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    Agriculture and Horticulture

    Encyclopedia Arctica 6: Plant Sciences (Regional)

    Agriculture and Horticulture

    Agriculture and Horticulture of Arctic and Subarctic Areas

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0740                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Plant Sciences

    [Basil M. Bensin and George W. Gasser]




    Climate 2
    Soils and Vegetation 10
    Agricultural Explorations of Arctic and Subarctic Areas 16
    Bibliography 22

    001      |      Vol_VI-0741                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    [Basil M. Bensin and George W. Gasser)



            The main centers of agricultural production are located in the temperate

    zone of both hemispheres, and only a small percentage of arctic and subarctic

    areas is used for agriculture. This is due to the marginal agriculturual en–

    vironment of these areas, comprising great complexity of environmental factors

    limiting possibilities of agricultural use of the land

            However, there are very strong economic and political factors forcing the

    finding of every possible way for agricultural exploration and exploitation of

    the farthest north lands, to secure food for the growing population of new

    industrial and military establishments. Discovery of rich deposits of precious

    gold, silver, copper, platinum, antimony. phosphates, coal, and, finally, oil

    in the northern zones has brought a considerable population to formerly un–

    settled areas above the Arctic Circle and within subarctic regions.

            Despite unfavorable environments, some phases of agricultural developments

    have been tried and definite branches of agricultural production, including

    plant and animal industry products, have been established. The Agricultural

    Experiment Stations scattered in the northern regions of both hemispheres have

    had a great role in this pioneer agricultural work.

            Our present goal is to present a brief review of the prevailing environmental

    factors in these regions, both favorable and unfavorable for agriculture, and to

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    indicate the specific character of arctic and subarctic agriculture as it

    appears under existing economical conditions.

            The chief environmental factors to be considered are:

            1. Climate. 2. Soil. 3. Natural vegetation in its relation to agricul–

    tural exploitation.



            The main climatic factor for plant growth in the northern areas is summer

    temperatures. The real indication of climatological limits for agriculture is

    the isotherm of the warmest month, July. The isotherm of 10°C. (50°F.), lying

    near the limits of the polar regions of both hemispheres (Fig. ), could be

    considered as such a limit. This isotherm extends from the northern edge of

    the Scandinavian Peninsula (Norway) through the northern part of the White Sea,

    the estuaries and deltas of large northern rivers (Pechora in Euorope; Ob,

    Yenisei, Lena, and Kolyma in Asia; Yukon and Mackenzie rivers in America), then

    through the southern part of Hudson Bay, northern part of Labrador, Newfound–

    land, and Iceland.

            The greater part of this isotherm lies above the Arctic Circle; exceptions

    are northern Canada and Iceland, the northeastern part of the Asiatic continent

    extending to the Kamchatka Peninsula, and the northern part of the maritime

    region of the U.S.S.R., where this isotherm drops below 60°N. latitude. In

    the Asiatic continent it approximately coincides with the permafrost area which

    extends to 55°N. latitude; around Hudson Bay and adjacent region it is in–

    fluenced by the cold arctic air which penetrates far inland without being checked

    by mountain ranges such as are found in the northwestern part of the American

    continent and Alaska Peninsula.

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

            Most of this 50°F. (10°C.) July isotherm lies in the tundra zone or, in

    some places, in the forest-tundra, which is an intermediate formation between

    tundra and taiga. The dominant vegetation of treeless tundra consists typi–

    cally of various aggregations of mosses ( Polytrichum and Sphagnum ), lichens

    ( Cladonia , etc.), also sedges ( Carex and Eriophorum ), heaths ( Cassiope ,

    Arctostaphylos , Vaccinium , Ledum ), crowberry ( Empetrum ), grasses ( Calamagrostis

    and many others), and such shrubs as species of birch ( Betula ), alder ( Alnus ),

    and willows ( Salix ).

            On the fringe of this isotherm only a few cool-season vegetables such

    as Cruciferae (radishes, turnips, rutabaga) can be grown out-of-doors in

    specially prepared seed beds with an addition of fertilizer and preferably

    under glass in hotbeds and cold frames or in heated greenhouses. In cold

    frames cabbages, onions, and lettuce can be produced. As a matter of fact,

    radishes and lettuce were be grown on the high sandy beach at point Barrow

    (71°20′ N., 156°20′ W.) on the fringe of the plus 5°6. isotherm in the month

    of July in 1883, according to Middleton Smith, who made this comment: “A

    study of the conditions under which plants germinated and matured is not only

    curiously interesting, but suggests that there was some stimulating force —

    perhaps the large amount of atmospherical electricity — which caused them to

    arrive at maturity in a much shorter period than those grown in temperate zones.

    Whatever the agency, inasmuch as the summer season is so very brief, it is

    absolutely necessary that plant life in the North should arrive at maturity

    very quickly in order to perpetuate the species.” These plants were matured

    (ready to be used) in 19 days, while in the temperate zone a 30 to 40 - day s period

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    is needed. The total average degree days above the freezing point in Point

    Barrow for the months June, July and August, 226°C. (406°F.), is evidently

    sufficient for growing such early vegetable crops, even under the plus 5°C.

    (41°F.) July isotherm.

            The behavior of plants in the North is a most interesting study. It is

    at once apparent that latitude has a profound effect upon the size and fruit–

    ing habits of plants. It is the prime purpose of every plant, especially the

    annuals, to produce seed so as to perpetuate its kind. To that end we

    find that in the North the vegetative growth of plant is curtailed so as to

    speed up reproduction. This is brought about primarily by the long daylight hours

    (Fig. ). It is well known that some plants are affected adversely by extended

    daylight periods, but these types cannot maintain themselves in the high north

    and are eliminated by natural selection. Consequently, we find plants respond–

    ing, as noted above, so as to [ ?] hasten the fruiting period.

            G. W. Gasser has noted that some native plants in the Tanana Valley, Alaska,

    and the same species one hundred miles above the Arctic Circle, matured seed

    at about the same time; obviously, the farther north the greater the day length,

    which consequently speeds up plant growth, particularly maturity.

            Some such effect has been noted in plants that have been introduced from

    southern latitudes. The garden pea, which is grown quite generally in many

    states as a canning pea, after having been grown in Alaska over a series of

    years, came into fruiting stage from ten days to two weeks earlier than plants

    grown from seeds and produced in the continental United States.

            The potato, which is one of the world’s most important food plants, thrives

    in Alaska as far north as the 68° parallel at Wiseman, Alaska. Mean summer

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    temperature (June-August) at Wiseman is 54°F. or a total of 1,980 degree days

    (1,100°C.), which is sufficient for production of a good yield of acclimated

    potatoes. As a matter of fact, the potato variety best adapted to Alaska has

    been originated in Wiseman as a very popular variety, Arctic Seedling.

            Grain production requires many more thermal units for its maturity than

    potatoes. According to experimental trials in the U.S.S.R, the total number

    of degree days from emergence to maturity of grains, in temperate zones, is

    established as follows:

    1. Wheat 1,780-2,270°C. (3,204-4,086°F.)
    2. Barley 1,700-2,500°C. (3,060-4,500°F.)
    3. Oats 1,940-2,300°C. (3,492-4,140°F.)

            At the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, College, Alaska (64°21′ N.

    latitude) in 1949, for example, the following numbers of degree days were ob–

    served for growth maturity:

    Average Earliest
    1. Wheat 2,256°F. 2,167°F.
    2. Barley 1,726°F. 1,625°F.
    3. Oats 1,971°F. ---

            In other words, the varieties of grain best adapted to the subarctic

    region require fewer thermal units for maturity than in the temperate zones,

    evidently due to the longer days of the North.

            Therefore, we might consider three groups of crop plants for subarctic

    agriculture and horticulture. (1) Early cool-season vegetables, which can be

    grown even above the plus 10°C. July isotherm. (2) Potatoes, which can be

    grown in regions with a July temperature of 12 to 13°C. (53.6° to 55.4°F.).

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    (3) Ear l y maturing grains growing in the region of 15°to 16°C. (59° to 60.8° F.)

    in the month of July. Northern limits for growing of these three groups of crop

    plants can, in a general way, be indicated by the isotherm lines of each region.

            However, the essential variability of physiographic features and micro–

    climatic conditions in different regions affects the specific character of the

    existing or potential agricultural production. One basic climatic difference

    of subarctic regions from temperate-zone areas is the greater range of maximum

    and minimum diurnal daily temperatures, which has very profound effect upon

    plant growth. (Fig. )

            During the clear summer days, the temperature rises very rapidly after

    sunrise; but during the night and particularly in early morning before sunrise,

    temperatures may drop below the freezing point, and in such a short time not

    more sensitive garden plants and even potatoes can be damaged.

            These temperature fluctuations are greatly affected by the topography and

    microrelief features of the land, as well as its exposure toward sunlight. Gentle

    south-facing slopes, for example, receive more sunlight and heat, are thus less

    susceptibile to early morning frost than lowlands, and have a distinctly different

    natural vegetation. This microclimatological variability of certain small areas

    within the same climatological region is the most significant factor for land

    valuation and agricultural use of arctic and subarctic regions.

            Every additional thermal unit affecting soil temperature and stimulating

    plant growth should be counted. Therefore, general meteorological observations

    recorded by Weather Bureau stations are not sufficient for the proper agro–

    climatological analysis of agricultural land. For example, maximum and minimum

    thermometers of the standard [ ?] meteorological stations are placed on the

    shelter four feet above ground. But for close studies of agricultural meteorology,

    007      |      Vol_VI-0747                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    the temperature of the lower strata of the air adjacent to the soil surface

    should be recorded by a special shelter with three units of maximum and mini–

    mum thermometers arranged at various levels, 1, 2, and 3 feet above the soil

    surface (Fig. ). The temperature fluctuations of the lowest unit, near the

    soil surface, is particularly valuable since it coincides with the level of

    the growing plants.

            In addition to these thermometers, thermographs and hydrographs should be

    used to record diurnal data of temperature and air humidity fluctuations. By

    means of such an arrangement, microclimatological differences of cleared and un–

    cleared lands can be detected, as well as the differences of cultivated fields

    of various dimensions and exposures. On the basis of such microclimatological

    analysis, proper use of land can be planned.

            In addition to air temperature, the soil temperature movement during the

    growing season at various depths of agricultural land is a decisive factor for

    the rhythm of plant growth affecting various phonological phases of crop plants.

    By the systematic recording of soil temperature, definite soil temperature pro–

    files for the growing season ( pedothermal profiles ) can be established. This

    gives particularly valuable information for agricultural use of land in the perma–

    frost artic and subarctic regions.

            Permafrost is permanently frozen subsurface material normally not subject

    to seasonal thawing and freezing. There are great permafrost areas in both

    hemispheres, the largest being in the Eurasian continent. For agricultural use

    of land, it is essential to investigate the permafrost table, which is the more

    or less irregular surface representing the upper limit of permafrost. High perma–

    frost table is at times found near the soil surface at depths of 8 to 12 inches

    under thick moss cover. Low permafrost table is found at depths of several feet

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture &Horticulture

    below the soil surface. By clearing the land and plowing, the high permafrost

    table may be lowered, since increasing soil temperature occurs when soil surface

    is exposed to sunlight and heat. In cases where permafrost consists not only of

    frozen ground but also of ice lenses, lying underneath, the land can not be

    used for agriculture at all. Otherwise, agriculture in the permafrost area is

    possible and can be developed successfully if climatic conditions are favorable

    This has been demonstrated in such permafrost regions as the Yakutsk district of

    Siberia and the Tanana valley region of Alaska.

            The amount of annual precipitation and its monthly distribution is another

    essential factor of agriculture envi or ro nment. All arctic and subarctic regions

    have low annual precipitation, ranging, in the continental parts, from 5 inches

    in the arctic to 12 inches in the subarctic. Coastal, insular, and some peninsular

    regions have higher precipitation, but lower summer temperature. The amount of

    precipitation in areas of usable agricultural land depends upon the influence

    of Atlantic and Pacific ocean currents, which have a profound effect upon the

    climatic conditions of these areas. The Arctic-Atlantic climate zone of Europe

    is milder, due to the influence of the Gulf Stream which extends to the northern

    part of the Scandinavian peninsula, Kola Peninsula, and even around the White

    Sea land of European Russia. As a result, the coastal part of Arctic Norway

    has a milder climate than its eastern inland part which is cut off by the

    Scandinavian mountain range (Fig. ). Therefore, agriculture conditions of

    the subarctic portions of Norway are very different from those of Sweden. The

    western Siberian lowlands are likewise unprotected from the north by any mountain


            The greatest part of this distinct physico-geographic area with subarctic

    climate has underlying permafrost. There are similar unprotected land areas in

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    the northern part of the eastern Asiatic continent, where the large Siberian

    rivers empty into the Arctic Sea, north of the Arctic Circle. This area is

    largely tundra land and not suitable for agriculture cultivation. A series

    of long mountain ranges are found in the southern part of eastern Siberia

    (Yablonovoi, Stanovoi, Cherski, Tas-Kystabyt) with surrounding areas of rough

    terrain. Due to the topographical features, agriculture land is here confined

    to the river valleys and smaller plateaus. Climatic conditions of there

    valleys in great degree depend upon the influence of the surrounding mountain


            The same conditions also apply to the Alaska Peninsula. The Alaska Range

    on the southern edge of the peninsula has a decisive effect upon the summer climate

    of inner Alaska, shutting out the moist air from the pacific, while the Brooks

    Range on the north serves as a barrier against the cold air from the Arctic. A

    result, central Alaska climate is continental, approaching the semiarid,

    with warm, sunny summer and very cold winters.

            The eastern part of the northern North American continent consists of low–

    lands with the large body of Hudson Bay extending inland to 50°N. latitude.

    The climate of this area is colder during the summer months than that of inner

    Alaska at the same latitude. This is the limiting fac or for agricultural

    development of these subarctic regions. Northern limits of potato growing,

    for instance, are much lower than in Alaska (Fig. )

            Prevailing wind directions and wind velocities are also significant

    environmental factors for agriculture. Strong coastal winds and prevailing

    winds of the open areas increase soil evaporation and cause considerable soil

    erosion. During the winter months surface winds blow the snow away from large

    portions of the fields and accumulate snowdrifts around barriers that occur

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    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    here and there. The barren surface causes deep freezing of the soil and of

    the unprotected roots of annual and perennial plants, with a consequent high

    percentage of winter-killed cultivated plants. The low wind velocity of the

    continental areas of Siberia and Alaska is a distinctly favorable asset for


            Rate of evaporation during the summer months depends on the air temperature

    and wind velocity and is a significant climatic indication. In semiarid sub–

    arctic agricultural regions, the rate of evaporation in some seasons exceeds

    the rate of summer precipitation and crop plants suffer from lack of soil moisture.

    Problems of soil-moisture conservation and irrigation in such cases are an impor–

    tant part of agriculture and horticulture of the subarctic. In the permafrost

    regions, high or low permafrost table has a direct effect upon the soil moisture

    movement during the dry summer season.

            Several physiographic features occurring in subarctic areas modify general

    climatic conditions of certain regions, such as large lakes, which are numerous

    around rivers and creeks, icings (naleds) found in the watersheds of rivers, as

    in the case of the Matanuska River Valley, or some extraordinary phenomenon,

    such as volcanic lava brought long distances by winds and accumulated on the

    soil surface. All these local environmental factors should be considered in

    evaluating land for agricultural use.


    Soils and Vegetation

            There are two principal vegetation zones of the arctic and subarctic areas:

    tundra and taiga. Tundra — the treeless coast a l plain bordering the arctic seas

    — can hardly be considered as potential agricultural land. For soils of tundra

    of various types are shallow, with a very small percentage of organic matter and

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    very limited microflora since the low temperatures prevailing during the summer

    months prevent any considerable amount of bacteriological activity. Diversity

    of microrelief of arctic and subarctic tundra has a distinct effect upon the

    vegetative cover, including not only the mosses and lichens but also flowering

    plants and even dwarf shrubs.

            It is possible that, by proper use, including drainage, the land “islands”

    with somewhat higher elevation could be developed as pasture land. At present

    tundra vegetation, consisting primarily of mosses and lichens, is used in various

    countries by reindeer, moose, musk oxen, and other browsing animals which can

    use even bark of trees and young t iw wi gs of [ ?] shrubs. On Fig. the areas

    of reindeer tundra area, and forest pastures in Sweden and Norway are shown.

    In Siberia, the reindeer is the most common and useful animal all over the vast

    tundra region, and in Alaska reindeer herds are owned by the native Eskimos.

            However, real agricultural land is found also as land islands with specific

    physiographic features in the taiga zone, south, of the tundra, where climatic

    conditions are sufficiently favorable for trees and shrub growth. This taiga

    forest vegetation extends south in the Asiatic continent almost to 50° North

    latitude in the low plateau of western Siberia where it merges into steppe

    zone (Fig. ). In Alaska, taiga vegetation covers most of the inner Alaska

    Peninsula, where dense forest formations extend along the river valleys almost

    to 68° N. (Fig. ) Agricultural land is found along the river valleys mostly

    below the Arctic Circle, and consists of pastures, meadows, and land suitable

    for growing potatoes and grains, where there are a limited number of frostless

    days and warm summer temperatures.

            Typical river valleys of these subarctic regions consist of two distinct

    physiographic features, ( 1 ) flood plain and ( 2 ) terraces. Both have distinct

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    characteristics of vegetation and soil types. The flood plain of large rivers,

    as for example, the upper Yukon River in Alaska, with various physiographic

    phases indicated by different microrelief and vegetation — series of sloughs,

    meander scars, oxbow lakes, swamps, creeks, old channels, and dry lakes. The

    type of vegetation of each phase varies according to the drainage conditions,

    and in permafrost areas tundralke plant formations on the flood plain are not

    uncommon. “Muskegs” and “niggerhead” hummocks are found on the flood plains

    of the Yukon River and its tributaries in large areas, where permafrost conditions

    hold the moisture near the surface until July. Several species of Carex ,

    Eriophorum , mosses (chiefly Sphagnum spp.), lichens Cladonia spp.), as well

    as several grasses (including species of Poa , Festuca , and particularly Calamagros–

    tis canadensis
    ) are found in such low land of the flood plains.

            When drainage conditions improve, grass formations become more conspicuous.

    This happens also after fires, if “niggerheads” are sufficiently suppressed by

    the fire. In the upper Yukon flood plains (66°30′ N.) several species of

    Calamagrostis are found, i.e., yukonensis , alaskana , atropurpurea , and, on well–

    drained sandy bars near Fort Yukon, luxurious communities of E Bromus pumpellianus

    tweedye . Other grasses, such as Agropyron yukonense , alaskanum , and caninum occur

    occur on the terraces at Yukon Valley. Likewise at Igarka (67°27′ N.), on the

    flood plain of the Yenisei River of Siberia, native sedge and grass formations

    are comprised of Poa pratensis , Alopecurus pratensis , Calamagrotis neglecta ,

    landsdorfii , and also the legums Vicia cracca , Lathyrus pratensis , and Trifolium

    lupinaster .

            These native grasses and legumes could be used as a basis for agricultural

    development of the arctic subarctic and the establishment of permanent

    pastures and meadows.

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            Soils of the flood plain are chiefly alluvial of various composition and color

    — sandy, clay, silt, with a considerable amount of organic matter as indicated

    by the dark brown or even black color in the horizon. Various types of these

    alluvial soils depend upon the paternal subsoil elements. Soil fertility

    elements are deficient and application of manure and fertilizer is needed. [ ?]

    Likewise, soil microflora in arctic and subarctic alluvial soils is limited by

    the climatic conditions. However, in most cases these alluvial soils could be

    used quite successfully for meadows and pastures and to some extent for grains,

    wherever the summer is warm and long enough.

            Terraces or benches of the river valleys are conspicuous features of the

    subarctic regions, with characteristic vegetation as a prominent element of the

    regional landscape. Terraces of various elevations above the level of the flood

    plain and with various exposures to the sum provide the most useful kind of

    land for agriculture. South-facing slopes usually have a quite different type

    of vegetation than the north-facing ones, for the additional amount of sunlight

    and heat which they receive has a striking effect upon the plant communities,

    which respond to the good soil drainage and higher temperature prevailing during

    the growing period. Low south-sloping terraces, therefore, provide desirable land

    for gardens or farm fields.

            In the Yukon-Tanana region of Alaska, for example, prevailing communities

    of aspen ( Polulus tremuloides ) and in some places cottonwood ( Populus balsamifera )

    may be considered as indicating such a condition. When soil moisture is higher

    on the gentle slopes, Alaska birches ( Betula paparifera occidentalis ) are present.

    d On the edges of [ ?] flood plains or on bottom land, where water accumulates

    in the spring, black spruce ( Picea mariana ) and larch trees ( Larix laricina )

    indicate rather poor drainage and are often associated with thick moss underneath.

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    In the Susitna River valley, low sloping terraces are covered with well-established

    communities of Calamagrostis canadensis , as a very distinct local feature of


            Soils of terraces, covered by forest vegetation, are podsolic or crypto–

    podsolic, with horizon that is weak or that may [ ?] even be absent. There are

    clay-loam, silt-loam soil types of terraces with low content of organic matter

    and soil fertility elements (N, P 2 O 5 and K 2 O). This, for example, is shown

    by the following chemical analysis of Yukon and Tanana valley terrace soils (H.

    H. Bennett and T. D. Rice):

    A. Tanana Valley
    K 2 O P 2 O 5 N C a O M g O Organic

    1. Fairbanks silt loam - soil 1.44 .38 .07 2.24 1.62 2.72
    uncleared - subsoil 1.38 .08 .04 1.39 1.55 1.96
    2. Fairbanks in field - soil 1.40 .49 .08 2.03 1.58 2.35
    - subsoil : 1.32 .11 .03 1.90 1.63 .80
    B. Yukon Valley
    3. Rampart - Silt loam - soil 1.64 .13 .08 2.08 1.24 3.78
    a. Bench -subsoil 1.78 .15 .06 4.25 1.90 .98
    b. Foot of bench - soil 1.44 .20 .38 3.04 1.58 12.63
    - subsoil 1.70 .19 .10 2.61 1.41 -
    c. River flats

    (flood plain)
    - soil 1.44 .22 .38 2.97 .80 15.25

            The amount of nitrogen and organic matter at the foot of bench or terrace is

    higher, due to the colluvial soil formed by the seasonal wash-out of topsoil from

    the top of the terrace. The bottom land of the Yukon River flood plain, according to this

    analysis, is also richer in nitrogen content and organic matter than terrace soil.

    The problem of soil erosion of the terraces thus becomes very great when land is

    cleared and plowed.

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            Soils of the Yukon-Tanana region contain a rather high percentage of C a O

    and, due to the presence of calcium, are almost neutral with pH 6.4 to 7.0.

    This is a very favorable condition for soil bacteria activities. As a matter

    of fact, legumes planted on these soils indicate well-developed nodules with–

    out inoculation by nitrogen. This has been [ ?] observed on both garden and

    field peas ( Pisum sativam , Pisum-arvense ) as well as on red clover ( Trifolium

    ) and yellow flowering alfalfa ( Medicago falcata ) grown on the Experi–

    ment Station fields at Rampart, in the Yukon River Valley, and at Fairbanks in

    the Tanana Valley. Root nodules also were found on the native legumes Hedysarum

    , Lathyrus maritimus , and Astragalus alpinus .

            At the Igarka Experiment Station of the Yanisei Rivar valley the bottom land

    soils have a rather high acidity pH 5.35 and prevailing fungi in the soil belong

    to the group actinomycetes (O. Puskinskaja - Kuplenskaja). The most common fungi

    are Penicilium , Mucor , Aspergillus , Cephalosporium , Monilia , and Oospora ;

    Macrosporia and Fusarium are absent.

            In the Tanana Valley bottom-land fields [ ?] Fusarium appeared in 1950 in

    a barley field in early spring (May and June), damaging seed roots of the young

    plants. Same plants were killed, but a large part recovered after development

    of secondary roots. [ ?] Low soil temperature and excess of soil moisture in the

    early spring evidently was a cause of this Fusarium attack.

            Development of cultural methods for increasing soil temperature in gardens

    and fields is the basic problem of horticulture and agriculture of the arctic

    and subarctic regions. Very low content of nitrogen and phosphorus in soils

    and very slow processes of nitrification of soils there make imperative the use

    of commercial fertilizers, particularly nitrates and phosphates. Deficiency

    of so-called “trace elements,” as manganese and boron, also has been noted in

    these regions.

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    Agricultural Explorations of Arctic and Subarctic Areas

            Agricultural exploration and land use of the arctic and subarctic regions

    of both hemispheres is now just in the infancy stage of development.

            The total area of these regions in European and Asiatic U.S.S.R. is esti–

    mated by official sources as 993,000,000 hectares (2,455,703,000 acres). Alaska

    occupies and area of 375,296.000 acres of which around 7,098,000 acres are con–

    sidered arable, according to G. W. Gasser, former Commissioner of Agriculture,

    Territory of Alaska. In the Scandinavian countries, as in Alaska and northern

    Canada, these regions are sparsely populated and used to only a small extent.

            In all these countries climatic and soil types are very similar, as has

    been shown by recent investigations of the American Institute of Crop Ecology,

    conducted by M. Y. Nuttonson. Therefore, agricultural and horticultural

    problems of the arctic and subarctic areas have an international significance.

    The greatest effort for development of agriculture has been during the last

    30 years in Finland and particularly in the Soviet Union as a part of their

    program of national economy.

            Several experiment stations were established in these regions, as follows:

            1 . In Finland: Apukka, 66°35′ N. latitude; Kukki, 64°41′ N.; Maanika, 63°09′ N.

    Yhistaro, 62°57′ N.; Tohmajarvi, 62°15′ N.; Mikkeli, 61°40′ N.; Polkane, 61°20′ N.;

    Lateensao, 61°04′ N.

            2 . U.S.S.R.: Ust-Tsilma, 67°27′ N.; Khibini, 64°44′ N.; Murmansk, 69°20′ N.;

    Yakutsk [ ?] (Pokrovsk), 61°29′ N.; Kamchatka (Milkovo), 50°15′ N.; Aldan, 58°59′ N.;

    Yarzevo, 60°30′ N.; Radchevo, 63°56′ N.; Igarka, 67°27′ N.

            3 . Alaska: Fairbanks, 64°21′ N.; Matanuska, 61° N.

            4 . Canada: Whitehorse, 60°45′ N.; and Beaverlodge.

    017      |      Vol_VI-0757                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

            Through the activities of experiment stations and administrative measure

    of local governments the area of arable land as well as that of pastures and

    meadows has been increased, with remarkably high yields of staple crops. Grain

    growing and particularly spring and winter wheat have moved to higher northern

    latitudes. These achievements were developed in many instance by economic

    necessity, as in the case of the Kola Peninsula, where rich deposits of rock

    phosphates (apatite and nephite) were discovered, and in the great Siberian

    rivers of Ob, Yenisei, and Lena, after the establishment of the farthest north

    route for arctic sea transportation from Archangel to Vladivostok. A great im–

    pulse for increasing agricultural production in Finland, and particularly of

    grains (spring wheat), was the result of a demand for national self-sufficiency

    in food consumption products.

            For these reasons agricultural explorations and investigations of recent

    years have grown remarkably in both hemispheres. We are not in a position to

    present here in detail the results of some very valuable scientific and practical

    investigations that have been described in numerous publications, in various

    languages, of experiment stations in Eurasia, and in the bulletins of American

    experimental stations of recent years.

            However, we mention some interesting scientific discoveries in this field

    of practical value. Among the horticultural and agricultural crops, potato

    ( Solanum tuberosum ), as we have pointed out, has a great range of adaptability

    — to 68° N. in both hemispheres. Since the potato is of South American origin,

    grown as a native plant in high altitudes of the Andes in Chile, Peru, and

    Argentina, a Soviet scientist, N. I. Vavilon, head of the Institute of Plant

    Industry, organized in 1925 a special expedition to South America for collecting

    original native potato varieties there. After these varieties were brought to the

    018      |      Vol_VI-0758                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    U.S.S.R., detailed analyses and identification methods were established by the

    scientists of the Institute, V. A. Rybin, V. Burasov, Josepchuk, Commerson,

    and others.

            As a basis for such work as a citological analysis. While the common potato

    ( Solanum tuberosum ) contains 24 chromosomes, Rybin detected in the collected

    native Peruvian potatoes, some varieties containing 24 chromosomes, others con–

    taining 36 and 60 chromosomes. Several new species of potato were identified,

    carrying the names of the scientists working with introduced potatoes ( Solanum

    rybini , S. vavilovi , S. jaresi , S. commersonii , S. vallis mexici , S. buksaovi ).

    Another variety, Solanum demissum of Mexico, has been found to be cold resistant,

    not damaged by the frost, −5 and −6°C., but very low yielders. By several

    crosses of this variety with Solanum alma and Solanum rotkaragis , the yielding

    capacity has been increased.

            Another cold resistant variety was Solanum acaule , growing in Peru, Bolivia,

    and Argentina on the mountains 5,000 meters above sea level, and also Solanum

    curtilobum . Several valuable hybrids were obtained for northern regions and

    were tested by the Polar Experiment Station at Khibini, Kola Peninsula (64°44″ N.)

            Besides these highly scientific discoveries in potato breeding, valuable

    improvements were made in agricultural practice through preparation of potato

    seeds before [ ?] planting. This is done by proper methods of potato sprouting several

    weeks before planting, and is accomplished by placing potato tubers in a light,

    warm room three or four weeks before planting to force the sprouting. During

    World War II, localities of food shortage, instead of potato tubers, potato

    peelings with undisturbed eyes were planted with good results.

            In Alaska the acclimated potato variety Arctic Seedling has been selected by

    D. L. Irwin from the potatoes grown in Wiseman (68° N.) as the earliest and best

    019      |      Vol_VI-0759                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    adapted Alaskan variety at present. In the warmer part of subarctic Alaska

    successful experiments have been carried on with growing warm-season vegetables

    out of doors by increasing soil and air temperatures with specially constructed

    solar radiators-reflectors. This was done at the Alaska Agricultural Experiment

    Station, College, Alaska (64°21″ N.) during 1947-50 by Dr. Basil M.Bensin,


            On the south-facing terrace of the Tanana Valley a series of such solar

    radiators-reflectors were placed behind transplanted plants of tomatoes,

    squashes, pumpkins, and cucumbers under the angle of incension. The solar

    radiators-reflectors were painted black for absorption and radiation of sun

    heat, and aluminum white to increase the light intensity needed for growing

    warm-season vegetables. On the surface of the soil, black coal dust and charcoal

    was scattered to accelerate the action of reflectors. As a result, all these

    vegetables grew successfully during the season of 1950. Some tomatoes and

    pumking were matured out of doors, and Zucchini squashes were unusually large.

            Soil temperature has been raised by the solar radiators-reflectors up

    to 20° F. above maximum air temperature of the clear days in July, and light

    intensity increased from 5 to 25 foot-candles in the front of the reflectors.

            Removal of snow from fields and gardens during the month of April could

    be done successfully by scattering coal dust on the snow surface two to three

    weeks ahead of the beginning of the season. Experiments with this removal of snow

    were carried on at the Alaska Experimental Station, College, Alaska, in 1947-49,

    by B. M. Bensin, with very good results. Local farmers who tried to use this

    method began field work two weeks ahead of schedule in the spring. Coal dust

    Could be spread over by airplane or helicopter without difficulty on the larger


    020      |      Vol_VI-0760                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

            The principal agricultural problems in the subarctic regions, however, are

    connected with grain production and livestock raising. There are many difficulties

    with grain growing in these regions and only systematic and long-range experiments

    of the agricultural experiment stations scattered all over northern countries

    of both hemispheres could give a satisfactory basis for proper agricultural prac–

    tice in their regions. International cooperation in the acclimatization work with

    grains has been arranged by governments, private institutions, and individuals

    interested in this phase of agricultural research.

            The United States Department of Agriculture [ ?] was a pioneering institution

    for the introduction of seeds and plants from foreign countries to America

    through a special office of seed and plant introduction originated by David

    Fairchild, who was particularly interested in horticulture. Another American

    scientist, A. F. Wood, head of scientific research of the U.S. Department of

    Agriculture, assisted the organization of the International Institute of

    Agricultural in Rome, Italy. This institute is devoted to computing [ ?] international

    agricultural statistics and organization of international agricultural congresses

    in which representatives of 27 countries participated.

            At the XIV International Agricultural Congress held in Bucharest, Rumania,

    in 1929, it was decided to arrange international exchange of seeds for acclimati–

    zation work in various countries. This was suggested by the report of the repre–

    sentative of Czechoslovakia, B. M. Bensin, on agroecological investigations

    originated in Czechoslovakia with Mais.

            A special central experiment station for agroecological investigations was

    established by the International Institute at Perugia, Italy. Grain seeds col–

    lected from various countries were distributed for acclimatization tests to all

    existing agricultural experiment stations. By this action of the Institute

    021      |      Vol_VI-0761                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    several Siberian varieties of grains were sent to the Alaska Agricultural

    Experiment Stations in 1934.

            The Russian agricultural explorer, N. I. Vavilov, has organized several

    expeditions, besides the above-mentioned potato expedition to South America, to

    various countries for collecting native-grown seeds. The world’s largest col–

    lection of grain varieties was accumulated by the Soviet Institute of Plant In–

    dustry during the period 1925 to 1935; the collection is described in numerous

    publication of the Institute in the Russian and English languages.

            All grain experimental work in the subarctic agricultural experiment station

    was based upon acclimatization of introduced varieties and their improvement by

    plant breeding. Outstanding work with grains of subarctic regions was done in

    the Soviet Union by Victor Pisarev, director of the Eastern Siberian Experiment

    Station in Tulun, Irkutsk Region, and in America by G. W. Gasser, Director of

    the Alaska Experiment Stations at Rampart and Fairbanks (1910-35). The varieties

    originated by the Tulun experiment station are the most productive in Siberia,

    and several of them have been introduced to Alaska. Gasser originated several

    very valuable hybrids of wheat and barley, which are now in use in Alaska.

    022      |      Vol_VI-0762                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture


    1. “Agricultural Acquisition of the Far North” (Selskokhoziastvennoje Osvojenie

    Dalniaho Severa), Proceedings of the Research Council for Far

    North meeting February 27 to March 3, 1936. Edited by I.C. Eichveld

    and N. Y. Cmora, Moscow, 1937, Bull . Academy of Sc., U.S.S.R., vol.13

    (Includes reports of Experiment Stations of arctic and subarctic

    regions of the U.S.S.R.)

    2. Alberts, H. W. “The Potato in Alaska.” Bull . Alaska Agr. Exp. Sta., No.9, 1929.

    3. ----. “Forage Crops in the Matanuska Region, Alaska.” A Bull . Alaska Agr.

    Exp.St., no.11, 1933.

    4. Bennett, H. H., and Rice, T.D. “Soil Reconnaissance in Alaska with an Estimate

    of the Agricultural Possibilities.” Bureau of Soils, U.S.D.A.,

    16th Rep ., M. Whitney, pp.43-336, 1919, Washington, D.C.

    5. Bensin, B. M. “Possibilities for International Cooperation in Agro-Ecological

    Investigations.” (English and German.) Rev . Agr. Intern. Inst.

    Mo.Bul.Agr. and Sc., Rome, Italy, V.21 (1930), pp.277-394. (Ref.

    in Exp.Sta. Record , v.64, pp.701-06, Washington,D.C., 1930.)

    6. ----. “Agroecological Analysis of the Crop Plants Root System in the Tanana

    Valley Region, Alaska.” Bull . Eco.Soc.Amer., vol.27, p.54, 1946.

    7. ----. “Alaska’s Nature Climate and Agriculture Season’s Calendar 1946, 1947,

    1948, 1949, 1950,” Jessen’s Weekly , Fairbanks, Alaska.

    8. ----. “Problems of Agricultural Microclimatology in Alaska,” The Farthest North

    Collegian , vol.30, 3:518, College, Alaska, 1950.

    9. ----. “Agro-climatological Investigations in the Permafrost Region of the

    Valley,” Alaska. Alaska Science Conference, National Research

    Council, 1950 (abstract in print)

    10. Bykovsky. Vegetable Gardening in Farthest North (Ovoschevodstvo na krajnem

    Severe). Polar Agr.Exp.St. Institute Plant Ind. U.S.S.R. Agr.Ac.

    Sc., Leningrad, 1936.

    11. Cook, F. A. To the Top of the Continent. Doubleday, Page and Co., New York,


    12. Dall, W. H. Alaska and its Resources . Chapt. 4: “Climate and Agricultural

    Resources,” pp.434-56, Boston, 1870.

    13. Ganet, H. Climate of Alaska. Harrison Alaska Expedition, vol. II.

    14. Gasser, G. W. Progress Reports , Fairbanks Agr.Exp.Sta., 1933, 1934, 1935,

    College, Alaska.

    15. ----, “The Tanana Valley.” Circular No. 2, 1949.

    023      |      Vol_VI-0763                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    16. Gasser, G. W. “The Matanuska Valley.” Circular No. 3, 1946.

    17. ----, “Information for Prospective Settlers in Alaska.” Circular No. 1, 1948.

    18. Georgeson, C. C., and Gasser, G. W. “Cereal Growing in Alaska,” Alaska Agr.

    Exp.St. Bull . 6, 1926.

    19. ----. “Production of Improved Hardy Strawberries in Alaska,” Agr.Exp.Sta.

    Alaska, Bull . 4, 1923.

    20. ----. “Vegetable Gardening in Alaska.” Agr.Exp.Sta. Alaska, Bull . 7, 1928.

    21. ----. Annual Reports , Alaska Agricultural Exp. Stations, 1902-1925, U.S.

    Department of Agriculture, Washington.

    22. Hanson, H. C. “Vegetation and Soil Profiles in some Solifluction and Mound

    Areas in Alaska.” Ecology , vol.31, 4: pp.606-30, 1950.

    23. Higgins, F. L. “Oat Production in Alaska.” Bull Alaska Agr.Exp.Sta.,

    no.10, 1933.

    24. Igarka Experiment Station. Soils Vegetation and Cultivating of Agricultural

    Plants in Igarka District . Edited by P.P.Kjus, Moscow, 1940.

    25. Kempner. Climatology of the Continents . London, 1927.

    26. Klinger, J.B. “Climate of Alaska.” Yearbook , U.S.D.A., pp.1211-15, 1941.

    27. Liverovsky, J. A. Soils of the Arctic Regions , Ac.Sc., U.S.S.R., Polar

    Committe, v.19, 1934. (Russian with English summary.)

    28. Matson, Sante, Gustafsson, Ynge and Nilsson, Inguar. “The Chemical Charac–

    teristic of soil profiles” (Podsol Soils). An . Agr.Col. Sweden,

    1933-34-36, 1935, pp.1-30, 1195-34.

    29. Nordenskjold, Otto and Mecking, Ludwig. The Geography of the Polar Regions ,

    Am.Geog.Soc. Spec.Pub . No.8, New York, 1928.

    30. Nuttonson, M. Y. Ecological Crop Geography of Finland and its Agro-Climatic

    Analogues in North America . 1950.

    31. [ ?] ----. Agricultural Climatology of Sweden and its Agro-Climatic Analogues

    in North America . 1950.

    32. ----. Ecological Crop Geography of Norway and its Agro-Climatic Analogues in

    North America .

    33. ----. Agricultural Climatology of Siberia, Natural Belts and Agro-climatic

    Analogues in North America .

    024      |      Vol_VI-0764                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bensin & Gasser: Agriculture & Horticulture

    34. Pisarev, V. E. Northern Limits of Wheat Culture . Agr.Ac.Sc. U.S.S.R.,

    v.8, 1936 (Russian)

    35. Polunin, N. Botany of the Canadian Eastern Arctic , III. Vegetation and

    Ecology. Can.Dept.Mines and Res., Ottawa, 1948.

    36. Rockie, W. A. “Physical Land Conditions in the Matanuska Valley,” Alaska

    Soil Conservation Service, Washington, 1946, 32 p.

    37. Scientific Report of Narym Plant Breeding Station 1941-1942. Moscow,

    1944 (Russian.)

    38. Stefansson, V. “The Colonization of Northern Lands.” Climate and Man Yearbook ,

    U.S.D.A., pp.205-16, 1941.


    Basil M. Bensin


    George W. Gasser

    Agriculture in Alaska

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0765                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (G. W. Gasser)




            With the manuscript of this article, the author submitted 19 photographs

    and 5 negatives for possible use as illustrations. Because of the high cost

    of reproducing them as halftones in the printed volume, only a small propor–

    tion of the photographs submitted by contributors to Encyclopedia Arctica

    can be used, at most one or two with each paper; in some cases none. The

    number and selection must be determined later by the publisher and editors

    of Encyclopedia Arctica . Meantime all photographs are being held at The

    Stefansson Library.

    001      |      Vol_VI-0766                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (G. W. Gasser)



            Agriculture in Alaska had its beginning at the time of the excitement of

    the gold rush. Thousands of people flocked to Alaska then, calling attention

    to our most northerly possession.

            The Congress of the United States was not slow to realize the need of

    finding out whether or not crops could be grown in “Seward’s Ice Box,” to help

    feed the stampeders. Consequently, in 1897, for the fiscal year of 1898,

    Congress appropriated five thousand dollars and authorized the Secretary of

    Agriculture to investigate and report to Congress as to the agricultural possi–

    bilities of Alaska.

            This investigation was carried out by Dr. W. H. Evans of the Office of

    Experiment Stations, United States Department of Agriculture, Mr. Benton Killin

    of Oregon, and Dr. Sheldon Jackson, superintendent of government schools and

    reindeer experiments in Alaska. Excerpts from the report of Dr. Jackson were

    most encouraging and are as follows (3) : “The soil of the Yukon Valley is a rich

    loam with a sandy sub-soil. Eight miles back from Circle City on the hills on

    Birch Creek is a large sandy tract of ground where there was a large experimental

    garden this year, (1898), and it could not turn out better than it has so far. No

    ice is met, and the earth seems to be warm. The potato vines were large and in

    blossom, after having been planted but fifty days. The garden truck sent to Circle

    City was first class.”

    002      |      Vol_VI-0767                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

            Or again (4): “Mr. Jack McQueston, an old-time fur trader at Forty-Mile

    Creek, prepared some ground, plowing it with a team of dogs. Afterwards he

    trained a pair of young moose to the harness and plowed with them. He succeeded

    well with the vegetables.” )There have been several instances where moose calves

    have responded to kind treatment and shown themselves amenable to domestication,

    even to the extent of being used as draft animals pulling sleds and plows.)

            There were other encouraging reports from farther down the Yukon River.

    Sister M. Winifred of Holy Cross Mission gives this account (4). “The climate

    varies from year to year. In 1895 I sowed radishes May 14; in 1896, May 26; in

    1897, May 8 and in 1898, May 12. We begin to gather our first radishes about

    the middle of June, and this is generally a standard date for the potatoes to be

    coming up…On the 23rd of May we were shoveling snow out of our garden, and

    three days later I transplanted 500 cabbages and cauliflowers. We have a little

    spot on the side of a hill which is always free from snow two weeks before the

    other gardens, and this is why we could afford to sow some early seed May 12, and

    shovel off the snow on May 23 from another patch. I transplant from 1,500 to

    2,000 cabbages and cauliflowers every year. The work is quickly done, for we

    have a number of smart, busy workers among our school children who are quite

    interested in the work…We began to take in our crops this year (1898), September 19,

    and on September 23 we had a very hard frost. In 1895 we had hard frost September 6;

    in 1896, September 27; in 1897, September 10, and the ground covered with snow

    September 11.”

            These and other reports were favorable enough to influence James Wilson, then

    Secretary of Agriculture, to state in transmitting his report to the Speaker of the

    House of Representatives, under date of December 16, 1897 (3): “The investigation

    has, in my judgment, shown that it is important that the National Government should

    003      |      Vol_VI-0768                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    continue the survey of the climate, soils, and economic plants of Alaska, and

    that experiments should be undertaken to encourage the establishment of agri–

    culture in that region in a way best suited to the local conditions.”

            The following year Dr. Evans was again commissioned to extend the investi–

    gation and, in addition, Professor C. C. Georgeson was appointed special agent

    in charge of Alaska investigations. These two men made a second report, whereupon

    Wilson has this to say under date of January 13, 1899 (3). “The investigations

    have, in my judgment, shown the desirability and feasibility of establishing

    agricultural experiment stations in Alaska, and I therefore recommend that

    definite provision be made by Congress for the maintenance of such stations in

    that Territory on a permanent basis, as is done elsewhere in the United States.”

            From that time on, agricultural work in Alaska was carried out under C. C.

    Georgeson. Land reservations were made, buildings erected, land cleared, seeds

    distributed, crops planted, and records kept. Each year an annual report of

    Alaska Agricultural Experiment Stations was published under the directed supervision

    of the Office of Experiment Stations, Washington, D.C.

            Table I gives the names and areas of the various stations within the Territory

    and the dates of establishment by Executive order (9). Thus, at one time or

    another, there have been seven stations. Each stations has tended to have its

    Table I. Alaska Agricultural Experiment Stations .
    Reservation Area, acres Date of order
    Kodiak 160* March 28, 1898
    Sitka 110 August 12, 1898
    January 21, 1899
    Kenai 320 January 21, 1899
    Rampart 313 February 6, 1900
    Copper Center 775 April 25, 1903
    Fairbanks 1,400 March 22, 1906
    Matanuska 240 September 20, 1915

    * Reduced to 133 acres Sept. 29. 1920.

    004      |      Vol_VI-0769                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    own particular function. For example, the Sitka station was established as

    headquarters and at that place horit horticultural work was emphasized. Many

    trials were made of fruit trees and small fruits. Thus hybridization word with

    strawberries was performed there, as a result of which Alaskans, for a third

    of a century, have been enjoying strawberries grown in their own gardens. The

    “Sitka hybrids,” as they are termed, were widely disseminated and proved hardy

    even above the Arctic Circle without winter protection other than the covering

    of snow - an outstanding achievement in the annals of plant hybridization.

            Independently, in the early spring of 1912, John Charley, a market gardener

    in Fairbanks, shipped in 10,000 strawberry plants from Seattle. These had to

    come by boat to Valdez and from there over the trail by horse stage. The plants

    were well wrapped in blankets and fur to protect them from cold; nevertheless,

    many of them perished. The few thousand that survived were planted and bore

    fruit that summer. Several hundred boxes were sold at $2.00 each. A few plants

    wintered over and Charley cross-pollinated some of the survivors with pollen from

    thd the native species of the interior. Some of the resulting hybrids produced

    desirable fruit and have been frown commercially since then by H. M. Badger,

    a farmer near Fairbanks.

            Considerable work was also done with potatoes, many new varieties being

    created and tested. Here the results were not so favorable as with the strawberries,

    for none of the hybrids proved superior to existing varieties.

            From the headquarters station, seeds of grains, grasses, and vegetables were

    distributed. Prospectors and trappers in remote areas planted these seeds,

    particularly those of vegetables, and many of them showed their appreciation by

    writing, at the end of the season, a report of results. These accounts were

    published in the annual reports of the experiment stations from year to year and

    005      |      Vol_VI-0770                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    provide, even to this day, an excellent record of vegetables grown by the pioneers.

            The special task assigned to the Kodiak station was in connection with live–

    stock. The possibilities for such work were evident enough because of the mild

    climate and abundant grass throughout the coastal region. At many points one or

    more head of cattle were kept. Some of these were of Russian origin. The Russian

    animals were small, slim in all proportions, and had narrow heads with upright

    horns. The average weight of the cows was about five hundred pounds. Color of

    the stock was brown and dark red, occasionally mottled. The milk yield was low,

    with a fat content of about 3% (14).

            Because of the deterioration of the cattle of Russian origin, there was much

    need of the introduction of a better class of livestock, both for beef and milk.

    The Galloway was selected because of its hardiness and excellent beef qualities.

    In 1906, the first Galloways, two males and nine females, were shipped to Kodiak.

            During the next ten years it was demonstrated that cattle could be maintained

    on native feed. In 1916, some stock of the Holstein-Friesian breed were brought

    to the station and a crossbreeding program was set up for the purpose of combining

    the hardiness of the Galloway with the milk-producing ability of the Holstein.

    This crossbreeding produced animals of excellent qualities from the standpoint

    of both beef and milk. In 1925, the Holstein-Friesians and the crossbred Holstein–

    galloways were transferred to the experiment station in the Mantanuska Valley to

    determine how they would thrive there.

            In 1920, several head of Milking Shorthorns were brought to the Matanuska

    station with a thought that, as they combined good beef qualities and a fair milk

    production, they would be well adapted to the conditions that prevailed there.

    This proved to be true in considerable measure, and some very fair milk records were

    secured from several of these cows. Thus the records for 1926 show that the herd

    006      |      Vol_VI-0771                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    of seven Shorthorn cows on test averaged 4,649 pounds of milk with a butterfat

    content of 3.81%, showing an average of 177 pounds of butterfat. Four Holstein

    cows gave an average of 4,261 pounds of milk, with a butterfat content of 3.53% —

    equivalent to some 150 pounds of butterfat each. The Galloway-Holstein crossbred

    herd of thirteen cows averaged 4,015 pounds of milk, with a butterfat content of

    3.88%, equivalent to 155 pounds of butterfat per animal (14).

            At this time a considerable number of homesteads were set up in the Matanuska

    Valley in anticipation of the Alaska Railroad passing through it. Also, enough

    farming had been done to demonstrate that the valley was destined to be major

    agricultural area within the Territory. When the experimental station was estab–

    lished near the town of Matnuska, it was with the knowledge that farming could be

    carried on successfully and that the chances that a considerable farm settlement

    would develop locally were unusually good. The work of the Matanuska station was

    varied to meet the forthcoming requirements of diversified farming. Much work

    was done with dairy cattle, hogs, and sheep. The testing and production of cereals

    and grasses and work with hardy vegetables were emphasized. Also, extensive plantings

    of fruit trees, berry bushes, and ornamentals were made.

            Owing to World War I and the depression which followed, farming in the

    Matanuska Valley declined. Homesteads which had been established were abandoned

    by the owners, who moved elsewhere. Then, in 1935, the Federal Government under–

    took to establish a farm colony in the valley. A project was set up to move two

    hundred colonists into that area. Land was cleared, buildings erected, machinery

    and livestock purchased, all being financed under a long-term repayment plan (1).

    Palmer, located on a branch line of the Alaska Railroad, is the civic center of the

    valley with a flourishing business section. It is unique at least in one respect,

    namely, that its entire resources are agricultural.

    007      |      Vol_VI-0772                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

            An experiment station was established at Kenai, an old Russian settlement

    on the Kenai Peninsula, in 1899. It was expected at the time that further settle–

    ment would soon take place, owing to advantages of climate, abundance of grass,

    and other facilities such as hunting and fishing. The one great drawback was the

    lack of convenient trans x portation and harbor facilities. However, a road com–

    pleted in 1949 traverses the length of the Kenai Peninsula on the Cook Inlet side

    and connects that region with Anchorage and its road systems.

            Work at the Kenai station was devoted entirely to dairying. During the few

    years the station was operated (it was closed in 1908), it was fully demonstrated

    that dairy cattle could be maintained there on native feed, and butter and other

    dairy products of high quality could be produced (5).

            Other settlement areas on the Kenai Peninsula are centered at Kasilof, Hope,

    Anchor Point, Homer, and Ninilchik. Records show that at the last-mentioned

    point, the Russians used to raise large crops of potatoes for their own use and

    for sale. At present Homer is the only area that is appreciably developing agri–

    culturally. It has a good farm population, and indeed in the immediate vicinity

    of the town all desirable homesteads have been taken. Not only are these settled

    areas considered well suited to dairying but small fruits and a variety of

    vegetables of excellent quality are being produced. In the region of Hope, there

    is good possibility that apples can be grown; in fact, several trees are there

    now which have been producing apples for a number of years.

            At the time of establishment of experimental stations it was obviously

    impossible to know just where settlement would take place, and to what extent

    homesteads would be located at any given point - if at all. The best that could

    be done was to be guided by the trend of settlement due to mining, trapping, and

    fishing. In the early days, the Yukon River was the main artery of commerce.

    008      |      Vol_VI-0773                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    It is natural, therefore, that Dr. C. C. Georgeson, in coming down the Yukon

    River, would look along its course for a location suitable for experimental

    work. The town of Rampart gave considerable promise of becoming a large mining

    center. Across from the town, only about sixty miles south of the Arctic Circle,

    an excellent piece of land with a south-facing slope, and here a reserve was made

    in 1900. The next few years were devoted to the construction of buildings and

    the clearing of land.

            Grains, grasses, and vegetables were grown at the Rampart station very

    satisfactorily. It was used as a proving ground to test the hardiness of various

    kind of crop plants, while seeds of many kinds collected y by the U.S. Government

    of Agriculture from northern countries found their way to it. Among the great

    numbers of plants tried is a yellow-flowered alfalfa, native of Siberia which

    Alaska uses today. This alfalfa has demonstrated its hardiness and has survived

    under the most trying circumstances. At the Rampart station, a field of yellow–

    flowered alfalfa has persisted since 1916 although the station was discontinued

    in 1925, since which time the alfalfa has had to contend with native grasses

    and willows without any help. Thus it has clearly shown not only its hardiness

    but also its ability to cope with the aggression of native vegetation (15).

            In addition to testing the adaptability of a great number of grains, grasses,

    and legumes, a main feature of the work at Rampart was the hybridization of grains

    and alfalfa. One of the hybrid barleys produced there has been grown quite

    widely in Alaska. Siberian wheat, Chogot, was introduced there.

            The expected land settlement in the region of Rampart did not materialize,

    nor did the gold mines on nearby creeks contin y u e production on the scale that

    was anticipated; and then the building of the Alaska Railroad drew the attention

    of would-be settlers to the Fairbanks and Matanuska valleys. Steamboating on the

    009      |      Vol_VI-0774                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    Yukon declined sharply because of the competition with the railroad. For these

    reasons the Office of Experiment Stations decided to discontinue the Rampart station;

    it was closed in 1925, the equipment being transferred to the Fairbanks station.

            Before the advent of the railroad, one of the main routes of travel from the

    coast to the interior was overland from Valdez to Fairbanks (371 miles). This

    route, in earlier years little more than a trail, is now called the Richardson

    Highway. One of the principal valleys through which it passed was the Copper

    River valley, which was a promising-looking area and, as it was on the main route

    of travel, one considered appropriate for an experimental station. Accordingly, a

    reserve for that purpose was made in 1903 at Copper Center, 105 miles from Valdez.

    The work was largely devoted to testing grains, grasses, and vegetables; but

    results at the station proved disappointing, the chief drawbacks being low

    precipitation and untimely frosts. During the five years the station was in operation,

    there were frosts every month of the summer sufficiently severe to injure grain

    crops (9). There was also no encouragement in the way of settlement; and furthermore,

    owing to transportation difficulties, the station was costly to maintain. It was

    discontinued in 1908 and the equipment transferred to the Fairbanks station.

            In 1902, gold had been discovered on Pedro Creek. The following year the

    town of Fairbanks was established on the banks of the Chena River. These two

    events attracted the attention not only of miners but also of farmers to the

    broad valley of the Tanana River and creeks in that vicinity (12).

            Dr. Georgeson, realizing the importance of the Tanana Valley from an agri–

    cultural standpoint, had set aside by Executive order, on March 22, 1906, fourteen

    hundred acres, four miles northwest of Fairbanks. Work was begun at once, some

    buildings being erected and land clearing undertaken. At that time no large

    power machinery was available, and most of the clearing had to be done by hand

    010      |      Vol_VI-0775                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    or with the aid of horses. Nevertheless by 1908, forty-five acres of land had

    been cleared and thirty acres were planted with crops. Further land clearing gave

    sufficient acreage to establish a cropping system on a rather extensive scale.

    As there was considerable demand for potatoes, much attention was given to the

    growing of this crop. In 1911, the station reported a yield of thirty tones,

    and Mr. Neal, the superintendent, set forth some figures on the cost of the pro–

    duction of the potatoes. His figures are given here to show what farming in

    Alaska could look forward to at that times (6):

            “Three acres of Eureka, Early Ohio, and Gold Coin averaged six tons per acre

    on unfertilized ground. Allowing one-sixth for loss in sorting and grading, this

    would leave five tons of marketable potatoes per acre, which were worth 6 cents

    a pound at digging time this year, or $600 per acre. These same 3 acres produced

    3 tons of marketable potatoes per acre last year, which were sold in March at 9 cents

    a pound, bringing over $500 an acre on the first breaking. A heavy stand of timber

    had been out from this ground two years before it was cleared of the stumps. A

    careful estimate of the cost of clearing and putting the land in fit condition for

    the first planting indicates it did not exceed $200 per acre. In estimating the

    cost of the two crops, allowing 6 cents a pound for seed and $7.50 a day for labor,

    it will not exceed these figures, which include the cost of clearing.

    Clearing and breaking $200 per acre
    Plowing and cultivating 50 per acre
    Seed 90 per acre
    Planting 20 per acre
    Digging and sacking 140 per acre
    Total $500

            “It will be noticed that this cost is exactly recovered from the sale of the

    011      |      Vol_VI-0776                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    first crop, leaving the whole of the second crop as a profit, which was worth

    $600 per acre at digging time, making a return of $300 per acre per year, over

    and above the clearing, for the first two crops, and in addition to this a tone

    of culls each year, which was worth something for feed.

            “It goes without saying that the above yields can be more than doubled by

    using fertilizers liberally.”

            In addition to this pioneering work with potatoes, many experiments were

    carried on with grain, regarding both variety and cultural methods. The results

    were so favorable that a flour mill was purchased by farmer’s association and

    operated at Fairbanks for several years, producing both white and whole-wheat

    flours of excellent quality.

            Another interesting experiment undertaken at the Fairbanks station was the

    introduction of the yak and its crossbreeding with Galloway. The first cross gave

    a fine-looking animal, resembling the Galloway more than the yak. Some hybrid

    cows produced a fair quantity of milk of high butterfat content. One difficulty

    encountered was similar to that in crossing cattle and buffalo, namely, sterility

    in the male hybrids. Nevertheless, the results were most interesting and, over

    a long term of years, a type of animal valuable to this northern climate might

    have been produced. This crossbreeding was, however, discontinued at the time

    the station was released to the University of Alaska (8).

            Several projects initiated in 1927 by the Bureau of Biological Survey were

    subsequently carried on for several years with headquarters at the Alaska Agri–

    cultural College and school of Mines, College, Alaska, which in 1935 became a

    part of the University of Alaska. This was part of a proposed threefold program

    of livestock development for the Territory, namely: ( 1 ) development of the reindeer

    industry, incorporating investigation and use of the native caribou; ( 2 ) introduction

    012      |      Vol_VI-0777                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    and domestication of the musk ox and; ( 3 ) domestication and development of the

    mountain sheep.

            A project of domestication of mountain sheep was made possible when Harry

    Liek of Mount Mckinley Park donated five sheep. These animals were captured

    early in the spring of 1929 by Park rangers who found them in a semistarved

    condition, floundering around in deep snow. The animals took kindly to domesti–

    cation and in 1930 several lambs were dropped. In 1933, there sets of twins were

    born, resulting from initial lambs crossbreeding between the native mountain ram and

    domestic ewes. At that time, the future of the project was considered promising

    because observation indicated that these crossbreds possessed immunity against

    insect attack. They had a good hair-wool coat for winter, grew to good size,

    and were easily handled (13).

            During early 1930 some crossbreeding work was begun by the Biological Survey

    using domesticated reindeer and native caribou. This project was carried on both

    at the college and on Nunivak Island. The cross fawns at birth were three to four

    pounds heavier than the average reindeer fawn. On Nunivak Island mature animals

    resulting from crossbreeding weighed fifty to one hundred pounds more than the

    average reindeer. A series of digestion tests with the reindeer were made at the

    college using different kinds of forage (16). Crossbreeding work with sheep and

    reindeer was discontinued when the Biological Survey changed its headquarters from

    College to Juneau, Alaska.

            In 1928, twenty-three bison were moved from the Flathead Reservation, in

    Montana, to the Big Delta region, in Alaska. From the very first these buffaloes

    showed complete ability to care for themselves. The severest winter weather never

    fazed them, and the herd, now consisting of over three hundred animals, is increasing

    at a gratifying rate (13). The Big Delta region lies fairly high up between the

    013      |      Vol_VI-0778                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    junction of the Big Delta and the Tanana rivers, and is sparsely timbered.

    Consequently, the winter winds keep the snow from accumulating to a depth which

    would prevent feeding on the native grasses and browse

            On November 4, 1930, thirty-four musk oxen arrived at College, Alaska, from

    Greenland. In earlier years musk oxen were native to Alaska, but, according to

    information secured at Point Barrow in about 1885, the last of them were killed

    by Eskimos on the priar prairie fifty or seventy-five miles south of Point Barrow

    in the late 1860’s early 1870’s. There was no doubt that these animals were

    suited to the Alaska climate anr range plants. The purpose of the project was

    to introduce an animal capable of converting luxuriant forage in many parts of

    Alaska, into meat and wool without intervention of stock barns. These animals

    were corralled and their feeding habits observed for four years, at College, under

    supervision of the Biological Survey. Digestion trials were made of the various

    kind of native forage available.

            In 1934, thirty-one musk oxen were transferred to Nunivak Island, Bering Sea,

    just north of the mouth of the Kuskokwim River. Reports in 1947 indicated that

    the animals on the island then numbered well over one hundred. They are now

    under the supervision of the Alaska Game Commission (13).

            During the Russian regime, fur constituted the main source of revenue of

    Alaska. Trapping and hunting then, and, even now, has reduced the number of

    fur bearers to such an extent that strict regulations are necessary to prevent

    their extermination. This condition has encouraged the settlers to establish

    fur farms, particularly along the southeastern coast and on nearby islands. In

    recognition of the need for help in this relatively now enterprise the Territorial

    Legislature, in 1931, authorized the Governor to employ one or more veterinarians

    to study the problems incidental to fur [ ?] farming. Accordingly, J. B. Loftus, D.V.S.,

    014      |      Vol_VI-0779                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    was appointed October 1, 1932, and attached to the extension service of the

    University (10).

            It had long been realized that the most effective way to assist the fur farmers

    would be through research done in Alaska. By public Law No. 524, Congress, on

    May 17, 1938, conveyed by grant to the University of Alaska a tract of land to be

    used as the site of a fur farm experimental station. This tract of 36.93 acres

    lies in the Tongass National Forest, eight miles from Petersburg. By purchase in

    June 1945, the University acquired an adjoining tract of 3.91 acres of land, making

    the total acreage 40.84. Buildings were erected in 1938 and experimental breeding

    and feeding were begun with 15 pairs of mink, 4 martens, 30 blue fox, and 4 silver

    fox. On December 12, 1941, the University of Alaska and the Alaska Fish and Game

    Commission signed an agreement whereby the operational expenses of the fur farm

    would be shared jointly. Details of the experimental work with fur animals are

    given in reference (2).

            These sketchy accounts of the experiment stations and their work have been

    given because they are intimately connected with agricultural development. As

    stated heretofore, it was impossible at the time the seven stations were established

    to know just where and when settlement would take place. Expectations as to mining

    and other industries were often not realized. The shift of mining and transportation

    changed the trend of settlement. In the course of a few years, therefore, all

    but two of the stations were discontinued, as they were no longer actually needed.

    The two remaining were the one near Fairbanks, which served the Tanana Valley,

    and the one at Matanuska, serving that valley: in 1932, the Federal Government

    turned over these two stations to the Agricultural College and School of Mines.

            In 1947 the Congress of the United States passed an act know as Public

    Law No. 266 whereby the Alaska stations were by lease under the jurisdiction of

    015      |      Vol_VI-0780                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    the Secretary of Agriculture. This plan of operation was terminated July 1, 1949.

    During this period comprehensive program of agricultural research was inaugurated

    under the joint supervision of the Agricultural Research Administration of the

    United States Department of Agriculture and the University of Alaska. Three

    stations are now in operation: one in the Matanuska Valley; one in the Tanana

    Valley, one mile west of the University; and a fur-breeding station at Petersburg

    in southeastern Alaska. The head offices and laboratories are located at Palmer

    in the Matanuska Valley.

            Much has been written and many guesses made as to the number of acres of

    land in Alaska suitable for agriculture; there is no accurate answer even today

    (1950). The Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in

    July 1945, issued a map entitled “Basic Land Resource Areas of Alaska.” Carefully

    compiled estimates give the following figures: 7,098,000 acres of land suitable

    for cultivation after b being cleared and 58,605,000 additional acres suitable for

    grazing and cropping although some drainage would be required. At present (1950)

    there are about 20,000 acres under cultivation. Much of the land listed as suitable

    for agriculture is more or less inaccessible owing to lack of roads, and consequently

    there would be difficulty in marketing farm products. Only a few areas are now

    being developed and settlement is naturally directed to such areas

            The Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, has made an estimate

    of the number of additional farm families that could be reasonably accommodated in

    the several areas suitable for group settlement: on the Kenai Peninsula, a total

    of 310 families; in the Matanuska Valley, 75 failies. Most, if not all, of the

    level land along the Chilkoot Barracks, there may be a limited acreage of arable

    lands, though elsewhere the mountainous character of the country largely limits

    agricultural settlement. But there may be added Ruby and Nulato (10 families),

    016      |      Vol_VI-0781                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    Naknek (10 families), and McGrath (10 families); these are relatively isolated

    sections with only the local markets, canneries, and mining camps as outlets for

    the products of agriculture.

            In southeastern Alaska the areas suited for agriculture are relatively small,

    as most of the land is mountainous and clearing costs are excessively high.

    Increased industrial developments, based on timber, water power, and minerals, may

    pave the way for more farms. The estimate for this area was 20 additional families,

    mainly around the mouth of the Stikine River.

            In most of the areas mentioned, very little soil survey work has been done.

    But in the Matanuska Valley the Soil Conservation Service has made a careful survey,

    issuing soil maps covering a considerable local areas. There is immediate need for

    further work in soil surveys in the various areas listed as suitable for land settlement.

            Dairying bids fair to become a major farm industry in Alaska. The total number

    of cows and heifers in the Territory was approximately 1,500 in 1950. Around 600

    of these were in the Matanuska Valley, distributed among 36 farmers who had 5 or more d

    dairy cows each. Elsewhere, dairies have been established near 20 towns. Some of these

    herds are fairly large, including 50 to 100 cows; examples may be seen at Fairbanks,

    Juneau, and Ketchikan. The demand for fluid milk far exceeds the production. The

    price per quart ranges from 25 to 45 cents.

            There are about 1,200 head of beef cattle, all of which are located on Chirikof,

    Sitkalidak, and Kodiak Islands, except for a few at Homer. In these places, grasses

    are plentiful and the climate is mild, enabling the livestock to range out the

    entire year.

            One of the major problems in connection with beef productions on the islands is

    that of marketing, owing to irregular and infrequent transportation. In the interior

    valleys practically no beef is produced. However, it is possible that beef can

    017      |      Vol_VI-0782                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    be produced at a profit even where the winters are long and where yard and stable

    feeding would be necessary. There is much interest in beef production, and un–

    doubtedly within a few years more beef will be raised in Alaska to utilize the

    abundant native grass and established meadows of domestic grasses.

            On a few of the islands, considerable numbers of sheep have been kept from

    time to time. Owing to the abundant feed and mild climate, no great expense of

    feeding and wintering is involved; even so, sheep raising has not been very

    profitable. Sheep were once raised in the Matanuska Valley, but other types of

    farming have proved more profitable and very few sheep are raised there at the

    present time. In the Homer area there are a few sheep but few indications of any

    increase in sheep raising there or in any of the interior valleys.

            During World War II there was a considerable increase in the number of swine

    in Alaska. Army camps offered large amounts of garbage that was utilized in the

    production of hogs. A number of farmers are branching out into this type of

    farming and are finding it profitable. Hogs can be run on pasture for three

    or four months each year and then finished on locally grown grain. This has

    proved economical under careful management. There is every reason to believe

    that the number of hogs could be greatly increased, to the advantage of the

    Alaskan farmers.

            At the 1950 prices of $1.10 to $1.35 per dozen for eggs, there is good profit

    to be made in keeping hens - even when it is necessary to ship all the feed from

    the States at $100 or more per ton. Adequate housing must be provided, but that

    is also true of many places in the States where poultry is kept commercially.

    The interest in poultry raising has increased recently. During 1949-50, approxi–

    mately 52,560 chicks were shipped in, most of which were raised for fryers. These

    sold for from $1.00 to $1.25 per pound.

    018      |      Vol_VI-0783                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

            Specializing in crop production has the advantage of economy of operation

    due to lessened cost of equipment, but there is always the possibility of

    overproduction if many farmers in any community specialize in just a few crops.

    For this and other reasons, diversified types of farming over a term of years

    will produce steadier sources of income. The farmer’s labor is distributed

    more evenly throughout the year, which gives an assurance of better distribution

    of income. There are a number of crops that can be grown successfully in the

    main agricultural regions - for example, all hardy types of vegetables (including

    potatoes), grains and grasses, and small fruits such as raspberries, currants,

    and strawberries. If, in addition to these crops a farm had a flock of poultry,

    two or three hogs, and one or more dairy cows, there is a complete setup enabling

    the farmer to produce the larger part of his food requirements and to sell accord–

    ing to the demands of the market.

            Where just one or two kinds of crops are produced there is hazard in that

    the season may be unfavorable or the market demand low. Early Alaska pioneer

    farming was not along diversified lines. Livestock, in particular, was not a part

    of the program. Now that it is batter know what crops can be grow and sold

    and families are established on the farms, there is indication that a more rounded

    type of farming will be carried on to the betterment of the farm income and the

    welfare of the farmer and his family.

            Ever since farming was established in Alaska, there has been a definite

    marketing problem. No doubt this condition will remain indefinitely, as the

    market available to farmers is of a local nature only. Hence great care must be

    exercised to prevent a glut of any one or more of the crops produced - particularly

    of those of a perishable nature, such as lettuce, cabbage, and celery. The

    growing season is comparatively short and there is a tendency in the fall of the

    019      |      Vol_VI-0784                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    year to hurry crops to the market as cold weather approaches. Adequate storage

    facilities are among the prime requisites it marketing is to be carried on systema–

    tically and progressively.

            The Alaskan farmer is always faced with the problem of competing with products

    shipped in from the states. In recent years the volume of perishable items air–

    borne from the outside has been increasingly large. Many of these items could well

    be produced in Alaska, in equal or better quality, to sell at competitive prices.

    The cooperating associations, one in the Matanuska valley and one in the Tanana

    Valley, are attempting, to meet these difficulties by leveling out the supplies

    flowing to the markets and thus preventing a glut. As stated above, diversified

    types of farming will naturally help in this. However, such items as eggs and

    milk have not yet met with any sales difficulty, and the prices paid have justified

    their production locally.

            The over-all picture is that the demand for farm products which can be raised

    in Alaska is far greater than the local supply. In other world, tons of potatoes,

    thousands of cases of eggs, quantities of cabbage and celery and meat, to name just

    a few items, are shipped to Alaska needlessly in the sense that they could be pro–

    duced locally. As yet there are not enough farm acres in production to take care

    of the needs of the people. Occasionally there is an overproduction of one item

    simply because it has to be rushed to the market, but careful planning and selection

    of crops, with systematized marketing, will, in large measure, prevent such losses.

    The evidence, therefore, indicates that more producing farmers could find a

    profitable living in Alaska.

            Finally, how much capital is required to establish a farm home in Alaska?

    Obviously it is impossible to state a definite sum because a number of factors

    are involved. A house must be built, land cleared, some machinery purchased, as

    020      |      Vol_VI-0785                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska

    well as seed and fertilizer. All these items cost much more than in the States.

    The living coats are also higher. The per-annum costs of a family for food, heat,

    light, and incidentals in the Tanana Valley are estimated to be $2,000. The

    minimum capital must be sufficient to provide for these essentials. The true

    pioneer will proceed from there. In that respect, at least, pioneering in Alaska

    is similar to the experience of the early settler in the States.

            In conclusion it may be emphasized that there are thousands of acres in Alaska

    suitable for farming, though practically all of them have to be cleared of timber

    and other surface growth. The cost of clearing land is high, running from $50 to

    $200 per acre, and because of the high cost of and clearing, and the high living

    expenses, it was generally considered in 1950 that prospective settlers should

    have from $5,000 to $10,000 to get established. Many homesteads have sufficient

    timber to be used for building purposes, but not all.

            Much of the land is fairly fertile, but present practice is to supplement with

    commercial fertilizers. In the central valleys the precipitation is at times

    insufficient to produce maximum yields, and here and elsewhere there may be summer

    frosts severe enough to damage potatoes. The length of the growing season is

    sufficient for all hardy crops, even in some areas above the Arctic Circle. Indeed,

    with the exception of fruit trees, corn, tomatoes, and melons, the crops grown

    are very similar to those of the northern United States. Farm work is almost

    exclusively mechanized. Dairying and beef cattle production bids fair to become

    a lending industry. Indeed, at present the market demand is in excess of the local

    production. This is particularly true of dairy products.

    021      |      Vol_VI-0786                                                                                                                  
    EA- [ ?] P.S. Gasser: Agriculture in Alaska


    1. Alaska. Agricultural Experiment Stations. Progress Report …1935.

    College, Alaska, (1936) Its Free Bull . no. 5.

    2. ----. ---- … 8th, 9th, 10th, 1938-1939-1940-1941, 1942-1943,

    1944-1945. College, Alaska, 1943-47.

    3. ----. Report … 1898. Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1899.

    4. ----. ---- … 1899. Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1900.

    5. ----. ---- …1909. Wash., G.P.O., (1910).

    6. ----. ---- …1911. Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1912.

    7. ----. ---- …1925. Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1927

    8. ----. ---- …1929. Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1930.

    9. ----. ---- …1931, 1932. Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1933.

    10. Alaska. Governor. Annual Report … 1933. Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1933.

    11. Alaska. Statutes. Compiled Laws of the Territory of Alaska, 1933.

    Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1933, Sec. 622.

    12. Alaska Planning council. General Information Regarding Alaska. Juneau,

    Alaska, The council, 1941.

    13. Dufresne, Frank. Mammals and Birds of Alaska . Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1942.

    U. S. Fish and wildlife service. Circ . 3.

    14. Georgeson, C.C. Brief History of Cattle Breeding in Alaska . Wash., D.C.,

    G.P.O., 1929. Alaska. Agriculture Experiment Stations. Bull . no. 8.

    15. Irwin, D.L., comp. Forty-seven Years of Experimental work with Grasses

    and Legumes in Alaska. Wash., D.C., 1945. Ibid . no. 12.

    16. Palmer, L.J. Progress of Reindeer Grazing Investigations in Alaska .

    Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1926. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Bull . 1423

    17. Rockie, W.A. Physical Land Conditions in the Matanuska Valley, Alaska .

    Wash., D.C., G.P.O., 1946 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Soil

    Conservation service. Physical Land Survey. Bull . no. 41.

    18. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some Economic Aspects of Farming in

    Alaska. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1950, p. 83.


    G.W. Gasser

    Agriculture in North Canada

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0787                                                                                                                  
    (EA-Plant Sciences. William Dickson)




    Geographical Relations 3
    Climate 4
    Mackenzie River Basin 5
    Yukon Territory 9
    Physiography and Soils 11
    Farming in the Far Northwest 17
    Agriculture Investigations 19
    Possibilities for the Future 21
    Bibliography 22

    001      |      Vol_VI-0788                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences.

    (William Dickson)



            During recent Years, developments in northern Canada have stimulated

    a growing interest in the natural resources and settlement possibilities

    of that region. This is particularly true as regards the period after World

    War II, following such events as the construction of the Alaska Military High–

    way and of the Canol Project. Evidence of this growing interest will be found

    in increased governmental activities, including scientific investigations, in

    Far Northern regions. In some measure, and common with other countries

    having arctic and subarctic interests, Canada is experiencing in its northern

    territories the effects of modern transportation methods and of population

    pressure from more thickly populated regions.

            Among other subjects of inquiry in northern regions, particularly in the

    Northwest, the possibilities for agricultural settlement and production are

    receiving attention. Unfortunately, while there are numerous references to

    agriculture in the literature on northern Canada, reliable information, based

    on scientific investigations, is somewhat meager.

            At the outset it is well to observe that the settled agricultural dis–

    tricts of Canada are distributed in a relatively narrow band along the southern

    boudaries. In the east these farming districts lie mostly south of latitude

    50° N.; in the prairie Provinces the developed agricultural land occupies

    a broad triangle with its base on the international boundary and its apex

    002      |      Vol_VI-0789                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    reaching an extreme northerly position at Fort Vermilion in latitude 58° N.;

    while west of the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia practically no agricul–

    ture has been developed north of latitude 50° N.

            Northward beyond these settled regions, the possibilities for agricultural

    development become progressively less. Practically all of northeastern

    Canada is climatically unsuitable for agriculture, and few serious attempts

    at it have been made. Much the same is true of horticulture, at least on a

    worth-while scale in the eastern arctic and subarctic regions. Such oppor–

    tunities as exist for farming in northern areas of Canada occur chiefly in

    the west, in the Mackenzie River valley and in some parts of the Yukon Ter–

    ritory. Consequently it will be most convenient to confine the present discus–

    sion to northwestern Canada, that is, to the region comprising the District of

    Mackenzie, the Yukon Territory, and the adjacent northern fringes of Alberta and

    British Columbia, but excluding the more favorable and recognized agricultural

    areas of the upper peace River. In Table 1, are presented some selected census

    data (1941) on the agriculture of the region with which we are now mainly concerned.

    Table 1. Agricultural Land Use in Northwestern Canada .
    Region Popu–

    Improved farm

    land, acres

    of farms
    Improved land

    per capita, acres
    District of Mackenzie 7,035 250 a 10 a 0.04
    Yukon Territory 4,914 1,050 26 0.20
    Northern Alberta and

    northern British Columbia

    outside of Peace River

    9,389 7,352 154 0.78
    Total 21,338 8,652 190 0.40

    a No census data; figures obtained by correspondence.

    003      |      Vol_VI-0790                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

            As indicated in Table 1, the total population of this region in 1941 was

    21,338, including about 9,000 Indians and some 850 Eskimos. The correspond–

    ing figures for the present time (1950) are not known, but the total popula–

    tion, increased by an influx of mine workers, may be in the neighborhood of


            Throughout the entire territory under review, covering some 730 million

    acres of land, there were, in 1941, not more than 190 fra ar ms, including about

    150 farms in the Alberta settlement at Fort Vermilion. The average area under

    cultivation per head of population was about four-tenths of an acre, and only

    about one-tenth of an acre north of latitude 60° N. Outside of the Fort Ver–

    million settlement, most of the farms were small, bei n g little more than gardens.

    some increase may be expected to have taken place since 1941, in some localities

    at least, but a significant increase in acreage per capita is not likely.

            The current paucity of agricultural enterprise in the Canadian Northwest

    may be attributed to a combination of adverse factors, including remote ge–

    ographical situation, rigorous climate, and physiographic conditions. The

    racial characteristics of the population is also a factor. Such factors must

    be considered in some detail in arriving at a sound appraisal of the agricul–

    tural possibilities of the region.


    Geographical Relations

            The fact that, aside from the fur trade, the economic development of

    northwestern Canada has lagged behind similar developments in such northern

    countries as Norway, Sweden, and Finland is in large measure owing to geograph–

    ical remoteness. Practically inaccessible from the north, barred by mountain

    ranges from the Pacific Ocean, and separated from the Atlantic Ocean by wide

    004      |      Vol_VI-0791                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    expanses of barren land, much of this region can be reached only a long over–

    land journey from southern Canada. The distance are impressive even by air;

    for example, 2,464 miles by rail from Montreal to Waterways, Alberta, plus a

    river journey of over 1,600 miles to the mouth of the Mackenzie River, includ–

    ing one heavy portage. Prior to the railway era, the shipment by the Hudson’s

    Bay Comp a ny of trade goods from England to the Yukon River area, via Fort McPher–

    son, the exchange of these goods for furs, and the shipment of the furs to Eng–

    land, occupied a period of seven years. Even today, otherwise than by air,

    the shipment of freight to northern points is a slow as well as a costly busi–

    ness. This remoteness from large centers of economic activity, which preserved

    the region for the fur trade for over two hundred years, itself acts as a deter–

    rent to other enterprises, including agricultural settlement. Furthermore it should

    be noted in this connection that the agricultural settlement of the Prairie

    Provinces, which was in full swing in the early part of the twentieth century,

    has not yet reached its saturation point in the northern fringes. The main

    farming areas of Canada are still a great distance south of the Canadian North–




            The physical fact that climate in general becomes progressively colder with

    increasing northern latitudes has a profound influence on conditions affecting

    agriculture. Not only do declining temperatures modify (and in the extreme pre–

    vent) plant growth, but they exert a corresponding influence on the process of

    soil formation. Soil, as recognized by the agriculturist, is the result of

    climatic and biological forces (plants, animals, and microorganisms) acting

    together on geological material, this process being modified by topography

    005      |      Vol_VI-0792                                                                                                                  
    EA- Zoo. P.S. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    and drainage. This fact should be borne in mind when we consider the growth

    of plants and the development and occurrence of soils for crop production.

    In Table 2 are presented selected meteorological data for a number of

    points in the Mackenzie River basin in comparison with Ottawa, Ontario,

    and arranged in order of latitude from north to south. Similar data are

    presented in Table 3 for the Yukon Territory.

            Mackenzie River Basin . The climate of the Mackenzie River basin, as

    shown by Table 2, is of the continental type, being characterized by long,

    cold winters, short summers which in some districts are mo d erately warm,

    and low precipitation. Unfortunately, the data in Table 2 are not as com–

    prehensive as might be desired, as most of the stations are located on the

    Mackenzie River or on its tributaries. This river system, flowing from south

    to north, might be expected to exert a modifying influence on temperatures

    along its course, as compared with points at corresponding latitudes which

    lie at some distance from the river. The relatively low average summer and

    annual temperatures at Herschel Island and Coppermine, both points on the

    arctic shore line, as compared with Aklavik on the Mackenzie, would tend to

    confirm this assumption.

            The general decline in average temperatures from south to north, with

    some exceptions, is well illustrated in Table 2. One interesting point is

    the almost uniform average summer temperatures, as compared with wide ranges

    in the average winter temperatures, at points along the Mackenzie River system.

    The effect these relatively warm summers is to enable some crops to be

    grown, in kitchen gardens at least, at points along the Mackenzie River to

    beyond the Arctic Circle (lat. 66°30″ N.). As regards commercial farming,

    however, conditions seems to become progressively less favorable with increasing

    006      |      Vol_VI-0793                                                                                                                  

    Table 2

    Selected Meteorological Data for Locations in the

    Mackenzie River Basin

    In comparison with Ottawa, Ontario
    Location Latitude Elevation




    Average Temperature Average



    Average Precipitation Total

    Hours of


    June to









    Year May


    ° feet °F. °F. °F. days inches inches hours
    Herschel Island 69 30 - 7 −16 40 11 28 - - 2028
    Aklavik, N.W.T. 68 14 25 12 −17 51 15 65 4.12 10.28 1998
    Coppermine, N.W.T. 67 49 13 13 −18 45 11 58 4.58 10.72 1956
    Fort McPherson N.W.T. 67 26 150 28 −17 55 17 70 4.52 10.06 1921
    Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. 66 15 214 31 −21 56 17 52 4.93 10.63 1859
    Fort Norman, N.W.T. 64 54 300 31 −16 56 20 44 6.45 11.22 1791
    Fort Simpson, N.W.T. 61 52 415 42 −14 58 24 84 6.29 12.96 1669
    Yellowknife Airport, N.W.T. 62 28 515 6 −14 57 22 112 3.52 8.65 1733
    Fort Resolution, N.W.T. 61 10 520 24 −12 55 23 93 4.53 11.56 1639
    Hay River, N.W.T. 60 51 529 45 −11 55 24 87 5.31 11.77 1630
    Fort Smith, N.W.T. 60 0 680 26 −11 57 25 56 6.72 13.01 1600
    Fort Nelson, B.C. 58 50 1230 10 − 2 60 31 103 7.62 15.41 1575
    Fort Chipewyan Alta. 58 43 714 50 − 6 58 27 74 5.99 12.55 1571
    Fort Vermilion, Alta. 58 23 950 30 − 8 58 27 68 6.73 12.13 1563
    Keg River, Alta. 57 49 1402 8 − 1 58 31 - 8.75 16.32 1553
    Fort McMurray, Alta. 56 44 829 35 − 4 58 30 66 9.06 17.71 1531
    Beaverlodge, Alta. 55 10 2484 31 10 58 35 91 7.77 17.19 1502
    Ottawa, Ont. 45 24 260 65 14 67 42 148 11.94 34.33 1374

            Meteorological data by Courtesy of the Meteorological Division, Department of Transport, Canada.

            Hours of daylight by approximate graphical method.

    007      |      Vol_VI-0794                                                                                                                  
    EA- Zoo. P.S. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    latitude. Beaverlodge, Alberta, at latitude 55°10′ N., lies in the fertile

    farming district on the upper Peace River. Here, with inter and summer aver–

    age temperatures of 10° and 68°F. respectively, large-scale farming, is well

    established. Farther north, at Fort Vermilion, in latitude 58°23′ N., farm–

    ing, including wheat production, is successfully practiced, and with access

    to markets this would become a thriving agricultural community. At For Ver–

    milion the winters are somewhat colder than at Beaverlodge, but summer tempera–

    tures are about the same at both places. Fort Simpson, with a much colder

    winter temperature (average −14°F.), has also practically the same summer tem–

    perature as Beaverlodge. Here temperature conditions seem to be suitable in

    most years for wheat production, as well as for other hardy crops such as barley

    and potatoes. North of Fort Simpson, with lower summer and much lower winter

    temperatures, ordinary crop production becomes more difficult. Barley matures

    in occasional years at Fort Good Hope (lat. 66°15′ N.) but seldom manage to

    do so at Aklavik (lat. 68°14′ N.). The foregoing statements apply only to

    areas having good soils. So far as temperature conditions are concerned, with

    other factors favorable, successful cereal production would seem to be possible

    in places having temperatures similar to those of Fort Simpson.

            In this connection it is interesting to recall that in 1912 J. F. Unstead

    estimated that, on the basis of weather records them available, the northern

    limits of wheat production in the Great Central Plain of North America would

    extend in a narrow loop along the Mackenzie River as far north as Fort Wrigley

    (lat. 63°17′ N.) about 142 miles downriver from Fort Simpson.

            Summer frosts are a constant hazard to agriculture in northern districts,

    as indicated by the average frost-free periods for the various locations. Ac–

    tually, these figures may be somewhat misleading, as occasional killing frosts

    008      |      Vol_VI-0795                                                                                                                  
    EA- Zoo. P.S. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    may be expected in some spots where local topography favors rapid air drainage.

            Extremes of temperature, not referred to in the accompanying tables, are

    a notable feature of the northern climate, especially in the Mackenzie Valley.

    Here maximum summer temperatures of from 80° to 85°F. may be expect ed , while

    absolute maxima vary from 88°F. at Aklavik to 103°F. at ForthSmith. The

    reverse is true of winter minima which may drop to below −70°F., the low

    record for the Mackenzie Valley being −79°F. at Fort Good Hope. Such extreme

    conditions have to be considered in relation to the housing of livestock and

    the storage of vegetables.

            One possible limitation on crop production in the Mackenzie Valley may

    be imposed by the low precipitation, which nearly as far south as Keg River

    (lat. 57°49′ N.) does not on the average exceed 13 inches annually, excepting

    at Fort Nelson. (Incidentally, the relatively favorable climate of Fort Nelson

    for agriculture, as shown in Table 2, has been frequently noted by travelers),

    At many points north of Keg River crops have occasionally suffered from summer

    drought, and watering has been necessary or desirable. Indeed, on the Experi–

    mental Sub-Station at Fort Simpson, arrangements have been made for the irriga–

    tion of farm crops. In some localities, small gardens may receive some mois–

    ture from the gradual summer thaw of permanently frozen subsoil. On the whole,

    however, and despite the greater precipitation-evaporation ratio as compared

    with more southerly regions, low precipitation in the North is a limiting fac–

    tor in continued crop production.

            Many references have been made to the beneficial influence on plant growth

    in the North of the long hours of summer daylight. The increase from south

    to north in the total hours of daylight for June, July, and August is indicated

    009      |      Vol_VI-0796                                                                                                                  
    EA- Zoo P.S . Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    in Table 2, the figures being approximate, but sufficiently accurate for

    the present purpose. As will be observed, the summer daylight is from 200

    to 600 hours longer in the northern territories than at the latitude of Ottawa.

    This longer period of daylight, which increases with increasing northern lat–

    itudes, is believed to compensat e , in some measure, as regards the effect of

    light on plant growth, for the declining efficiency of the sunlight as the

    angle of incidence of the sun’s rays becomes less and less. In short, sun–

    light [ ?] passes through the air for a greater distance, and is weaker, but

    continues for a longer period each day, in northern as compared with southern


            One of the effects of long hours of sunlight is reported to be a tendency

    for certain plants to run to excessive leafiness, potatoes having larger tops

    but smaller tubers, and cabbages producing larger outside leaves but smaller

    and less compact heads. This condition has been reported at many points on

    the lower Mackenzie.

            Yukon Territory . Meteorological data for the southern portion of the

    Yukon Territory are presented in Table 3. Data for Fort McPherson, Aklavik,

    and Herschel Island, presented in Table 2, are probably fairly representative

    of climatic conditions in the northern Yukon. Available records, however, have

    been secured only in river valleys where average temperatures would tend to

    be much milder than on the uplands and moun [ ?]tains which occupy a great portion

    of the Territory. In general, the climate of the Yukon River basin, where a

    limited amount of farming is practiced, is similar to that of the District of


            As a matter of interest, meteorological data for two points in Alaska

    have been included in Table 3. Of these, Fort Yukon, just north of the Arctic

    010      |      Vol_VI-0797                                                                                                                  

    Table 3 .

    Selected Meteorological Data for Locations in

    The Yukon Territory and for nearly points in British Columbia and Alaska





    Average Temperature Average



    Av. Precipitation Total

    Hours of


    June to









    Year May


    ° feet °F. °F. °F. days inches inches hours
    Dawson, Y.T. 64 4 1062 41 −16 57 23 74 5.27 12.61 1749
    Mayo Landing, Y.T. 63 35 1625 17 − 9 56 26 66 5.83 11.23 1720
    Whitehorse Experimental Farm, Y.T. 60 45 2000 5 − 1 51 27 4.42 12.38 1648
    Whitehorse Airport, Y.T. 60 43 2289 9 6 54 32 80 4.90 10.83
    Carcross, Y.T. 60 11 2171 31 3 53 29 43 3.15 8.96 1609
    Watson Lake, Y.T. 60 7 2248 9 − 2 56 29 -- 7.03 15.85 1606
    Atlin, B.C. 59 35 2240 34 7 53 32 84 3.29 11.11 1593
    Fort Yukon, Alaska 66 34 417 16 −20 58 20 81 3.63 6.88 1875
    Yakutat, Alaska 59 33 5 17 30 52 40 152 30.36 129.13 1591

    011      |      Vol_VI-0798                                                                                                                  
    EA- Zoo. P.S. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    Circle, experiences a climate of continental character, with a wide range

    of temperatures from winter to summer, and very low precipitation. This

    point lies northwest of Dawson, Y. T., and lower on the Yukon River. Yakutat,

    on the Pacific coast seven degrees farther south than Fort Yukon, and separated

    from the latter point by massive mountain ranges, has a climate marked by

    moderate, equable temperatures and very high rainfall. This interception

    by coastal mountains of air-borne moisture from the Pacific, evident in

    British Columbia and Alaska, constitutes an outstanding climatic control of

    the inland regions of northwestern America.

            The foregoing somewhat detailed treatment of the climate of northwestern

    Canada has been deemed desirable because of the definite limitations imposed

    by climate on crop production and related settlement possibilities. Further

    limitations are found in the physiographic conditions of land relief, topography,

    and drainage, which together with climate, govern the formation, character,

    and distribution of soils.


    Physiography and Soils

            The principal physiographic features of northern Canada are: ( 1 ) the

    Canadian Shield, occupying most of the mainland east of the Mackenzie lowlands;

    ( 2 ) the Mackenzie lowlands, extending in a northwesterly direction from the

    Alberta plains to the Beaufort Sea; and ( 3 ) the broad band of mountains and high

    desert-like plateau, extending from British Columbia through the Yukon Territory

    to Alaska, and known as the Cordilleran Region.

            The Canadian Shield, a great peneplane composed largely of altered sedi–

    mentary and igneous rocks, the surface of which has been subjected to severe

    glaciations, affords poor conditions for soil formation. Much of the surface

    012      |      Vol_VI-0799                                                                                                                  
    EA- Zoo. P.S. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    consists of bare rock, interspersed with poorly drained, coarse-textured

    glacial deposits. The nonagricultural character of this region in more

    southerly parts of the Shield, as encountered just north of the St. Lawrence

    and Ottawa rivers, is well known. In northern parts the existence of per–

    manently frozen subsoil, or permafrost, further retards drainage and soil

    formation. On both climatic and physiographic grounds, therefore, the

    Shield in northern Canada may be largely written off as regards agricul–

    tural possibilities. This region occupies more than one-half of the District

    of Mackenzie.

            In the Mackenzie lowlands the occurrence of potential agricultural soils

    is subject to a complicated group factors. This region is the northern

    extension of the Great Central Plain of North America. The occurrence of

    many small lakes and some large ones, notably Lake Athabaska, Great Slave

    Lake, and Great Bear Lake, is a notable feature of this region. The relief

    of these lowlands is relatively undisturbed, being broken only occasionally

    by hill masses and mountains. Much of this region seems to be covered by

    glacial deposits, but there are also alluvial and lacustrine deposits, some

    of quite large extent. Lacustrine deposits, for instance, are quite general

    in the district from Lake Athabaska to Great Slave Lake, while alluvial

    deposits occur on the deltas of the Slave and Mackenzie rivers, and at other

    points. Under a warmer climate these water-lain soils might be extensively

    developed for agricultural purposes, and this is possible in some districts

    of Mackenzie. Unfortunately, little definite information has been secured

    on soil conditions — at least, away from the large river channels.

            Poorly developed surface drainage seems to be one of the principal adverse

    conditions affecting the development of agricultural soil in the Mackenzie low–

    lands. Topography and climate are major factors in this respect; drainage

    013      |      Vol_VI-0800                                                                                                                  
    EA- Zoo. P.S. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    develops very slowly on the plains, being further severely retarded by the

    long, cold winters, and in more northerly districts by permafrost. As a result,

    lakes and marshes are prevalent, while the almost universal growth of mosses

    favors the development of muskegs, the lower depths of which are in many cases

    permanently frozen. Tree growth is affected by these conditions. In the

    southern part of this region, merchantable timber is reported to exist in the

    valleys of the Slave and Liard rivers, but over much of the flat country the

    growth is somewhat scrubby, becoming smaller to the north and disappearing on

    the tundra facing the Arctic Sea. Drainage and vegetation are often much

    better along the banks of the larger rivers.

            The upper level of permafrost in the Mackenzie lowlands varies in depth

    according to average air temperatures, type of vegetation, and drainage. No

    definite southern boundary can be assigned to the permafrost area, but this

    boundary would seem to run from the lower Slave River in a west-by-north direc–

    tion to about Camsell Bend on the Mackenzie River. Along this line permafrost

    is reported at intervals; farther north it is increasingly general. As

    already indicated, the depth of summer thaw in permafrost is governed to some

    extent by vegetation, being greatest on open or cultivated land, less under

    tree growth, and least under the apparent insulation of heavy moss. This

    point, as well as the general distribution of permafrost, is illustrated by

    data secured by questionnaire in 1943, and presented in Table 4.

            In view of the foregoing circumstances it would seems that any large-scale

    exploitation of soil resources in the Mackenzie lowlands would be attended by

    serious difficulties, amounting in more northerly districts to positive ob–

    stacles. Some areas might be improved by tree and moss removal, which would

    014      |      Vol_VI-0801                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    Table 4. Average Depth to which the Subsoil Thaws in Summer

    at Various Points in the Mackenzie River Basin .
    Location Open soil, ft. Wooded soil, ft. Muskeg, ft.
    Aklavik 3.0 1.5 1.0
    Fort McPherson 3.0 1.0 0.8
    Arctic Red River 3.0 2.0 1.0
    Fort Good Hope 7.0 - 0.5
    Norman Oil Wells 3.0 1.5 1.0
    Fort Norman 6.0 2.5 1.0
    Fort Wrigley 5.0 - 2.5
    Fort Simpson 10.0 8.0 3.0
    Fort Liard Not permanently frozen
    Trout River Not permanently frozen
    Fort Providence 5.0 3.0 1.0
    Hay River (outlet) 6.5 3.5 -
    Buffalo River (outlet) Not permanently frozen
    Yellowknife 3.5 2.0 2.0
    Snowdrift 3.5 3.0 -

    promote deeper summer thawing of the soil, and by drainage. Definite informa–

    tion can be derived only for a few small farm or garden enterprises, mostly

    subsidiary to other lines of work.

            Not even an approximate estimate can be ventured as to the acreage of

    agricultural land in the Mackenzie lowlands. Possible areas of good soil

    have been reported along the course of the Slave River, at points along the

    015      |      Vol_VI-0802                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    Hay River, and along the Mackenzie between Fort Providence and Fort Simpson.

    Almost the entire valley of the Liard, form above Fort Simpson to Nelson

    Forks, and thence south along the Fort Nelson River and its tributaries, has

    agricultural possibilities. Certainly climate conditions at Fort Nelson,

    on this watershed, would seem to be well suited to agriculture (see Table 2).

    Mention might also be made of the Fort Vermilion district where preliminary

    soil surveys indicate a total cultivable acreage of some two and one-half

    million acres, as yet only scantily settled. Both the Fort Vermilion and

    the Fort Nelson districts are located on the Alberta plateau rather than in

    the Mackenzie lowlands. One estimate of all potential agricultural land

    in the Mackenzie River basin north of latitude 57° N. is four million acres.

    So far as is yet known, cultivable land in the Mackenzie lowlands north of

    Fort Simpson, or latitude 62° N., is limited to small acreages in well-drained

    situations on river banks.

            The principal obstacle to agricultural development in the Northwest is

    that arable lands occur in widely scattered locations, along river valleys,

    far from the centers to which products would be transported. In no known

    place north of latitude 60° N. is there any concentration of good soils com–

    parable to the farming district on the upper Peace River, where some two and

    one-half million acres of land suitable for crop production are located in

    a fairly compact block.

            West of the Mackenzie lowlands, the Cordilleran Region is composed

    largely of hills and mountains deeply scored by a network of valleys. The

    Mackenzie Mountains, following the [ ?] Yukon-Mackenzie boundary for a distance

    of some six hundred miles, are said to be the greatest single group of moun–

    tains, as well as among the most inaccessible areas, in all of Canada. Between

    016      |      Vol_VI-0803                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    these mountains and the Pacific Coast ranges, in the basin of the Yukon

    River, flowing into Alaska, and that of the Liard River which flows east–

    [ ?] ward between the south end of the Mackenzie Mountains and the north end of

    the Rockies to join the Mackenzie River, a number of deep, valley [ ?] bottoms

    afford some opportunities for agriculture. These valleys are deeply

    trenched with valley floors ranging in altitude from 2,000 to 2,500 feet

    in the Whitehorse district to about 1,000 to 1,500 feet in the Dawson dis–

    trict. Within these valleys the occurrence of agriculturally useful soils

    depends on texture of soil material and on drainage. Poorly drained or

    permafrost areas usually have a heavy covering of moss, while the better–

    drained areas, relatively free from permafrost, may carry a covering of

    grass or trees. Owing to the relatively light snowfall, grasslands in

    parts of this region are used for the year-round grazing of horses.

            One estimate of the acreage of cultivable land in the Yukon Territory

    is 500,000 acres, to which could be added an undetermined acreage of land

    suitable for grazing. Similar estimates for the Liard Basin of northern

    British Columbia place its cultivable acreage at 865,000 acres plus 635,000

    acres of rough grazing land. These figures are basedon brief exploratory

    surveys of the territories concerned, and on reports of geologists, foresters,

    and others. Definite soil surveys might reveal new areas of potential farm

    land, and would enable a more accurate estimate of soil resources to be made.

    The main point is, however, that in the Yukon Territory and the adjacent

    areas of northern British Columbia, physiography and climate impose definite

    limitations on the potential agricultural acreage. At the present time, as

    indicated in Table 1, known soil resources in this region are being exploited

    to only a very slight extent.

    017      |      Vol_VI-0804                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada


    Farming in the Far Northwest

            Early attempts at framing or gardening in northwestern Canada were almost

    entirely carried on by fur traders, who sought to augme n t a diet of game and

    fish by cultivating a few vegetables, and perhaps some barley. In 1808,

    Daniel William Harmon, in charge of the North West Company post at Dunvegan

    (now in northern Alberta) wrote: “Our principal food will be the flesh of

    the buffalo, moose, red deer and bear. We have a tolerably good kitchen gar–

    den.” Incidentally this statement is one of the first records of agriculture

    in the Peace River district. Ventures of this nature accompanied the spread

    of the fur trade down the Mackenzie Basin.

            In 1779, Peter Pond, who in the previous year had opened up the fur trade

    on the upper tributaries of the Mackenzie, planted a garden on the forks of

    the Athabaska, which was said to be the first garden in the present Province

    of Alberta. Thereafter, as the fur trade moved north, gardens began to appear

    at fur-trading posts. By 1826, these early experiences were summed up by Sir

    John Richardson as follows:

            “Wheat has not been raised within the Arctic Circle in America nor indeed within

    six degrees of latitude of it … Barley ripens well at Fort Norman on the 65th

    parallel … All attempts to cultivate it at old Fort of Good Hope, two degrees

    farther north, have failed … Oats do not succeed so far north as barley here …

    At Fort Good Hope (the new fort) … a few turnips and radishes and other culinary

    vegetables are raised in a sheltered corner … but none of the cerealia will

    grow, and potatoes do not repay the labour.”

            By 1851, cattle, fed on natural hay, had been introduced as far north as

    Fort Simpson, but in 1893 the practice of maintaining cattle on Hudson’s Bay

    018      |      Vol_VI-0805                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    Company posts was discontinued owing to the cost involved. In the meantime,

    about 1860, various missions established in the Mackenzie District engaged

    in agriculture, including the keeping of cattle, partly as oxen for draft


            For many years, all food imported to these regions had to be carried by

    river and portage for great distances. Steam navigation was started on the

    Slave River in 1886, and on the Mackenzie River in 1887. It was not until

    1926 that the railway from Edmonton reached Waterways at the confluence of

    the Athabaska and Clearwater rivers, thereby giving almost continuous car–

    riage, interrupted only by the Smith Portage, by rail or steamboat from

    southern part of Canada to the full length of the Mackenzie River. Previ–

    ously, heavy transportation costs had placed severe restrictions on the

    import of food. For this reason, a few early farming ventures were undertaken,

    particularly at missions, to provide certain items of European diet such as

    vegetables, potatoes, barley, and milk, not otherwise obtainable. It is

    recorded that such agricultural work did not receive the wholehearted support

    of the fur interests. To quote from the writings of Henry John Moberly, one–

    time factor of the hudson’s Bay Company: “it was well understood among both

    officers and servants of the Company that they were employed in the interests

    of the fur trade and not as agricultural agents or mining experts, and when

    we observed fine vegetables raised on a few spots by the missionaries we knew

    they were to be regarded simply as small ‘oases’ in a vast desert in which, by

    great [ ?] care and a wonderful dispensation of Providence, such cultivation was

    made possible.”

            As would be expected, early farms and gardens in the Mackenzie Basin

    019      |      Vol_VI-0806                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    were more numerous and productive in the southern districts, and some shipments

    of agricultural produce were made by boat to the lo [ ?] we r Mackenzie. In this con–

    nection it is interesting to note that the agricultural development of the

    Peace River district began in 1878, when a mission farm was started at Fort

    Vermilion to overcome the high cost of importing flour at L 5 per bag from the

    Red River settlement. Wheat grew well in this district, and the Hudson’s Bay

    Company built a flour mill at Fort Vermilion, whence flour could be shipped

    down the Peace to its trading posts on the Mackenzie River.

            No estimate is available as to the extent of early agricultural develop–

    ment in the Mackenzie District, but it seems to have been somewhat greater

    than at present. With the completion of the railway to Waterways in 1926,

    it became easier to import food from “outside,” and the need for local produc–

    tion became less urgent. At some points at least on the Mackenzie the acreage

    of cultivated land dwindled. Just what effect World War II and later develop–

    ments may have had in this respect is not known, but it is not likely that

    the picture indicated in Table 1 has been greatly changed.

            In the Yukon Territory a small farming industry was created by the gold

    boom of 1898, but this appears to have declined. Data for earlier years are

    not available, but from 1931 to 1941 the number of farms registered by the

    census fell from 41 to 26, [ ?] w ith a slight decrease in the area of cultivated

    land, while the population of the Territory showed a slight increase from 4,230

    in 1931, to 4,914 in 1941. Here again the effect of wartime developments is

    not clear, but some farming ventures may be undertaken along the route of the

    Alaska Highway.


    Agricultural Investigations

            Information on the possibilities and methods of producing field and

    020      |      Vol_VI-0807                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada

    garden crops north of latitude 58° N. in northwestern Canada has been

    secured from occasional reports of residents and travelers in that region,

    from the results of a few cropping trials conducted at the instance of the

    Dominion Experimental Farms Service, and to some extent from the reports of

    botanists, foresters, and entomologists who have conducted field studies.

    As only one point in this region, on the Dominion Experimental Sub-Station

    at Fort Vermilion, has experimental work in agriculture been done on a long–

    term basis, and under expert supervision. Similar experimental work, started

    on the Dominion Experimental Sub-Stations at Whitehorse (in 1944) [ ?] and at

    Fort Simpson (in 1946), has not been in progress for a sufficiently long

    period to provide reliable information. Elsewhere in the Northwest, small

    co-operative trials, conducted by local residents with seed provi [ ?] d ed by the

    Experimental Farms Service, have been made at a few points.

            In the Mackenzie District small co-operative trials in growing cereals,

    hay crops, and vegetables were undertaken on the Roman Catholic missions at

    Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, and Fort Providence from 1911 to 1940, and at

    Fort Good Hope from 1917 to 1940. Trials were also made by a local resident

    at Fort Simpson from 1941 to 1944. Similarly, in the Yukon Territory, some

    co-operative farming and gardening trials have been conducted at Swede Creek

    (near Dawson) from 1932 to 1938, at Carmacks from 1932 to 1934, and at Carcross

    from 1936 to 1938. Unfortunately, the remoteness of these points from railway

    communication rendered expert supervision impracticable, so that the informa–

    tion secured as regards yields, etc., was rather incomplete. Some information,

    however, was secured which largely confirmed previous observations that hay

    crops and hardy vegetables can be grown as far north as Fort Good Hope on the

    Mackenzie and as far north as Dawson on the Yukon, but that cereals, especially

    wheat, are difficult to mature.

    021      |      Vol_VI-0808                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Dickson: Agriculture in North Canada


    Possibilities for the Future

            Sufficient information has been presented in the foregoing discussion

    to indicate that any future agricultural development in northern Canada will

    be subject to definite physical limitations. Such development as may be

    possible will be governed largely by economic and social conditions. The

    principal economic factor will be the relative cost of local agricultural

    production as against the cost of importing supplies. On the social side,

    the beneficial effect on morale and health of fresh locally grown foods,

    especially those of high vitamin content, in comparison with imported canned

    foods may offset economic considerations to a large degree.

            On the whole, however, there would seem to be slight prospects of

    greatly expanded agriculture in northern Canada until such future time as

    production in more favored regions is fully developed and fully in demand.

    Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0809                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (K. N. Christensen)




            With the manuscript of this article, the author submitted 15 photo–

    graphs for possible use as illustrations. Because of the high cost of

    reproducing them as halftones in the printed volume, only a small proportion

    of the photographs submitted by contributors to Encyclopedia Arctica can

    be used, at most one or two with each paper; in some cases none. The

    number and selection must be determined later by the publisher and editors

    of Encyclopedia Arctica. Meantime all photographs are being held at The

    Stefansson Library.

    001      |      Vol_VI-0810                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (K. N. Christensen)



            Farming in Greenland dates back to the first settlement of the country.

    When, in about A.D. 986, the discoverer of Greenland, the Viking Erik the

    Red with his followers set out for Greenland in a large number of ships, they

    carried with them cattle, horses, and sheep. Three years earlier Erik the Red

    had investigated the southernmost parts of Greenland and selected the places

    most suitable for settlement.

            In the course of the next few centuries all the best sites between the

    southern point of the main island (about lat. 60°30′ N.) and the Godthaab

    District (about lat. 65° N.) were colonized. The intermediate Frederikshaab

    District has had only sporadic settlements. Even today conditions in that

    district are not particularly favorable for animal husbandry. North of the

    Godthaab sites no permanent settlements have existed.

            It is presumed that in the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries about

    4,000 persons were living in southwestern Greenland, and numerous ruins of

    the Norsemen’s stables and dwellings are to be found in the Julianehaab

    and Godthaab Districts. The ruins of large cow byres are evidence that

    cattle husbandry was of great importance - probably far more common than

    today - but sheep and horses were also important farm animals. The farms

    were surrounded by small, manured fields, but beyond the tilling of these

    small “home fields” there was evidently no agriculture.

    002      |      Vol_VI-0811                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

            In the best period of the Norsemen’s era, that is, about the eleventh

    and twelfth centuries, the climate seems to have been milder than in our

    days and the animals were apparently able to live in the open for the greater

    part of the year. The many large ruins of byres indicate that in thi e s period

    stocks of cattle must have been very considerable. There is some evidence

    that the climate subsequently deteriorated, and this, in conjunction with

    failing communications with the mother country, presumably contributed to the

    decline of the Norsemen’s settlements in the fifteenth century. Eskimos had

    by then immigrated into the country from northern Greenland, and apparently

    feuds between the two peoples also contributed to the disappearance of the


            When, in 1721, Hans Egede came to Greenland and inaugurated a renewed

    colonization of the country, he did so with the object of seeking out the

    Norsemen and baptizing them. He found, however, only the ruins of their

    dwellings. Eskimos were living in the old settlements of the Norsemen, and

    Hans Egede took up his ministry among them.

            Even in those early days the idea arose of reintroducing agriculture

    to these districts, for and for that purpose several young farm hands were

    sent to Godthaab; but nothing came of it. The young men became instead

    assistants in the mission and in the trading company. One of them, however,

    became of lasting (although only local) importance as regards a renewal of

    farming, and that was Anders Olsen, who founded the settlements of Sukkertoppen

    and Julianehaab. When about 1780 he retired as a trader, he settled down at

    the Norsemen’s ancient episcopal residence, Gardar, which now is called

    Igaliko, and which lies at the head of a fjord inside of the present settle–

    ment of J U u lianehaab. Olsen, who had married a Greenland woman, lived there

    003      |      Vol_VI-0812                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

    for the rest of his days as a cattleman. His descendants have continued

    this trade until the present time. Later on the population of Igaliko took

    up sheep breeding as a trade, so that the settlement may be considered the

    center of the growing Greenland farming activities in the first half of the

    twentieth century.

            Throughout an entire century Igaliko seems to have been the only Greenland

    settlement in which the population had animal husbandry as their main trade,

    though a few milch cows were taken to other settlements by people moving away

    from Igaliko. During this period some Danish civil servants, however, made

    private attempts with animal husbandry on a small scale. Thus it is known

    that about the year 1850, a Danish trading-post manager in the neighborhood

    of Julianehaab had a small herd of Danish sheep. Civil servants at Julianehaab

    in many cases kept cows and goats, and poultry keeping was general a mong the

    Danish inhabitants.

            At the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of seals dropped

    considerably, and sealing which had been the principal trade of Greenland,

    thus deteriorated. Danish civil servants as well as farsighted Greenlanders

    were therefore anxious to have rational experiments made to find a suitable

    rac d e of sheep which might flourish under the conditions obtaining locally.

    A Greenland native clergyman in the Julianehaab District in 1906 received

    permission to make an experiment for the Government with 30 Faeroese sheep.

    This experiment proved successful, the Faeroese sheep being more suitable

    for Greenland conditions than the Danish sheep previously imported. A few

    reliable Greenlanders in the district borrowed some sheep from this experi–

    mental post and the results of their husbandry were so promising that the

    Government of Greenland decided to take up the matter on a more extensive


    004      |      Vol_VI-0813                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

            In 1913 Lindemand Walsøe was sent to the District of Julianehaab to

    investigate conditions. He had had experience in sheep farming in Australia

    and Iceland. In his subsequent report he stated that conditions in southern

    Greenland were at least as good as those obtaining in Iceland.

            The Government then decided to establish a research station for sheep

    breeding at the settlement of Julianehaab, and placed Walsøe in charge of

    the station — a position which he kept until his death in 1936. In the

    autumn of 1915 Walsøe obtained 175 ewes and rams which had been b r ought in

    northern Iceland and herded across the country to Reykjavik whence they were

    shipped to Julianehaab. Fodder had been collected for the coming winter. At

    the same time the Faeroese sheep from the previous experiment were taken over

    by the new station, so that the total stock was then about 235 animals. Subse–

    quently six stud rams were imported from Iceland, and from this stock originated

    the entire Greenland stock of sheep which in 1948 amounted to about 22,000

    ewes and rams.

            Roughly the following tasks were assigned to the sheep-breeding station

    at Julianehaab: ( 1 ) employment and training of young Greenlanders who intended

    to take up sheep farming as their principal work. The apprenticeship was fixed

    at 3 to 4 years according to age and maturity; ( 2 ) the lending of ewes to

    persons who had finished their apprenticeship, and to other Greenlanders to

    whom it might be deemed advisable; ( 3 ) jointly with the authorities of this

    the country, to grant house-building loans to persons who had finished their

    apprenticeship and to other Greenlanders of equal status; ( 4 ) to give advice

    with regard to sheep farming, agriculture, and horticulture. The station

    still works along these lines although further developments have caused

    many other tasks to be assigned to it.

    005      |      Vol_VI-0814                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

            The products of the new trade — consisting of live animals, wool, and

    skins — were, like all other commercial products in Greenland, a government

    monopoly, and were sold to the station. In 1929 an up-to-date slaughterhouse

    was built at Julianehaab. This undertaking came under the administration of

    the station and its manager, and the sheep and lambs sold to the station were

    killed there. In 1943 a small sausage factory was established for the preser–

    vation of the meat and slaughterhouse products, partly because of the failing

    supplies of foodstuffs from abroad during World War II. These undertakings

    were in 1950 undergoing consid [e ?] rable extension.

            In 1924 the first trained Greenlander received a Government loan and

    settled down as an independent sheep farmer at Erik the Red’s old settlement

    near the head of the Tunugdliarfik Fjord. Being a mature and reliable man,

    he received a relatively large loan, namely 3,000 kroner and 140 ewes. He

    is now (in 1950) Greenland’s leading sheep farmer, having about 750 ewes

    besides a couple of milch cows, several ponies, and other domestic animals.

    After him many young Greenlanders were given a start in a similar manner.

            The house-building loans granted have varied from 400 to 3,000 kroner,

    but recently they have been somewhat higher owing to the heavy increase in

    prices of building materials. Trained apprentices as a rule receive a house–

    building loan [ ?] and in addition a loan of about 75 ewes — sometimes fewer

    sometimes more, but in no case more than 100. Furthermore, well-recommended

    Greenlanders who have not been trained at the station may borrow a small herd

    of sheep, commonly 10 to 25 head. All loans are granted free of interest

    and are to be repaid within ten years, but generally they are repaid within

    a shorter time.

            Originally it had not been considered possible to g train born hunters

    006      |      Vol_VI-0815                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

    like the Greenlanders to become animal breeders, and at any rate it was

    taken for granted that animal husbandry would be only a subsidiary trade for

    a minority, and be based on fodders that might be gathered without actual

    tilling of the soil. Matters turned out better than was anticipated, however,

    and when sheep breeding began to develop on the lines of a trade supporting a

    considerable number of Greenlanders, it became, to an increasing extent, neces–

    sary to take up cultivation of the soil and agriculture on a fair scale. In

    1926 an expert in this field was attached to the Julianehaab statg station,

    and active work was commenced toward interesting the population in the culti–

    vation of home fields and gardens.

            The climate is not suitable for all-round agriculture. Although south–

    western Greenland is at the same latitude as southern Norway, the climate is

    more or less arctic owing to the cold polar current. The mean temperature in

    the summertime is low, and especially the night temperature at that time is too

    low to allow the more exacting cultivated plants to give satisfactory yields.

    No cereals can ripen entirely, although in the warmest situations it may

    occasionally be possible to produce a little barley almost ripe.

            Cultivation is made difficult by the mountainous character of the country.

    Erosion has been slight and the areas available for cultivation are small and

    extremely stony. Large, continuous areas capable of cultivation are of extremely

    rare occurrence. The land is in many cases covered with willow coppices which

    in conjunction with the many stones make cultivation difficult and costly.

    On the whole, only grasses which thrive in the cool and of f t en wet weather may

    be grown. The annual precipitation is about 800 to 1,000 millimeters (27 to 40

    inches). In the summer there are, however, frequent periods of drought which

    are highly detrimental to the grass; in particular, x dry winds (foehn storms)

    may des s i c cate the soil within a very short space of time.

    007      |      Vol_VI-0816                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

            As a rule imported grasses cannot winter. A few can last two or three

    years, but if a good, lasting grass field is desired it must consist of

    Greenland grasses — mainly varieties of m d e adow grass ( Poa [ ?] pratensis ),

    red fescue ( Festuca rubra ), and reed grass species ( Calama g rosti c s ). In the

    natural pastures along the coast, these grasses are frequently found mixed with

    lyme grass ( Elymus ) and beach pea ( Lathyrus maritimus ). This mixture gives a

    good and nutritive hay, and is much used as a winter fodder. Moreover, in

    the winter, sea wrack, lichens, and crake are gathered for use as additional

    fodder. A small fish, the capelin ( Mallotus villosus ), is caught in the

    springtime, when during spawning it enters the fjords in large shoals. It

    is taken up in landing nets or caught in seines and dried ashore. It contains

    large quantities of albumin and fat and constitutes an excellent concentrated

    fodder for the animals. Dried codfish is also being used as a fodder.

            Some years ago, by way of experiment, some swampy areas were drained and

    cultivated as pastures. The y eil x yield has been good in warm summers, less

    satisfactory in cold summers. It has proved more effective to cultivate

    sloping areas at a higher level where the expensive drainage and maintenance

    work may be avoided. The sheep farmers have cultivated some small fields by

    clearing them of stones and leveling them, but so far they have done little work

    of this kind. Of late years some attempts have been made at their settlements

    to apply artificial fertlizer, and this has already shown good results. In

    time to come the Government will take more active steps to promote cultivation

    and thereby the possibility of providing more winter fodder.

            It has been somewhat easier to make the Greenlanders take an interest in

    horticulture. Most sheep farmers and many fishermen and hunters have rather good,

    small gardens. Early potatoes, edible beets, and other fast-growing vegetables

    008      |      Vol_VI-0817                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

    are produced. The crops of both hay and vegetables vary considerably accord–

    ing to weather conditions of the individual year and location. Potatoes

    may yield about 25 tons, beets 40 to 60 tons per hectare. Spring cereals which

    are harvested green and dried or made into silage yield large crops. Home

    fields with mixed Greenland grasses yield 4 to 6 tons of hay per hectare.

    Of late years some experiments have been made with hotbed and hothouse garden–

    ing, which bids fair to become of great importance also for northern and

    eastern Greenland. Results so far have been excellent and promise well for

    the future.

            Really good mountain pastures and favorable conditions for cultivation are

    to be found only within strictly l o i mited areas. As far as the Julianehaab

    District is concerned, facilities are confined to four fjords distributed

    north and south of the settlement. The southernmost part of the district is

    rugged mountainous country in which vegetation is indeed quite plentiful but

    where the sheep are easily lost in almost inaccessible areas. It is possible

    that this part of the country will assume greater importance when the population

    learns to herd the sheep more efficiently.

            The approximately 20,000 sheep in the Julianehaab District are scattered

    over about 25 settlements, the greater number and the largest of which are

    situated along the four fjords already mentioned. Most of these places are

    inhabited by people carrying on sheep farming as their principal trade. Within

    the area covered by the four fjords, it may in time be possible to quadruple

    the number of sheep. In the District of Frederikshaab there are only a few

    hundred sheep in the southernmost part. In 1932 a small experimental station

    was established at Godthaab. In 1950 there were only some 1,000 sheep in this

    district, which, however, presents rather good facilities along two large fjords.

    009      |      Vol_VI-0818                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

            The development of sheep farming in Greenland is summarized in Table I.

    Table I. number of Ewes and Value of Sales (1925 to 1948).
    Year No. of ewes Value, Danish

    Year No. of ewes Value, Danish

    1925 1,600 5,893 1945 15,203 95,233
    1930 5,691 26,917 1947 20,324 147,428
    1935 7,005 28,635 1948 22,000 160,000 (est.)
    1940 9,457 46,282

            In addition to these amounts paid out for the purchase of products, the

    Government pays 20% to the Greenland public funds (municipal funds, district

    funds, and the provincial fund). Besides, the sheep farmers have a considerable

    home consumption of mutton, amounting to some 10 to 12% of their sales. A

    direct comparison of the sales for 1947 and 1948 with the figures for the previous

    years is scarcely possible, as prices have increased by about 30%, but nevertheless

    the table shows the considerable progress that has been made by sheep farming in

    Greenland through about 20 years.

            The distribution of ewes as of November 1, 1947 is shown in Table II.

    Table II. Distribution of Ewes, November 1, 1947.
    No. of ewes

    per farmer
    No. of farmers Total

    No. of ewes

    per farmer
    No. of farmers Total

    less than 25 241 1,955 200-300 11 2,623
    25 - 50 54 1,792 300-400 9 2,990
    50 - 100 29 2,051 more than 400 9 4,809
    100 - 200 29 3,704

    010      |      Vol_VI-0819                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

            Stocks of less than 5 sheep and the station’s stock of about 400 are

    not included. The 241 small sheep farmers are mainly hunters, fishermen,

    and day laborers who are keeping a few sheep as a subsidiary occupation. The

    district has in addition about 50 milch cows, 50 head of young cattle, about

    100 Icelandic ponies, and a few thousand hens. In the herding of the sheep,

    Scottish sheep dogs are used.

            The approximately 20,000 sheep in the Julianehaab District are all

    privately owned, except for those lent to the sheep o farmers by the Government,

    which amounts to only about 1,500 head. Lambs and sheep for meat are delivered

    to the abattoir at Julianehaab in September and October. From the small posts

    the animals are taken by boat, but from the larger settlements they are herded

    across country, in many cases 50 to 70 kilometers. When the herds have to pass

    fjords, they are ferried across at the narrowest place. Veterinary control has

    been established at the abattoir. About half the meat animals are used in

    Greenland, the remainder being exported. When in the course of time transport

    facilities in Greenland are improved, the entire production will presumably be

    used in Greenland.

            The capacity of abattoir is too small; but in 1950 a new, modern

    abattoir and meat-packing plant with refrigeration system were under construction

    at the new “industrial town” of Narssak a little to the north of Julianehaab.

    The station at Julianehaab will be converted into a farm research station and

    farm machinery pool, and attempts will be made to promote cultivation inter alia

    by lending the farmers suitable tractors.

            The Jul a i anehaab District has about 5,000 inhabitants. There are thus

    4 sheep per inhabitant, or almost the same proportion as in Iceland. It is

    therefore evident that farming is of great importance for the Greenland

    011      |      Vol_VI-0820                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

    population in that district, and, no doubt, the importance of the trade will

    increase in future.

            The social, political, and economic structure of Greenland is at present

    undergoing radical changes and improvements. The country which has hitherto

    been closed will now be wholly or partly opened to initiative from abroad.

    The main trade of fishing, and the secondary trade of sheep farming, will be

    assisted and modernized through investments from Denmark in conjunction with

    a more effective education of the population through children’s and young

    people’s schools and also through vocational training. The modernization and

    industrialization of the fishing trade will involve the building of fishing

    towns and industrial centers, where increasing quantities of meat, vegetables,

    and other farm products will be required. The previous extensive and one-sided

    farming trade may be expected to be intensified, as the great home market for

    many years to come will be able to purchase all the agricultural products.

    An improvement in refrigeration technique both ashore and on board the coasters

    will make it possible to ship the products without risk to remove northern

    Greenland, where a pronounced shortage of meat frequently prevails, particularly

    in the winter season. Modern cultivation methods and machinery from a farm

    machine pool will come into use. A farming trade may be expected to be

    created for the purposed of supplying the towns with potatoes, vegetables,

    milk, eggs, and cheese.

            When prices are allowed to find their own level more freely than at present,

    it is to be anticipated that the killing of lambs and sheep will no longer be

    confined to two or three autumn months but will be distributed over a longer

    period in accordance with the demand. The present sheep farms are all located

    along the coasts, but gradually, as it becomes possible to build roads, new

    012      |      Vol_VI-0821                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Christensen: Agriculture and Horticulture in Greenland

    farms will be established in sheltered valleys, where very good conditions

    obtain. Experience so far seems to indicate that within a reasonable time

    the Greenlanders will be able to keep pace with this development.

            Owing to an unusually severe winter with glazed ice and blizzards in 1948-49,

    great numbers of sheep were lost in the Julianehaab District; but in the course

    of the past two summers stocks have again increased and on many farms these

    losses have been made good.


    K. N. Christensen

    Plant Cultivation in Norway at 70-71° N. Lat. (Finnmark)

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0822                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS: A.H.Bremer


    Introduction 1
    GROUP I (Ornamental Plants) 2
    Woody Perennials 2
    Perennial Herbs 3
    Ferns 3
    Tubers and Bulbs 3
    Weedy, Self-propagating Annuals 3
    Garden Annuals 4
    GROUP II 5
    Perennials 5
    Ferns 5
    Self-propagating Annuals 5
    Potatoes 6
    Roots 7
    Other Vegetables 8
    Berries 9
    Cereals 9
    Natural Meadows and Cultivated Rotational Hayfields 10
    Plant Cultures Under Glass 11

    001      |      Vol_VI-0823                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (A. H. Bremer)





            Looking at the map you will find that the parallel of 70° N. latitude

    touches the northern part of Alaska; to the eastward it passes through the

    southern part of Victoria Island; it cuts through the northern half of Baffin

    Island, crosses Greenland about 1,100 km. (690 miles) north of Cape Farewell,

    and passes about 1° of latitude south of Jan Mayen, the Norwegian meteorological

    station in the Arctic Sea. In Norway we find the 70th parallel about 1/3°

    of latitude north of the town of Tromsø 2/3° south of Hammerfest in the west,

    and a little south of Vardø and Vadsø in the east. Latitude 70° N. does not

    touch Finland and European Russia but it does cross the tundra of northern


            Between 70-71° N. latitude there are in Norway about 40,000 inhabitants,

    and their main occupations are fishing and farming.

            To explain the quite intensive farming you will find here, we have to take

    into account the Gulf Stream, which carries relatively warm water northward up

    the coast and into the bays and fjords. The temperature along the coast,

    002      |      Vol_VI-0824                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS: Bremer: Plant Cultivation

    especially in winter, is far higher than one might expect. The effect of the

    Gulf Stream on the summer climate is less considerable, but still it is the

    most important factor for plant cultivation in the northernmost part of Norway.

    If you look at the isotherms you will find that the temperature conditions are

    not extreme. For instance, the 12°C. isotherm of July passes along the north–

    west coast of Norway to about 70°N., and then turns into the country southeastward

    through Finland and Russia. Generally speaking, the temperature in Norway is

    higher than in any other part of the world at the same latitude; and the tempera–

    ture is relatively highest in the most northern part of Norway. This, of course,

    exerts a great influence upon the flora at 70 to 71° N. latitude.

            As for the cultivated plants, it is, according to Ytreberg, convenient to

    classify them into two groups:

            I. Plants that grow well near the Arctic Sea when they are sheltered from

    cold winds by hills, houses, fences, walls, and so on.

            II. Plants that seem to stand the climate wherever the country is settled.

    Many of these would most likely also do well at Svalbard.


    GROUP I. (Ornamental Plants)


    Woody Perennials

    Betula pubescens Rosa cinnamomea
    B. verrucosa Salix caprea
    Caragana arborescens S. lapponum
    Crataegus sanguinea Sorbus aucuparia
    Lonicera coerulea Spiraea chamaedryfolia
    Myricaria germanica S. flexuosa
    Prunus padus S. sorbifolia

    003      |      Vol_VI-0825                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS: Bremer: Plant Cultivation


    Perennial Herbs

    Achillea millefolium Filipendula palmata
    Aquilegia (several kinds) F. ulmaria
    Aruncus Sylvester Heliosperma alpestre
    Aster alpinus Hesperis matronalis
    Astrantia major Humulus lupulus
    Bellis perennis Levisticum officinale
    Bergenia cordifolia Linaria alpina
    B. crassifolia Myosotis sylvatica
    Campanula medium M. sylvatica robusta grandiflora
    Centaurea Montana M. scorpioides , for instance, “nixenauge”
    Chrysanthemum x cultorum Phalaris variegate
    Delphinium x cultorum Potentilla x hybrida
    Dianthus barbatus Ranunculus aconitifolius
    Doronicum caucasicum Rheum palmatum
    Erigeron coultere Tanacetum vulgare cirspum



    Asplenium viride Blechnum spicant


    Tubers and Bulbs

    Anemone coronaria Tulipa


    Weedy, Self-propagating Annuals

    Acroclinium roseum A. gracillis
    Anchusa capensis Atriplex hortenses
    Antirrhinum [ ?] majus Beta vulgaris
    Artemisia annua Brassica asephala crispa

    004      |      Vol_VI-0826                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation

    Callistephus chinensis Malope trifida
    Cheriranthus cheiri Matricaria maritime
    Chrysanthemum coronarium Matthiolav i. annua
    [ ?] C. parthenium Matthiola bicornis
    Cineraria Mimulus tigrinus
    Dianthus chinensis Nemesia strumosa
    Eschscholtzia californica Petunia hybrida
    Lathyrus odoratus Phlox drummondi
    Linaria aporinoides splendens Senecio
    Lupinus hartwegii Silybum marianum
    Tropaeolum peltophorum


    Garden Annuals

    Asperula azurea setosa Omphalodes linifolia
    Gypsophila elegans Papaver glaucum
    Iberis coronaria empress P. rhoeas
    Linaria maroccana and reticulata P. somniferum paeoniflorum
    Nemophila insignis Rededa odorata

    005      |      Vol_VI-0827                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation





    Achillea ptarmica Melandryum rubrum
    Aconitum napellus Papaver nudicaule
    Antennaria diorica Polemonium coeruleum
    Arabis alpina Primula auricula
    Campanula glomerata Sedum roseum
    Chrysanthemum laucanthemum Saxifraga
    Dryas octopetala Tanacetum vulgare
    D. octopetala argentea Thalictrum adiantifolium
    Epilobium Chamaenerian T. Aquilegifolium
    Heracleum panaces Trollius (several kinds)
    Viscaria alpina



    Dryopteris filix mas . Cystopteris fragilis
    Cryptogramma crispa C. montana


    Self-propagating Annuals

    Viola tricolor Wittrockiana

    006      |      Vol_VI-0828                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation





            The potato is the main agricultural crop in Norway. So also is it at 70°

    to 71° N. latitude, where it yields a satisfactory crop in protected places.

            The director of the agricultural experimental station near Tromsø estimates

    a crop of 16,000 kg. per hectare as the average. But it is possible by intensive

    farming to obtain a far better yield, up to 25,000 kg. per hectare. Such a result

    can be achieved only by forcing the tubers before planting, and, near 70° N. lati–

    tude, only at the most favorable places. Prior to World War II, potatoes had

    been raised on a farm in Tana for a period of twenty years on an area of approxi–

    mately 9 hectares, the average yield per hectare being 17,500 kg. The yearly crop

    varied between 12,000 and 32,000 kg. per hectare. The determining factor in potato

    growing is frost. With an early freeze in mid-August, the growing period becomes

    too short. Under such conditions an early and high-yielding variety (Le Vernon)

    must be planted to obtain the above crop, and all cultivating must be properly per–

    formed at the right time. The dry-matter content varied considerably from one

    year to another, from a low of 16% up to 23%. The potatoes were often low in

    mealiness, of a firm consistency, and had an exceptionally fine flavor, which is

    true of all plant food grown in Finnmark. But even up to the Arctic Sea near 71°

    N. latitude potatoes are cultiva l ted, where the yield is approximately 10,000 kg.

    per hectare. The content of dry matter is a little lower than normal l . Grown

    on light, warm, and sandy land the potatoes have a content of vitamin C nearly

    as high as those grown in the southern part of Norway.

    007      |      Vol_VI-0829                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation



            Turnips and carrots are the main root crops. As the agricultural experi–

    mental station at Tromsø (69° 40′ N.lat.) the yield of three Norwegian turnip

    varieties, for an average of nine years (1932-40), was:

    Variety Root yield,

    Dry matter, % Leaves,

    Brunstad 54,000 8.2 30,000
    White May from Forus 37,000 12.8 27,000
    Petrowsky (Målselv) 47,000 8.4 21,000

            These turnip varieties are generally used for food. The quality is good,

    and the two last-mentioned varieties keep very well in storage during the winter.

            The carrot ( daucus carota ) is not generally grown on a large scale, but in

    small gardening it is an important crop. In carrots the tendency of bolting is

    not very great, and carrots are, therefore, sown as soon as it is possible to cul–

    tivate the land. The time of sowing, however, differs greatly from one year to

    another and also from the coast line to the inner parts of the country. I mention

    from two experiments made in 1937: On [ ?] one plot near Hammerfest (western Finn–

    mark) the date of sowing was May 4, and the date of harvesting was September 28.

    Another plot was at Sandnes in South Varanger (eastern Finnmark), and the dates

    of sowing and harvesting were, respectively, June 1 [ ?] and September 20. In both

    cases the variety Mantes gave the best result. It was, indeed, a satisfactory

    result — in the first case 39,000 kg. roots per hectare and, in the latter,

    35,000 kg. per hectare.

            Naturally, the yields differ greatly. The experimental plots have produced

    anything from 5,000 up to 40,000 kg. per hectare. At 70° N. latitude, with good

    008      |      Vol_VI-0830                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation

    growing conditions, we can count upon 20,000 kg. per hectare as an average. The

    storage of the carrots in this part of the country is not a great problem. They

    are easily kept in cellars until mid-summer of the next year. They are still

    fresh and crisp and have an excellent taste when they have been stored in moist


            There are examples of satisfactory yields of rutabag ( Brassica napus rapifera )

    and beets ( Beta vulgaris rubra ) directory sown. After being forced in frames and

    then transplanted in the field, the plants develop better and more evenly.

            Radishes ( Raphanus raphanistum ) are, of course, the earliest root crop and in

    open land may be ready for harvesting about July 10.


    Other Vegetables

            The vegetable most in demand which can be grown at 70° N. latitude is summer

    cabbage ( Brassica oleracea ). The varieties used are Erstling (conical), Early

    Ditmarsker (globular), June Giant (globular), and Copenhagen Market (globular).

    The earliest strains of cauliflower ( Brassica botrytis ), such as varieties of

    Erfurter dwarf, do well, and so does green curled kale ( Brassica o. acep y h ola).

    Heads of summer cabbage of 2 to 3 kgs. weight are not unusual. Cauliflowers

    may be quite heavy, too, 1/2 to 1 kg. By growing the plants in soil pots before

    planting one may get a good crop of the cabbage variety King of July, which

    is a later variety than those [ ?] mentioned above. King of July is well suited

    for storing during the winter.

            Salad and spinach crops also grow well in the land of the midnight sun,

    where for a period of 10 to 12 weeks there are 24 hours of daylight. The follow–

    ing crops are easy to grow:

    009      |      Vol_VI-0831                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation

            Lettuce ( Lactuca sativa ), spinach ( Spinacea oleracea ), mangel ( Beta vul

    garis cicla ), parsley ( Petroselinium hortense fol. cirspum ). The quality of

    these crops is very good.

            Sugar peas ( Pisum sativum ) will give some yield, but only the very earliest

    ones, such as the Norwegian variety Early sword.

            As for the perennial vegetable crops, some are very hardy and useful in

    this part of the country. To be mentioned in this connection are: chives

    ( Allium schoenoprasum ), Welsh onion ( A. fistuloseum ), caraway ( Carum carvi ), and

    rhubarb ( Rheum cultorum ).



            Berries that grow wild in this region are: Crowberries ( Empetrum nigrum ) and

    blueberries ( Vaccinium uliginosum and V. meptillus ). Molte ( Rubus shamaenorus ) is

    a very important wild fruit. Red currant ( Ribes rubrum ) may be found growing wild,

    and it is also the only berry cultivated to some extent. Red current ripens usually

    during the first days of September. Wild raspberry is quite frequent ( Rubus idaeus ).

    Garden varieties of raspberry are so far being planted only experimentally.



            The growing of cereals is limited to the most favorable districts. From

    the last agricultural statistics we find that the area of barley is only 2.9

    hectares. Early barley, raised for grain, was formerly grown to some extent in

    the western parts of the province. Experience gained during the last 30 years

    or so, show that about every third year a freeze prevents the grain from maturing

    to viability. In good years the yeidl yield is generally between 2,500 and 3,000 kg. per

    hectare. Most likely the growing of cereals will be extended when new Norwegian

    010      |      Vol_VI-0832                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation

    early varieties are [ ?] released for the market. The most common crop grown for

    green forage is oats, giving 25,000 to 30,000 kg. green matter per hectare or

    20 to 25% dried green feed.


    Natural Meadows and Cultivated Rotational Hayfields

            Along the coast there is little sunshine, and there people make their living

    chiefly from the sea, occasionally, however, gathering feed for one cow, a few

    goats or sheep. The hayfields are generally small stretches of natural meadows,

    cleared and leveled, and intensely fertilized with seaweed, fish offal, and other

    fertilizer. These meadows have a very close turf, yielding 4,000 to 5,000 kg. per

    hectare of first-grade hay. The predominant plants are either meadow [ ?] grass

    ( Poa pratensis ) or bent grass ( Agrostis tenius ), more or less intermixed with weeds,

    mostly Ranunculus spp.

            Most of the soil, and also the best quality soil, as well as the most favor–

    able climatic conditions are found in the innermost parts of the fjords and in

    the lower parts of the valleys, from ebb-tide mark up to the marine border 20 to

    30 meters above sea level. Most important is the raising of hay. As more pro–

    gressive farming is being introduced, the natural meadows are gradually being

    replaced by cultivated, rotational hayfields.

            Timothy ( Phleum pratense ) is the most important cultivated grass. The best

    types are high-yielding and winter-hardy. When cut at time of blooming they

    produce, without fertilization, crops of 7,000 to 8,000 kg. per hectare for a

    period not exceeding 4 years. With adequate fertilization every year, the yield

    may be kept at a satisfactory level for up to 6 years. Red clover and alsike

    011      |      Vol_VI-0833                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Bremer: Plant Cultivation

    clover do well on warm clay slopes, but do not thrive in the flatlands, pre–

    sumably because the soil is too cold. The native white clover often grows

    abundantly in the meadows and in cultivated pastures.

            Indigenous grasses are inferior to timothy and the other types used in

    cultivated hayfields. In natural meadows, on the other hand, they are of great

    value. On a farm in Tana, an average annual crop of 3,800 kg. of hay per hectare

    was harvested on approximately 150 hectares in the period 1918-39, the crop

    varying between 3,000 and 5,000 kg. per hectare. All fields are cut only once,

    the precipitation generally being insufficient for a rapid regrowth. Late in

    the autumn, however, they may provide some pasturage.


    Plant Cultures under Glass

            In those districts where the summer is short, cultivation under glass in useful.

    By means of frames and glass houses it is possible to get early vegetables and flowers

    while the snow is still deep outside. Near the towns the gardeners are building more

    and more modern greenhouses for cultivation in summertime of tomatoes and cucumbers;

    in wintertime of tulips, convalles, and scalear; in springtime, roses, stocks,

    pelargonia, hortensia, and later on carnation, gladiolus, lathyrus mm.; and in autumn,

    after the tomatoes are harvested, chrysanthemum, primula, cyclamen, and begonia. The

    tomato plant is, of course, most important. It thrives well in the land of the mid–

    night plant is, of course, most important. It thrives well in the land of the mid–

    night sun and produces crops almost as large as farther south, yielding up to 12 to 14

    kg. of ripe fruit per meter.

            The town of Tromsø had formerly only two small nurseries. Now there are six nur–

    series, mostly with modern greenhouses heated by coal, oil, or electricity. The

    towns north of 70° N. latitude will soon follow the example of Tromsø.


    A. H. Bremer

    Polar Agriculture and Horticulture in the U.S.S.R.

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0834                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences (V. J. Tereshtenko)




    Introduction 1
    Boundaries 2
    Natural Zones 6
    Tundra 8
    Taiga 11
    Trasbaikal Region 14
    Far East Mountain Zone 16
    Mountain Region of Northeastern Siberia 17
    Sakhalin 19
    Kamchatka 21
    Characteristic Features 23
    Agriculture Before the Revolution 28a
    Agriculture After the Revolution 33
    Contribution of Soviet Science and Recent Developments 43
    Early Experiments 43
    Soil Theories 45
    Michurin Theory 46
    Lysenko Theory 50
    Effect of Theories 54
    Policy of the Government 60
    Conclusions 64
    Bibliography 67

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0835                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (V. J. Tereshtenko)





            With the manuscript of this article, the author submitted one map

    for possible use as an illustration. Because of the high cost of repro–

    duction, this map will be retained with the original manuscript at The

    Stefansson Library.

    001      |      Vol_VI-0836                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (V. J. Tereshtenko)





            Three different connotations may be attached to the term “polar agri–

    culture” as used in the U.S.S.R. at present (1950). According to the first

    one, the demarcation line between polar and nonpolar agriculture is drawn by

    geographical factors only. Accordingly, any development in the agriculture

    of the Soviet Far North may be related to the subject of Soviet polar agri–

    culture even if it is not rooted in the specifically polar conditions.

            The second interpretation of polar agriculture places the main emphasis

    on recent developments in agrobiology and agrotechnique, which evolve new

    methods and tools of developing and extending agriculture in those northern

    regions in which it could not formerly be practiced. Under this concept of

    polar agriculture, the experiments on, say, frost-resisting fruit trees

    conducted in agricultural stations in central Russia, and at a given moment

    having no direct bearing on actual spreading of this or that variety in the

    North, may also be referred to as work on problems of polar agriculture.

            In a third connotation which may be attached to the term polar agricul–

    ture, it may be regarded as one of the phases of the Soviet Government’s

    crusade for economic adaptation of the northern territories of the U.S.S.R.

    002      |      Vol_VI-0837                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    to the agricultural needs of the country. The series of political, social,

    economic, and cultural measures undertaken by the Soviet Government for

    such developmental purposes constitutes the basis of an analysis of polar

    agriculture as so understood.

            Strictly speaking, no matter from which one of these three possible

    angles polar agriculture is approached, the term as such makes for confusion.

    However, once the data from all three possible approaches are collected and

    integrated, the concept of polar agriculture evolves as a specific field of

    knowledge and development, to which perhaps more importance is attached in

    the U.S.S.R. than in any other country in the world.



            The problem of polar agriculture is made so important in the U.S.S.R.

    by, first of all, geographical factors. About 23% of the entire area of

    the Soviet Union lies beyond the Arctic Circle — not that this has, of

    itself, any particular significance for us. The territory of the permafrost,

    if its southern frontiers are extended to included also the area with per–

    petually frozen “islands” within the territory of annually thawed ground,

    covers about 47% of the area of the U.S.S.R. The southern boundary of the

    permafrost runs approximately, from west to east, from north of the town of

    Mezen to Beresovo on the Ob, thence to the mouth of the Nizhniaia Tunguska;

    there it turns southward along the east bank of the Yenisei and into Mon–

    golia; it reenters the U.S.S.R. in the region of Blagoveschensk and proceeds

    into northern Kamchatka. In some places the boundary of permafrost has re–

    treated northward in recent years: for instance, a retreat of about 25 miles

    003      |      Vol_VI-0838                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in the U.S.S.R.

    was recorded near the city of Mezen, formerly located on the southern border

    of the permafrost region.

            Any attempt to determine the exact geographical area of polar agricul–

    ture by including in it only the agriculture beyond the Arctic Circle would

    be ill-founded, as would delineation of its frontiers in the south by the

    southern boundary of permafrost. On one hand, the application of the term

    polar agriculture to agriculture only beyond the polar circle would narrow

    its concept contrary to established practice; on the other hand, the extension

    of the term to cover agriculture in the whole area of permafrost would mean

    the inclusion of regions which are not spoken of in Soviet literature as

    regions of polar agriculture. As to the northern boundary, a early as 1944

    J. Eikhfeld, head of the All-Union Institute for Plant Growing, made the fol–

    lowing statement [translation]: “In the time of the Soviets the boundary of

    agriculture in some sectors of the Far North moved a few hundred kilometers

    to the north of its boundary prior to the Revolu a tion. In some places a

    start was made in the cultivation of potatoes and vegetables at 70° N. lati–

    tude, and of grains at 68° N. latitude. The so-called “northern boundary

    of agriculture” has disappeared at present. Agriculture develops, in one form

    or another, everywhere the Soviet people appear: in the taiga, the tundra,

    and even on the islands of the polar seas. Hothouse cultivation and even

    animal husbandry develop on the well-known polar island of Dickson …

    At the bay of Tiksi (the Lena), vegetables are cultivated not only in hot–

    houses but also in the open. On the peninsula of Taimyr, at Dudinka and

    Norilsk, not only cabbage and turnips, but also potatoes, carrots, and beets

    are successfully grown.”

    004      |      Vol_VI-0839                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in the U.S.S.R.

            With ever-changing frontiers in the north, and the lack of a precise

    natural demarcation line in the south, the area of polar agriculture may be

    identified more accurately with the area of the Soviet “Far North.” It is

    true that the southern boundaries of this Far North, especially in its far–

    eastern part, reach so far to the south that not only natural conditions but

    also administrative policies are clearly seen behind the Decree of the Coun–

    cil of People’s Commissars of the R.S.F.S.R. of September 8, 1931, which

    dealt with the economic development of the northern regions, segregated

    under the name of the Far North a number of regions and territories, and

    drew its frontiers. According to the decree, an area of about 2,224,000,000

    acres with a population of about 1,000,000 (including 160,000 aborigines)

    was included in the Far North. In terms of administrative jurisdiction of

    1931, the territory included the following:

            In the Leningrad Region: Murmansk district.

            In the Northern Region: Nents National Area and the districts of Mezen

    and Leshukonsk.

            In the Komi Region: districts of Udorsk, Troitsko-Pechorsk, Ozhomo–

    Pechorsk, and all islands of the Arctic in that section.

            In the Ural Region: Iamal-Nents National Area.

            In the Western Siberian Region; districts of Porabelsk, Karachagozh,

    Kolpashevsk, and Alexandro-Vakhovsk

            In the Eastern Siberian Region: Taimyr (Dolgano-Nenets) National Area;

    Turukhan Area; Khatanga National Area; Baunt and Severobaikalsk districts of

    the Buriat-Mongolian A.S.S.R.

            In the Far Eastern Region: Chukchi, Koriak, and Okhotsk National Areas;

    005      |      Vol_VI-0840                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    Kamchatka and Sakhalin districts; Nizhne-Amursk, Giliak, Goldo-Samagir,

    Sikhota-Alinsk, Dzhentulak, Sudzharo-Tok, Verhne-Selemdzinsk, Verkhne–

    bureinsk, Sovieto-Tuminsk (Oroch), and Amuro-Tungus National Areas.

            All of Yakutskaia A.S.S.R.

            All islands in the Arctic, Okhotsk, Bering and Kamchatka seas.

            In 1932, the Gosplan (Central State Planning Agency) reckoned the area

    of the Far North, excluding the islands, at about 2,453,000,000 acres. Numer–

    ous changes in the boundaries and administrative subdivisions of the above–

    mentioned regions have taken place since 1931. In 1944, J. Eikhfeld estimated

    the area of the Far North at “over 40%” of the territory of the U.S.S.R. —

    that is, over 2,157,000,000 (The area of the U.S.S.R. after 1939 was

    21,837,900 square kilometers (5,393,700,000 acres).) acres, while Khrapal

    in one of the publications of the Bureau of Economic Research of Glavsevmor–

    put in 1940 indicated 2,520,000,000 acres (or 47% of the U.S.S.R.) as the

    area of the Far North of that year. The boundaries of the Far North crossed

    regions which constituted larger entities for agricultural statistical

    reports; yet the territory of the Far North constitutes the nearest entity

    around which it is possible to center any over-all statistical survey of

    Soviet polar agriculture.

            While considerable information is available on agriculture in various

    sections of the Far North, and also a rather detailed picture of the dynamics

    of some of the individual phases of its development, there are no complete

    over-all agricultural statistics available which pertain to the Far North as

    a whole. After 1939 the Soviet Government ceased to release regularly any

    detailed statistics in absolute figures. As for earlier periods, the Far

    North has never constituted a separate region within the system of accepted

    006      |      Vol_VI-0841                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    agricultural statistics; therefore, the statistical grouping of its various

    subdivisions often varied from one report to another. Under these conditions

    the task of comparing and summing up available data for the Far North as a

    whole becomes [ ?] extremely difficult, if not impossible, to any foreign student

    of Soviet polar agriculture who has no access to the unreleased data of the

    Central planning Agency of the U.S.S.R. (Gosplan).


    Natural Zones

            Stretching as it does over an area larger than the United States, Great

    Britain, Belgium and Japan all put together, the Soviet Far North does not

    present a picture of a homogeneous region from the standpoint of the natural

    factors which are important to agricultural production. But if one applies

    the term “natural region” or “natural zone” to areas characterized by certain

    combination and interactions of topography, soil, climate, vegetative cover,

    and fauna, one may find in the Far North the following regions into which

    L. S. Berg, President of the All-Union Geographical Society of the U.S.S.R.,

    divides the territory of the Soviet Union:

            The lowlands: —

    the tundra and the taiga (a subzone of the temperate forest

    zone) and,

            The mountain zones: —

    the Transbaikal region, the mountains of the Far East, the

    mountains of northern Siberia, Sakhalin, Kamchatka, and the

    mountains of the Arctic

            The tundra may be subdivided into arctic, shrub, and southern tundras

    (the three together being referred to by Berg as “tundra proper”), and

    a transitional subzone of wooded tundra. Considered from east to west,

    the southern boundary of the tundra proper runs from the southern end of

    007      |      Vol_VI-0842                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    Kola Inlet to the lower course of the Ponoy. The Kanin Peninsula is covered

    with tundra as far as 67° N. latitude, beyond which the boundary crosses the

    Pechora River at Pustozersk, the Gulf of Ob and Tax Bay at 67° N. latitude,

    and the Yenisei north of Dudinka. Thence it proceeds to the mouth of the

    Khatanga, the delta of the Lena, Nizhne-Kolymsk, and about the middle of the

    Anadyr, where it turns toward Gizhiga and the Parapolski Vale which connects

    Kamchatka with the continent. North of this boundary are, at most, only

    local timbered tracts.

            The territory between the tundra and the southern boundary of the Far

    North is occupied by the taiga. Its eastern frontier starts at the Lena River

    at about 60° N. latitude. From here it follows its course at a distance of

    almost 100 to 500 miles east of the river, crosses the Aldan at approximately

    135° W. longitude, then follows first the Aldan River and then again the Lena

    at a distance of about 100 miles to their east.

            As for the Transbaikal region located east of Lake Baikal, only its

    northern and northeastern parts are found within the Far North. The natural

    mountain region of northeastern Siberia includes the Verkhoiansk, Cherski,

    and Kolyma (Gydan) ranges as well as the Chukotsk Peninsula heights. Although

    the Far East mountain zone covers the Amur Basin territory (except for the

    Shilka and Argun basins), only its northern part is within the Far North’s

    boundary. Also, the system of ranges in the upper reaches of the Aldan River

    and its tributary Maia belong to this region. Franz Josef Land, northern

    Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, and Bennett Island are in the natural mountain

    region of the Arctic.

            Together with Sakhalin and Kamchatka, each one of the natural zones offers

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    different conditions for agricultural development. The “ice region” of

    the arctic mountains, with an average temperature of 32°F. (0°C.) in the warmest

    month, the New Siberian Islands, other northern island, the arctic tundra in

    the delta of the Lena, the Ob-Yenisei Peninsula, and the northern parts of

    Taimyr and Iamal peninsulas all present obstacles of great dimensions so far

    as the northward march of agriculture is concerned. Either these barriers

    have not been surmounted as yet, or they have been surmounted in only a few

    isolated instances which are important from a theoretical viewpoint but of

    no great significance from the standpoint of immediate prospects for rapid

    development of polar agriculture in these regions. However, the tundra’s vast

    territory and the variety of factors to be considered therein do not allow any

    similar generalization to be made regarding polar agriculture in the tundra

    as a whole.

            Tundra . This zone, including the transitional subzone of forest tundra,

    occupies 14.7% of the U.S.S.R. Its soils are extremely diverse. Peaty gley

    (gray mineral soil), peat bog, and podsolic soils are the most widespread,

    and the peat cover is never very thick. Considerable areas are overspread

    with low earth hillocks. The annual precipitation in the tundra is small;

    owing to the lower temperature, the rate of evaporation is low, and a negli–

    gible quantity of moisture passes into the atmosphere. Permanently frozen

    subsoil limits surface water drainage during the thaw, and vegetative decom–

    position proceeds very slowly. While the bog-type soil formation is most

    characteristic of the tundra, the numerous boggy areas are intermingled with

    large dry ones.

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            The chief features of the tundra’s climate are long cold winters, short

    summers, and low precipitation. Climates of the European tundra as well as

    of the tundra east of the Kolyma River are milder than the climate of the tundra

    lying north of central Siberia. Moreover, in many places in the tundra the

    winters are less cold than in central Siberia. For instance, Sagastyr at the

    mouth of the Lena, is about 25°F. warmer in January than Verkhoiansk. Never–

    theless, temperatures below 40°F. have been recorded in the tundra. The

    average period of time with temperatures below freezing point increases from

    six months in the west to nine months toward the east. In northeastern Siberia

    a mean daily temperature below 14°F. is maintained from the middle of October

    to the middle of April. The ground is frozen during most of the year and the

    subsoil is permanently frozen. In summer it is warm enough to thaw the surface

    for a month or two and then the ground becomes waterlogged. During two months

    only, the summer temperature approaches 50°F.; on the northern Taimyr Peninsula

    only ten days have a temperature over 41°F. in an average year. The yearly

    temperature range in the tundra is relatively small. The frost period, a time

    when no thawing takes place, lasts from a half year in the European to eight

    months and longer in the Asiatic part of the tundra.

            The average mean annual precipitation in the tundra in most areas ranges

    between 8 and 12 inches. It decreases from about 16 inches on the Kola penin–

    sula to between 8 and 12 inches for the rest of the tundra, with only 4 inches

    at the delta of the Lena. Maximum precipitation occurs in the later part of

    summer and the minimum in February through March. Despite spares precipitation,

    it rains often. Snow may fall during any month but the small quantity does not

    prevent the ground from freezing. Snow covering is slight, partly owing to

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    very strong winds which occasionally attain speeds of 90 miles per hour in

    some parts of the coastal areas. Throughout the year the sky is rather

    cloudy and there is little sunshine, although during summer the maximum in–

    tensity of direct insolation of the earth’s surface in the tundra is no less

    than in the tropics. In general there is plenty of light during the growing

    period to support vegetation, but not enough heat.

            From the standpoint of vegetation, the tundra represents a huge unforested

    expanse with a covering predominantly of mosses and lichens. The tundra

    proper’s southern boundary coincides approximately with the 50°F. (10°C.)

    July isotherm, beyond which trees are usually unable to survive. The total

    number of all tundra vascular plants is relatively small, most of them being

    perennial, low, dwarfed herbs or shrubs. There are few bulbous or tuberous

    plants. Summer temperature is the basic factor which controls plant life in

    the tundra. The vegetative period in the typical tundra lasts about three

    months; it decreases to only two months in the west Siberian arctic tundra.

    Except for the Kola Peninsula, permanent ground frost is found throughout

    the tundra even in summer, at depths down to 2 meters. Despite this, the

    soil’s upper layer is heated sufficiently to permit plentiful plant growth.

    As peat is a less effective heat conductor than mineral soils, permafrost

    is found in the peat bogs much farther south than in the clays and sands.

    However, permafrost provides an advantage for vegetation in the tundra by

    preserving moisture in the soil. Furthermore, some Soviet specialists

    point out that ice water, or ice dissolved in water, has the property of

    stimulating plant growth.

            Some natives of the tundra also utilize permafrost to conserve their

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    food stocks, often for a considerable period of time. For example, in the

    Indigirka Basin, they dig food storage cellars which easily maintain a tem–

    perature of 23°F.

            The reindeer is the most important representative of the animal kingdom

    of the tundra. It is used as a draft animal, it provides a highly nourishing

    meat, and its hide is utilized for tent covering, clothing, and footwear.

            Taiga . In contrast to the tundra, the natural features of the taiga

    zone offer much better opportunities for agricultural development. The soil,

    climate, vegetation, and fauna along its southern frontiers, which run well

    south almost everywhere, are highly diverse. The taiga’s predominant soils

    are podsols in different stages of development, and are diverse in physical

    composition. Soils of the bog type (particularly peat and bog soils combined

    with podsolic soils), clay and clay-loam, and sandy soils are important. Some

    are poor, acid soils, usually associated with sands, and these present an

    important problem in agriculture. Bog and marsh soils are found most fre–

    quently north of 60° N. latitude, but are rare in eastern Siberia, where the

    higher land is better drained. In the Lena’s middle valley and its tributary

    from the west, the Vilyui, saline soils are common. The taiga’s forest cover

    impedes evaporation, which keeps the ground moist and provides sufficient

    water to cause leaching. The forest gives rise to a very acid “raw humus”

    which decomposes slowly and accumulates as a layer of peaty material above

    the mineral soil.

            As a climatic region the taiga of the Far North covers such a great area

    that considerable subdivision is possible. Two broad areas, divided by the

    Yenisei, may be distinguished: the western taiga and the eastern taiga.

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    The taiga as a whole is characterized by cold, long winters, with January

    averaging 20°F. in the west (Kola peninsula) and −50°F. in the Lena region,

    and warm summers with July and August temperatures averaging between 50° and

    60°F The severity of the winters increases from the west. In the major

    portion of the Far Northern taiga, the dates on which the mean daily tempera–

    ture passes above 32°F. are not earlier than May 1, while in its very northern

    parts this date falls on June 1. In the western taiga sudden temperature

    changes are frequent in winter. East of the Urals, readings of −40°F. are

    often recorded. The rivers are frozen for long periods and rarely thaw

    before April. For example, the Yenisei is free at Turukhansk for only 186

    days in the year.

            In the eastern taiga clear skies and frequent calm conditions intensify

    winter frigidity. On the northern Taimyr Peninsula there are only ten days

    a year with a temperature over 41°F. In northeastern Siberia a mean daily

    temperature below 14°F. is maintained steadily from the middle of October to

    middle April. Nowhere does the temperature in January exceed 15°F., while

    −58°F. is not unusual at Yakutsk. The lowest temperature ever observed,

    −90°F., was recorded at the Cold pole near Verkhoiansk in February 1892.

    Under the intense frost, with 231 days a year having temperature below

    freezing, at Verkhoiansk deep fissures open in the ground and trees are

    frozen “as hard as iron.” Nevertheless, man finds this winter quite sup–

    protable because of the dryness and purity of the air, clear skies, and only

    very light winds. Away from the Cold Pole the temperature rises in all di

    rections and the January isotherms from a circle in the Verkhoiansk region.

            The average July temperature of 66.2°F. at Yakutsk is the highest for

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    any place of that latitude; at Verkhoiansk it is 59.7°F. In both places

    the absolute range is greater than anywhere else in the world. Moreover

    in one day a temperature of 95°F. may be reached, with a drop to 41°F.after

    sunset. In the eastern taiga as a whole, July temperatures often exceed 86°F.

    The summers, however, are short, lasting only about 70 days at Verkhoiansk.

    The [ ?] insolation is high and increases northward, the cloud cover being

    much less than in the western taiga . During the day, the sun’s rays may be

    so hot in Yakutai and the nights so clear that haymaking is often done after


            Precipitation in the eastern taiga is generally sparse, from 6 to 14

    inches per year. But the rate of evaporation, owing to the cold climate, is

    also low. The precipitation averages 7.3 inches at Yakutsk, 5 inches at

    Verhoiansk, and between 6 and 10 inches in the basin of the middle Lena,

    with a maximum everywhere in July and August. However, in the Olekminsk

    District, the summer rains are so scarce that irrigation is necessary for

    agricultural plantings. The snowfall in the eastern taiga is much less than

    in the western. In Yakutia, from November to April, the snowfall is only from

    7 to 12 inches a month, while in western Siberia, along the lower Ob, the

    depth of snow cover may reach 35 inches and more. The severe winter with

    bare ground permits the soil to be frozen to very great depths, while in

    the short summer it thaws out only in the surface layers. The presence of

    the frozen layer in dry places during summer provides humidity for plant roots

    and permits crop-growing in central Yakutia.

            Vegetation of the Far Northern taiga is characterized by predominance

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    of coniferous forests. In the European part, spruce are the dominant trees.

    In western Siberia, the basic forest-forming species are cedar, Siberian

    larch ( Larix sibirica ), fir, Siberian spruce ( Picea obovata ) and Siberian

    stone pine ( pinus cembra sibirica ). The urami , a mixture of marsh and

    forest, covers large areas. In the eastern taiga, where forests extend

    farther north than in any other part of the U.S.S.R., the basic species is

    the Dahurian larch ( Larix dahurica ). Also there are forests of pure pine,

    pine with larch, and Japanese stone pine ( Pinus pumila ). The ground is

    often covered with mosses and lichens.

            Squirrel ( Sciurus ), marten ( Martes ), elk ( Alces alces ), sable ( Martes

    zibellina ), wild reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus ), varying hare ( Lepus timidus ),

    fox ( Vulpes ), and brown bear ( Ursus arctos ) are characteristic of the taiga

    animal kingdom.

            Transbaikal Region . In its relief the natural mountain zone of the

    Transbaikal does not consist of elevations in the form of clearly expressed

    crests. Instead, the mountains of this region usually have the appearance

    of flat and wide watershed plateaus, dissected by erosion into peaks and ridges.

    In the Patom River basin lies the Patom upland with a mean elevation from 850

    to 1,050 meters. Northwest from the Yablonovyi Range spreads the Vitim Plateau,

    composed chiefly of granites and gneiss granites.

            The climate and vegetation of the Transbaikal region are diverse and un–

    usual, as this is an area in which the taiga lies adjacent to the Monogolian

    steppes. Warm summer with maximum precipitation in July are characteristic

    of Transbaikal. The summer, with an average temperature over 50°F., continues

    for about 120 days; the winter, with a mean temperature below 32°F., from 160

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    to 180 days. The annual precipitation is around 12 inches, of which from 80%

    to 90% arrives in the warm period. The duration of the vegetation period is

    140 days on the average.

            The winter is characterized by clear skies and calmness. No other place

    in the U.S.S.R. has such clear winter skies as Transbaikal. Transparency of

    the air is such that in some places the contours of mountain crests can be

    clearly distinguished from a distance of 37 miles. The duration of insolation

    is very great. For instance, in Akatui it is 72% of the duration possible

    annually, the sun shining 85% of the number of hours possible in March and 59%

    in July. Here there are only 23 days a year on the average when the sky is

    covered with clouds all days long. Abundant insolation contributes greatly to

    good grain harvests in the years when the annual distribution of precipitation

    is favorable. At the same time, the lack of a sufficiently thick and long–

    staying snow cover makes it impossible to plant and grow winter crops or peren–

    nial herbs, since their roots are usually frozen by the end of the first winter

    Here, also due to the peculiarities of the climate, it is considered highly

    unadvisable to plow fallow land in the fall since the tilled soli easily loses

    all its moisture in the dry air of a snowless winter. July and August rains

    contribute to successful cultivation of vegetables and tu b erous plants.

            The differences in the altitude of mountain ranges create the vertical climatic

    zones of steppes, forests, and alpine vegetation in the Transbaikal region.

    At [ ?] elevations of 1,600 to 3,300 feet there are usually steppes; from 3,000

    to 4,000 feet there is forest steppe; higher up is mountain taiga; the sub–

    alpine zone extends from 6,000 to 7,000 feet, where it is replaced by the al–

    pine zone. Agriculture does not extend beyond 3,000 to 3,600 feet. While in

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    the southern part of the Transbaikal region larch ( Larix ) and Japanese stone

    pine ( Pinus pumila ) are characteristic of the forests, in the region’s

    northern part, located within the Far North, forests of Dahurian larch ( Larix

    dahurica ) predominate, often with undergrowth of Dahurian rhododendron ( Rho

    dodendron dahuricum) reaching 8 feet in height. Forests of birch, pine, and

    aspen are also found. The herbaceous cover consists mostly of cowberry ( Vac

    cinium vitis - idaea ) and crystal tea ledum ( Ledum palustre ). In the steppe

    zone p olyn grass ( Artemisia ), capillary feather grass ( Stipa capillata ), and

    wheat grass ( Agropyron pseudagropyron ), which is a very valuable fodder crop,

    are among the most prominent plants. Lichens and herbaceous plants of al–

    pine type from dry meadows in the mountains.

            The fauna of the Transbaikal region is characterized by the same inter–

    mixture of forms as is the vegetation. Wolf ( Canis lupus ), suslik ( Citellus

    spp.), mountain sheep ( Ovis nivicola ), reindeer, elk, squirrel, sable, and

    bear are common.

            Far East Mountain Zone . No detailed climatic knowledge of this region

    has been acquired as yet. Also, many of its geomorphologic features are

    obscure. The monsoon type of climate characterizes the region, with moist,

    cool winds from the sea in summer and cold winds from the land in winter.

    The temperature drops considerably when the ice melts in the Okhotsk Sea.

    At Aian, the July temperature reaches 63°F. (According to Berg, the warmest

    month is August with a mean temperature of 54°F.)

            In part of the mountain zone in the far east, located within the Far

    North area, slightly podsolic stony soils predominate in some places with

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    patches of peat-bog soils. Bog and half-bog soils are common in the water–

    shed plateau of the Stanovoi Range at elevations of 4,000 to 5,000 feet.

            As to flora in the far-eastern mountain zone, there are found both

    the east Siberian vegetation with predominance of Dahurian larch ( Larix

    dahurica ), and the so-called Okhotsk vegetation, characterized by Yeddo

    spruce ( Picea jezoensis ), Erman’s birch ( Betula ermani ), and [ ?]Khingan fir

    ( Abies nephrolepsis ), Oak is developed east of the Bureia River. The

    Asiatic white birch ( Betula platyphylla) is also found. Along the Amur,

    the Korean pine ( Pinus koraiensis ) and deciduous forests extend approx–

    imately to latitutde 50° N. The ocean’s proximity, scarcity of winter

    precipitation, and cool summers do not allow the forest vegetation to rise high

    up into the mountains

            [ ?]Himalayan black bear ( Selenarctos tibetanus ussuricus ), sable ( Martes

    zibellina ) and musk deer ( Moschus moschiferus ), in addition to a number of

    Manchurian animal forms in the southern part of the far-eastern mountain

    region, are fauna representative of this zone.

            Mountain Region of Northeastern Siberia . In the last twenty years, many

    changes have been made in former conceptions of the topography in this part

    of the Far North. According to S. S. Vaniushin, the summits of many moun–

    tanis in the Verkhoiansk Range, between the viliui and Aldan rivers, have

    the character of plateaus of table mountains The Oimekon Plateau in the

    upper Indigirka does not exceed about 5,000 feet in elevation. The Cherski

    Range is still not sufficiently known. The Kolyma or Gydan Range, along

    the shore of the sea of Okhotsk, has an average elevation of about 5,000 feet.

            Little is known of the soils in this region. Also, not much climatic

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    knowledge is available regarding the mountains of northeast Siberia. During

    1917-18, according to meteorological observations conducted at the Mangazeisk

    silver-lead deposit, at latitude 64° N., at an elevation of about 3,350 feet,

    a large-scale inversion of temperature took place in winter. That year January

    had a mean temperature of −20.2° F., while the mean for Yakutsk was −45.4°F.,

    and the mean for July was around 47°F. There were 6.4 inches of precipitation

    during the year of observation, with a maximum fall of 1.7 inches in August.

    In the upper reaches of the Indigirka, on the Oimeken Plateau, temperatures

    lower than −76°F. have been recorded.

            Regarding vegetation, the Dahurian larch predominates in the Verkhoiansk

    Range, with Mongolian, poplar ( Populus suaveolens ) in the foothill river valleys,

    and small pine woods in some places. At higher levels is forest tundra of

    recumbent birches ( Betula middendorfii and B. subtilis ), recumbent Japanese

    stone pine ( Pinus pumila ), and a series of flowering herbaceous plants. In the

    Chereki Range, where some Erman’s birch ( Betula ermani ) is also encountered,

    the timber line, near the Arctic Circle, is at an elevation of around 2,100

    feet. East of the Kolyma Basin, mountains are unforested, with the exception

    of the upper course of the Anadyr and the middle course of the Main, where

    larch forests are found. The northernmost outposts of the forests, in the

    zone under consideration, [ ?] are found along the right tributaries of the

    Malyi Angui, where Dahurian, larch is encountered at latitude 69°N. Scat–

    tered woods of Mongolian popular ( Populus suaveolens ), relict Korean willow

    ( Salix macropolepis ), white birch ( Betula cajanderi ), and Japanese stone pine

    ( Pinus pumila ) are found along the river valleys of the Anadyr Krai. Lichen

    tundras and lands covered with talus predominate on the Chukotsk Peninsula.

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            There are many indications that, despite the severe natural conditions

    in the zone as whole, considerable agricultural possibilities exist in the

    valley lowlands, where a farmer can utilize the warm, long, sunny days in

    summer to rear cattle and cultivate crops. Hear cattle are reared even in

    the Indigirka and Kolyma valleys. An explanation for the possibility of

    stock raising in there valleys of high latitudes is the occurrence, in many

    places, of “islands of steppe” on slopes facing south with their surface soils

    of chestnut-brown color, and a drier and milder climate than elsewhere. The

    animals reared hear are usually a sturdy type of horse and the shaggy Mon–

    golian yak ( Bos ( Poephagus ) grunniens ). The animal kingdom in this zone has

    had scant study. Mountain sheep ( Ovis nivicola ), musk deer ( Moschus moschiferus ),

    Kolyma suslik ( Citellus buxtoni ), black-capped bobac ( Marmota kamtschatica

    bungei ), fox, squirrel, ermine, and the Amur lemming ( Lemmus amurensis ) are


            Sakhalin . A depression runs meridionally through the center of this

    region while on both sides of it a mountain range rises, attaining 6,500 feet

    in the east. The ranges decrease in elevation in the north, exposing this

    part of Sakhalin to cold winds from the sea of Okhotsk. The ranges recede

    from the shore toward the north and areas of lowland up to 19 miles wide are

    found along the shore on the northern part of the island. South of latitude

    52° N. in the middle of the island lies a lowland that is sheltered from winds,

    has a relatively more continental climate than the coasts, and is drier and

    better suited for agriculture than any other part of the island. Nevertheless,

    even here the cold winter is adverse to the cultivation of winter grains.

    Spring wheat, however, yields an excellent harvest.

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            The soils of Sakhalin belong to the podsolic, bog, and alluvial types.

    The latter soils have a granular structure, are very fertile, and are under

    cultivation in the central lowland of Sakhalin. They yield an excellent

    wheat harvest. Permafrost is widespread on the island but is not continuous.

            Considering the geographical position of the island, the climate of Sak–

    halin is more severe than would be expected. The winters are frosty, windy,

    and accompanied by heavy snowfalls. Summer is cold and foggy in the north

    and east, while it is comparatively warm in the west, center and south. Gen–

    erally the climate is milder in the central lowland, but even here tempera–

    tures as low as −58°F. occur in winter, while the summer temperature may ex–

    ceed 86°F.

            In summer south and east winds are persistent; in winter the winds blow

    from the cold continent. Skies are mostly, cloudy, and fogs are so frequent

    that more than eight days of sunshine between June and September is considered

    unusual on some parts of the island. The Sakhalin coast is famous for its

    fogs which often last for weeks, but fogs are uncommon in winter. The yearly

    precipitation is between 12 and 20 inches, the larger portion of which is

    snow, much of it remaining on the mountains until the middle of August. In

    spring there is a period of drought, while in summer and autumn there are

    monsoon rains.

            A large part of the island is covered with forests. The fallen, rotting

    trees, the tangle of undergrowth, and the tall grass often make them impene–

    trable. Spruce-fir forest predominates, often with an admixture of birch.

    In places where climatic conditions are more favorable, fir, spruce, aspen,

    birch, ash, maple, elm, poplar, and willow are common. In the north is a

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    mossy peat-bog tundra. Western Sakhalin is the only places in the U.S.S.R.

    where bamboo in its wild form ( Sasa kurilensis ) is encountered. In the

    flood plains herbaceous plants, such as groundsel ( Senecio cannibifolia ),

    Kamchatka meadowsweet ( Filipendula kamtschatica ), Sakhalin knotweed ( Poly

    gonum sachalinensis ), reed grass ( Calamagrostis ), reach heights of 10 to

    13 feet.

            Kamchatka . In surface structure Kamchatka is divided into two parallel

    ranges extending in a north-northwest direction throughout the peninsula and

    separated by a lowland through which the Kamchatka River flows. Between

    the western range, sometimes called the central range, and the sea of Okhotsk

    lies an unforested region which rises to elevations of 2,000 to 2,300 feet.

    In the eastern range and along the shore of the Bering Sea there is a row

    of active volcanoes, while some fifteen extinct volcanoes are on the western

    side of the peninsula. Hot springs and geysers are associated with the vol–

    canic zone. Where the peninsula joins the mainland, at latitude 60° N., is

    a low tundra plateau, the Parapolski Dol. The entire peninsula is greatly

    eroded. The soils of Kamchatka are of the podsolic, sodded meadow, and bog

    types. The sodded-meadow soils in the Kamchatka River valley are the most

    fertile. There is permanent ground frost in the northern part of the penin–


            Because of the length of Kamchatka form north to south, there are con–

    siderable differences in climate. In the peninsula’s interior the climate is

    much more continental than along the coasts, and the west coast has a more

    severe climate than the east coast. Due to the influence of the cold Kuril

    current, winters are severe with heavy snowfalls and strong winds. Summer

    022      |      Vol_VI-0857                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    weather is very changeable. Average yearly temperatures are low, with as

    many as 199 days a year below the freezing point. At Petropavlovsk, on the

    coast, the temperature ranges from about 54°F. in August to approximately

    14°F. in February. In the peninsula’s interior summer is warmer and winter

    colder, absolute maxima exceeding 86°F. and absolute minima reaching −58°F.

    in the Kamchatka River valley. The vegetative period lasts from the end of

    May or the first days of June to the first days of October, beginning in

    the middle of May in the central part of Kamchatka.

            Due to southern and eastern monsoons, southern Kamchatka has one of

    the largest total annual precipitations in the U.S.S.R. — up to 40 inches

    a year. Generally, the east coast is wetter than the west coast. While

    the annual precipitation reaches 35 inches at Petropavlovsk, it is only 18

    inches on the west coast at Bolsheretsk. In Petropavlovsk more than half

    of the annual precipitation falls from August through October; January is

    the driest month. There is relatively little precipitation in the valley

    of the Kamchatka River. At Milkovo it toals about 14 inches a year. In

    the interior of the peninsula there is also less cloudiness; for instance,

    in summer there are almost no fogs in Milkovo, while along the coasts there

    is snow, rain, or fog on most days of the year. Snow depths of seven feet

    are not unusual on Kamchatka.

            The flora of Kamchatka is poor, with only 800 to 850 species to be

    found. Here, there are no forests like those of the Siberian taiga. Except

    for the Kamchatka River valley and the west coast, Erman’s birch ( Betula

    ermani ) is especially characteristic of the peninsula’s vegetation. It

    covers the slopes up to 2,000 to 2,300 feet. In the valley of the Kamchatka

    023      |      Vol_VI-0858                                                                                                                  
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    River are forests of Yeddo spruce ( Picea jezoensis ) and Dahurian larch ( Larix

    dahurica ). At higher zones Japanese stone pine ( Pinus pumila ) and alder

    ( Alnus spp.) are common. Sweetberry honeysuckle ( Lonicera edulis ) is abundant;

    its dark-blue edible fruits are gathered in large quantities by the local

    population during July and August. Large thickets of Kamchatka meadowsweet

    ( Tilipendula kamtschatica ) are found in the valleys. This is a herbaceous

    plant which grows 6 1/2 feet high in one month; its roots used to be stored

    for the winter. Also, Kamchatka fritillary ( Fritillaria kamtschatcenis ) is

    widespread. Its bulbs are rich in starch and sugar, with a taste resembling

    chestnuts, and are cooked and eaten by the local population. In the central

    valley of Kamchatka there are some excellent meadows with tall, luscious grass.

    Agriculture, and especially the rearing of cattle and horses, is limited

    mostly to the southern part of Kamchatka, although the inner valley of the

    peninsula is said to be suitable for farming.

            The fauna of Kamchatka has been studied very little and, while not rich

    is rather diverse. Bear, wild reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus ), red fox ( Vulpes

    vulpes ), ermine, and sable are encountered, as are herds of wild mountain

    sheep ( Ovis nivicola ).


    Characteristic Features

            Climate . As may be seen from the description of the natural regions,

    the conditions for the development of agriculture in the Soviet North are

    diverse and vary from region to region. There are, however, a number of

    problems which agriculture in this region faces everywhere, or at least in

    the major portion of the territory. The chief natural obstacles that must

    024      |      Vol_VI-0859                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    be surmounted are climatic difficulties associated with long cold winters,

    short summers, and unseasonable frosts, and the comparatively high elevations

    of considerable portions of the area.

            Soils . The soils of the soviet North, taken as a [ ?] whole , are not rich.

    Ash-gray soils predominate; these are called podsols, from the Russian word

    zola , meaning ash. The main [ ?] feature of such soils is their upper layer,

    which consists of ash-gray, sandy particles. A great deal of the darker sub–

    stances, such as iron hydroxides and humus, have been carried downward to the

    lower layers (soluble substances are carried down since the main movement

    of the soil water is downward); this makes the soil acid. In the forest

    zone the acidity is increased by an accumulation of pine needles. Acid soils

    present an important problem for agricultural development in the Far North.

    Humus accumulates slowly above the frost level and decays slowly owing to low

    temperatures, and decomposition of organic matter is not extensive; hence

    the need for rich manuring and liming of soils, as well as for mineral fer–

    tilizers, especially potassium and phosphorus. With proper application of

    mineral fertilizers, the drained marshland soils in the lowlands here proved

    to be extremely fertile, yielding up to 500 centners of cabbage per hectare,

    50 to 60 centners of hay. In the tundra, moss helps to maintain the frozen

    soils, and in order to increase the thickness of the active soil the first

    task is to strip off such coverings of moss and lichens.

            In the northern forests, conifers often spread their roots horizontally.

    This makes them unstable and accounts for the many fallen trunks which make

    it difficult to traverse the forests.

            The physical structure of the soils of the North is poor, hence the need

    for more laborious tillage, great quantities of organic fertilizers, and the

    025      |      Vol_VI-0860                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    planting of perennial herbs. The soils of the most northern parts are also

    very deficient in those bacteria which produce in great quantities the

    carbonic acid needed by plants. While in one cubic centimeter of the

    soils in central Russia 3,000,000 and more of such bacteria are available

    only a few scores of them, sometimes even less, are found in the soils of

    the New Siberian Islands, thus slowing microbiological processes in the

    soil of the islands.

            Permafrost hinders the normal development of plants in spring and at

    the beginning of summer; also it causes formation of bogs adversely influences natural drainage and deformation

    of the soil. Nevertheless, in the regions with insufficient precipitation,

    permafrost may serve also as a positive factor.

            Light . Direct insolation decreases in a northward direction, but to a

    certain extent this decrease is compensated at higher latitudes by indirect

    insolation. Tests made at the experimental station in Khibiny, Kola Penin–

    sula, indicated that plants absorb and utilize light during the dark hours

    of the night. For instance, grains which were completely isolated from day–

    light formed ears in the normal time, although the size of plants subjected

    to “night light” only was below normal. In fact, the night light as an ad–

    dition to daylight contributes to the development of many plants and the

    increase of organic substance.

            Long insolation during the summer at high latitudes is important for

    polar agriculture. At latitude 55° N., the insolation increases from 13

    hours, 2 minutes on April 1 to 16 hours on August 1. At latitude 65° N.,

    the respective figures are 13 hours, 30 minutes and 19 hours, 25 minutes.

    The sun does not set at all at latitude 67° N. from June 2 to August 12,

    026      |      Vol_VI-0861                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    and between May 20 and July 24 at latitude 69° N. Long insolation raises

    temperature, accelerates the development of numerous agricultural plants,

    compensating for the short summer in the Far North, and shortens the length

    of the normally required vegetative period. This is especially true in

    regard to all cereals, carrots, certain types of lattuce, and some other plants.

    On certain plants, such as spinach, winter rape, and Japanese turnip, the

    effect of the long insolation is negative. Also the extensive insolation

    has a bad effect on the formation of the subsurface parts of the plant.

            Plant Growth . Some plants grow very slowly in high latitudes. For in–

    stance, the polar willow on Novosibirskie Islands grows no more than one to

    five millimeters a year and produces only two or three leaves a year. On

    the same islands, however, the flowering plants grow rather fast. The long

    rays of the solar spectrum (the orange rays in particular) produce a stronger

    effect on the plant when the sun stays near to the horizon. In high latitudes

    this speeds up the ripening of plants. Also, the low temperature of the soil

    in spring may have a good effect on that stage of the plant development which

    T. D. Lysenko calls the “thermic” or “vernalization” stage. As a result,

    cereals ripen in the North in a shorter period and at temperatures under which

    similar plants in the south do not ripen at all. Experiments have shown that

    a few southern types of spring wheat and rye ripen at Khibiny, Kola Peninsula,

    earlier than the same grains planted at exactly the same time in the valley of

    the Kuban River in the south. Some varieties of oats which did not mature in

    the Leningrad region began to yield in Khibiny.

            Plants which grow in a creeping form are better adaptable to the conditions

    of the North, since they are better protected against the cold by snow cover,

    027      |      Vol_VI-0862                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshten t ko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    can better withstand strong winds, and vaporize less. Dwarf trees are common

    in some parts of the North [ ?] where birches as much as 200 years old may be

    only a few feet in height.

            So-called “physiological dryness” characterizes plants growing in the

    most northern regions. The low temperature of water interferes with its cir–

    culation; therefore, plants cannot have a normal vaporization, despite the

    fact that there is plenty of water available — a condition similar to the

    one found in deserts.

            Under conditions of the polar regions some plants are liable to rather

    unpredictable changes, transformations, and mutations. In 1944, J. Eikhfeld,

    head of the All-Union Institute for plant growing, reported that strange

    things happened with some of the vegetables planted at the experimental

    station in Khibiny: some varieties of potatoes produced luxuriant tops but

    no tubers; radishes, beets, and cabbages flowered but formed no roots; spinach

    flowered but did not yield any leaves; some of the biennial tuberous vegetables

    turned into one-year plants; and so on. The nature of the North thus shatters

    the normal pattern of development of plants and produces material valuable for

    the creation of desired types — a fact of far-reaching importance for the

    selectionist. Cases were reported when the changed varieties combined charac–

    teristics of mutually excluding species as, for instance, indications of

    bearded and beardless grains at the same time.

            Technology . Tilling land in the North often requires agricultural machines

    of a different type than in other sections of the U.S.S.R. In particular,

    special tractors are required to work on boggy soils in various regions of

    the Far North. Some of the agricultural machines produced in the U.S.S.R. for

    028      |      Vol_VI-0863                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    the needs of polar agriculture are reported to be unique - for instance,

    the trench excavator for the work on marshes. Nevertheless, the quantity

    of such machines is limited, and sometimes further improvement in their con–

    struction is required. Also, transportation difficulties connected with the

    delivery of fuel to some of the most northern regions are still insurmountable.

            Availability of Lands Suited for Agriculture . The area of cultivated

    land of the Far North had been so small in the past that, strictly speaking,

    the whole present program of agricultural conquest is based on reclamation

    of lands which have never been tilled previously. In the U.S.S.R. the area

    of such lands is practically unlimited. In the Iamal o ø -Nenets region, for

    instance, only 0.5% of the land suitable for agriculture is used at present,

    and in the Igarka region only 2%. Not many such lands, however, can be

    plowed immediately; in most cases reclamation work is first required. The

    meadows and pastures along some of the great Siberian rivers render excel–

    lent opportunities, although a great portion of them is flooded year after

    year. Territory suitable for agriculture but occupied by Siberian forests

    is immense, but first it must be cleared of those forests, the trees uprooted

    and the shrubs cleared away. The area covered by burned forests — the

    so-called gar — in the Berezov region of the Ostiako-Vogul district was

    almost 2,500,000 acres in 1940, and in the Narym sk district more than 7,500,000

    acres in 1936.

            And yet, no matter how small, in comparison with the huge territory

    which might be available after reclamation, the area which can be plowed

    immediately, was found to be very large. For instance, recent land surveys

    indicated about 225,000 acres of land available for immediate use in Ostiako-Vogul

    028a      |      Vol_VI-0864                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    district in 1940; about 1,500,000 acres in Narymsk district; 60,000 acres

    in Turukhansk; about 50,000 acres in the middle course of the Aldan River;

    27,000 acres in Sakhalin; around 167,000 acres in Kamchatka; and more than

    3,500,000 acres in central Yakutia. If all this land were utilized, the

    whole problem of agricultural self-sufficiency of the Far North could be

    solved without waiting for the results of any reclamation works, especially

    considering the sparsity of the population. It should be added that in the

    general belief of Soviet specialists the decisive factor in the Far North

    is not the physical properties of the soil, but the facilities afforded by

    science for its cultivation. Idle lands on the Kola Peninsula formerly

    considered unfit for polar agriculture have been made fertile and produc–

    tive, as at Khibiny.


    Agriculture Before the Revolution

            As a specific phase of national economy and a branch of agricultural

    science, polar agriculture did not exist prior to the Revolution of 1917.

    At the same time, the question of the welfare of the local population (at

    least as far as the revenues of the state treasury depended upon it), mili–

    tary considerations (after the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 in particular), and

    especially the problem of the colonization of Siberia, sporadically aroused

    the interest of the government in the development of agriculture in the

    northern and far-eastern provinces of the Russian Empire. Also, from the

    beginning of the twentieth century, private initiative in the form of rapidly

    growing dairy cooperatives in western Siberia opened new horizons to agri–

    cultural development of the adjoining parts of the Far North.

    029      |      Vol_VI-0865                                                                                                                  
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            The story of the first efforts to develop agriculture in the north and

    northeast of Russia is centuries old, although none of the available accounts

    treats the Far North in its present entity. Fishing and hunting were occu–

    pations of inhabitants of the tundra from time immemorial. For centuries

    reindeer breeding has been one of the main occupations of the people living

    there and at the northern borders of the taiga, and the reindeer was con–

    sidered an “all provider” by the natives. Almost 68% of the tundra is con–

    sidered suitable for deer pasture in the summer; of this, 39% is also suitable

    for winter grazing. At the end of summer the reindeer migrate southward

    toward the forest border, and in spring a northward migration takes place.

    Overgrazing presented the chief difficulty to reindeer breeders since lichens,

    which are extremely slow-growing plants, may take ten years before re–

    establishing themselves on the overgrazed land. Hence the frequent loss of

    reindeer, dying from starvation in winter.

            Cattle rearing in the Far North is much older than plant growing. The

    Yakuts appear to have been pioneers both in cattle raising and in agriculture.

    According to some historical records, they were driven from the rich grasslands

    near the Caspian and Aral seas by the Mongols of Genghis Khan, and brought

    with them the language and mode of life of steppe dwellers to the present land

    of Yakutia. Their domestic animals were horses and cattle, and they continued

    with their traditional type of animal husbandry in contrast to the reindeer

    breeding of other peoples of the Far North. Yakuts for a long time have been

    renowned for their production of bay. Apparently they started to till small

    fields in the steppe islands of the river terraces much earlier than the 1730’s

    when “Russian agriculture” in Yakutia is said to have begun. In 1731, fifty

    030      |      Vol_VI-0866                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    Russian peasant families were sent there for settlement and were ordered by

    the government to till the land; local monasteries were later urged to establish

    and maintain farms. Many more peasants were sent Yakutia in the second half

    of the eighteenth century to engage in agriculture, and some of the local of–

    ficials started to experiment with various plants. By the first half of the

    nineteenth century such experimental agriculture had acquired a mass character.

    More than 2,300 acres were under cultivation in Yakutia in 1836, although the

    major portion of crops was killed by frosts that year. In the 1890’s the plow–

    land exceeded 61 16,000 acres. The yield, however, was irregular, reflecting

    the fact that agriculture was dependent each year upon the severity of frosts.

            The government forced the Yakuts to till the land constantly and made no

    exemptions, even for the northern parts of the region. In 1842, for instance,

    an order was given to the local Kolyma administration “to take vigorous measures

    in order to urge Russian peasants and Yakuts to consider the cultivation of

    potatoes obligatory.” Attempts to sow grains as far north as Sredne-Kolymsk

    (not far from 66° N. lat.) were made as early as 1848. Erman mentions the

    existence of agriculture at Oimekon which he visited in 1928. In 1812, the

    administration ordered vegetable planting in Verhoiansk, where by the beginning

    of the twentieth century fifteen vegetable gardens were recorded; not a trace

    of them, however, was found by the time of the Revolution. Attempts to grow

    vegetables were made even beyond the Arctic Circle, for instance, at Siktiakh and

    Zhigansk on the lower Lena. The total area under tillage in Yakutia had

    reached 100,000 acres by the time of the Revolution in 1917.

            In Narymsk region, conquered by Russia in 1598, the sowing of grains is

    traced back to about 1620. In the second half of the eighteenth century the

    031      |      Vol_VI-0867                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    local administration began to keep records of the production. According to

    these records, 1,350 acres were under cultivation in 1762; by 1898 the

    acreage had increased to 6,400 acres, of which about 5,200 were in cereals

    and 583 acres in potatoes.

            The territory of the present Ostiako-Vogul district was occupied by the

    Russians earlier than Narymsk region. Nevertheless, in the former region

    agriculture developed slowly and by the end of the nineteenth century was

    still in an experimental stage. The Yearbook of the Tobolsk Regional Museum

    for 1907 mentions that the natives liked vegetables but in numerous places

    did not plant them at all. The number of cattle, horses, and sheep in some

    sections of Ostiako-Vogul district was large.

            In Sakhalin attempts of the Imperial Government to implant agriculture

    are traceable to the days when Sakhalin was made a place of exile at the begin–

    ning of the second half of the nineteenth century. Although the first attempts

    were failures, the experiments continued until they were rewarded with success.

    Agriculture began to develop, but very slowly. Form 13.5 acres in 1862 the

    area in various crops reached 6,097 acres in 1913; then again in decreased to

    5,954 acres by 1917. That year a little more than 88% of the cultivated area

    was in cereals, about 11% in potatoes, and 1% in vegetables.

            In Kamchatka agriculture is traced to 1725-30. In a memorandum to the

    senate, V. Bering mentioned attempts to cultivate rye and vegetables on the

    peninsula at the time when he was there. The first fields were plowed in the

    central valley of Kamchatka where the village of Kliuchi is located at present.

    Attempts by natives to cultivate rye and barley on the western shores of the

    peninsula were failures. Agriculture was introduced here by Prof. S. Krashenin–

    nikov, who participated in the Siberian expedition of the Academy of Science

    032      |      Vol_VI-0868                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    and visited Kamchatka in 1737-41. In 1743 a man named Borisov, who was

    Kamchatka’s administrative head at that time, asked the government to send

    Russian peasants to Kamchatka, and afterward twenty peasant families were

    settled in the central valley of the peninsula. (According to some sources

    the first group of peasant was settled in 1738.) In 1853, I. Bulychev

    describing agricultural developments of Kamchatka stated that [translation]

    “the experiments with agriculture conducted for more than one century showed

    it is impossible to have it on Kamchatka.” However, he admitted that the

    raising of vegetables at times had been successful.

            In 1850, B. I. Zavoiko was appointed military governor of Kamchatka.

    His measures to inculcate agriculture there were very energetic and at times

    rather peculiar. A story is t o ld that when Zavoiko declared that the cultiva–

    tion of plants was obligatory for the natives, his eager military subordinates,

    in order to enforce the order effectively, ordered the slaughter of all hunt–

    ing dogs in some villages so that the natives would adhere only tilling

    the land and cease their traditional hunting. Parallel to such measures, how–

    ever, Zavoiko did good work in disseminating the fundamentals of agricultural

    knowledge among the natives by supplying them with seeds, etc. Some 1,600

    acres were planted with rye in Kamchatka in 1900, yielding approximately

    13,000 bushels.

            A series of experimental plantings was made and an experimental dairy

    farm near Petropavlovsk was established by the 1908-09 expedition, organized

    by the Resettlement Administration. In 1913 this farm was provided with

    thoroughbred cattle. An interesting account of the status of agriculture in

    Kamchatka was made by V. L. Komarov, a member of the Kamchatka expedition of

    033      |      Vol_VI-0869                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    F. P. Riabushinski in 1908-09. Regarding animal husbandry, Komarov, reported

    that dairy cattle, brought to Kamchatka in the eighteenth and nineteenth

    centuries, were acclimatized successfully, provided a sufficient quantity of

    milk, and were “of good stature,” while horses were regarded by the natives

    as a luxury rather than as animals needed for farm work. (It was said that

    by spring, the horses were usually walking but “hardly alive.”) Regarding

    cereal and vegetable planting in Kamchatka, Komarov felt very pessimistic

    [translation]: “In order to make Kamchatka a real agricultural country,

    one must drain the huge icebox of the Sea of Okhotsk — not less than that —

    which outbalances the summer in Kamchatka by its presence in the neighborhood.”

            By the beginning of the twentieth century cultivated land in Kamchatka

    slightly exceeded 1,600 acres and remained at that point until 1917. The

    extreme scarcity of population was undoubtedly another factor in hindering

    the development of agriculture.


    Agriculture After the Revolution

            After 1917, skepticism at first prevailed as to the possibility of growing

    vegetables in the Far North. Later the experiments of the Arctic Branch of

    the Institute of Plant Cultivation at Khibiny, established in 1923, proved

    that cultivation of vegetables — at least in quantities sufficient of provide

    for the needs of local population — is possible even beyond the Arctic

    Circle. In 1931 J. Eikhfeld distinguished three zones of possible agricultural

    development in the Soviet North: ( 1 ) the zone to the south of the Arctic

    Circle; ( 2 ) the southern part of the tundra and the northern part of the

    forest-tundra region, permitting the outdoor growth of potatoes and other

    034      |      Vol_VI-0870                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Tereshtenko: Agriculture in U.S.S.R.

    vegetables, and cattle rearing; and ( 3 ) the arctic islands and the northern–

    most part of the continent, where vegetables could be grown only in hot–

    houses, and the raising of livestock must be limited to reindeer breeding.

            At first, the development of polar agriculture proceeded very slowly;

    by the end of the Second Five-Year Plan, however, considerable progress had

    been made. The year 1929 may be considered as a turning point, after which

    the acreage of the tilled land in the North began to grow rapidly. No

    accurate statistical description of agricultural development in the Far

    North is possible because detailed reports were not released after 1939.

    Nevertheless, the available data given in Tables I and II indicate the

    rapid progress. The data given in Table I were reported by the chief of

    the Division of the Reindeer Breeding and Agriculture in the Far North,

    Commissariat of Agriculture, R.S.F.S.R., at the Conference on Scientific

    and Research Work in the Far North, February 27-March 3, 1936. The data

    in Table II were taken from A. A. Khrapal, writing for the Bureau of Econ–

    omic Research in 1940. The statistical subdivisions given in this publica–

    tion of Glavsevmorput differ from those used in other sources. This leads

    to a number of discrepancies between the figures in Table II and those

    taken from other sources. Khrapal includes in Omsk North the National Areas

    Ostiako-Vogul and Iamal-Nents. When he speaks about the Ob region he

    includes also Narymsk district, which is a portion of Novosibirsk region

    and not of the Omsk region. In Yenisei Sever, Khrapal includes Turukhansk

    and Igarka regions, and Evenki and Taimyr National Areas, which are sec–

    tions of the Krasnoiarski Krai. Under the “Coast of the Sea of Okhotsk,”

    Khrapal combines the Lower Amur Region and Koymski district.

    035      |      Vol_VI-0871                                                                                                                  
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    Table I. Sown Area in the Far North (in Thousands of Acres)
    Major crop
    Year Total

    Cereals Potatoes Other Vegetables
    1926 143.1 120.0 13.5 1.5
    1932 510.3 - - -
    1933 661.0 551.6 37.4 16.2
    1934 855.1 710.4