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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (June 4, 1911)
Uncle, Sam Doing Great Industrial Missionary Work
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T r h v Vl XHMONS T2ZATI QW COTTOirJRUtfTS.
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(Copyright, by Frank O. Carpehter.)
j AS11INUTON, D. C. I want to tell you
how Uncle Sam has saved the cotton
crop of the nation how he has kept
hia children from bankruptcy and there
by prevented untold milllona of human
beings at home and abroad from go
ing in rags. The story is one that deals
j not only with the south, but with our balance of
I trade. It affects the cotton factories of New Eng
; land as well as those of Great Britain and all parts
I of Europe. It affects the life work of millions of
' women and children and the pocketbook of every
man In the country.
It Is the story of a plague greater than that of
the locusts which ate up Pharoah's Egypt or of the
grasshoppers which some years ago chewed the heart
of "bleeding Kansas." It 1b the story of a bug
not one-tenth the size of a man's finger nail, but
which, uncontrolled, bade fair to scratch prosperity
from the face of the beBt states south of the line of
j Mason and Dixon. It is the story of the boll weevil
I and of how Uncle Sam's army of 75,000 demonstra
I tion farmers scattered over the cotton belt are fight
j ing it and thereby bringing In an era of wealth the
: possibilities of which are beyond the wildest dreams
'. of that land.
; The Realm of King Cotton.
i Have you ever thought how mighty King Cotton isT
j He Is the richest monarch on the face of the globe.
He has an aggregate annual Income, in raw material
j and goods, worth billions of dollars, and this is
j steadily growing ia value. Our own share of the
j cotton crop has more than doubled within the last
1 twenty years and has quadrupled within the last fifty.
! If the present rate of increase continues the demand
will be twice as great within twenty years more, and
by 1950 we shall be asked to supply more than fifty
millions of bales. This estimate Is based on the
World's consumption of cotton, of which we are
bound to always be the chief factor. We are now
making more than seven-tenths of the whole, and
although England, Germany and Russia have been
pending millions to compete with us, they have so
far labored in vain. They have tried to develop new
fields In Africa, Asia and elsewhere, but the climate
nd labor in those fields are such that they have but
little hope for the future.,
There is some cotton made In India and Egypt
and smaller amounts in Russian Turkestan, Brazil and
China, but of the total crop of the world the United
'States still produces a great deal more than two
thirds, and the prospect is that she will do that for
all time to come. 8he would certainly do more if It
were not for the boll weevil, and she can still do
that, so the scientists of the Agricultural department
tell me, with the weevil to fight.
, A Bug Which Eats Gold.
But before I go farther I want to tell you some
thing about this little bug which eats gold faster
than the mercury used in our smelters. I saw one
during a visit to the Agricultural department this
aXternoon. It was Inclosed lu a glass bottle no bigger
around than a lead pencil, and not an inch long. It
la not as large as a flea, and it is, .In fact, a little
greenish-gray creature about a quarter of an Inch long,
1 with a miniature snout of the same character as that
I cf a razor-back hog. It is really a beetle which breeds
j In the pods and seeds of the cotton plant, and which
' aeems to feed alone upon it. It is a cunning creature,
and, to use a vulgar expression, is "right on the Job."
It has small wings, and it files upon the cotton boll
whea Just about forming. It bores a hole in the pod
with its snout, and then turns around and lays Its
i eggs in that hole. It now takes some wax or gum
and smears over the hole, closing it tight.
By and by the eggs hatch out into worms, and they
teat out the heart of the boll so that it falls to the
ground. The worms continue to eat, and within a
ahort time grow Into weevils JuBt like their mothers.
, They In turn lay their eggs in more bolls of cotton, in
creasing so rapidly that in one season a" single family
.will become fifteen milllona
Our Greatest Mexican Invasion.
There has been wild talk about an army of Japanese
joining with the Mexican and Invading the United
States. The greatest Mexican invasion and the moat
aerloua invasion Is that of this little bug which came In
from Mexico in 188. It then crossed the Rio Grande
( and began to increase its army at this fifteen million
per family ratio. You remember Cadmus, who sowed
the teeth of a dragon, whereupon a regiment of armed
men sprang from the soil. It la the same with the boll
weevil, only lta regiments oome up by the billions.
They continue to hold every bit of ground that they
-take, and Increasing by geometrical ratio they march
onward, conquering every year a strip of territory
which ia seventy-five or more miles wide.
I have before me a map prepared by the United
States bureau of entomology which marks out the lines
of advancement. In 1891 the boll weevil had infested
a short atrip In south Texas. In 1893 It had moved
farther north and west and continued Its progress
each year until. In 1900, aided by the storms and
winds which brought about the Galveston flood, it had
spread far beyond that city and was eating its way
Into the heart of the cotton belt
year later It had attacked a portion of Louisiana
and now tt has covered aim oat the whole of the Texas
cotton plantations and cut deep iato the heart of Okla
homa, Arkansas and Louisiana. It has Jumped the
Mississippi and Is ravaging the states east of that
river. It is beginning to lay waste southern Alabama
and it will soon be eating the best cotton growing
regions of Georgia, Alabama and Florida, from where
It will go on Into the Carolines as well.
The scientists tell bis that It Is bound to prooeed
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JL -RUT WmClZ KATS GOLD
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and that some of the states which are yet free from
it have been raising funds to fight it. South Carolina
has already devoted 110,000 to getting ready for it;
the Alabama legislature has set aside a fund of
$25,000 to teach the farmers how to fight it, and the
general education board of New York is putting out
through the Agricultural Department at Washington
$15,000 this year to prepare Georgia against Its at
tacks. A Path of Ruin.
Until recently the path of this- Invading army has
been, one of ruin to the planter, It has depopulated the
counties, bankrupted business and sown sorrow and
despair. A few years ago It was prophesied that It
would blight our whole cotton crop and cause a loss
to the country of more than $200,000,000 a year. As
It Is now, notwithstanding its ravages, by the Improved
farming methods an equal amount of cotton has been
raised; and last year our product was greater in quan
tity and money than ever before. Had there been no
boll weevil and had the same methods been used
throughout the whole cotton belt, our crop would have
been doubled and we should now be producing as
much as 20,000,000 bales and upward a year. This
Is the estimate of the late Dr. Seaman Knapp, the
father of the co-operative demonstration work, of the
Agricultural department throughout the south, which
has proved the salvation of the country.
Before Dr. Knapp and his agents had shown the
planters what might be done in cotton raising, not
withstanding the weevil, the farmers were In despair.
They had been raising only cotton, and the weevil
became the terror of millions. The planters thought
it was Impossible to fight It, and a man who lost a big
plantation said it was proof against anything under
the sun. At one of the conventions he said he had
put a weevil In a bottle of alcohol which was 95 per
cent pure and left it there for two hours. At the end
of that time he took it out and put it on the table
and It was only staggering drunk. He then sealed a
handful of the Insects In a tin can and laid it upon
a brush heap, which was set on fire. The flames
melted the solder from the can and the red hot weevils
flew out and burned down bis barn.
Has Coat Millions.
Speaking seriously, however, the department esti
mates that the weevil has already cost, us millions of
balea of cotton and many millions of dollars. It has
annually oost Texas more than twenty millions for a
series of years, and it la now ravaging the states
Take Mississippi, for Instance, the southern part of
which state is now weevil covered. In 1906 the cotton
crop of Adams county amounted to 23,000 bales, and
It was more than 20,000 In 1907. Then the weevil
flew in and In 1909 the yield dropped to 1,700 bales.
The tenant farmers and laborers left the county in
gangs, and today lands can be bought there for aY
Bong. It is the same in some counties of Louisiana. In
Polnte Copee, 50,000 bales of cotton, which, Including
the seed, were worth over $3,500,000, were raised
in 1906, and the crop of 1907, amounting to 11,000
bales, was worth about $3,000,000. Then the boll
weevil came, and in 1909 the crop fell to 3,300 bales,
or to something like $200,000. These figures give
you some idea of what this deadly bug means under
the old cotton-ralslng conditions.
There is another feature of the situation, however,
which must be mentioned. In most parts of the cotton
belt cotton was the only crop. The planter relied upon
it for the money with which he bought everything else.
He imported his corn from the north, and bis pork
came from the store. He sent abroad for his mules,
and with the exception perhaps of a few vegetables
raised nothing but cotton. Moreover, he did the most
of his farming on credit, getting the storekeeper or
planter for whom he worked to furnish him his sup
plies for the winter, the same to be paid out of the
cotton when it was picked. When the weevil wiped
out the cotton he had nothing to fall back upon, and
starvation stareO the greater part of the population
in the face.
Wbjvt Uncle Sam Did.
This is the situation when Uncle 8am, Patriarch,
In the person of h s agent, the late Dr. Seaman A.
Knapp, began to instruct the farmer how to fight this
terrible bug and till make money out of his land.
Dr. Knapp's plan was to teach us how to control the
weevil as far is possible from season to season,
and by the proper selection of seed and by deep plow
ing and throwing to produce plants which would
yield moe cotton, or rather, enough to feed the neces
sary weevils and leave something to spare. His
LOVED you long ago; your eyes seemed
They shone as clear as truth; you gave
- to me
Yourself; and all the world was naught!
Rejoiced because you bound who found me free.
The chains are fast; so close the years and tears
Have welded me to you, I faint when Doubt
Besets my soul; when anguish enters In,
To question subtly Faith that was Devout
The wayward look within your eyes; the gase
That's turned from me; that lie you glibly told;
That truth you did not tell have wounded me
To Death, who loved you well In days of old.
,w ; JTredario P. Ladd In New York Time, J
motto was, "Double the crop by good farming," or,
rather, raise the same crop on half the land.
The plan also provided for diversified farming, to
make the farmer raise all of his own supplies, all his
farm animals and their feed, and to have one patch
which should be planted to cotton to furnish the caBh
for the family. This last fitted in with the condi
tions, for the boll weevil destroys credit wherever It
goes and the farmers are compelled to raise other
things in order to live.
75,000 Demonstration Farms.
. The work began In Texas in 1904 and it has now
spread throughout the south. The government has
650 agents in the cotton belt, and more than 75,000
demonstration farms, upon 'which the planters, un
der the weekly direction of these agents and their
assistants, are raising cotton after government meth
ods. In the boll weevil region there are county clubs
of such farmers, and the stories of the success of their
members have taken the place of politics as a topic of
The government agent selects, as far as possible,
the best farmers and asks them to plant out an acre
of cotton at some conspicuous place on his estate. It
is, if possible, at a cross-roads, or at least near some
road so that the people may see the results as they
go by. A sign marking the spot as a government
farm Is put up, and this place is visited by the
farmers for miles around and the operations carefully
watched. At the start the farmers are always skepti
cal and it is difficult to get them to make the ex
periment. After the first year, however, they are
anxious to try, and the demonstration farms multiply.
In hundreds of counties this work has revolutionized
the methods of farming, and men who were practi
cally bankrupt have become rich. The deposits in
the savings banks have Increased and new banks are
being started in nearly all such regions. .
The credit system Is on the decline. The planters
are raising their own supplies, and with many of
them the cotton receipts are almost all clear gain.
A Talk With Government Agents.
While at the Department of Agriculture today I
bad a long talk with two of Uncle Sam's agents who
have been in charge of this co-operative demonstra
tion farm work for the bureau of plant Industry of
the Department of Agriculture. Each has his own
territory, through which he moves about from state
to state and county to county, superintending the
demonstrations and their hundreds of agents. These
men are W. B. Mercler and H. E. Savely, both of Mis
sissippi. They tell me that they are raising more
cotton than ever before In the sections where the
demonstration work Is, and that last year on 83,000
acres which were cultivated under such directions, a
total of 72,000,000 pounds of seed cotton was raised,
making an average of $60 pounds to the acre. Ia
North Carolina, where there is no weevil as yet, 3,960
pounds of seed cotton have been raised on one acre
making a crop which with lint and seed, was worths
$195. These demonstration farms have shown s
mighty Increase in production over all others about
where the old methods of farming were used, and la
most localities tbey are showing a profit of $11 per
acre over that of their neighbors. ffl
In. one of the worst weevil districts, F. L. Maxwell
of Louisiana. grew 850 pounds of lint to the acre on
a plantation of 2,000 acres, and this on land which la
said to be especially favorable to weevil production.
Converting on Old Farmer.
This demonstration work Is revolutionizing the
south. Both young and old are engaged in it Many
of the boys have been each given an acre upon which
to raise cotton, and there are now boy cotton clubs
as wefVas boy corn clubs. The acre farms are to be
seen everywhere, and the poor farmer cannot help
knowing the big yields of his neighbors.
The government is trying to get the very best
farmera to make the experiments. The agents pick
out those who are noted for their success and com
mon sense and ability. In many cases they persuade
the older planters to engage in the work, and that
with great difficulty. Take, for instance, one old
Georgia farmer, who had been growing crops after the
ordinary methods for forty years. The man stood
high In bis community, and it took much persuasion
to get him to promise to set out an acre, and work
It on the new plan. About two weeks after that the
Agricultural department man again appeared. He
found nothing doing and asked the planter why he
was not carrying out his part of the contract
"To tell the truth, my man, I never thought you
would be around again."
"But you promised to set out that acre and plant
It Just as I told you."
"So I did," was the reply, "and now that you have
come again I will do It."
"Well," said the agent "suppose we go out now
and start your men to plowing, and I will come
around every week and Bee how you are following my
The old man laughed, but be went with the agent
to the barn and picked oui the tools. Among his
farm implements was a subsolllng plow that he Bald
was no good because it plowed too deep for his land.
The agent insisted, however, that It was all right, and
he did not leave until four mules were hitched to it
and the ground was broken up to what the planter
said was a ruinous depth. He then saw the land har
rowed and Instructed the farmer about his seed and
how to plant It.
To make a long story short, the cotton came up
with more vigor than any ever raised on that land
before, and when, later on, the old man was asked to
run a' cultivator over the crop to cut out the weeds
and keep down the grass he replied that it would ruin
the cotton, and when the agent insisted, saying he
would guarantee him against loss, the planter gave
the order, but went away with tears in his eyes, say
ing he could not stay there and see his crop torn to
pieces. He was surprised to find, however, that the
cotton grtiw better than ever, and when, at the end of
the season, he found that he had gotten two bales of
cotton from that acre, whereas the rest of his land
had produced less than one-fourth that amount, he
became an active government supporter. His neigh
bors at first thought It must be In the seed, and they
paid him $2 a bushel for all that came from that acre.
Lately he met the agent again and, In speaking of his
"I am now over 60 years old and have farmed
forty years, but It is only two years since I have
learned how to farm."
The demonstration men give me many stories like
this. Tbey show something of this movement which
Is now permeating the south, and which promises to
make it far richer than ever before.
FRANK O. CARPENTER.
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