It is supposed that there will be a deficit in England the of 70 millions bushels of wheat. In Ireland, the oats were greatly injured. This state of things in Europe must raise the price of wheat in the Atlantic states and ought to cause an advance on the Pacific coast. --The Oregonian
The story above is from Page Two of this edition. Several other stories are in the Number Two edition of our Pacific Northwest Wheat series. An old photograph of Willamette Falls adorns the front page and several small pieces of line art illustrate the Front Page and Page Two. Throughout our series we have used original artwork by our friend Chigusa Ohtsuka, a Japanese artist, to illustrate our wheat stories.Some archival photos are used when available, often from the Oregon Historical Society's photo archive. Our series was sponsored by The Wheat Marketing Center.
More history of wheat awaits in Our Number Three
Of the series: Pacific NW Wheat (1860-1870) Golden Wheat: King of Commerce.
Bridget E. Smith, editor & publisher
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Published in Portland, Oregon