Volume Four Number Three
Golden Wheat: King of Commerce
Pacific NW 1860-1870
The Grain Crop
August 1867 - Though the grain crop of Oregon is not as large as was generally anticipated before the dry season set in, still the harvest is proving to produce, that there will be a large surplus in all parts of the state. In Eastern Oregon a lesser amount was sown than last year, and the drought has affected it somewhat unfavorably. Yet there will be an abundance of grain in that quarter to supply the home demand and the mining trade. Indeed it is said that the farmers in that part of the state still save wheat enough on hand of last years's crops to supply all probable demands for a year to come. The consequence is that now it bears an unusually low price.
It being no longer possible to find a market in the interior for any portion of the surplus grown in Oregon, it becomes a question where a market will be found. We cannot estimate the amount of wheat this state will have for export, though it is certainly large enough if marketed at a reasonable price, to distribute an amount of money among the people sufficient to quicken every branch of business and add to the general prosperity.
But, the crops this year are every where abundant, and there seems to be little probability of such a demand as was witnessed last year to Eastern and European markets. California has an immense surplus, and standing nearer in the line of commerce to the final market than we, her farmers and shippers must of course, have an advantage over ours. That state must dispose of her eight or 10 million bushels before room can be found in her markets for ours, except at unequal rates. In all parts of the Upper Mississippi, the harvest field and storehouses of the world, the lands are teaming with abundant harvests, and from this great source of supply the markets of Eastern cities and of Europe will be filled to overflowing.
The scarcity of former years has necessitated the growing of a greater amount of grain in the South the present season than heretofore, so that the demand from those states will certainly be smaller than it has been for two years past. Europe, it is said, will also import a smaller quantity of breadstuffs this year than last, owing to the superior excellence of her present crops.
It is very certain that wheat and flour in the markets of New York and Liverpool will not soon again reach the prices they attained in those markets a few months ago; consequently it must be owed that there is no immediate prospect for so good a market for our surplus as we had last year.
This must be the conclusion from a general review of the situation. The Oregon markets will, however, follow those of California, as has been the case before; and if that state can find a way of getting off the surplus, we may hope to dispose of ours. --The Oregonian
The story above is from Page Two of this edition. Several other stories are in the Number Three edition of our Pacific Northwest Wheat series. An old photograph of mill owner G.W. Vaughn adorns the Front Page illustrating the story of the building of his mill. Throughout our series we have used original artwork by 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 Four
Of the series: Pacific NW Wheat (1870-1880) Elements Plague Wheat Growers.
Bridget E. Smith, editor & publisher
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Published in Portland, Oregon