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was a very tedious job, but they also had to be harvested by hand. Beets were first loosened by a horse drawn machine called a digger and then thrown by hand into windrows consisting of eight rows of beets. Next they were topped with a large knife and then thrown onto a control pile. From here they were loaded onto wagons or trucks with blunt pitch forks and hauled to loading stations where they were loaded onto railway cars.

Mechanical harvesting began in 1947 eliminating much of the hand labour and thereafter sugar beet acreages climbed steadily in Rhineland. In 1951, 4,893 acres were seeded to sugar beets in Rhine­ land" increasing rapidly thereafter. Not only were sugar beets a profita­ ble cash crop, but they benefitted the soil in crop rotation. Being a labour intensive crop, they were also perfectly suited to the smaller fields that had developed around the Mennonite villages. Large Men­ nonite families also proved useful in providing the considerable hand labour involved. 63 While the census ceased to give sugar beet statistics for Rhineland after 1951, it is notable that between 1955 and 1960, 75 per cent of all Manitoba sugar beets were grown by Mennonites. 64

Flax acreage also greatly increased in the 1950's jumping from 18,320 acres in 1946 to over 42,000 in 1956. During the war the price of flax had risen with the demand for linseed oil, which continued into the 1950's. In 1958 another stimulus to flax growers was the establishment of a processing plant for flax straw near Morden. With this develop­ ment, area farmers had another source of income. 65

Dairying continued to be important in Rhineland during the 1950's even though the number of milk cows in the municipality dropped substantially. While the herd size decreased, the quality of the herd increased. This was in large part due to the herd improvement program started in the area in 1947, the various calf clubs that had been estab­ lished and the introduction of artificial insemination. 66 The expansion of the co-op creamery in Winkler also aided the industry.

Fig. 28 Field Crops in Rhineland 1951-1961 (in acres)


Crops Wheat Barley Oats Rye Flax Fodder Potatoes Other
1951 175048 55615 43750 33767 585 18320 4097 5222* 13792
1956 176751 32816 35146 25173 497 42599 5008 229 765
1961 174288 46112 30263 8069 125 45440 8919 826 2525

*includes sugar beet acreage. After 1951 sugar beet acreages are no longer given by the municipality. Source: Census of Canada.

As grain prices continued to be uncertain during the 1950's, more farmers turned to raising chickens. The increase in poultry raising was also stimulated by research which considerably reduced the feed con­ version ratio.