Growing a Nation

Historical Timeline — Crops & Livestock

17th-18th Centuries

17th and 18th centuries
All forms of domestic livestock, except turkeys, are imported at some time; crops borrowed from Indians include maize, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, gourds, squashes, watermelons, beans, grapes, berries, pecans, black walnuts, peanuts, maple sugar, tobacco, and cotton

17th and 18th centuries
New crops from Europe include clover, alfalfa, timothy, small grains, and fruits and vegetables; African slaves introduce grain and sweet sorghum, melons, okra, and peanuts

18th century
Tobacco is the chief cash crop of the South

1793
First Merino sheep imported

1795-1815
Sheep industry greatly emphasized in New England

1800

1805-15
Cotton begins to replace tobacco as the chief southern cash crop

1810-15
Demand for Merino sheep sweeps the country

1815-25
Competition with western farm areas begins to force New England farmers out of wheat and meat production and into dairying, trucking, and later, tobacco production

1815-30
Cotton becomes the most important cash crop in the Old South

1819
Secretary of Treasury instructs consuls to collect seeds, plants, and agricultural inventions

1820

1820s
Poland-China and Duroc-Jersey swine are developed, and Berkshire swine are imported

1821
Edmund Ruffin's first Essay on Calcareous Manures

1836-62
Patent Office collects agricultural information and distributes seeds

1830s-1850s
Improved transportation to the West forces eastern staple growers into more varied production for nearby urban centers

1840

1840
Justus von Liebig's Organic Chemistry

1840-50
New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are the chief wheat States

1840-60
Hereford, Ayrshire, Galloway, Jersey, and Holstein cattle are imported and bred

1849
First poultry exhibition in the United States

1850s
Commercial corn and wheat belts begin to develop; wheat occupies the newer and cheaper land west of the corn areas, and is constantly forced westward by rising land values and the encroachment of corn; alfalfa grown on the west coast

1858
Grimm alfalfa introduced

1860

1860s
Cotton Belt begins to move westward; Corn Belt begins stabilizing in its present area

1860
Wisconsin and Illinois chief wheat States

1866-89
Era of the Great Plains cattlemen

1870s
Increased specialization in farm production; Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio chief wheat States; foot-and-mouth disease first reported in the United States

1874-76
Grasshopper plagues in the West
1877 U.S. Entomological Commission established for work on grasshopper control

1880

1880s
Cattle industry moves into the western and southwestern Great Plains

1882
Bordeau mixture (fungicide) discovered in France and soon used in U.S.; Robert Koch discovers tubercle bacillus

Mid-1880s
Texas the chief cotton State

1886-87
Blizzards, following drought and overgrazing, disastrous to northern Great Plains cattle industry

1889
Bureau of Animal Industry discovers carrier of tick fever

1890
Minnesota, California, and Illinois chief wheat States; Babcock butterfat test devised

1892
Boll weevil crosses the Rio Grande and begins to spread north and east; eradication of pleuropneumonia

1899
Improved method of anthrax inoculation

1900

1900-10
Turkey red wheat emerges as commercial crop

1900-20
Extensive experimental work to breed disease-resistant varieties of plants, to improve plant yield and quality, and to increase the productivity of farm animal strains

1903
Hog cholera serum developed

1904
First serious stem-rust epidemic affecting wheat

1910

1910
North Dakota, Kansas, and Minnesota chief wheat States; durum wheats become important commercial crops; 35 States and territories require tuberculin testing of all cattle entering

1910-20
Grain production reaches into the most arid sections of the Great Plains

1912
Marquis wheat introduced; Panama and Colombia sheep developed

1917
Kansas red wheat distributed

1920

1926
Ceres wheat distributed; first hybrid-seed corn company organized; Targhee sheep developed

1930

1930-35
Use of hybrid-seed corn becomes common in the Corn Belt

1934
Thatcher wheat distributed; Landrace hogs imported from Denmark

1938
Cooperative organized for artificial insemination of dairy cattle

1940

1940s and 1950s
Acreages of crops, such as oats, required for horse and mule feed drop sharply as farms use more tractors

1945-55
Increased use of herbicides and pesticides

1947
U.S. cooperates with Mexico to prevent spread of foot-and-mouth disease

1950

1955s
Sterile flies used for screwworm control

 

 

 

 

1960

1960s
Soybean acreage expands as an alternative to other crops

1960
96% of corn acreage planted with hybrid seed

1961
Gaines wheat distributed

1966
Fortuna wheat distributed

1970

1970
Plant Variety Protection Act; Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Norman Borlaug for developing high-yielding wheat varieties

1972
Molecular biologist Paul Berg pioneers the techniques that make possible the transfer of genes from one strand of DNA to another

1975
Lancota wheat introduced

1978
Hog cholera officially eradicated

1979
Purcell winter wheat introduced

1980

1980
The first American patent for a genetically engineered organism, a bacterium used to clean up oil spills, is granted

1980s
Biotechnology becomes viable for improving crop and livestock products

1983-84
Avian influenza of poultry eradicated before it spreads beyond a few Pennsylvania counties

1986
Antismoking campaigns and legislation begin to affect the tobacco industry

1990-2000

1990s
Biotechnology brings important new developments in dairy, corn, and other commodities; genetically engineered crops and livestock appear

1990s
Livestock waste becomes a major issue

Mid-1990s
USDA meat inspection programs modernized in response to concerns about food safety

1997
'New Leaf Superior,' a potato developed by Monsanto that carries a beetle-killing BT gene, is registered as an insecticide with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1997-98
Tobacco industry settles lawsuits; aid proposed to tobacco farmers

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