Why Khrushchev planted corn in the USSR

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Why Khrushchev planted corn in the USSR
Why Khrushchev planted corn in the USSR

How the love of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU for the Queen of the Fields brought the Soviet Union to bread cards in peacetime.

Why Khrushchev loved corn, and how it almost ruined the USSR
Why Khrushchev loved corn, and how it almost ruined the USSR

Now, when sociologists ask in their polls about what happened in our country in the Khrushchev years, people sometimes say: Gagarin, space, sometimes: virgin lands. But more often they laugh: corn! The sad anecdote with corn completely overshadowed all the merits of Khrushchev, whom many historians consider a reformer equal to Alexander II: he resettled people from barracks to "Khrushchevs", debunked Stalin's personality cult, rehabilitated the repressed peoples … But all this pales in the shadow of the image of a comical adventurer who fanatically adored corn, brought the country to food cards and almost completely ruined it. Why did Khrushchev love corn so much, and why did nothing come of his venture with the “queen of the fields”?

Corn idea

In 1950, Stalin announced an unprecedented growth in agricultural production and that the grain problem in the USSR had been finally resolved. Three years later, Khrushchev would call these statements "fraud." Agriculture in our country in the last Stalin years was indeed in a very difficult state. Even in 1913, with which for some reason all indicators of the Soviet economy were compared, the wheat harvest was higher than in 1950. Therefore, Khrushchev, as head of state, first of all announced a "nationwide struggle for a steep rise in agriculture."

Why through corn? The corn idea had been in Khrushchev's head for a long time. Once, before his eyes, she saved Ukraine from starvation. As it was: in 1949, Khrushchev worked as the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Ukrainian USSR. That year a lot of corn was sown in the republic, and then a drought came. The bread dried up on the vine, it was scary to look at the empty black spikelets. And at least henna for corn: the fields stood like troops, ready to fight hunger to the last. Then we survived thanks to corn, and Khrushchev did not forget this.

Friend Roswell

And there was also the American experience that haunted Nikita Sergeyevich. At the plenum in 1955, he spoke and got excited: now, the Americans do not stand in lines for meat, therefore, they are doing things right, but we are not. And even Mexico - but they were starving, some eight years have passed, and please, the world's largest grain exporters! Can't we, the great superpower, be there?

A delegation of Soviet agronomists went to the USA. With agronomic science in those years, we were not so hot, like: some breeders were jailed and shot, others, for the sake of self-preservation, stood under the anti-scientific banners of academician Lysenko (under Khrushchev, Lysenko flourished just like under Stalin; Nikita Sergeevich adored him as "a simple person from the people" and patronized him in every possible way). In general, the delegation returned with a report, which was half devoted to corn: a wonderful culture, all of America rests on it.

Then Khrushchev went to America himself, and there he asked to see the farm of Roswell Garst, the famous, richest farmer. Garst, although an American, in spirit turned out to be a person very close to Nikita Sergeyevich. The farmer was quick-tempered, uncompromising, and at every opportunity showed everyone the American goose mother. Khrushchev was greatly impressed by how Garst chased obsessive journalists away: he threw everything at them, from corn cobs to dry cow cakes, and he did not care about cameras. They immediately became friends. Garst was a major specialist in corn, and after talking with him, Khrushchev confirmed his conviction: it was corn that would feed the USSR.

Corn fever

In 1959, the sown area of corn increased by a third, it was sown in the North Caucasus, Ukraine and Moldova. Seeds bought from Garst. There was no money in the country, and the farmer was paid with gold bars from strategic reserves. There was nothing else to pay. This is how the son of Nikita Khrushchev recalls this. Sergey: “I found out that my father put his hand into the gold storerooms soon after his return from vacation.

Father listened to me complacently and answered with a quote from Eugene Onegin: How the state grows rich, And how it lives, and why, It does not need gold When it has a simple product.

Every year more and more corn was sown in the country: even in the North, in the Vologda region, and even in Western Siberia. The country was pounding in the "corn fever": films were made about corn, cartoons were made, poems and songs were written: We will catch up with America at Soviet speed.” In school amateur performances of those years, corn was the main positive character. The official propaganda of those years called her the Queen of the Fields, and Soviet citizens in the kitchens grinned: Kukuruza Nikitichna.

This is yours, and that is ours

In the south of the country, corn really gave excellent harvests, in the north and in Siberia, things with corn were bad. Garst volunteered to help, offered to his friend Nikita to organize corn courses in the USSR, said that it was a heat-loving crop and it should be grown more correctly, it would not live in the North. “That is with you, and that with us,” Khrushchev answered. For a long time he did not understand that things were bad. And the worst thing is that due to corn plantations, wheat fields were cut, the country was left without bread. In 1962, the corn crop perished in almost the entire Non-Chernozem region. The stems were used for silage, a succulent fodder for livestock. Animals were fed, and people were sold 2.5 kg of bread per person or by coupons (such a restriction was introduced by the decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR “On putting things in order in the expenditure of bread resources”).

Khrushchev did not want to see that his corn plan was doomed to failure: the climate was not suitable, and the breeding school in the country was actually destroyed, corn was often grown not by specialists, but by Komsomol detachments, but on enthusiasm, without knowledge, nothing grew. In his memoirs, Khrushchev later wrote: “Some people in the USSR did not understand me before and do not understand me now.

They don't understand that there is no other crop equal to corn for animal husbandry. It may be objected that not everywhere. Yes, but the main thing is the people. In the same climatic region, corn does not grow in one person, while in another it yields 500 and 1000 centners of silage mass. To put it bluntly: for a smart one, it has an effect, but for a fool, even oats and barley will not grow. Things got even worse the next year. Grains were collected very little, there was a crop failure. White bread became a shortage, and with it semolina, vermicelli, and flour disappeared from the shelves.

As Sergei Khrushchev writes in his book, "Father was not up to reforms." Two years before, Nikita Sergeevich said that communism would be built in the country by 1980, and many believed him. Now even the most ardent of his supporters were disappointed in Khrushchev: well, how is it? Even the bread is gone. But before that, in canteens, bread lay on the tables for free … The Soviet Union had to buy wheat abroad, from the capitalists, 12 million tons of grain for 372.2 tons of gold (the total available stock of gold that year was 1082.3 tons. "In the fall of 14 October 1964 year Nikita Sergeevich was sent to retire. As Pravda wrote, the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU granted Khrushchev's resignation. Leonid Brezhnev came to power, and they stopped growing corn even where it is good grew.

Khrushchev didn't succeed. He was unable to catch up and overtake America, and even more so to build communism, he was unable to raise agriculture on corn. But during the years of his reign, people began to live in a completely different way than before: follow the fashion, live not in communal apartments, but in separate, albeit small apartments, go to the sea in summer. Because of Khrushchev's rather insane love for corn, white bread disappeared from stores; but under him, the Soviet state for the first time spent part of its gold reserves to save people from starvation…

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