Japanese Seeds and Farmers Bring Prosperity to The Texas Rice Industry
Interesting wall map of the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts, from the Mississippi Delta to the Rio Grande.
The map was compiled by Civil Engineer David M. Duller, on behalf of the Passenger Department of the Southern Pacific Railway. It was printed in 1905, the year after the introduction of Japanese rice seeds were first introduced to the region and Japanese farmers were invited by the Houston Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Pacific Railroad to help improve production technique of local farmers.
The purpose of the map was to attract potential farmers and landowners to the region along the course of the Southern Pacific, to make use of its plentiful water resources in the farming of rice. The point is driven home with illustrations and lists of 100 irrigation canals bringing water from the area's many freshwater rivers and bayous into farmland.
The Year Book Texas Department of Agriculture, seemed to think the map was overly optimistic, commenting:
On the Southern Pacific Railway Company's 'Rice Belt' map, David M. Duller estimates that 100 canal systems in Texas listed on that map are capable of covering ultimately nearly 1,200,000 acres, but this includes the Brownsville region and others not now devoted to rice culture...
Indeed, the idea that southern Bexar County, for instance, was an optimal rice-growing region was pure boosterism.
Rice in Texas and the Southern Pacific Railroad
While the earliest commercial rice production in Texas dates to the 1850s and 1860s, as noted by Dethloff:
Modern commercial production in Texas derived largely from the completion of the southern transcontinental railroad in 1883 and its acquisition by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1885, coupled with the availability of cheap land on the coastal prairies, the introduction of modern rice mills, and an influx of immigrants from Louisiana and from the grain producing areas of the Midwest. . . In 1891 Joseph E. Broussard established the first rice irrigation and canal system in the state, and the following year he added rice milling machinery to an existing gristmill, thus initiating rice milling in Texas and paving the way for the rapid expansion of production. Texas farmers planted 234,000 acres of rice in 1903 compared to Louisiana's 376,000 acres. . . .
An important event in the development of the Texas Gulf Coast rice industry was the introduction of seed imported from Japan in 1904. Seed rice had previously come from Honduras or the Carolinas. At the invitation of the Houston Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Pacific Railroad, Japanese farmers were brought to Texas to advise local farmers on rice production, bringing with them seed as a gift from the emperor of Japan. . . . C. J. Knapp, founder of the United States agricultural agent system, helped to overcome government regulation to bring seed rice into the country. Japanese rice production began at Webster in Harris County under the direction of Seito Saibara, his family, and thirty original colonists. The Saibara family has been credited with establishing the Gulf Coast rice industry.
Apparently quite rare, with no copies located in OCLC.