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In the Russians’ steppes: the introduction of Russian wheat on the Great Plains of the United States of America*

  • David Moon (a1)

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, wheat varieties from the Russian steppes were introduced on the Great Plains of the USA, a region with a similar environment. The introduction was partly a by-product of the migration of German farmers from the steppes to the Great Plains in the 1870s. The US Department of Agriculture, eager to promote American wheat production in a competitive world market for grain in which Russia was in the lead, sought out wheat varieties on the steppes that were suitable for the Great Plains. Russian wheat varieties became mainstays on the Great Plains for the next few decades, while Russian agriculture declined under Soviet power. On the basis of research on both sides of the Atlantic, this article sheds light on an important aspect of the global exchange of peoples and crops that has shaped the agricultural and economic history of societies around the world since the invention of agriculture.

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W. Kollmorgen , ‘The woodsman’s assaults on the domain of the cattleman’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers (henceforth AAAG), 59, 1969, pp. 215–39

A.G. McCall , ‘The transcontinental excursion’, Soil Science, 25, 1, 1928, pp. 105–6.

C.F. Marbut , ‘Russia and the United States in the world’s wheat market’, Geographical Review, 21, 1, 1931, pp. 710.

N.C. Field , ‘Environmental quality and land productivity: a comparison of the agricultural land base of the USSR and North America’, Canadian Geographer, 12, 1968, pp. 114.

B.K. Goodwin and T.J. Grennes , ‘Tsarist Russia and the world wheat market’, Explorations in Economic History, 35, 1998, pp. 405430.

C.F. Marbut , ‘Agriculture in the United States and Russia: a comparative study of natural conditions’, Geographical Review, 21, 4, 1931, p. 605.

Bradley H. Baltensperger , ‘Agricultural change among Great Plains Russian Germans’, AAAG, 73, 1983, pp. 7588.

A.L. Olmstead and P.W. Rhode , ‘The Red Queen and the hard reds: productivity growth in American wheat, 1800–1940’, Journal of Economic History, 62, 2002, pp. 929–66.

R.W. Davies , The socialist offensive: the collectivisation of Soviet agriculture 1929–1930, London: Macmillan, 1980

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Journal of Global History
  • ISSN: 1740-0228
  • EISSN: 1740-0236
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-global-history
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