History Moment By William “Doc” Halliday

1931 Crop Destruction

Crop DestructionMany people who are not farmers or at least backyard gardeners don’t understand the frailty of crops. Most people see abundant canned and packaged food on the grocery shelves and never contemplate a shortage or potential problem. The food available in your grocer’s freezers seems inexhaustible. Even when your grocer culls the fruit and vegetables in the produce department it appears they are concerned about appearance as much as anything else. Yes, you must pay for it, but bananas are brought in from the Caribbean and raspberries from South America. Food was not always this plentiful.


Some of the problems affecting the growth of crops are soil fertility, disease, moisture, and other consumers of your crop. Soil fertility was originally solved by moving to a new farming area where the nutrients in the soil had not been depleted. Human and animal waste was used as fertilizer before chemical fertilizers were developed. Plant diseases can be a significant yield and quality constraint for growers. Chemical treatments and preventatives have been developed for bacteria, fungi, and viruses in and on plants. Excessive moisture can cause plant rot and drowning in most plants (rice may be the sole exception). Too little moisture causes drought and the plants dry up and blow away. Some crops may be eaten by rabbits or deer. And then there are the insects!

Since the very beginning of deliberate agriculture, people have struggled…

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