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History of The First Swedish Pioneers

By: C. J. Johnson, 1915


Principal Crops Raised in Early Days-- Manner of Planting and Machinery Used.

When the first Swedish settlers came to Crawford county they were told that we could not raise any corn and that the principal crops to raise on the rich fertile soil in western Iowa were spring wheat and other small grain, which was grown with good success. Twenty-five and thirty bushels per acre was about the average yield. We were told by some of the Americans who had lived around Deloit a few years prior to this time that we could not raise and produce corn successfully in Iowa. The corn belt was in Illinois and a few of the states east of Illinois. Nevertheless, it was experimented with and some fair corn was produced, but the virgin soil and the climate were not as good as they should have been to produce a good crop. But as the soil was cultivated and plowed year after year, it generally worked in so as to produce good crops, until now we claim we have as good soil and climate as almost any other state for raising a good corn crop and by experience we know that the corn belt works north and west year by year, and it does not pay to raise spring wheat in our locality any more. We were also told that red clover could not be raised. It was quite difficult to get started and many a farmer became almost disgusted with the experiments, but after it is started it grows rapidly and now we all know its value for hay as well as seed and for building up the land.

Now, there is another kind of hay which is claimed to be the best paying crop that farmers can produce and this is alfalfa or, as they call it out in the far west, lucerne. Without a doubt there is no crop which gives a better return than alfalfa as it can be used for many purposes and all kinds of live stock relish it. For chickens, cattle, hogs and horses it is ground up into meal and fed in this way, also.

I wish to write a short account of the way in which the corn was first planted and cultivated around Kiron. When the seed bed was ready for planting the field was laid out or marked with a corn marker in both directions and then followed the planting in the cross, either by a hand planter or with a hoe, and when this was accomplished and the time for cultivation was at hand we had a one horse cultivator to use or, if preferred, a hoe.

About this time most of the ox teams had been disposed of and in their places a majority of the farmers had purchased horses. It required a large number of them among all farmers and as a rule the horses sold at high prices. It did not take a very long time to introduce the two wheeled corn planter, which was put onto the market for sale. This was another great invention which was welcomed by the farmers. Now the ground did not need to be marked more than one way for the corn and two men sat on the planter, one to drive the team and the other to sit on the front and drop the corn into the mark.

Progression and improvements are the aims of our day and especially so in our country and it did not take long until we had a checkrower in which was a rope notched to drop the corn as the notches slipped through the forks. This checkrower was not perfect, as it missed some of the hills, but we soon had corn planters which were perfected to drop either into the hills or drill, as we have them at the present time.

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