In the early seventies consideration of the varieties of wheat grown had not gone much beyond the sowing of the sorts to which the farmers had been accustomed in the East and to making a choice between the spring and fall types. Later in the seventies the winter wheat boom was based on the soft varieties and it was these that gave Kansas its first reputation as a wheat state. There were two groups of these wheats the white and the red, and within each group were many varieties, some of which differed little from each other. As winter wheat became a major money crop the problem of varieties came to occupy a place of increasing importance in farm planning. The diversity of opinion and the duration of the debate over adaptability, without arriving at a conclusion, are indicative of the precarious position of all these varieties in the Kansas environment.

     At the opening of the seventies the named varieties of winter wheat grown in the upper Kansas river valley included White Bluestem, Michigan White, Red or Early (Little) May, Red Amber, Red Lancaster, and Mediterranean Red. [1] Of these, the Early May received the widest endorsement. Because of confusion in nomenclature it is possible that the actual number of varieties were fewer than these names indicate. [2] On the other hand, there were probably varieties sown that are not in this enumeration.

     In the present discussion the enumeration of varieties grown during the seventies is presented in the chronological sequence in which they were mentioned in the press, except for those which proved to be major contenders for honors and they are treated separately. In 1872 when the Early May had failed the complaint was made that the wheat available for local milling at junction City had been limited to inferior spring wheats, much of it Black Sea and California rice wheat. [3] In Dickinson county the local editor recommended that each farmer decide for himself what variety he planted. [4] The United States Department of Agriculture had sent seed samples, the most promising of the white wheats being Tappahannock. [5] A white variety known as Diehl


Varieties of Soft Wheat 97

was reported as being grown in Geary county as early as 1872. [6] Mediterranean wheat planted in the fall of 1875 was advertised for seed wheat the following year in Saline county. [7] Jennings White wheat was introduced into Dickinson county apparently in the fall of 1875. Two years later, the white wheats were reported as badly rusted except the Jennings White which was said to be a rust-free variety. [8] In 1878 Geary county was represented at the Lawrence fair by ten varieties of wheat; among them were Red Velvet, Tappahannock, Jennings White, Clawson, Fultz, Red Chaff, May and Odessa. [9] Egyptian wheat was reported in Dickinson county in 1878 and in 1879 and in the fall of the latter years one of the wheat kings of the county, R. J. Wemyss, planted six varieties: Walker, Clawson, White, Odessa, Fultz, and Red May, but staked about half his acreage on the Red May. [10] In 1879 Orange was mentioned and in 1880 varieties added to the list included White Genesee (White Bluestem), Golden Chaff, and Treadwell. [11] The fall of 1879 and 1880 Amber was mentioned, in 1880 Bulgarian, and in 1881 Oregon, Rappahannock and Russian. [12]

     Some varieties enjoyed a substantial following and were sometimes hailed for a season as the solution of the wheat problem. Odessa or grass wheat was a variety, probably Russian in origin, of which there were several importations, and varying strains. The United States Department of Agriculture distributed it as early as 1865, [13] but no record has been found of its introduction into Kansas or its spread. The first mention found of it in the upper Kansas valley was that D. D. Baird raised a crop in 1874. in Dickinson county, but the record is not clear whether as a spring or fall wheat. One of its peculiarities was that it seemed to produce well in either capacity: "As a fall wheat it yielded, this past season [1877], from twenty to thirty bushels per acre, in this neighborhood. As a spring wheat it yielded form twelve to twenty--seven bushels. . . I [Baird] have been growing this wheat every year since 1874 [four crops], and I have never known it damaged seriously by rust, chinch bugs, worms, or, in fact any thing else." [14]

98 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

     As a spring variety Odessa was mentioned as the favorite in Dickinson in 1876 and 1877, [15] a position it maintained rather generally in the central and northern wheat counties in 1880 1881, 1882, when spring wheat all but disappeared in Kansas. [16] The spring wheat matured late making it a victim of mid-summer heat and drouth, and of chinch bugs. Furthermore, the ripening , and harvest of the wheat caused the bugs to migrate to the corn fields.

     Fultz, frequently known as Bluestem in the Ohio valley, was selected in 1862 from a field of Lancaster (Mediterranean) wheat in Pennsylvania and by 1871 was being distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture. [17] The first reference to it in the upper Kansas valley dated its introduction from 1874. It was planted by B. F. Bailey in Geary county that year and was introduced by J. S. Hollinger into Liberty township, Dickinson county, the same year, taking the prizes at the county fair in 1875 and 1877. [18] For the most part it was still receiving favorable mention in the early eighties [19] but on occasion it was condemned. [20]

     Walker was an old variety of red winter wheat in the eastern part of the United States, but the story of the westward spread of this sort seems not to be known. [21] It was introduced into north Dickinson county in 1875 and the claim was made that not even in 1877 did it fail to make a crop. [22]

     Clawson, a white winter wheat, probably was introduced into Dickinson county under that name in 1877 by John Taylor. [23] This type of wheat was known under a variety of names, Golden Chaff, Soulcs, White Russian, Seneca and its more modern version Goldcoin. The Clawson strain originated in Seneca county, New York, in 1865. As it was distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1874 the strain might have come to the several points in Kansas that year or later. [24] Taylor and j Henry introduced the seed, privately, from New York.

     Nearly every variety of wheat had its champions, few showing themselves so outstanding or distinctive as to acquire a general following. As J. S. Hollinger and John Taylor were outstanding farmers in Liberty township, the former devoted especially to

Varieties of Soft Wheat 99

Fultz and the latter to Clawson, [25] the farmer of lessee standing might well have been confused. It is evident that the leading larger farmers hedged against wheat losses by planting more than one variety. C. H. Lebold, at Abilene, planted 80 acres of Fultz and 40 acres each of Lancaster, Egyptian and May. [26] John Taylor planted both Clawson and Fultz in 1878 but by 1882 had abandoned Clawson, using Fultz as the principal variety and Russian as second. [27] J. S. Hollinger, at Chapman, had l00 acres in 1879 divided among Fultz (best), Amber, Orange, Red Clawson and White Clawson. [28] In the two eastern counties, Riley and Geary, as livestock became the more conspicuous interest, the debate over wheat varieties was less prominent, but by 1880 in Dickinson and Saline counties the adverse crop conditions of the late seventies caused the rivalry of varieties to become an absorbing subject. "Wheat is King" had become the slogan, and J. W. Robson, a farmer who conducted an agricultural column in the Chronicle during part of the period, presented his views:

     Wheat is king in the county of Dickinson. It covers a larger area than any other cereal. And it excites more anxious thought from the time the seed is put in the ground till it is hauled to the elevator, than any other product of the farm. This anxiety is not confined to the farmer alone. The mechanic, the merchant, the banker and the railroad corporations, all feel it and daily give expressions to the feeling in the shape of anxious enquiry: "Is the wheat crop a failure this year?"
     We answer yes! and however paradoxical it may seem we also answer no; it is not a failure. Permit us to explain.
     Farmers who sowed a large acreage of Fultz and Egyptian wheat, arc today chewing the cud of bitter disappointment. What is left of the Egyptian variety looks very sick indeed, as sick as the owner. And the Fultz variety is severely winter killed, and will only produce a partial crop. And yet we indulge the hope that the refreshing shower of today will better its present condition considerably.
     And yet the wheat crop is not a failure. Every field of Walker, Early May, Orange, White Genesee, (or white bluestem as it is called by many) and Golden Chaff which we have seen within the last fortnight gives promise of a large yield.
     The Walker wheat was introduced into North Dickinson in 1875 and it has never failed to produce a crop, not even in 1877. The Early May failed in 1876, and partially failed in 1877. This is a

100 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

standard variety, and always finds a ready market. The millers prefer it to any other kind.
     The White Genesee was nearly a total failure in 1877, but with the exception of that year it has been a success for thirteen years. This and the two preceding varieties should be more extensively grown in the future, instead of those kinds producing a larger and finer berry, but which have proved a delusion and a snare to many of our brother farmers this year. The Orange is a good wheat but it has one bad fault: it shells badly in the harvesting.
     If the Treadwell wheat has passed safely through the winter we hope those who have made a specialty of this variety will report. Now is the time to take notes, and to decide which varieties we shall sow next fall.
     We have decided already and our decision is in favor of Walker, Early May and White Genesee. The Fultz shall never again obtain a foothold on our homestead. But this is only our opinion, brother farmers give us yours. [29]

     The condemnation of Fultz by Robson brought out a defense by John Trott of Crystal valley who insisted his Fultz beat his Bluestem by six bushels and also his neighbors' May and Walker. In April, 1880, the Salina Journal conducted a survey, reporting data on farmer opinion of wheat prospects. Most growers had two or more varieties. Of 45 farmers interviewed five did not specify varieties. Amber wheat was rated best or equal to the best by three, fair by four, and a failure by one. Fultz was rated best by two, fair by four, and a failure by three. Odessa was rated best by two, fair by five, and a failure by one. Oregon was rated best by two. Russian was mentioned only once and then as the best of six varieties grown. The Red (early or Little) May had the best, but it did not have a clear record, and was reported inferior to two or more rival varieties by eight of the 35 farmers naming it in their reports; five rated it equal to the best; twelve rated it the best of two or more competing named varieties, and ten raised only May. [3O] In 1881 the Chronicle reprinted the recommendation of a writer in The Kansas Farmer that wheat growers divide their sowing on a 3--3-2 ratio; white wheat (Bluestem, Genesee and Rappahannock), May and one other. [31]

     The Kansas State Board of Agriculture inaugurated in 1879 a policy of reports on the condition of winter wheat by counties and in 1880, 1881, 1882 and 1884 most of the reports commented

Varieties of Soft Wheat 101

upon varieties. These state--wide surveys afford a basis for comparison with the four counties which are the subject of this study. The most frequently and favorably mentioned were May, Fultz and Odessa (as a winter wheat), and others, listed with moderate frequency, were Mediterranean (Lancaster), Bluestem, Genesee, Walker, Treadwell, Oregon, Amber, and Clawson. In 1881 the quarterly reports indicated that, on a state-wide basis, Early May was still the favorite, Fultz second, Odessa still conspicuous, but the field was widely divided. In 1883 the range was May, Fultz and Walker in the top positions, among the soft wheats, but not necessarily in that order in the several counties. Hard wheat was conspicuous in the reports for 1882, and still more so in 1884, but the soft wheats predominated with leading opinion divided among May, Fultz, Amber, Oregon, and Zimmerman. In 1883 one farmer was hedging on the basis of two-thirds May and one-third Russian. [32]

     The experimentation and discussion of the wheat problem had turned on the soft varieties, and T. C. Henry argued in 1878, "I do not advise much further experimentation in new varieties. We have a sufficient number already introduced that are adapted to our soil and climate." [33] He was depending at that time primarily upon the Early May, not realizing that unforeseen developments in the next few years would prove him not only wrong, but even make his declaration a bit ridiculous.

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1. Cf., Chapter 11.
2. J. Allen Clark, et al., "Classification of American Wheat Varieties," United States Department of Agriculture, Bulletin No. 1074 (1922), hereafter cited as Clark, "Wheat Varieties."
3. Junction City Union, August 30, 1873; Abilene Chronicle, May 7, 1880. 4 Ibid., October 3, 1872.
4. J. K. Hudson, "Essay on Grains," Transactions of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . 1872, pp. 274-283 at 277, 278.
5. J. K. Hudson, "Essay on Grains," Transactions of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . 1872, pp. 274-283 at 277, 278.
6. Junction City Union, August 15, 1874.-Grown by John P. Meader.
7. Salina Herald, September 16, 1876.
8. Junction City Union, July 14, 1877; Abilene Chronicle, September 13, 1878.
9. Junction City Union, September 14, 1878.
10. Abilene Gazette, June 6, 1879; Junction City Union, November 1, 1879.
11. Abilene Gazette, June 6, 1879; Abilene Chronicle, May 7, 1880.
12. Abilene Gazette, June 6, 1879; Abilene Chronicle, September 3, 1880; Quarterly Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . March 31, 1880; Salina Herald, August 13, 1881; August 3, 1882; Abilene Chronicle, April 15, 1881. It was explained, however, that Bluestem, Genesee and Rappahannock were the same variety by a different name (Chronicle, September 16, 1881, from The Kansas Farmer).
13. Clark, "Wheat Varieties," 107, 108.
14. Abilene Chronicle, January 4, 1878. A favorite variety: Chronicle, February 9, 1877.A spring or fall wheat: Junction City Union, November 17, 1877; Chronicle, January 4, 1878. A rust-free wheat: Chronicle, January 4, 1878. Rusting badly: Chronicle, July 5, 1878. A chinch bug-free wheat: Nationalist, Manhattan, February 1, 1878.
15. Abilene Chronicle, February 9, July 20, 1877.
16. Second and Third Quarterly Reports . . . 1880; First and Third Quarterly Reports 1881; Third Quarterly Reports . . . 1882, Kansas State Board of Agriculture.
17. Clark, "Wheat Varieties," 83-85. A number of varieties of wheat were known as Bluestem.
18. Junction City Union, July 20, 1878; Abilene Gazette, June 30, 1876; Abilene Chronicle, January 14, June 9, 1876; June 29, August 3, October 19, 1877; June 14, 1878.
19. Ibid., June 6, 1879; May 21, 1880; Salina Herald, August 28, 1880; July 30, 1881.
20. Abilene Chronicle, May 7, 1880. J. W. Robson condemned it severely on the ground that it winter-killed badly. In 1882, however, a favorable year, lie reported Fultz in very fine condition.-Ibid., June 23, 1882.
21. Clark, "Wheat Varieties," 77.
22. J. W. Robson, in the Abilene Chronicle, May 7, 1880,
23. In Ibid., June 14, 1878. T. C. Henry claimed in 1904 that he introduced it, but the contemporary record credits the introduction to Taylor.-T. C. Henry, "The Story of a Fenceless Winter-Wheat Field," Kansas Historical Collections, 9: 502-506 at 506.
There was a red variety of Clawson which was raised, but usually Clawson seems to have been the white type.-Abilene Gazette, June 6, 1879.

24. Clark, "Wheat Varieties," 100-102.
25. Abilene Chronicle, June 6, 1879. The farms of both men were visited and described.
26. Abilene Gazette, June 21, 1878.
27. Ibid., June 6, 1879; June 23, 1882.
28. Ibid., June 6, 1879.
29. The Commonwealth, Topeka, May 9, 1880, from Abilene Chronicle, May 7, 1880.
30. Saline County Journal, Salina, April 29, 1880.
31. Abilene Chronicle, September 16, 1881.
32. Abilene Gazette, October 12, 1883
33. T. C. Henry, "Kansas Wheat Culture," a paper read before the Farmers' Institute at Manhattan, January 17, 18,8.-Abilene Chronicle, February 1, 1878.