Category Archives: International Harvester Company

Articles which mention International Harvester farm equipment or Farmall tractors.

The 1951 Farmall H bearing the Serial Number 375596, nicknamed “Patrick’s H”

by

Brian Wayne Wells

The 1951  Farmall H bearing the Serial Number 375596, Nicknamed “Patrick’s H”

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected.

In 2005, Mark Wells purchased a Farmall H from the family’s good friend–Bill Radil. This tractor bears the Serial Number #375596 which means the tractor rolled off the Model H assembly line at the International Harvester Company’s “Farmall Works factory located in Rock Island, Illinois some time in the “model year” of 1951. In contrast to the calendar year, which runs from January 1st until December 31st, the model year runs from August 1st of one year to July 31st of the next year.

Bill Radil had purchased No. 375596 in 1990 with the intent of giving the tractor to his step son Patrick Fay. Patrick had been expressing an interest in antique farm tractors and helping Bill with the restoration of farm tractors since childhood. Now that Patrick was in high school, Bill felt that it was time that he had a tractor of his own. Thus, #375596 became his tractor and was soon nicknamed “Patrick’s tractor” or Patrick’s H.” The nick name stuck and was soon used by other persons outside of the Radel family, including the current author and his brother–Mark Wells.

in The ahBill

The 1954 Farmall Super MTA from South Dakota

The 1954  Farmall Model Super MTA from South Dakota

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected.

 

 

The Farmall M is the very popular tractor that has captured the affection of a great number of the collectors of International Harvester tractors.  However, a great number of devotees of the Farmall M, will probably admit that their favorite version of the M is that final iteration of the M series–the Super MTA.  This was true in the family of the current author as both he and his brother–Mark Wells have longed since childhood to have a Super MTA of their own.  The Wells family did not keep this desire to own a Farmall Super MTA a secret from their friends and aquaintances–including Bill Radil.

Accordingly, when, in December of 2018, Bill Radil of Montgomery, Minnesota decided to sell the Super MTA that he had owned for about eight years, he turned to the Wells family.  Bill informed Mark Wells that he offered to give the Wells family the first right of refusal on sale of the tractor.  Needless to say, there was no refusal.  Rather there was an immediate acceptance of the offer to sell the Farmall Super MTA.  Indeed,  payment for the tractor was concluded before the end of the month. 

 

When purchased brom Bill Radil the 1954 Super MTA was in its original unrestored condition.

 

Once the sale of the tractor was concluded, the current author instinctively began to research as much of the history of the tractor as he could research.   Bill Radil had owned the Super MTA since about 2010.  While he did not have a great deal of information about the person who had sold the Super MTA to him, Bill did know the tractor had come from South Dakota.  

Because the tractor is a tricycle-style tractor it stands to reason that the tractor must have come from a row crop growing area of South Dakota.  The row crop growing area of South Dakota is located in the east part of the state.  The western part of South Dakota tends to be too dry and hot in during the summer to grow corn, soybeans and other row crops profitably,  This hot and dry climate of the western South Dakota is better suited to the raising of cereal grains like wheat, rye and barley.   

 Indeed, the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and, actually,  all states down to the Rio Grande River, through which the 100th meridian passes, are divided by the 100th meridian into two major climatic areas.  To the west of the 100th meridian the climate tends to be  dry and hot in the summer–too hot and dry to be efficient for the raising of row crops like corn, soybeans and editable beans.  This makes the most of the area of west of the 100th meridian more suitable for raising for large scale (horizon to horizon) farming of cereal grains like wheat, rye and barley abound.  While to the east of the 100th meridian the abundant rain and rich soil tends to be more appropriate for the raising of row crops like corn and soybeans.  Indeed, the 100th meridian neatly divides the whole of North America into the row-crop Midwest on the east and the horizon to horizon Great Plains

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The 100th Meridian is regarded as the boundary between the Midwestern region of the United States from the drier and hotter Great Plains region.

Actually, in recent times many climate scientists have pointed  out that the modern day boundary between the row crop growing area of eastern South Dakota and the drier and hotter wheat growing area of western South Dakota has been moving far east of the 100th meridian because of climate change.

 

Climate scientists suggest that the actual climatalogical boundary between the Midwest and the Grain Plains of the United States has moved far east of the 100th Meridian. As the above map reveals, for South Dakota the climatological boundary may have already reached the western border of Minnesota.

 

 Indeed, the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and, actually,  all states down to the Rio Grande River, through which the 100th meridian passes, are divided by the 100th meridian into two major climatic areas.  To the west of the 100th meridian the climate tends to be  dry and hot in the summer–too hot and dry to be efficient for the raising of row crops like corn, soybeans and editable beans.  This makes the most of the area of west of the 100th meridian more suitable for raising for large scale (horizon to horizon) farming of cereal grains like wheat, rye and barley abound.  While to the east of the 100th meridian the abundant rain and rich soil tends to be more appropriate for the raising of row crops like corn and soybeans.  Indeed, the 100th meridian neatly divides the whole of North America into the row-crop Midwest on the east and the horizon to horizon Great 

Codington County was a typical agricultural community in eastern South Dakota.  The United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) had reported in their 1940 census that 91.7% of the county land area was taken up by operating farms.  There were 1,170 individual operating farms in Codington County the average size of a farm in Codington County was 346.7 acres.  

 

A county map of South Dakota showing the location of Codington County in the eastern part of the state.

 

Between, 1941 and 1945, however, World War II had caused substantial changes to farming in Codington County.  United States government purchasing of agricultural products to feed the troops in two theaters of war, tended to drive up prices of farm commodities to record high levels.  By 1945, although the total land area of the county under operating farms had increased to 95.1%, the number of operating farms in the county had decreased to 1,155 individuals farms.  However, the average size of the the individual farm actually increased to 364.1 acres per farm.  Obviously, the war had caused a substantial consolidation of farming in Codington County.  Farms had been sold and merged with other farming operations resulting in larger individual farms.  One might have anticipated that trend toward consolidation would have continued in the post war era.  However the 1950, U.S.D.A. agricultural census revealed that the number of individual operating farms in Codington County had the percentage of land area in the county increased slightly to 95.5 %, the number of farms increased to 1,160 farms.  Furthermore, the average size of an operating farm in the county in 1950 fell to 360.2acres.  These last to facts seem to suggest that the consolidation trend of the war years had been reversed.  However, this reversal can probably be explained by the fact that many of the returning veterans of the Second World War were entering farming.  Most of these veterans would be taking over their parents home farms.  However at least some were starting from scratch and having to purchase their own farms.  This would result in a larger number of farms for the period of time immediately following the Second World War. 

Just 4 years later, 1954, the percentage of land in Codington County under agricultural production fell to 91.6%.  The number of individual farms in Codington County decreased to 1,078 operating farms and the average size of a farm in Codington County had grown to 375.9 acres.  The period from 1950 until 1953 was the period of United States involvement in the Korean War.  Just as with the Second World War, there was an increase in farm produce commodity prices with the coming of the war.  Although the Korean War was actually a military campaign carried out under the United Nations and although many nations sent contingents soldiers to defend South Korea to 

The United States had a large contingent of soldiers involved      

 

Although state-wide across South Dakota as a whole there had been a decrease in the number of operating farms from 72,454 farms in the 1940  68,705 farms in 1945 to  s the Now in the post-war the the recent war–

 

Located in the eastern part of South Dakota is Codington County.  The population of the county as a whole had been 18,944 in the 1950 census.  This was an increase in population of 11.3% from the pre-war, 1940, population figure of 17,014.  The United States Department of Agriculture found that in 1940 

 

 

Along the eastern edge of the county are three (3) townships, running north to south.  Of the three the center township is Waverly Township.  This township is the home of a particular diversified farming operation of a particular farmer–our Waverly Township farmer. 

 

A township map of Codington County shows three townships along the eastern boundary of the county the center township (here colored in orange) is Waverly Township.

 

The county seat and largest City in Codington County is Watertown (1950 pop. 12,699)  The population of Watertown had risen 19.6% from the 1940 population of 10,617. 

The 1955 Model 300 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 22368.

The 1955 Farmall Model 300 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 22368.    

by

Brian Wayne Wells

      This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected.

 

The tricycle-style Farmall Model 300 tractor.  This tractor has the optional three hydraulic levers which are attached to the hood of the tractor behind the steering wheel on the operator’s platform.  From this angle the levers can be seen in this picture, just  just behind the headlight.  Two of these levers will control the hydraulic oil flow through the two hydraulic hoses, which are seen in this picture in front of the belt pulley.  These two hoses will led to hydraulic connectors on the rear of the tractor to be used for remote hydraulic cylinders on any farm equipmdnt that might be towed by the tractor.  The  third lever is probably for the fast hitch on the tractor.

 

The Farmall 300 bearing the serial number 22368 with the mounted McCormick-Deering Model 33A power loader was for sale during the 2018 Swap Meet on the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association.

 

Introduction of the  “letter-series” tractors actually began on June 21, 1939 with the full scale production of the Farmall Model A tractor at the company’s “Tractor Works” factory located at 24th Street and Western Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.  During the last half of 1939, the Tractor Works would turn out 6,243 Farmall Model A tractors and the next year–1940 (the first full year of production)–the Chicago  factory would manufacture 34,756 Farmall Model A tractors.

An advertisement of the introduction of the “letter-series” tractors in 1939. In July of 1939 only the Farmall Models M, H, and A were introduced. In December 1939 a fourth model–the Model B was introduced. ,

 However, the real action in Farmall tractor production was occurring across the State of Illinois on the Mississippi River at Rock, Island, Illinois.  In Rock Island, at the company’s “Farmall Works” facility the larger Farmall tractors which held the future of the company, were being produced.  The three-plow Farmall M, which was the largest of the row-crop tractors of all the letter series tractors, began production on July 15, 1939 at the huge “Farmall Works” factory.  The Farmall Model H tractor began production on its own assembly line within the Farmall Works.

The Farmall H assembly line at the Farmall Works factory in uRock Island, Illinois was always busy turning out the most popular of all Farmall letter series tractors–the Model H.

As noted in other articles at this website, when the two-plow Farmall H began production on July 21, 1939, the Model H quickly became the leading seller in the Farmall line of tractors,  immediately out-selling the  larger Farmall M.  (In 1939, 10,152 Farmall Model H’s were made and sold as opposed to only 6,739 Farmall M’s)  There were at multiple assembly lines in the large Farmall Works facility.  One of the assembly lines in the Farmall Works was dedicated to production of the Farmall H, while production of the Farmall M was performed on another assembly line in another part of the factory.

An aerial view of the Farmall Works factory in Rock Island, Illinois

Observers had long expected that the larger and more powerful three-plow tractor of the letter series, the Farmall Model M would outsell the two-bottom Model H.    However, from the very start of the production run of the letter series in the summer of 1939, the Farmall Model H proved to be the most popular selling tractor of the series.  With the exception of the single year of 1947, this would remain the situation until 1949.  

The Farmall Model H was the most popular selling tractor of the series.

During the years that followed the introduction of the letter-series tractors, production of the Farmall H continued to outstrip production of the Farmall M in the years that followed.  (41,734 Farmall H’s were made in the modelyear 1940 and 40,850 were made in 1941.  During the same years, production of the larger Farmall M was limited to only 18,131 in 1940 and 25,617 in 1941.)  These were the glory years of tractor production for the Farmall Model H.

However, with the coming of the Second World War, the United States government began to restrict the use of raw materials and manufacturing capacity for anything but the war effort.  Civilian manufacturing was greatly curtailed during the war years.  Accordingly, in model year 1942,  production of the Farmall Model H at International Harvesters‘ Farmall Works in Rock Island, Illinois fell to 29,353.  In 1943, production of the Model H fell to 27,661 tractors.  In 1944, production rose again to 35,872, but still did not reach the pre-war production figures. Production in 1945 was  28,697 Farmall H’s.  Even with the end of the war, the number of Farmall Model H’s rolling off the Model H assembly line at the huge Rock Island Farmall Works facility in 1946, still was limited to 26,343 Farmall H’s.   (During these same immediate post-war years, production of the Farmall M lagged behind at 9,025 tractors in 1942; 7,413 Farmall Model M’s in 1943;  and 20,661 Model M’s in 1944; 17,479 in 1945; 17,259 in 1946 and 28,885 in 1947.)

Public appreciatioin of the benefits of the more powerful Farmall Model M would not make the Farmall M the best selling tractor in the Farmall line until 1949.

However, as the demand for bigger and more efficient farm equipment grew in the post-war years, farmers turned to buying larger farm tractors like the Farmall Model M.  As a result the sales gap between the Model H and the Model M sales narrowed and in 1947 sales of the Farmall M reached 28,885 tractors and actually surpassed sales of the Farmall H  (27,848 Farmall H’s in 1947)  for the first time.  After falling behind the Model H in sales for the year 1948, (31,885 Farmall Model H’s as opposed to 28,806 Model M’s were manufactured in 1948), the Model M once again took the lead in the sales and production again in 1949 with 33,065 Farmall M’s rolling  off  the Model M assembly line while only 27,099 Farmall H’s rolled off the Model H assembly line at the Farmall Works facility in Rock Island, Illinois.  This time the Model M would continue to lead the Farmall H in production figures for the remainder  of the production run of the letter-series tractors.  (In 1950, production of the Model M reached 33,939 tractors.  In 1951, a record, 43,405 Farmall M tractors were made and sold.

In 1952, the International Harvester Company replaced the Farmall Model M with the new Farmall Super M.  Early in the production year of 1952 the Farmall Works factory in Rock Island, Illinois made 7,295 Farmall M tractors before the factory was closed down for retooling and preparation for the production of the Super M.  International Harvester actually built 12,015 Super M’s at the Farmall Works in Rock Island, Illinois in the latter part of the 1952 production year.  (An additional 1,905 Super M’s built at the newly constructed factory located in Louisville, Kentucky.)

Meanwhile, on the Farmall H assembly line at the same Rock Island factory, 23,948 Farmall Model H’s rolled off the Model H assembly line in 1950; 23,938 followed in 1951 and an identical number of 23,938 were made in 1952.  Accordingly, after the first three years of production of the Farmall H–1939-1941, production of the Farmall Model H became much more consistent during  the 11 years from 1942 through 1952.  During these 11 years the average yearly production of Farmall Model H’s was 27,871 Model H’s per year, or 2,323 every month during this period of time. If we assume that the average month consists of 20 working days excluding weekends and holidays the daily production of Farmall H’s during this period was 116 tractors each work day.

Additionally, 727 Farmall H’s were made in 1953 bringing the total number of Farmall H’s manufactured during the entire production run from 1939 through 1953 to 391,227 individual tractors.  Of course, in 1953, the International Harvester Company replaced the Farmall Model H with a the Farmall Model Super H.  So after making the 727 Farmall H’s in the early part of the production year of 1953– the Farmall Works facility closed down for a retooling of the H assembly line.  Following the retooling of the H assembly line, the Farmall Works produced 21,707 individual Super H tractors in the latter part of 1953.

Adding the 1953 production of Farmall H’s with the 1953 production of Super H’s together,results in the combined production figure of  22,434 individual tractors that came off the Farmall H assembly line at the Rock Island Farmall Works in 1953.  This combined production figure for 1953 was only 5,437 less that the average yearly production of the Farmall H assembly line in the Farmall Works facility.   The loss of production time in 1953 from the average production year appears to be the equivalent of two-months and seven working days.  This was probably the amount of time that was needed for a skeleton crew of workers to retool the Farmall H assembly line at the Farmall Works to begin full production of the Super H.

Introduction of the Farmall Super H occurred at the Minnesota State Fair in late August of 1952 which was the actual beginning of the 1953 “model year.”

This article has been referring to the term “production year.” If the “production year” coincided with the calendar year, it would logical to assume that the 1953 production of 727 Farmall H’s occurred over the first six days in January, 1953.  However, it is more likely that the 1953 production figures are not for the “calendar year” of 1953, but rather are for the “production or model year” of 1953.  Tractors did not change styling on an annual basis the way that automobiles were starting to do annually in the post-World War period, but tractors were starting follow a “model year” system like automobiles rather than following a traditional  calendar year system.  Under the model year system,new model automobiles were introduced in September of the previous year rather than on January 1st of the current year.  However, the model year in tractors would need to begin in August of each year, especially for model years that involved substantive changes in the model of tractor.  The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public.  State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss.  Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which  was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.the model year in tractors would need to begin in August of each year, especially for model years that involved substantive changes in the model of tractor.  The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public.  State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss.  Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which  was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.the model year in tractors would need to begin in August of each year, especially for model years that involved substantive changes in the model of tractor.  The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public.  State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss.  Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which  was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.  The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public.  State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss.  Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which  was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.  The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public.  State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss.  Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which  was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which  was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which  was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.

Accordingly, we might conclude that full production run of the Farmall Super H was begun in early August of 1952 to have sufficient time to get examples of the new Super H off the production line and shipped to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota “block house” (the International Harvester Company-owned distribution warehouse located at 2572 University Avenue in the midtown area between the two cities.  Ordinarily, the staff at the block house would be hurriedly re-shipping the tractors they received from the Farmall Works to the various dealerships around Minnesota who they served.  However, in this case the block house staff would be instructed to not ship any Super Hs out to their dealership until after the official introduction of the Super H at the large International Harvester tent on the State Fairgrounds on the first day of the State Fair.

Television in the early 1950 helped create even more excitement around the Minnesota State Fair.  Tractor Manufacturers could not pass up the advertising possibilities to reach the farming public available at the Minnesota State Fair.  Here KSTP Channel 9 television out of Minneapolis at the State Fair adds to the excitement and advertising possibilities of the State fair in the 1950s.

KMSP Channel 9 television out of Minneapolis at the State Fair in the 1950s.

It was well advertised that the Model Super H had more horse power (hp.) than the regular Farmall Model H.  (Testing in Nebraska had shown the new Super H to turn out 30.68 hp. at the drawbar and 33.40 hp. at the belt pulley.  While the regular Model H had created only 24.17 hp. at the drawbar and 26.40 at the belt pulley.)  However, one small difference that probably went unnoticed at the State Fair, was the fact that the wheel base of the Super H was about an inch longer that the regular H.  (89.25 inches for the Super H and 88.325 inches for the regular H)  a single inch added to the wheel base would hardly be noticeable to anyone.  This was a sign that the addition of live hydaulics as an option to the Super H had made space along the top of the power train and inside the transmission case extremely limited.  The H needed to be totally redesigned in the near future.  Thus, it was no surprise that for the model year 1955,International Harvester Company replaced the Farmall Super H in their line of farm tractors with the Farmall Model 300 tractor. 

 Once again the “model year” of 1955 actually began in 1954.   A book written by Guy Fay and Andy Kraushaar called Original Farmall Hundred Series 1954-1958 reveals that  IHC records show that production of the Farmall 300 began in November of 1954.  During November and December of 1954 the records in the Fay and Kraushaar book have 1,182 Model 300 tractors built in November and 1,677 Model 300 tractors built in December of 1954.  Like the Model Super H, production of the Farmall 300 was also short lived. Clearly, in this case, no Model 300 tractors were available for the 1954 Minnesota State Fair.  The introduction of the Farmall Model 300 to the Minnesota State Fair had to wait until August of 1955.

(Coincidentally, the current author attended this fair as a six year old child.  along with his parents, the late Wayne A. Wells, Marilyn (Hanks) Wells, four year old brother, Mark Wells, and and three-year old sister, Eileen Wells.  Also attending was the current author’s Uncle John Hanks and his Aunt Hildreth Hanks and the family’s good friend Rhona Fitzpatrick.  A good time was had by all!! For the current author and his siblings it was a marvelous adventure.  brother The family slept out in a series of camping tents in the campground at the State Fair.  One of the first exhibits the family saw was the early show at the International Harvester tent.  It was quite a show as the Fast-Hitch 300 tractor was shown hitching and unhitching rapidly to the music of a square dance.  Later years at the big International Harvester tent would have the would have Farmall tractors driven through their famous square dance without the Fast Hitch implements, but 1955 was different.  The Fast Hitch on the 300 had to be demonstrated for the farming public in attendance.  The visit to the State Fair was repeated again in 1956 and threatened to become an annual event.  However, in 1957, Uncle John went into the United States Army and the current author’s immediate family rode a passenger train to Elyria, Ohio to see Aunt Hildreth and pick up a new 1957 Plymouth station wagon.  In 1958 the family took the new car on an extensive trip to Seattle , Washington, and back.   The family would not see the State Fair again until 1959.  By this time the Farmall tractors had changed appearance dramatically and the big top tent at the International Harvester exhibit now featured International Model 340 crawlers doing the famous square dance.) 

While the production run of the Model 300 continued for the entire twelve months of 1955 and continued into 1956, production of the 300 ceased in August of 1956.  As a result, the production run of the successor to the Farmall 300 (the Farmall Model 350) did not—according to Fay and Kraushaar’s beautiful book–begin until the November of 1956. 

The model year of 1955, saw the introduction of the whole line of the “Hundred Series” tractors by the  International Harvester Company.  The Hundred Series line of tractors included the larger Model 400 and the smaller Model 200 and Model 100 tractor in addition to the Model 300.  

The production figures of the Farmall Super H and the Farmall 300 are confusing because both Super H and the 300 were produced for only one entire model year each–1952 and 1954, respectively.  Every year has 250 working days excluding Saturday and Sunday of each of 52 weeks in the year.  By using the serial numbers index we can determine how many tractors can be built in a single day at the Rock Island Tractor Works.  Whether the tractor was the Farmall H or the Farmall Super H or the Farmall 300,  the average daily production figure was 85 tractors per day.  As noted above, instead of the January to January, calendar year we must consider the model year which for reasons stated above, must be considered rather than the calendar year.  Instead, of January 1, we look at the August 1 as the beginning of the new model year.  Following this procedure we can determine that the 1955 model year of the Farmall 300 began on August 1, 1954.  and ended on August 1, 1955.  At the rate of production of 85 tractors built per day, the production of the Farmall 300 bearing the Serial No. 22368 occurred on the Monday, July 18, 1955.  Just 10 days prior to the start of the new model year of August, 1955-August, 1956.

When the new Farmall 300 was made available to the public, there were a number of options that were available for the 300.  These options had not been available on predecessors of the 300, i.e. the Farmall Super H or the Farmall H.   First, one of the most common options available on the Farmall 300 was the newly developed “Torque Amplifier” or “T.A.”   After being available in 1954 on the Farmall Super MTA tractor during the short production run of the Super MTA in 1954, the T.A. option was made available on “Hundred Series” tractors, e.g. the Model 400 and Model 300 etc., when the Hundred Series was introduced in the 1955 model year.

An advertisement of the Torque Amplifier or T.A. that was available for the tractors of the new Hundred Series.

 

The 1955 Farmall Model 300  bearing the Serial No. 22368 was first purchased by a farm family from Carver County and probably purchased from an International Harvester dealership in the county seat of Chaska  .  The tractor seems to have been equipped at the factory with every single piece of optional equipment that had been made available for the Model 300.  Besides the Torque Amplifier option which is described above,  No. 22368 is fitted with the optional three hydraulic valve levers located on the right side of the dash board on the operator’s platform.

The Farmall Model 300 bearing the serial number 22368 is fitted with the optional set of three levers, rather than a mere two levers or even a single lever, on the right side of the dash board of the Farmall 300 tractor.

The optional set of three levers means that the particular tractor is equipped with three independent and “live” hydraulic valves on the tractor.   Each lever controls the hydraulic oil valve that regulates the flow of oil pumped down a hose to any  cylinder located on the tractor or located “remotely” on an implement being towed by the tractor.  The hydraulics on the Hundred Series Farmalls are independent “live hydraulics.”  This means that the hydaulics will operate even when the foot clutch on tractor is depressed or disengaged.  

By the time that No. 22368 was purchased in the spring of 2018 by Wells Family Tractors, a Model 33A McCormick-Deering hydraulic loader had been mounted on the tractor.  Accordingly, the lever nearest the dash board controlled the valve that directed hydraulic oil down the hoses to the cylinders located on the arms of the loader which would allow the loader to raise the bucket which was attached to the arms at the front of the tractor.

In addition to being independent hydraulic cylinders on either side of the Model 33A loader controlled by the inside lever of the three hydraulic control levers on the right side of the dash board on the operator’s platform.  The hydraulic cylinders were also “two-way” cylinders.  This means that the cylinders on the arms of the loader can apply pressure and power in both directions–when contracting as well as when extending.  Lifting the loader is effected by pulling back on the “inside” hydraulic control lever nearest the dashboard.  When the same lever is pushed forward the cylinders on the loader can be contracted under power so that the bucket is pressed against the ground and the front wheels of the tractor can be lifted off the ground. 

As noted above, the outside hydraulic lever–furthest from the dashboard–to raise and lowers the Fast-Hitch drawbar.  The cylinder controlling the Fast Hitch drawbar is also a two-way hydraulic cylinder.  Thus, if a person places a couple of large cement blocks under the the drawbar and then lowers the drawbar under power, the rear wheels can be raised off the ground.  Furthermore, because the three hydraulic valves are all independent of each other the operator of the tractor could lift the front wheels of the tractor off the ground by manipulating the lever course nearest the dashboard and at same time lift the rear wheels of the tractor off the ground by manipulating the outside hydraulic lever–furthest from the dashboard–to lower the Fast Hitch drawbar onto the cement blocks. 

Of course, the middle lever of the three-lever set, on No. 22368, controls yet another hydraulic valve that can also act independently and can apply power in a two-way manner.  However, more discussion of the use made of the middle hydraulic lever of the three-lever set on No. 22368 can be found below.   

A rear end view of No. 22368 shows the optional Fast-Hitch drawbar on the tractor.

Yet another option which was factory-installed on No. 22368 is the optional power steering.  The operator of No. 22368 becomes aware of the fact that the International Company installed power steering on the tractor before the operator has even started the engine.  Right in front of the operator at middle of the on the steering wheel is a little light weight aluminum disc bearing the woords “Power Steering.” 

The light-weight aluminum disc at the center of the steering wheel advertises the fact that o. 22368 is fitted with the optional factory-installed power steering. The undamaged condition after 63 years indicates the tractor’s very light use during those 63 years.

A new aluminum power steering insignia which mounts on the center of the steering wheel of tractors of the hundred-series.

Because this power steering insignia was made of light weight aluminum and was mounted on the steering wheel, the aluminum insignia stood the risk of easily becoming damaged even under ordinary tractor use.

Additionally, the cylinders on the Model 33A loader mounted on No. 22368 are “two-way” hydraulic cylinders.  This means that the cylinder can apply pressure and power in both directions–when contracting as well as when extending.  This means that the cylinders on the loader can be contracted under power so that the bucket is pressed against the ground and the front wheels of the tractor can be lifted off the ground.  The other two hydraulic valve levers of the optional three-lever set on No. 22368 can be connected to hoses leading to other hydraulic cylinders.  (Indeed later in this same article discussion will had of connections made to the middle hydraulic lever.)

However, the third lever of the set of three (the outside lever located the furthest from the dash board of the tractor)  is connected to the optional Fast Hitch drawbar of No, 22368.  The optional Fast Hitch drawbar on the Hundred Series tractors is usually painted white and can be raised and lowered by hydraulics controlled by the third (outside) valve lever.  This leaves the middle (or second) lever of the three hydraulic levers on No.  

Continue reading The 1955 Model 300 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 22368.

Charles Cook International Harvester Dealership in Cleveland Minnesota and the Ambrose Holicky Super M bearing the Serial Number 32096

Charles Cook International  Harvester Dealership of Cleveland, Minnesota and the Super M bearing the Serial Number 32096

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected. 

 For a large part of the long production reign of the famous Farmall M from 1939 until 1952, the Model M had been over shadowed by the larger sales of the smaller  Farmall Model H.  Both of these tractors had been introduced in 1939.  Their production lines had been parallel to each other in the Farmall Works in Rock Island, Illinois.  However, each year, The Model H outsold the Model M until just after the Second World War.

Part of the reason for this rise in the popularity of the Farmall M was the influence of the returning veterans from the Second World War.  In large numbers, these veterans were returning home from the horrors of war and wanting to settle in to the peacetime activities and peacetime economy of the United States.  Since, the United States was still a rural and farming nation after the war, the thoughts of these veterans was directed towards returning to the farm and either continuing the family farm or starting a new farming operation.  One of these returning veterans was Ambrose Holicky.

The Super C purchased by late Ambrose Holicky is seen being driven by his son, Howard Holicky. Howard restored the Super C and fitted the tractor with the same number of wheel weights that were mounted on the Super C for testing of the tractor at the University of Nebraska from May 31, 1951 through June 9, 1951.  In this picture Howard is using his Model 9 mounted plow to work up the sandy field at the rear of the the Wells Family Tractor warehouse located at 764 South Elmwood Street in LeSueur Minnesota.

Following the end of the Korean War, a slight boom in the sales of farm machinery occurred.  This boom as it applies to the sales of the new Farmall Super M tractors is discussed in the article called ” M. & W. Company (Part II): The Clark-Christenson Super M” that was published in the January/February 1998 issue of Belt Pulley Magazine.  This article has also been re-published on this website under the same title.  The Clark-Christenson Super M bears the Serial Number of 31634 and is currently owned by Wells Family Tractors L.LC. and has been pretty much adopted by the sister of the current author–Eileen Wells, who also serves as the Secretary of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association.

The article on the Clark-Christenson tractor contained at this website provides the story of the original sale of #31634 by Srsen Implement of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota to George Clark a local farmer in the Claremont, Minnesota community and the later sale of the same tractor to Ray Christenson in 1967.

A total of 39,401 Farmall Super M tractors were produced in 1953.  No. 31634 was most likely produced on Friday June 26, 1953.  As developed in the article on the Clark-Christenson tractor, unusual events surrounding the shortage of Super Ms at various dealerships and surpluses at other dealerships meant that the Clark-Christenson tractor bearing the Serial Number 31634 did not get into the hands of George Clark until 1954.

Three production days later on Wednesday, July 3, 1953  another Farmall Super M came rolled off the assembly line at the Farmall Works in Rock Island.  This Super M bore the Serial Number 32096.  This tractor was only 462 tractors removed from #31634.  Like #31634, this tractor was also shipped from Rock Island to the International Harvester block house at  25727 University Avenue in  St. Paul, Minnesota.  Pursuant to the request of the local dealership in Cleveland, Minnesota, for a tractor to fulfill an order, #32096 was placed on board a railroad flat car of the Chicago-Northwestern Railroad train headed out of the Twin Cities on a

The Rock Island, Iowa,  headed toward the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Once at the block house on University Avenue in the Twin Cities, N.

The Farmall Super C Tractor bearing the Serial Number 116464 at Work in New Hampshire

The Farmall Super C Tractor bearing the Serial Number 116464 at Work in New Hampshire 

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected.

 

The 1946 Famall H: Lucky Number 7 of the Fleet of Tractors used by the Campbell Soup Company in Napoleon, Ohio

The 1946 Farmall Model H: Lucky No. 7 of the Fleet of Tractors   Used by the Campbell Soup Company of Napoleon, Ohio

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or current blocks of text will be corrected.

 

In a previous article contained at this website, called “The Wayne A and Marilyn Wells 1950 Farmall,” it was mentioned that early Wayne Alwin Wells traded a 1942 Farmall Model H in to the Sease and Oksanen International Harvester dealership located in Le Roy, Minnesota, as a part of the purchase of this Farmall M.  This Model H tractor had originally been purchased as a new tractor by Wayne’s father, George Cleveland Wells.  The purchase and history of this Farmall H from 1942 until 1950 is related in another article contained at this website called “Wartime Farmall H’s.”  Additionally, the use of this 1942 Farmall H in pulling and powering the Woods Brothers one-row corn picker as a custom picking operation during the 1946 ripe corn harvest is described in a third article at this website which is called “Wood Brothers Company(Part II).”

Bros.
This picture might as well have been a picture of Wayne A. Wells in the autumn of 1946 picking corn in his neighborhood with a Wood Bros. one-row corn picker and a 1942 Farmall Model H tractor. The only difference is that the Anderson/Wells Wood Bros. corn picker was painted gray rather than “Ford red” as in this picture.

 

Clearly, the 1942 Wells Family Farmall Model H was a subject of interest to the family, especially, the current author and his brother, Mark Wells.  However, the serial number and the history of this 1942 tractor following 1950 were lost and remain unknown.  Additionally, no picture of the 1942 tractor was thought to exist, until one recent Christmas at which Mark Wells saw a series of slides at the home of his uncle, Fred Hanks.  Contained in the slides was a very good color picture of the Wells Family Farmall H taken during the soybean harvest on the Howard and Fred Hanks farm in the autumn of 1947.  This was the first picture he had ever seen of the George Wells Farmall H.  The picture created a great expectation that a “representative” tractor could be obtained that could be made to appear like the tractor in the slide picture

 

 

 

no serial  rticle As noted in an earIier article called “Wartime Farmall H’s” In early 1950, Wayne Alwin Wells traded the 1942 Farmall Model had been owned his father George Cleveland Wells in to the Sease and Oksanen International Harvester dealership located in

 

Hemp farming in Humbolt County, Iowa during the Second World War with a 1941 Farmall Model B

Hemp Farming in Humboldt County, Iowa, with a 1941 Farmall Model B Tractor   

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or   current blocks of text will be corrected.

The Hemp plant located in Humboldt County, Iowa.

 

Hemp plants have been raised in the United States almost since the founding of the republic.  During the Revolutionary War, farmers in the young republic were allowed to use hemp they had raised on their farms to pay their taxes.   The new colonial government was struggling to build its own navy for protection and its own merchant marine for trading with foreign  countries.  Hemp was required for the massive amount of ropes that were needed for each every ship and also to weave the  required George Washington raised hemp and encouraged his neighbors in Virginia to do the same.  Thomas Jefferson developed improved strains of hemp seed.

The main marketable product of the hemp plant has been the long tough strands located in the stem of the plant.  When correctly processed the strands could be formed into ropes of all sizes.

Historically, ropes were not only the used by for the rigging and ropes of the sailing ships of the merchant marine or the navies of the nations of the world, but hemp was also used for the manufacture of the sail sheets themselves.  Accordingly, within the United States the largest buyer in the rope market has, traditionally,  been the United States government which supplies the ropes to the United States Navy.

Government purchasing of ropes, of course, had a big effect on the  price of hemp.  Accordingly, in times of international tensions when the United States government begins a program of naval preparedness, the demand for hemp rises and as a result the price of hemp also rises.  So it was in the United States, during the military preparedness build up, following the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915 by a German submarine with the loss of 1,198 passengers, led directly to higher prices for rope made from hemp and directly to higher prices for hemp raised on the farms of the United States.  The shock  in the United States from the sinking of the Lusitania was spurred by the fact that 128 Americans had been among the dead resulting from the German torpedoing of the Lusitania.  To be sure, even during the period of time immediately following the sinking of the Lusitania,  public opinion in the United States was still heavily opposed to involvement in the “European War.”  However, with the announcement by the German Imperial government of a return to “unrestricted submarine warfare” on February 1, 1917, public opinion in the United States swung radially around in favor of war against Germany.  Immediately, there was a spike in the price of hemp.  The United States entered the war in Europe on April 2. 1917.

The high prices for hemp continued throughout United States involvement in the First World War.

When the war ended in November 11, 1918, hemp prices fell.

However, in the decade of the 1920s hemp became known for its other uses.    During the decade of the 1920s, use of marijuana or hemp asa a recreational drug became widespread.

There was a political reaction to this widespread use of marijuana as a recreational drug in the 1930s.  In the mid-1930s, movies were used to propagandize against the use of marijuana as a recreational drug.  One such film was a 1936 film called Reefer Madness.   The propaganda was an attempt to outlaw the cultivation of marijuana or hemp to prevent its use as a drug.  However, economic forces prevented this from happening.  Although, naval forces and the merchant marine no longer used sailing ships, ropes made from hemp were still a large part of modern shipping.

 

 

the Rope was still   e

One such time of international tensions was during the late 1930s.  At that time the United States government was not only worried about the source of hemp raising keeping up with the demand for ropes, the government also worried about whether the small number of “hemp mills” (or hemp processing plants) across the United States would be able to process enough hemp to keep up with the demand for ropes.

One such small hemp mill was located in Humboldt County, Iowa.   This small mill is located in

A map of the State of Iowa showing the location of Humboldt County in the 99 counties of the state.

 

The rising prices of hemp in the late 1930s caused a number of farmers across the nation to begin raising hemp.  They sought to make money on a new cash crop that showed the promise ofhigh prices for the immediate future.  One such farmer was our Norway Township farmer who operated a 200 acre farm near the small village of Thor, Iowa (1930 population 257),  in Norway Township in Humboldt County, Iowa.   Although, the population of Thor had fallen during the decade of the 1920s–from 284 persons in 1920 to 257 persons in 1930.  The small village bounced back in the decade of the 1930s to a populations of 267 in the 1940 census.  This

A Township map of Humboldt County showing the location of Norway Township in the lower right-hand corner of this map and showing the location of the village of Thor as a shaded spot in the middle of Norway Township.

 

to seek a to made from   tradtiovies of the various nationaropes made from hemp have been used by the nally been the largest buyer in the rope market.  Thus,

The Wayne A. and Marilyn Wells 1950 Farmall M

The Wayne A. and Marilyn Wells 1950  Farmall Model M

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or   current blocks of text will be corrected.

            The International Harvester Company introduced the Farmall Model M as a full-three plow tractor in the autumn of 1939.

In early 1950, Wayne Alwin Wells traded the 1942 Farmall Model had been owned his father George Cleveland Wells, in to the Seese and Oksenan dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota, on the purchase of a Farmall Model M.  The Seese and Oksenan dealership was operating under new management  Prior to 1944, the International Harvester dealership in LeRoy had been owned by Elmer McRoberts.  However, in 1944, Elmer McRoberts had retired and sold the business to the partnership of Kennth Seese and Leonard Oksenan.  Kenneth Seese had previously been living in

Pursuant to the purchase contract of this tractor, the Farmall M bearing the Serial No. 2518137 was delivered to the Wayne Wells farm in eastern LeRoy Township, Mower County, Minnesota on March 1, 1950.  Wayne needed to grind up some feed for the baby pigs which had  just been weaned.  So he immediately belted the new tractor up to the Case hammer mill which was bolted to the floor of the granary on the farm.

A pre-war version of the Case feed grinder. The particular grinder owned by Wayne A. Wells had been bought by his father George Wells some time during the war years. Consequently, the Wells feed grinder had no galvanized feeder or whirlwind  dust collector.  On the Wells feed grinder both the feeder and the whirlwind dust collector were made of simple sheet metal and painted Case Flambeau Red.

 

He then went to the house and got his wife, Marilyn (Hanks) Wells and their one-year old son Brian Wayne Wells (the current author of this article).  He also picked up the little Kodak Brownie camera.  He then took a new picture of his son on the operator’s seat of the new tractor with his wife Marilyn holding young Brian securely in the seat.

Just after the Farmall Model M bearing the Serial No. 218137 was delivered to the Wayne A. Wells farm. the new tractor was put to work grinding pig feed for the newly weaned baby pigs.

 

The Wells family held an auction of all their farm equipment in preparation to moving from the farm in 1964.  At the auction Serial No. 218137 was purchased by Dean Shirbourne.

 

In the years since 1964, Dean Shirbourne continued farming.  Most of the machinery Dean used on his farm was International Harvester farm equipment.  He had other more modern Farmall tractors than the 1950 Farmall M he had purchased at the Wayne Wells farm auction.  Accordingly, he placed the 1950 Farmall M bearing the serial number 2518137 under an International Harvester two-row mounted Model 2MH corn picker.  This picker remained on the 1950 Farmall M until Dean retired from farming in 1993.  Every fall the tractor and mounted corn picker was used to “open” the corn fields on the Shirbourne farm and a couple of Dean’s neighbors.  (John Grass Jr., one particular neighbor of Dean Shirbourne remembers using the 1950 Farmall M on his farm.)

Once the mounted picker on No. 218137 had picked the corn in the “end rows” across both ends of the corn field and once the body of the corn field had been “opened” and divided into “lands,”  Dean Shirbourne brought in his two-row New Idea Model 6A pull-type corn picker to pick the remainder of the corn in his fields.  Recognizing that mounted pickers are not the best pickers for “husking” (removing the husks from the ears of ripe corn), Dean Shirbourne  and his neighbors preferred to use pull-type corn pickers to do the main job of picking their corn fields.  Pull-type corn pickers were respected for their large and very efficient husking beds.  Pull-type pickers had the best chance of getting the harvested corn down to a level of 4% or less “foreign material” (husks) in the ear corn crop.

Husking the corn down to a level of 4% foreign material (husks) was the ideal that farmers strove for in order to store the ear corn in normal corn crib over the winter.  Only a level of 4% or less foreign material in the ear corn would allow the cold dry air of winter to flow relatively unobstructed through the ear corn stored in the corn crib and dry the annual crop of corn sufficiently over the winter from the period of time from the harvest in October or November until February or March, when the ear corn would normally be dry enough to be shelled  and stored in a granary.  To store the ear corn in a corn crib at a level of more than 4% foreign material would invite blockage of the flow of air through the crib and invite mold forming on the ear corn.  and risk  without

Thus, once the corn fields were opened and divided into “lands,” Dean Shirbourne and his neighbors could conveniently use their pull-type pickers on the main body of the corn crop.  Thus each year, the 1950 Farmall M was used only for the short period of time each fall that it took to “open” the corn fields on the Shirbourne farm and on the farms of a few of his neighbors.  During the remainder of the year, the 1950 Farmall M bearing the Serial No. 218137 was stored away with its mounted corn picker in the machine shed on the Shirbourne farm.

Thus, from 1964 until Dean Shirbourne retired from farming in 1993, No. 218137 was used only for a couple of weeks in the autumn of  each year to open the corn fields in preparation of the harvest.  Upon his retirement from farming in the 1990s, Dean Shirbourne gave the 1950 Farmall M, bearing the Serial No. 218137, to his  nephew–Mark Mossyge–who beautifully restored the tractor.

 

 

Continue reading The Wayne A. and Marilyn Wells 1950 Farmall M

Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part 2 of 2parts)

Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township (Part 2 of 2 parts):

The 1944 Farmall Model H Tractor

by

Brian Wayne Wells

 

Fuzzy little pods of a soybean plant. Each pod is filled with three or four individual soybeans.

 

As noted, previously, Butternut Valley Township is located in the extreme northwestern corner of Blue Earth County, Minnesota.  (See the first article in this series called “Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township [Part 1]” also published in the blog section of this website.)   Also, as previously noted, in 1942 Butternut Valley Township was the home of a particular diversified 160 acre family farming operation.  Our Butternut Valley Township farer and his wife had lived on this farm since they were married in 1919.  As a diversified farming operation, he and his wife milked a Holstein dairy herd, raised pigs and had a chicken flock.  They sold milk and eggs off the farm for regular income.  Each summer they marketed the pigs they had raised to provide cash income in the summer.  In the fields, they raised oats and hay.  Originally the oats were raised to feed their horses as well as their chickens and the hay was used to feed both the cows and the horses.

Diversified farming in Butternut Valley Township, Blue Earth County, Minnesota.

 

Since obtaining a “used” 1929 Farmall Regular tricycle-style tractor in 1937, he had greatly reduced the number of horses his farm.  Thus, he had been able to reduce the number of acres planted to oats and hay each year.  The largest crop on the farm was corn.  Part of the corn crop was cut in August each year, while it was still green.  This corn was then fed into the silo filler and blown into the silo which stood next to the barn.  The silage in the silo would be used all winter to feed the dairy herd.  The remaining corn would be picked in the late autumn and the ears of corn would be stored in the corn crib.  Part of this corn would be shelled and saved to fatten the pigs for market.  The rest of the corn would be sold to provide cash income in the winter.  Consequently, the corn was a cash crop as well as source of animal food.

Image result for Cattle eating silage in a trough 1940s
A Holstein dairy herd being fed corn silage from a silo.

 

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December of 1941, a new market for plastics had arisen.  Soybeans was the main raw product used in making plastics.  Accordingly, since 1941,. the market price for soybeans had been soaring.  Because he now planted less acres in hay and oats, our Butternut Valley Township farmer decided to plant that extra acreage to soybeans in the spring of 1942.  The growing season of 1942 was almost perfect.  Both soybeans and corn were bumper crops.  Furthermore, the price of these two farm products rose to high levels.  Consequently, our Butternut Valley Township farmer had one of his best years in terms of farm income.  As a result, he seriously think about upgrading his farming operation by trading the old 1929 Farmall Regular in on the purchase of a new modern farm tractor.

The gray Farmall with red-colored wheels.

 

After selling his corn, our Butternut Valley Township farmer was able to pay off all his debts and find that he still had a comfortable balance of funds in the bank.  As a result, he again visited the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership.  He had heard rumors that more Famall H’s with rubber tires were starting to be manufactured, again, due to the fact that more rubber was starting to be released by the government for civilian production.  This time he told the staff at the Fesenmaier dealership to place his name on the list for a rubber-tired Farmall H.  However, he told them he only wanted a Farmall H with rubber tires, electric starting and hydraulics.  He needed the new tractor now more than ever before.

Wartime advertisement of the Farmall Model H.

 

In the spring of 1943, our Butternut Valley Township farmer increased the amount of acreage he planted to soybeans.  He kept waiting for his Farmall H to arrive at the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership.  However, very few Farmall Model H tractors arrived at the dealership in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1943 because the manufacturing capacity of the International Harvester Company was still being dominated by government-military contacts.  By 1943, ⅔ or 66.6% of the Company’s sales contracts were for military hardware.  (Barbara Marsh, A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester  p. 71.)  Consequently, production of farm tractors by the IHC declined even more.  Although already greatly curtailed, production of the Farmall Model H fell off by another 6% in 1943 when compared with the previous year.  Rubber pneumatic tires for the Farmall H had been almost totally unavailable since July of 1942.  However, starting in July of 1943 rubber tires for the Farmall H started to become available again on a limited basis.  (Guy Fay and Andy Kraushaar, Farmall Letter Series Tractors [MBI Publishing Co.: Osceola, Wisconsin, 1998] p. 73.)  Thus, the rumors that our Butternut Valley Township farmer had heard in the early spring of 1943, that rubber tires were once again becoming available for Farmall tractors, proved to be a bit premature. Continue reading Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part 2 of 2parts)

Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part I of 2 Parts)

Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township (Part 1 of 2 parts)

by

Brian Wayne Wells

Like corn, soybeans were planted in 40 inch rows and when they mature, soybeans tend to cover the 40 inch space between the rows.
Like corn, soybeans were planted in 40 inch rows and when they mature, the rank growth of a mature crop of soybeans tend to cover the 40 inch space between the rows.

 

Although officially organized May of 1858, settlement in Butternut Valley Township, Blue Earth County, Minnesota, was still quite new in 1900.  As previously noted, the first settlers in Butternut Valley Township raised wheat.  (See the article called “Case Part II: Steam Engines and Threshers” in the March/April 2006 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)  Wheat was the predominate crop in Butternut Valley Township and the neighboring townships of Cambria, Judson, Garden City and Lincoln Townships.  However, as the twentieth century progressed wheat production declined as corn replaced wheat on farms.  By 1921, more that 109,778 acres of corn were planted and harvested in the whole of Blue Earth County while wheat acreage had decreased to 43,520 acres for the county as a whole.  With the coming of the Second World War, production of corn continued dominate the agricultural landscape of Blue Earth County reaching 136,900 acres of corn harvested in 1943.  Meanwhile, wheat production in Blue Earth County fell to a miniscule 7,600 acres in 1943.

 

Butternut Valley Towhship is located on the western boundary of Blue Earth County second from the top below Cambria Township. The Honeymead plant is in South Bend Township on the border with Mankato Township.

 

During the same period of time, other changes were occurring on Blue Earth County farms that were reflected in the crops that were raised in the county.  Acreage allotted to the raising of hay in Blue Earth County fell from 59,505 acres harvested in 1921 to 41,100 acres harvested in 1943.  This reflected the fact that farmers were purchasing more farm tractors and selling off their horses.  Consequently, they no longer needed to feed the horses all year long.  Thus, the average farm could reduced the amount of hay raised each year.  As a result, the average farm in Blue Earth County had acreage that could now be devoted to some other crop.

For a time in the 1920s barley production rose to fill this gap in production acreage on the average farm in Blue Earth County.  In 1921, only 7,134 acres of Blue Earth County’s arable land was planted to barley.  However, in 1927 barley acreage shot up to 12,300 acres.  In 1928 barley acreage in the county doubled to 25,200 acres.  Eventually, the dramatic growth of acreage planted to barley in Blue Earth County reached a total of 33,800 acres in 1938.  However, barley production in Blue Earth County fell as dramatically as it had grown.  By 1943, the acreage devoted to barley in the county fell to only 5,400 acres and in the following year (1944) barley acreage fell to a mere 700 acres in the county.

Coinciding with the decline in the production of in barley was a rise in the production of flax in Blue Earth County.  In 1938 only 2,300 acres of flax had been raised in Blue Earth County.  However, in 1939 flax acreage shot up to 11,900 acres.  Blue Earth County production of flax continued to climb and in 1943, 20,300 acres in the county was planted to flax.  However, in 1944, acreage planted to flax was cut in half—down to only 9,500 acres in the county as a whole.  As suddenly as it had appeared, flax production fell to nothing.  Farmers in Blue Earth County were turning to production of something else apart from wheat, apart from barley and apart from flax.  The crop to which they turned was the lowly soy bean.

Native to the orient, where it was a staple of human consumption, the soybean was introduced in the United States in 1804.  In 1879, two agricultural stations in New Jersey started growing and working with the soybean.  Ten years later, in 1889, several more agricultural experiment stations were actively researching the soybean.  In 1896, famous botanist George Washington Carver, from Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, discovered and refined over 300 by-products derived from the soybean.  The two most important marketable products of soybeans were edible oil and meal.  In 1922, the first soybean processing plant in the United States was opened.

However the soybean lacked a lucrative market for itself or any of its many by-products.  Henry Ford set out, in the 1930s, to develop a market for the soybean.  First he sought to make a bio-fuel from soybeans which would power the growing number of automobiles that were starting to populate the nation.  (Robert Lacey, Ford: The Men and the Machine [Little Brown Co. Pub.: Boston, 1986] p. 231.)  Only later, did he and his Ford Company engineers create a plastic from soybeans that could be used in the Ford car.  (Ibid. p. 233.)  In 1937, Ford built a soybean processing plant right on the grounds of the Ford Company Rouge Works factory located on the banks of the Rouge River in Detroit Michigan.  (Ibid.)  Soon, plastics comprised about two pounds of the weight of every Ford car manufactured.  However, the two pounds of plastics in Ford cars were limited to small parts like insulated casings and knobs and buttons on the interior of the car.  (Ibid.)  This was still did not represent a major market for soybeans and their products.

Despite all this early attention and product research, the potential of soybeans remained unrealized—a promising product without a real market.  Accordingly, soybeans remained a side line venture in agriculture until the Second World War.  With the United States’ sudden entry into the war, there arose a real demand for clear lightweight plastics products—especially, for windshields and cowlings on military aircraft.

 

Soybean prices in World War II rose because of the plastics used in combat airplane windscreens. Although a direct shot would pierce the safety glass of these safety glass windscreens the safety glass would not shatter and cause injury to the air crew just as a result of flying glass.

 

Stimulated by military purchases of airplanes fitted with plastic cowlings and windshields, the price of soybeans soared.  Farmers began planting soybeans in a big way.  The farmers of Blue Earth County followed this trend.  In 1941, the last year before the war, only 3,400 acres of the arable land in the whole of Blue Earth County had been planted to soybeans.  However, in 1942, soybean acreage in the county tripled—reaching 11,100 acres.  By 1945, the acreage devoted to soybeans in Blue Earth County would nearly triple again—up 31,000 acres. Continue reading Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part I of 2 Parts)