patterson hall column

Knowledge is Power Contents: Section 2

Chapter 11:
Winning World War II on the Farm

Special programs. Making mattresses. Youth to the rescue.
The army moves in. Dehydrated cabbage. Research and farming.
More food and fiber. Science scores.

Wartime activities started considerably ahead of the Japanese invasion of United States territory in December, 1941. In the United States a military draft went into effect in October, 1940. Young men were called up for a one-year period of military service. "I'll be back in a year little darling," was a popular song that fall.

Special Programs

"Farm folk of North Carolina," stated the extension annual report, "answered the rumblings of war in 1940 with a preparedness program which included: Livestock expansion to counteract loss of world markets for other commodities; cooperation in agricultural adjustment; conservation and planning programs; canning for home security; and mattress-making for comfort and for physical and mental strength."

In 1941 agents in eight southeastern counties near Fort Bragg became involved in army maneuvers. Their assignment was to contact farmers, explain the situation, and help secure maneuver rights on their farms. Some 18,217 landowners granted rights on 2,556,000 acres of land. That fall 400,000 troops trained across the fields and among the longleaf pines.

To conduct a program of "Citizenship Training for Democracy" was another assignment handed to the extension service in 1941. This assignment was carried out through 952 discussion groups; at 570 patriotic programs, pageants, and ceremonies; and at 8,927 meetings of farmers, home demonstration and 4-H clubs, local leaders, and discussion groups.

In April, 1941, came word on a state food and feed production drive, with extension assigned a key role. It was called the "Food and Feed for Family Living" campaign.

Despite previous efforts to encourage food production, the 1940 Census of Population revealed that of the 278,000 farms in the state, 31,000 had no garden, 86,000 were without hogs, 33,000 were without a chicken of any kind, and no cows were being milked on 98,000 farms.

In October came a national campaign, with the announcement that an old campaigner, dressed in a natty new outfit, was making his rounds of every North Carolina farm home.

Often turned away, when he was known as "Live-at-Home," his rejuvenated appearance together with more power and political and economic crisis at hand, will gain him entrance into practically every home.

Now labeled "Food-for-Freedom," a campaign has been launched which will enlist the aid of farm families the country over in meeting the increasing needs of both people of the United States and Great Britain.l

The government was asking for increased production of milk, eggs, beef and veal, lamb and mutton, corn, oats, barley, rye, hay, soybeans, peanuts for oil, and vegetables. State and county goals were established and "Extension agents led AAA committeemen in a house-to-house canvass of every farm, and the result was that every goal, with the exception of that for peanut-production-for-oil, was overpledged."

The nation's farmers were called on to produce the greatest amount of food, feed, fibers, and other vital farm materials ever taken from the land. They were called on to feed the nation and, to some extent, the people of its allies.

"As the nation slips rapidly into high gear in its all-out production effort, a clear plan is slowly coming to the front for farm people's part in the war," declared the editor of Extension Farm-News in January, 1942. "Food, fats, feed, and fiber" were the extension goals for 1942. The weather was good and acreage and yields were up. All livestock showed an increase over the year before, with milk production 21 percent greater than in 1941.

Director I.O. Schaub designated February 9 to 14, 1942, as "Victory Garden Week" in North Carolina. Throughout the war, gardens sprang up on fa!ms, along roadsides, on vacant city lots, and in front yards. For 1944 the value of home gardens in the state was estimated at $68 million.

A drive to collect iron and steel scrap came along just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was renewed several times during the war. By the end of the war, extension-led scrap drives had contributed millions of pounds of scrap metal, rubber, paper, and fats and grease to the war effort.

In 1943 the extension service was assigned operation of the farm labor program. Fred Sloan, promoted from district agent to state program leader in 1941, headed up this activity. It consisted of urging farmers to cooperate with each other and share their labor and machinery, recruiting migrants, and putting prisoners of war to work on the farms. In 1943,1,500 Italian prisoners harvested peanuts on 541 farms in eight North Carolina counties.

To make the labor more efficient, farmers were urged to keep their machinery in good repair, and special machinery dinics were held.
At a five-state regional conference on May 8, 1942, in Asheville, extension was given the assignment of acquainting rural people with President Roosevelt's seven-point program to control the cost of living, to be completed by June 7.

Extension's job will be to see that every rural citizen fully understands the philosophy of the program and the dangers of inflation. We will be expected to explain to farm people the situation with respect to rising prices; how the control of living costs affects them personally and limits the cost of the war; and the ways that the cost of living may be stabilized through bond-buying, taxes, price regulation, rationing, and by other measures.2

District conferences of county farm and home agents were held between May 13 and 22. The next two weeks were allotted for the completion of the educational setup in the counties and neighborhoods.

A new concept -- neighborhood leaders -- was put to use.3 Development of the concept started in September, 1941. By the end of the war, a total of 55,000 volunteer leaders had served in the state. The idea was to have one leader for every 10 farm families, or a leader within walking distance of every farm in the state. Two percent of the leaders were appointed, 55 percent were selected by farm people at county and community meetings, and 43 percent were actually elected. They were credited with leadership in the scrap metal, garden, farm machinery repair, and 4-H enrollment campaigns.

The experiment station also went "all out" in an effort to find the facts and design the specifications that would make the maximum contribution to food production in the war effort. Ninety percent of the projects were revised to answer some wartime problem. L.D. Baver, station director from 1941 to 1947 (Chapter 12), likened the farmer to the soldier and the experiment station to the designers of guns and other weapons of war. "The job of farming in war time, like the job of war itself, consists in making the most effective use of all available means -- labor, machinery, fertilizer, facts."4

Making Mattresses

A service program, in contrast to the traditional educational role of extension, came with the cotton mattress program that began in March, 1940, and ran for two years.5 This program was a combination surplus disposal and antipoverty or low-income program. Farm families made application at their county AAA office. If accepted, the family was put on a waiting list and notified when to come to the county mattress center. Working together, under the direction of a county agent or program aide, a mattress was made that day for each family represented.

County extension agents located a suitable factory for the operation, which included storage space for the bales of cotton donated by the federal government. Each mattress contained 50 pounds of cotton and 10 yards of 32-inch ticking. Specialists Pauline Gordon, Mamie Whisnant, Willie Hunter, and Eugene Starnes provided the training for the county personnel. By May, 1940, the program was under way, with 4,600 bales of cotton allotted to North Carolina for the program. When the activity ended in 1942, more than 220,000 mattresses had been made.

Added to the program in 1941 was the making of comforters. When this phase ended, also in 1942, some 100,000 comforters had been made.

For most of the families that participated, it was the first mattress they had ever owned. The mattresses were not only more comfortable than the traditional bed tick filled with wheat straw or other home-grown material but were also more convenient, better looking, and a definite source of pride.

Lorna Langley, home economics agent in Sampson County, recalled visiting a home that had mattresses to see what they were doing with them.

We went into this lady's home and she had three mattresses, one on top of the other piled on a bedstead. The children were sleeping on the floor. Of course, we raised the question why these three were stacked up and the children were sleeping on the floor. She said, "Well, I will tell you, me and my old man slept on one one night and it felt so good that we decided we would put all of them on here. We are going to take it apart after a while and let the children sleep on them."6

In addition to the purely service aspect of conducting the mattress program, specialists and agents figured out ways to incorporate educational messages on sewing, bedding, and other house furnishing ideas.

In 1941 the home demonstration agents were given the assignment of encouraging participation in the cotton stamp program. For reducing cotton acreage, in lieu of monetary payments the farm families were given stamps with which they could purchase cotton goods.
Farm and nonfarm women were called on for a major contribution to the war effort. "Rosie the Riveter" was eulogized in story and song. But no less important was the work of the women on the farm.

Many tended the victory gardens and looked after the livestock. They cropped the tobacco and hoed the corn. They learned to drive the tractor.

Surplus fats and grease from the kitchen were collected by homemakers and turned in -- 156,000 pounds in 1944. Extension­ sponsored curb markets helped to insure complete distribution of all food produced and increased farm income. Food was preserved in
great quantity. In 1944, the peak year, families assisted by extension canned 27,023,217 containers of fruit, vegetables, and meats. That same year families stored some one-half million pounds of food products in the frozen locker plants that were springing up in the

Clothing and kitchen improvement (possibly stimulated by the advent of electricity and electric appliances) were popular topics during this period. A new department of Family Life Relations was, created in 1945.

Enrollment in the home demonstration club program continued grow, with 55,185 members in 2,175 clubs in 1945.

Youth to the Rescue

The smoke had hardly cleared from Pearl Harbor before a special wartime contest for North Carolina youngsters was announced. A "Food for Victory" contest, sponsored by the Chilean Nitrate Educational Bureau, offered North Carolina farm boys and girls an opportunity to win $820 in defense bonds and stamps in 1942. Awards, ranging from $250 to $1, were made to boys and girls under 19 based on the part their farms played in the food-for-freedom program. This was one of many special contests and activities carried out under the auspices of the 4-H clubs during the war.7

April 5 through 11, 1942, was declared National 4-H Mobilization Week. "4-H Mobilization for Victory" was the theme. Health and clothing had been the most popular 4-H projects in 1941. The following year production and conservation projects and citizenship training were emphasized.

4-H members participated in the first nationwide scrap drive and in 1942 rounded up 6,454,034 pounds of scrap metal; 1,007,442 pounds of scrap paper; and 856,632 pounds of scrap rubber. They purchased $267,419 worth of war bonds and stamps; and 1,788 acted as air raid wardens. In 1943 they bought $751,846 and sold $1,032,198 worth of war bonds and stamps. The organization became the sponsoring agency for the 1943 "Victory Scrap Drive," held from October 1 to November 15,1943. Some 6.5 million pounds of scrap were gathered in by the youngsters.

Also in 1943, largely through the collection and sale of old phonograph records, North Carolina 4-H dub members raised more than $1,700 for the purchase and presentation of an ambulance to members of the armed services.

The "Feed a Fighter" campaign was conducted in 1943 and 1944. It was judged that any of the following activities would produce the equivalent of the food needed to feed one man in the armed forces for a year:

Feed 2 baby beef animals
Feed 6 pigs
Feed 16 lambs
Grow 300 broilers
Care for 50 hens
Feed and handle one milk cow
Grow 113 bushels of corn
Grow 110 bushels of tomatoes
Grow 135 bushels of sweet potatoes
Grow 135 bushels of Irish potatoes
Produce 270 gallons of cane syrup
Grow one acre of mixed vegetables
Can 500 quarts of vegetables

More than 91 ,000 club members participated in the activity, also held as a contest. The state winner was Sullivan Fisher of the Red Oak Club in Nash County. He produced enough food to feed 34 service men for a whole year. The winning club was the Cleveland 4-H Club in Johnston County, and Johnston also won the county award.

North Carolina 4-H club members produced enough food in the "Feed a Fighter" program to be given the honor of naming two ships of the U.S. fleet. One of these was the USS Tyrrell, an AKA-type vessel, named for Tyrrell County. It was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company and launched on July 10, 1944, at Wilmington. Juanita Ennis Ogburn of the winning Cleveland Club in Johnston County was accorded the honor of being named sponsor of the ship and breaking the champagne bottle on the hull. A number of 4-H members and others from Johnston, New Hanover, and Tyrrell counties attended the ceremony.

The following spring this attack cargo ship was in the middle of the action:

At dawn on 1 April 1945, the Southern Attack Force, to which Tyrrell was attached, arrived off Hagushi, Okinawa. At 0550, as battleships, cruisers, and destroyers commenced bombardment of Japanese defenses -- Tyrrell began lowering her boats. By 0644, the last of her landing craft was in the water and headed for the beach.

For the next nine days, Tyrrell remained off Okinawa, supporting the conquest of that island stronghold. On 2 April, a twin-engined Japanese bomber attempted to crash the ship, diving through a storm of antiaircraft fire. In an attempt to ram the bridge, the plane sheared off the ship's main radio antenna, hit the lower yardarm support on the starboard side of the mainmast, and continued on to sideswipe the starboard 5-ton cargo boom at the number 5 hatch. As the plane splashed alongside, it blew up and showered the cargo ship's decks with pieces of wreckage.8

Decommissioned as a naval vessel in 1946, the Tyrrell, several times renamed, served for years as a freight carrier.

The other ship was christened the USS Cassius Hudson. It honored C. R. Hudson who had been sent by Seaman A. Knapp to North Carolina to start the farm demonstration work in the state in 1907. Until 1922 Hudson was the state agent in charge of the county operations. That year he was placed in charge of the Negro extension work in the state. He remained in that position until his sudden death from a heart attack on March 3, 1940, at the age of 67.

The USS Cassius Hudson was built at the Brunswick, Georgia shipyard by the J.A. Jones Construction Company of Charlotte. Attending christening ceremonies on August 31, 1944, were Hudson's widow, Josephine Scott Hudson, their daughter, Frances, and Mrs. Hudson's brother, W. Kerr Scott, then commissioner of agriculture.9 The life of this liberty ship was short, however. It was sunk by enemy action on its first voyage to the Asian theatre.

In response to the wartime programs, 4-H enrollment shot up rapidly from 54,000 in 1941 to 63,000 in 1942 and to 91,000 in 1943. The number of clubs also increased from 1,586 in 1941 to 1,747 in 1943.

The Army Moves In

Events can occur rapidly in wartime.

On February 26, 1942, less than three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, two War Department engineers called at the home of the superindent of the Mountain Branch Station at Swannanoa about six o'clock in the evening. They asked to see a map of the station.

Superintendent D.W. Colvard was not at home. The two engineers informed Mrs. Colvard that they were interested in locating an army casualty hospital in the area. When Colvard returned home later that evening, he contacted Malcolm Ainsworth, manager of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, and learned that an investigating party of engineers was looking for a site suitable to build a 1,500-bed casualty hospital.10 Ainsworth agreed to meet the next day with Colvard and F.E. Miller from Raleigh, director of the branch stations, who was scheduled to be at the station at that time.

Ainsworth informed Colvard and Miller that the government officials after viewing several sites including Roanoke, Virginia and Bluefield, West Virginia, had tentatively selected the research station property as the hospital location if the site could be made available.

On March 4 a number of engineers arrived at the station in three taxis over a snow-covered road from Asheville. On that same afternoon Colvard took the train to Raleigh to discuss the matter with Department of Agriculture officials and the Board of Agriculture, which would be in session on March 5.

On the train Colvard ran into Don Elias, president of the Asheville-Chamber of Commerce, who was also connected with the Asheville Citizen-Times and Radio Station WWNC. Elias told Colvard that the Asheville Chamber of Commerce had been endeavoring to secure war industries for western North Carolina. Failing that they had approached Marvin McIntyre, secretary to President Roosevelt, who was formerly employed by the Asheville Citizen-Times, concerning moving federal agencies to western North Carolina. It was Elias's opinion that this proposed location for the hospital grew out of McIntyre's support for constructing a hospital in this area. Elias also stated that the Chamber of Commerce was disappointed that the army had selected the Swannanoa spot but that they had told the army officials that if no other spot was acceptable, an effort would be made to secure the test farm site for the hospital. Elias was on his way to Raleigh to promote the idea with Department of Agriculture officials.

Pleased to be able to make a contribution to the war effort, realizing the contribution the facility could make to the economy of the Asheville area, and believing the money received would be sufficient to establish a station in another location, then commissioner of agriculture W. Kerr Scott was amenable to the request that the state give up the land.

As rumors and premature publicity spread across the western part of the state and as government officials tramped about over the farm, the farm workers wondered whether they should start their gardens. On March 31 word was received that the hospital would be built on the site. By April 20, a temporary office had been set up; by May 18, a spur railroad was under construction; and actual consturtion of Moore General Hospital got under way around June 20.

There were some minor hitches. Federal officials argued that the law required the price of the property to be set at market value; Commissioner Scott argued for the higher replacement value. The employees were uprooted from their houses, and the dairy superintendent barely got his belongings out of his house before it was moved away. Most of the crops growing on the land were salvaged.

This hospital, Moore General, received some of the first casualties from the fighting in Europe.

The decision was made to establish two branch stations in the western part of the state. On February 1, 1944, the state Board of Agriculture and the Council of State approved the purchase of 425 acres from W.M. Transou at Laurel Springs. On June 1 it was announced that the state was buying the Grover Clark farm -- 300 acres adjoining the city limits of Waynesville -- for a farm to serve the lower mountain area.

Colvard served as superintendent of both locations until after the end of World War II, buying building materials wherever and in whatever amounts they could be found. After Colvard's resignation, Jim Graham became the superintendent of the Upper Mountain Branch Station at Laurel Springs and Howard Clapp was named to head the Mountain Branch Station at Waynesville.

The Blackland Branch Station was relocated in 1943; but fire, not the War Department, was the reason. The peat soils would catch on fire, and the fires would burn or smoulder until the water table rose high enough to put them out. Water applied on top of the ground was not effective. The problem became so great that it affected the operation of the farm, particularly the efficiency of personnel. The Board of Agriculture agreed that the farm should be relocated, and in 1943 a tract of 494 acres on Highway 64 five miles east of Plymouth was purchased. Shortly thereafter, an additional tract of 1,064 undeveloped acres was added to the farm. The new station was called the Tidewater Branch Station.

What later became the Sandhills Branch Station was established in 1940 on a 100-acre tract at Eagle Springs in Moore County.

The station field days ended in the 1940s, but the stations still provided a local and area influence. Many farmers and others continued to visit the stations, individually and in groups. And local farmers looked over the fence to see what those folks from Raleigh were doing. Jim Graham, superintendent at the Upper Mountain Station from 1945 to 1952, recalled that the mountain farmers traditionally put their "meadow" or native hay crops only once a year ­- late in the fall after the plants had practically cured standing in the field. After experiments were put out on early cutting of hay, Graham said the natives thought it was a crazy idea but "they watched and as soon as we started cutting our hay I could hear their mowing machines start up."11

Back on campus, there were no new buildings but considerable moving around. The Federal Farm Security Administration (later the Farmers Home Administration) desired to locate its southeastern legal division headquarters in Raleigh. Adequate commercial space was not available, and in 1940 the college was approached about leasing space on the campus for this purpose. Patterson Hall became the focus, and a one-year lease was drawn up. The FSA occupied Patterson Hall from 1940 to 1945.

This necessitated the deployment of the persons and groups formerly occupying Patterson Hall. However, by this time student enrollment had dropped to the point that not all of the dormitory space was needed, and the 1911 Building was permanently converted from dormitory to office space. Occupying this building during the war years were personnel from Engineering Mechanics, Extension Home Demonstration, Industrial Engineering, Rural Sociology, Agronomy, and the campus office of the Veterans Administration.

Dehydrated Cabbage

In the early days of World War II there was a feeling, both within and outside the state, that North Carolina should be in a position to help supply the army with dehydrated vegetables. The War Department sent a representative who met with personnel from the state Department of Agriculture and the college. The decision was made after rather prolonged conferences, Ivan Jones recalled, that North Carolina should provide dehydrated cabbage for the army.12

A dehydrator was constructed at a kraut factory near Mt. Airy in Surry County. The dehydrating equipment was built by Broddus Wilson, who constructed equipment for washing and skin-drying potatoes for the fresh market.

Some $3,000 of experiment station funds were made available for the project. Plans for the dehydrator were supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which was very active at that time in the promotion of food dehydration throughout the nation.
There was not a pilot plant nor were there experimental processing facilities at the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station at that time, so Wilson constructed a small, steam-heated tunnel dehydrator fitted with three one-foot-square trays. The source of heat for this pilot plant dehydrator was a furnace made for residential use, operating at five pounds steam pressure. The commercial dehydrator at Mt. Airy held 5,000 pounds of freshly shredded cabbage when loaded.

Cabbage dehydration tests were made and the product was acceptable to the army. Commercial dehydration of cabbage never took place in North Carolina, however, because the price the government would pay for the produce was not sufficiently attractive to the makers of the product.

Since equipment, machinery, and all types of materials for plant construction were scarce, it was necessary to adapt facilities that might already be present in the state. One possibility was the use of tobacco redriers. At that time in North Carolina all tobacco was redried before it was packed into hogsheads for storage. The use of the redriers for dehydration of vegetables was investigated, and a number of vegetables were successfully dried in these facilities. A study was made of the use of the tobacco redriers for both Irish and sweet potatoes to be used for livestock feed.

Later the decision was made to enlarge the crop dehydration program, and a larger experimental dehydrator was built in the basement of Polk Hall. When the war ended, the demand for dehydrated food no longer existed, dehydration research throughout the nation was discontinued, and the dehydrator was dismantled.

Research and Farming

Editor Frank Jeter described the neighborhood leader movement as a great aid in reaching farm families effectively and quickly with emergency war programs, "but it hasn't put the information mill out of business, because new bulletins, pamphlets and mimeographed material must be prepared concisely and briefly, almost daily, to give the neighborhood leaders something to work with." Despite shortages of paper, ink, and metal for engraving plates, the flow of information was continued.13

To meet the special demands for wartime information, the exten­sion service released 34 publications in a special war series bulletin category between May, 1942, and February, 1945.

Beginning in 1940 the experiment station annual report carried the title Research and Farming. Thus the name was not new but the concept of a research periodical was new when the first issue of a quarterly experiment station "magazine" by that name came off the presses in 1943. Edited by Phyllis Yates, the first full-time experiment station editor, each issue contained 12 pages. The articles were written by station scientists and could best be described as progress reports on research under way or completed. The writing style ranged from "popular" to "semipopular" as contrasted to the technical language used in many station reports. From 1943 through 1949, the fourth quarterly issue each year was the experiment station annual report.

Radio became more important as a farm news medium as most farm families acquired receivers, and visual aids came to the forefront during World War II. New slide sets were added to the young slide library, and in 1942 the first 16-mm sound motion picture projector was purchased. A library of 16-mm sound and silent motion pictures was developed with eight films owned by the extension service and 30 others available to extension personnel on a loan basis. The school's first feature film, "Our Garden," was produced by photographer Lewis Watson in 1943. The following year Watson produced a film on poultry.

In March, 1943, State College Chancellor John W. Harrelson announced that through the newly organized State College Foundation, Inc., Richard J. Reynolds of Winston-Salem was filming and presenting a series of educational motion pictures to the college. The seven films produced were contributed by Reynolds to "help promote the production of food and feed during the emergency."14 During 1944 these films were shown to a total of 34,765 persons. Other films in the visual aids library were shown to a reported 41,842 persons.

Considerable effort was needed to explain the many details of the wartime programs and to squelch rumors when they appeared. An article in the December, 1942, Extension Farm-News illustrated the work of the rumor mill and the details needed.

Reports that farm people will need a permit costing from $3 to more than $5 before they can butcher their hogs or other meat animals have been labeled as false by Dr. I.O. Schaub, Extension director, who says that such erroneous reports should be corrected. No permit is needed.

Another report making the rounds infers that farmers will have to have their hogs weighed before killing them. This also is false, Dr. Schaub said.

The only restriction on farm slaughter of hogs, calves, sheep, and lambs is where a farmer has been butchering and delivering animals for others. In such a case, the farmer is restricted to no more than the same amount of each kind of meat he slaughtered and delivered to others as custom work in the corresponding quarter of 1941.

Concerning the Share-The-Meat program, Dr. Schaub said farm people will be expected to eat more than 2.5 pounds of meat per week per person at hog-killing time, but they should even up their consumption on a year-round basis to cooperate in this voluntary effort.

The war effort was a total commitment. The profit angle was not overlooked, but the need for food and fiber was extensively used by agents and specialists as an appeal around which a story could be told. This approach was used in the March, 1943, Research and Farming by Animal Scientist J. E. Foster:

Under present war conditions, when feed is scarce and high priced and when optimum production is so vital, it is the duty of every farmer to feed and manage his flocks in such a way that nothing will be wasted.

Why feed parasites when our animals need feed, and our people need meat?

In an article titled "Control Sheep Parasites and Increase Meat, Wool and Medical Supplies for the War," Foster pointed out that internal worms would cause gritty masses or nodules to form on the walls of the intestines, making them unfit for use either as sutures or sausage casings -- both in short supply. Particularly needed were suitable absorbable sutures for sewing up certain types of wounds. Also, there was a large need for first-class shearling pelts (produced from parasite-free lambs) to make clothing worn by airplane crews flying at high elevations.

More Food and Fiber

"A Year to Remember" was the title of the 1945 extension annual report. It was a year in which the crops were planted in war and harvested in peace.

Record-breaking crops were produced in North Carolina in spite of shortages of equipment, fertilizer, and labor, the report stated.

Everyone pitched in and helped to get the crops planted. First it seemed that a portion of the early truck crops and then the fruit would be lost because of a lack of labor. Many feared that much of the bumper tobacco crop could never be harvested. There was a heavy demand for extra labor in the peanut and cotton fields. And yet, in spite of these difficulties, all crops were finally harvested and housed.

On the livestock side, cattle numbers steadily increased during the war. Beef cattle numbers increased from 116,000 to 180,000 between 1940 and 1945. Dairy cattle numbers during the same period went from 479,000 to 571,000.

Laying hens and pullets increased from 8,121,000 to 11,059,000 from 1940 to 1945. And, in a way, it was during the war that the commercial broiler business was born, with production going from 4,400,000 in 1940 to 17,940,000 in 1945.

Hog numbers fluctuated considerably, ranging from a low of 1,133,000 in 1941 to a high of 1,512,000 in 1944.

Dairying was one of the most dynamic farm enterprises during the first half of the 1940s. One reason was the expanding market for milk. By the end of 1941 there were 124 dairy product plants in the state. These plants purchased some $2 million worth of non-Grade A or manufacturing milk from the state's farmers-milk produced "without the necessity of expensive barns and other equipment." By the end of 1942 there were 210 routes collecting milk from 9,982 producers, and two years later the number of plants was up to 246. As military installations opened in the state, the demand for milk increased.

A second reason for increased dairy activity was that it was profitable. Associate Agricultural Economist R.H. Rogers made a detailed study of the records of 32 dairy farms in 1932.15 He found that these farms averaged 36.2 cows producing 6,637 pounds of milk. There were 305 acres per dairy farm with an average of 170 acres in crops. The average total investment was $38,447 per farm. Even at the bottom of the depression, these dairy farms earned an average 4.22 percent on their investment.

A decade later a study showed that dairy farming was still profitable but expensive.16 On 89 farms studied in 1941, the average gross receipts were $6,850. Of this amount, dairying contributed $4,863, or 71 percent. The average operating expenses were $5,138; the average return over operating expense was $1,720. The interest earned was 4.4 percent on the total investment.

Most of the growth in dairying was occurring on cotton and tobacco farms. To obtain the cows to build the new herds, extension agents and specialists assisted farmers in bringing in some 5,000 high-grade heifers and cows each year, many of them from Wisconsin.

Increased livestock numbers demanded increased feed production. From 1940 to 1945 the acreage in forage crops mowed for hay increased from 1,111,000 to 1,374,000 acres. The peak in hay acreage in the state was reached in 1945.

Corn was still the largest crop, in terms of acreage, with yields increasing from 20 to 25 bushels per acre from 1940 to 1945.

In 1939 lespedeza replaced cotton as the second largest crop in the state, with 911,000 acres planted. In 1940 the lespedeza acreage crossed the one-million-acre mark. Extension Agronomist E.C. Blair predicted it was here to stay.

Lespedeza is so easy to grow (being sown on small grain without special seed bed preparation), produces such heavy yields of hay, affords such abundant summer grazing, is such a good soil builder when turned under, and makes such good yields of easily harvested seed, that it will probably always hold its present place in agriculture.17

However, disease problems developed, and as farmers increased their use of fertilizer on small grain, the grain choked out the lespedeza, and the acreage gradually declined.

In the Tidewater region, where cattle were coming back after the eradication of the Texas fever tick, studies showed that large areas of native reeds, could, under proper management, be converted into palatable and wholesome beef.

Feeding trials with sweet potato silage, containing both vines and potatoes, were carried out in 1942. They showed that, as a feed for dairy cattle, sweet potato silage compared very favorably with corn silage. Other studies showed that hogs could be grown and fattened on wheat as well as corn under certain price conditions.

Science Scores

That was the heading on an article in the 1945 extension annual report.

Since approximately one-third of the cropland of the state is devoted to this crop and since corn is a basic feed commodity in the building of a greater livestock and poultry industry, a five-point corn program was developed in every county in the state.

The acreage devoted to hybrid corn was doubled and the average state yield was increased under favorable weather conditions to 25 bushels per acre, an all-time record. The demand for adapted hybrid seed was so great that the supply was exhausted early in the season and plans were immediately made for the production of more hybrid seed, the number of growers being more than doubled.

The statewide average yield of 25 bushels per acre broke the record. Yet average yield in farmer demonstrations in all 100 counties, using the five-point plan developed at the college, was 45.7 bushels. On one farm a yield of 121.4 bushels was obtained. And the corn breeders were continuing their research for more suitable hybrids.

Science was paying off.

The boys (and girls) were coming home. With the aid of their "G.I. Benefits," many of the more than 100 military veterans of the School of Agriculture and Forestry faculty would return to school for further education. Undergraduates would come in massive and record numbers.

With an expanded vision of the world, the veterans would have new ideas. Haywood County Agent Wayne Corpening applied some military ways of viewing organization and leadership to organize Haywood County communities -- part of a movement that would become a statewide community development program.

Some felt that a surplus of agricultural know-how had been accumulated, but most disagreed, and additional bright young scholars were added to the campus and field faculty.

So researchers, teachers, specialists, and agents -- as well as farm families -- prepared to return to normal. There was no way they could have known that there would never again be a return to "normal" out on the farm. As they had lived through the halcyon days of 1940, for the last time they were seeing America as it used to be.


  1. "Food for Freedom Campaign," Extension Farm-News, November, 1941, p. 1. For other stories detailing extension responsibilities and activities, see Extension Farm-News from November 1941 through the war years, and the extension annual reports for 1941-1945.
  2. "Extension Given Big War-Time Job," Extension Farm-News, May 1941, p. 1.
  3. "Study of Two Counties Reveals Effectiveness of Neighborhood Plan," Extension Farm-News, June, 1942, p. 1; and "Final Tabulation Shows 27,281 Good Neighbors," Extension Farm-News, August, 1942, p. 1.
  4. "Your Experiment Station Goes To War," Research and Farming, N.C. Agricultural Experiment Station annual report, 1942, pp. 11-13. See also "Agriculture and the War," 1943 annual report, pp. 9-11.
  5. The mattress program was more a depression-type than a wartime pro­gram, designed to reduce the large surplus of cotton in government warehouses and to enhance the level of living of farm families. It is included in this chapter because it came during the period of war and prewar activities.
  6. Lorna Langley interview, January 8, 1980.
  7. Clark, James W., Jr. Clover All Over. Office of 4-H and Youth, 1984, pp. 204-213.
  8. Mooney, James L. (Editor). Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. VII. Washington: Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy, 1981, p. 378.
  9. Mrs. C. R. Hudson, whom many remembered from the boarding house she operated on Hillsboro Street across from Ricks Hall, died in 1978 at the age of 94.
  10. Colvard, Dean W. "Negotiations for locating Government Hospital on property of Mountain Experiment Station." April 1, 1942, mimeo­graphed, 28 pages, in Colvard personal papers, N.C. State University Archives.
  11. James A. Graham interview, July 19, 1979.
  12. Ivan Jones interview, March 13, 1979.
  13. For a detailed account of wartime information activities, see William L. Carpenter, Let the People Know, N.C. Agricultural Extension Service, N.C. Agricultural Experiment Station, 1978, pp. 52-64.
  14. The seven films contributed by Reynolds were titled "Carolina Cows," "Can All You Can" on vegetables and fruits, "Raise 'Em Right" on hog growing, "Repair It Now" on farm machinery, "Our Garden," "Home Drying" for fruits and vegetables, and "The Family Poultry Flock."
  15. Rogers, R. H. A Study of North Carolina Dairies. N.C. Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 288, 1933, 36 pp.
  16. "Dairy Farming Pays in North Carolina," Research and Farming, N.C. Agricultural Experiment Station annual report, 1942, p. 60.
  17. Blair, E. C., his 1941 annual narrative report, on microfilm in N.C. State University Archives.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences teaching, research, extension