Cultivation of Cotton and WheatThe Texan cotton production expanded with remarkable speed until it became the predominant fact of economic life. One would expect to find cotton in areas settled by natives , but under Mexican regime, cotton was not a dominant cash crop. The areal contrast in cotton production was once again evident. By 1860, where the state production had risen to 431,000 bales, Gulf Southern counties had seventeen times higher production than upper southern counties. The difference can not be explained by environmental factors, when nearly all settled parts of Texas were well suited to cotton. The Blackland Prairie, which held as much promise for cotton as the Black Belt of Alabama, produced little by 1860. The Blackland area contained a domain of yeoman farmers from the Upper South who had little experience in raising cotton.
Cotton production rose sharply after the revolution, and the Gulf southern parts of Texas became the western extremity of the great Cotton Belt which stretched across the lower south. The area was in many ways a land of cotton and slavery, and dominated economically by the plantation type of agriculture. At the same time, it is not until after the American revolution that the economy became linked to cotton. The "failure" of slavecotton economy, and cottoncultivation in Upper South counties can be explained by problems of transportation. The main cotton markets lay hundreds of miles away, and the absence of navigable rivers or railroads left expensive wagon transport as the only opportunity.
The issue of transport seems to be important, as the cotton came to Blackland in the decades after the civil war, when railroads were built. From that point the area became one of the major parts of the Cotton Belt in the early twentieth century. The assimilation of upper southern population into Gulf southern economy dissolved one of the major elements of the dichotomy within Texas. The Upper South population became assimilated to the Gulf southern economy. At the same time the railroads opened up great possibilities. As transportion improved and markets shifted, groups mixed and mingled.
In contrast to cotton, wheat had been closely identified with the Upper South
since the eighteenth century expansion from Pennsylvania. It attained great importance
in the valley of East Tennessee in the first half of the nineteenth century and was
found in significant amounts through much of the Upper South. It was, in short, part
of the agricultural heritage of the yeoman farmers who introduced wheat into the
northeastern parts of Texas as early as the Spanish period. As the Upper southerners
pioneers pushed southward, they encountered for the first time the fertile lands of the
By the year of 1860, wheat enjoyed a dominance in the northern Blackland Prairie far greater than any upper southern precedent, especially in the upper Southern prairie counties in north-central Texas, an area centered on the thriving river-ford town of Dallas. The lack of Wheat cultivation can be explained by the hot, humid climate or cultural preferences. Wheat had little place in the crop economy of the Lower South and efforts to raise wheat were made by some German settlers in counties similar to Gulf southerners. The result was repeated crop failure. This underscores that the environmental factor should not be overlooked.
It should be noted that the cultivation of another small grain, oats, corresponded very well to the pattern observed for wheat. The upper southern counties of Texas reported over six times as much oats per capita as the Gulf southern counties in the census of 1860.