Geog. 317 - U.S. & Canada
Change in Agricultural Production in the U.S. & Canada from the 1950’s to the Present
The soybean’s rise to agricultural prominence in the U.S. & Canada actually began prior to 1950, during the period of the World War II. Prior to the events of World War II, soybean production had been centered on the areas of China and Manchuria, what is present day Northeastern China. During World War II the price of all commodities worldwide skyrocketed. The most important factor in the soybean’s early rise to prominence was the shortage of fats and oils that was created by World War II and the need for renewable domestic alternatives.
Although it was originally feared that after World War II the demand for the soybean would drop dramatically, these fears proved to be unfounded. In fact, not only did production and demand for the soybean remain, but also with the virtual disappearance of soybean production in the major soybean-producing region of Manchuria, demand and subsequent production of the soybean actually increased -substantially. According to the census of agriculture in 1954 the production of soybeans for all purposes between the years of 1949 and 1954 saw a net increase of 5,977,383 acres, or 48.7 percent.
Between 1949 and 1954 the major centers for soybean production in the U.S. were in the Midwest or Heartland region. The majority of soybeans produced in this region were produced in areas of southern Minnesota, East central Illinois, Northwestern Ohio and the Mississippi river valley areas of Southeastern Missouri and North Eastern Arkansas.
Canadian Soybean production totals, although increasing during this time, are far less impressive than the production totals of the United States. In fact, by comparison it might be questionable whether or not they are even worth mentioning.
According to 1950 census data, in 1949 U.S. soybean production of soybean plants 212,439,834 bushels. By contrast, during this same span of time, Canadian soybean production totaled roughly 2 million bushels. This means that Canada produced just less than one percent of the total U.S. soybean production during that time period. To provide further example, in 1965, Canadian soybean production reach the staggering production totals of roughly 8 million bushels. (Soyinfocenter.com) To emphasize this disparity, the last time U.S. soybean production for plants being cultivated just for soybeans totaled around 8 million bushels it was 1929 and even then the U.S. Production numbers were closer to 9 million than eight. (U.S. Census of Agriculture 1954)
Much like in the United States, Canadian soybean production is centered near the middle of the continent. In 1951, 99.4 percent of all of soybeans produced and harvested for beans in Canada were grown within the province of Ontario. (Atlas of Canada, 3rd ed. 1957)
The main soybean producing region of Ontario in southern most tip of the province, which is also the southern most area of Canada. This area’s close proximity to three major great lakes, Lake Huron to the west, Lake Erie to the south, and Lake Ontario to the east helps to moderate climate in the area. This moderating effect means that this area will have warmer, milder temperatures in the spring, fall, and winter. (Atlas of Canada, Temperature 2007)
The milder temperatures found in southern Ontario give this area an extended growing season compared to other areas in Canada, often allowing for an earlier start to the growing season and if necessary, a later than average harvest season. Southern Ontario’s close proximity to the Great Lake Huron all but guarantees adequate winter precipitation due to lake effect snowfalls. This season long build up of precipitation helps to maintain ground water tables and provides for adequate soil moisture during the spring planting season. (Lew, 2004)
Southern Ontario’s moderated climate and extended growing season coupled with...
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