Sunday, January 3, 2016

Nikita Khrushchev Holding Up Corn, Moscow 1959


One of my favorite Russians

Since the 1940s, Khrushchev had advocated the cultivation of corn (maize) in the Soviet Union.  He established a corn institute in Ukraine and ordered thousands of acres to be planted with corn in the Virgin Lands In February 1955, Khrushchev gave a speech in which he advocated an Iowa-style corn belt in the Soviet Union, and a Soviet delegation visited the U.S. state that summer. While their intent was to visit only small farms, the delegation chief was approached by farmer and corn salesman Roswell Garst, who persuaded him to insist on visiting Garst's large farm The Iowan visited the Soviet Union in September, where he became great friends with Khrushchev, and Garst sold the USSR 5,000 short tons (4,500 t) of seed corn.  Garst warned the Soviets to grow the corn in the southern part of the country, and to ensure there were sufficient stocks of fertilizer, insecticides, and herbicides.  This, however, was not done, as Khrushchev sought to plant corn even in Siberia, and without the necessary chemicals. While Khrushchev warned against those who "would have us plant the whole planet with corn", he displayed a great passion for corn, so much so that when he visited a Latvian kolkhoz, he stated that some in his audience were probably wondering, "Will Khrushchev say something about corn or won't he?"   He did, rebuking the farmers for not planting more corn.  The corn experiment was not a great success, and he later wrote that overenthusiastic officials, wanting to please him, had overplanted without laying the proper groundwork, and "as a result corn was discredited as a silage crop — and so was I"

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