Rain Makes Corn


One of Khrushchev’s primary goals upon taking control was to find a better source of fodder for the Soviet Union  To achieve this, Khrushchev looked towards America and their corn industry.  Khrushchev saw how well corn worked as a feed crop for America and began to popularize it in his own country.  The USSR went crazy over corn, importing seed corn from the US, creating a corn research institute in Ukraine, and the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture even issued a new scientific journal entitled “Corn”.  Khrushchev also went to the US heartlands to see American corn fields and to talk to local farmers about the methods they used.  On September 23, 1959, Khrushchev made a stop in Coon Rapids, Iowa and spent the entire day touring farms and chatting with the farmers, learning how to efficiently farm corn.  Khrushchev’s plan was worked, the amount of corn sown soared from a mere 4.3 million hectares in 1954 to 18 million hectares in 1955.  Thanks to some warm growing seasons, the corn harvest was plentiful and it appeared that Khrushchev’s plan to make corn the new fodder crop would work.  People began to affectionately refer to Khrushchev as “Mr. Corn.”


Sadly, it was not to be.  In an effort to turn more land into corn farms, the Soviet government began making farms in areas not suitable for growing corn.  By 1962, 37 million hectares of land were devoted to growing corn.  Like the song suggests, rain does make corn.  But too much rain combined with the wrong climate kills corn quickly.  Such was the case in the early 1960’s.  In 1962, 75% of the corn harvest was lost to an especially rainy and cold growing season.  To make matters worse,  hay production was also reduced that year.  This led to an even worse shortage of fodder for domestic farm animals.  This caused an increase in meat prices which led to some unpleasant things, including the Novocherkassk massacre in which 24 people were killed by the Soviet police.








8 thoughts on “Rain Makes Corn

  1. This was a very interesting post! I think it’s interesting that so many resources were used to research and help create these huge corn fields, and the irregular weather is what led to their failure. What was the public reaction to this failure? Were there other reactions similar to the Novocherkassk massacre?


  2. I enjoyed the title of your post along with how well you tied it into the post. Khruschev was trying to boost the Soviet’s agricultural industry much like the housing industry; however, trying to do things too quickly or in too much excess can have the opposite effect. Very interesting post!


  3. Its a real shame for the communists, its seems when things are just looking up, a massacre happens. It is very interesting to read about US relations with the USSR in the 1950’s as well as Kruschev’s time in America. It’s intriguing to read about how the US would hold grain over the head of the Soviet Union throughout its history. It is very peculiar that we were willing to help teach them about corn.


  4. I made a post about the same topic, it was very unfortunate that the Soviets were never able to effectively produce corn, as it would have greatly helped their economy. Khrushchev visiting America was also a massive diplomatic achieve meant as it was the first time a Soviet leader had visited the United States or a goodwill tour, something that would never have under a Leninist or Stalinist regime.


  5. I’m surprised that the Soviet Union tried to hard to emulate agricultural practices in the United States, but it is even more ironic that this also caused corn’s failure back home. It seems that Khrushchev’s vision did not match that of Stalin or Lenin before him, and the preference of speed over efficiency ultimately caused failure for the Soviet Union. Practices like these led to K’s overthrow, and also the decline of the Soviets power. Interesting how corn had such an impact.


  6. So many interesting reflections on corn this week! How was the rise and fall of corn covered in the Soviet press? What other commodities were affected by the connected crises in corn and hay production?


  7. This was a very interesting post! I think you should take a look at Jim’s blog where he talks about the same topic. It was rather interesting to reflect on the fact that the Soviets were expanding their agricultural market without the proper innovations to technology to accommodate it.


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