Historic Resource Study/Special History Study
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The quarrel between the City of Los Angeles and the Army and the WRA over lease of the Manzanar site for the relocation center initially hampered the activities of the camp's agriculture section. Difficulties were encountered concerning the manner in which the city wanted irrigation water utilized at the center. Water was taken from streams flowing down from the mountains and from two wells located at the project. Furthermore, the city lodged complaints with the WRA concerning the manner in which commercial fertilizers were used on Manzanar's farm fields. At first, the city refused to approve a hog project, even though the WRA agreed to locate it at least one mile from the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Finally, the city's rate for irrigation water on the project was based on the price for domestic water in Los Angeles.

Finally in June 1943, the federal government, through condemnation proceedings, pre-empted use of the Manzanar site. A federal court set water rates more favorable to the WRA for irrigation and domestic use, thus freeing the agriculture section from various restrictions in water measurement and allocation.

The agriculture section was supervised by Farm Superintendent Horace R. McConnell, a WRA appointed worker, from May 27, 1942, until April 1, 1945. In July 1943, Henry A. Hill was added to the staff as assistant farm superintendent. Upon McConnell's resignation on April 1, 1945, Hill became acting farm superintendent until the center closed.

During 1943 and 1944, the number of evacuee workers on the vegetable-growing projects fluctuated between 75 in winter and 250 during the harvest period. The evacuee workers included some 40 to 75 women. Eight to 12 evacuees worked on the hog farm during those years, while 20 to 28 men were employed on the poultry farm. One evacuee was hired to tend the beef cattle herd during those years.

During the fall and winter of 1942-43, Manzanar acquired additional farm machinery, including four used 35-horsepower track tractors, four new small Case wheel tractors, and five new Ford wheel tractors. Pulled equipment for the track tractors was secondhand, while that for the Case and Ford tractors was new although limited in amount. No vegetable or feed crops were planted after January 1, 1945, thus eliminating the need for drawbar farm implement use after that date.

Vegetable Production. During the winter of 1942-43, evacuee farm workers cleared and leveled land, built irrigation canals and ditches, and constructed diversion dams in the flowing streams at Manzanar. The rabbit menace was overcome with the acquisition of five greyhounds and afghans. [46] By the spring of 1943, approximately 400 acres of land were producing vegetable and stock feed crops, the crops raised that year totaling about 2,000 tons.

After experimentation, thirty-two varieties of vegetables were selected 'as being the most desirable for Center use that could be raised satisfactorily." The varieties were "selected because they produced the most food value per pound of vegetables and at the same time supplied a well-balanced diet" for the evacuees. Approximately 80 percent of the vegetables used at Manzanar during 1943-44 were produced at the center. The cost of producing vegetables was less than the cost of purchasing them on the open market, and the center's vegetables were fresher and thus more desirable to the evacuees. Several varieties raised at the center that were preferred by the evacuees were unobtainable on the open market because of wartime conditions. Root vegetables "did well with high yield and good quality,' and tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons, squash, string beans, and cabbage also did well. Lettuce, peas, dry beans, and sweet potatoes, however, did "not produce well due to the hot arid summer climate." Extreme alkaline soil conditions in portions of the center also contributed to poor yields.

By 1944, four fields covering 370 acres were cultivated at Manzanar. Two fields were located north of the camp along U.S. Highway 395. North Field No. 1 comprised 12 acres of cucumbers, egg plant, peppers, sage, and other herbs. On Field No. 2, a 141-acre plot north of Shepherd Creek, potatoes, nappa, daikon, uri, kaboucha, carrots, onions, cabbage, spinach, beets, lettuce, gobo, radishes, dry onions, green onions, and turnips were grown. This field was irrigated from Shepherd Creek, and a barley windbreak planted on its northwest side protected the vegetable crops. Guayule rubber plants were grown west of the north fields.

Two fields were also planted along the highway south of the residential camp area. Field No. 1 consisted of 99 acres of cultivated alfalfa, sweet potatoes, lettuce, peas, cucumbers, carrots, corn beans, dry onions, daikon, tomatoes, and cabbage. Field No. 2, located further south, consisted of 118 acres of honey dew melons, tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, squash, milo, corn, watermelons, peppers, cabbage, and asparagus. [47]

Poultry Farm. Construction of the poultry farm began in July 1943, and in August the WRA purchased 12,000 unsexed day-old white leghorn chicks to be delivered at a rate of 2,000 per week. An additional 8,000 chicks were ordered for delivery in April 1944. The evacuee workers cleaned the chicken houses, yards, and feeding/watering troughs regularly, gathered eggs "daily at 3:30 p.m.," and planted lawns around the farm warehouse. They also planned and laid out "some attractive flower gardens, which were well cared for until the Project closed."

Approximately 50 percent of the barley and wheat used for feed was shipped to Manzanar from other relocation centers, but alfalfa and milo corn were raised at Manzanar. The balance of the grain and supplemental feeds were purchased from outside sources in ton lots. To cut feed costs and to insure an adequate supply, a hammer mill was purchased and installed to grind grain and make alfalfa meal. To this mixture of ground grain and meal were added animal protein, minerals, and several different supplemental feeds. This substance was mixed by hand into three different mashes: chick, growing, and laying.

Egg production at the poultry farm amounted to 53,420 dozen in 1944 and 60,435 dozen the following year. Total value of the eggs for that two-year period was $45,520. To deplete the laying flock in line with the center's population decline, as well as to close out the poultry project, the slaughter of hens for the mess section was commenced in July 1945. Some 6,760 hens, having a dressed weight of 20,480 pounds and a value of $5,839, were slaughtered between July and November that year.

Although egg production was the primary purpose of the poultry farm, meat birds were also raised. The birds were killed and dressed by evacuees at the farm and delivered to the mess section. The killing room was equipped with two 30-gallon water tanks heated by butane gas. The number of birds slaughtered during 1943 was 2,077 (dressed weight — 6,000 pounds, valued at $1,800), and 6,881 (dressed weight — 21,370 pounds, valued at $6,296) were slaughtered the following year. Meat birds were "closed out before 1945."

Hog Farm. The hog farm at Manzanar was operated as a "feeder project.' Because of the comparatively short life of the project and the opposition of the City of Los Angeles to hog raising, "it was not deemed advisable to go into a breeding program." In October 1943, the farm was constructed about one mile from the center, and the first feeder pigs that were purchased arrived in November. There was "no preference as to breed," and requirements were "only a sound weight of from 50 to 90 pounds per head."

During the first two weeks, the hogs were fed grain and garbage, but after that period they were eased into a full-garbage feed diet. The daily routine consisted of cleaning and washing the feed platforms each morning. At 9:00 A.M. garbage from the mess halls was collected in a dump truck and delivered to the feeding platforms. Afternoon garbage was collected and delivered to the hog farm about 4:00 P.M.

Prices paid by the mess section for dressed pork ranged from 16 to 17 cents per pound. This price was lower than on the open market, thus making the hog farm a profitable project operation.

During 1943-45, a total of 2,320 feeder pigs were purchased at an average cost of 15 cents per pound ($32,224 in value). Of this total, 2,066 hogs, yielding 396,125 pounds of pork valued at $67,288, were slaughtered in Bishop for center use. Forty-five hogs which remained at the center when it closed were sold.

Beef Cattle. A beef cattle project was commenced at Manzanar in December 1943 with the purchase of 199 cows at a cost of 6-1/2 to 8 cents per pound. George Creek ran through the cattle area and supplied water in sufficient quantity for spring and early summer irrigation of the meadows as well as for year-round drinking water.

In March 1944, an additional 95 head of cattle were purchased. This lot "consisted of good grade cows and young steers." Thus, the purchase price ranged from 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 cents per pound.

The herd was "of mixed breed" and provided an opportunity "to determine which type produced the best beef value." This factor was "important since the cattle program was considered a doubtful source of profit at Manzanar.

Seventy-six calves were raised, and through the late spring and early summer of 1944, the herd "made fair gains." By fall, however, it "became evident that a beef herd could not be kept in slaughtering condition" unless quantities of outside feed were purchased, because the "late fall and winter grasses were not of a quality to keep cattle fat." Alfalfa and corn were the only crops grown for stock feeding, and the acreage for these crops was limited "owing to a shortage of water during summer months."

Slaughtering, "if successful for Center consumption, necessarily had to be a continuous operation." As stock feed costs were high during 1944, it was determined to close out the beef herd and resume beef purchases through the Army Quartermaster. No more cattle were purchased, and the beef herd was liquidated in December 1944. All told, 361 cattle were slaughtered in 1944, providing 139,505 pounds of beef for the center's mess halls valued at $23,560.23.

By late 1943 the acreage devoted to vegetable and feed production at Manzanar had been expanded to 440 and 110 acres, respectively, but these totals were reduced the following year to 310 and 45. Total vegetable production at Manzanar during 1942-44 was 7,747,201 pounds, of which 7,259,241 pounds were used at the center and 847,960 pounds were shipped out of the camp. In December 1943, for instance, one carload of carrots was shipped to Tule Lake, and In January 1944 one carload of 34,000 pounds of carrots was shipped to Poston. During the harvest in the fall of 1943, 19,320 pounds of honey dew melons and 18,000 pounds of watermelons were shipped to Tule Lake. The total value of the vegetable crops, based on 85 percent of the Los Angeles wholesale market values at the time of harvesting, was $217,228. Some 428,000 pounds of stock feed, valued at $4,550, was raised at Manzanar during 1942-44. [48]

Guayule. Although separate from the center's agricultural food program, the guayule rubber plant experimentation program at Manzanar related to war-related agricultural production and scientific research. In 1942, a group of evacuee scientists at the center heard about experiments being conducted in California by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which efforts were underway to produce rubber from guayule plants to meet the nation's wartime rubber needs. Encouraged by Dr. Genevieve Carter, the center's superintendent of education who saw the guayule project as a chance to develop scientific work as well as educational opportunities for the evacuees, the men contacted Dr. Robert Emerson, a professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Through his efforts, waste cuttings and seedling culls were delivered to Manzanar in April 1942 from several Salinas nurseries. The guayule research project at Manzanar was directed by Dr. Kenji Nozaki, while the scientific work and nursery propagation and field work was supervised by Walter T. Watanabe. Breeding and flower biology efforts were directed by Masuo Kodani. By March 1943, a lath house and propagating beds had been built at the southwest corner of the camp, and a chemical laboratory had been constructed in the ironing room in Block 6, a cytogenetics laboratory had been established in the hospital, field plots had been planted in various locations outside the residential area, and a breeding laboratory had been set up in the ironing room in Block 35.

Experiments were made on the extraction of rubber from guayule cryptostegia, and other less promising rubber bearing plants. The evacuee scientists succeeded in propagating guayule from cuttings, a process hitherto considered to be highly impractical. They also succeeded in hybridizing the plant, and by selection improved the strain so that the rubber yield would be higher. They perfected a new and rapid method of processing the guayule so that the costly and often awkward storage period could be eliminated. They developed a new method of reducing the amount of resin in the finished product. Samples of the tested rubbers were vulcanized in Los Angeles, and proved to be of good quality.

Through experimentation, it was found that Salinas strains of guayule were capable of surviving the winter at Manzanar, but Texas strains proved to be more hardy. Texas strains were also found to be superior to Salinas strains in rubber production.

Scientists from Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles and Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology visited the camp in increasing numbers during 1943-45. Several professional papers were prepared for publication in scientific journals by the evacuees while they were in the center. [49]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002