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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter II: Hops,   pp. 149-154 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 150

  it wvould seem that the time for a boom in it had arrived; but not
  so. It will be remembered that this was just on the eve of the
  impetus given the wheat industry by a period of high prices; thus
  the hop fever lay dornant for a long interval. Other visions
  occupied the farmer's mind, with wheat always in the foreground.
  With the dull times of the late '5o's advocates of hops tried to as-
  sert themselves; but not till the hopes of fortunes in wheat had
  been abandoned in the chinch-bug period, did hops receive the ser-
  ious attention which seemed destined to be paid them for a season.
  Still it was not the failure of wheat alone. The rise in the price
  of hops was a factor of equal importance.  The following quo-
  tation seems to be so admirably to the point as to be worth giving
  in full:
    The "introduction and extraordinary run [of hop culture] in
 this state are mainly due to three circuimstances-the failure of
 the crop, or rather repeated and utter failures of it, owing to
 ravages of its insect foes, in New York and other portions of the
 East, whence western supplies, even, had been largely drawn;
 to the fact that some of the largest establishments [breweries]
 of the country-and a good many of them--were located in our
 own Metropolitan city; and to the further reason that the climate
 and soils of Wisconsin seemed to be admirably adapted to its
 healthy growth.
   "The crop of 186o was so trifling as hardly to deserve men-
 tion. But in the year 1864 it amounted to 385.583 pounds, as
 shown by the incomplete returns to the secretary of state, with
 a value of $135,127: and in i865 to 829,377 pounds with a total
 value of $347,587. But even this was only the beginning. In
 1866 the business of planting and poling began in earnest and
 before the season was over, the fever raged like an epidemic.
 Gathering renewed force with every new acre planted in the
 countv of Sauk, where it may be said to have originated, and
 where the crop in 1865 was over half a million pounds; it spread
 from neighborhood to neighborhood and from countv to county
 until by i867 it had hopped the whole state over; so completely
 revolutionizing the agriculture that one in passing through found
 some difficulty in convincing himself that he was not really in
 old Kent of England. Even many of our old fashioned wheat
farmers caught the infection and for once have disturbed the

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