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The main catalyst in this rapid expansion was wheat farming.
While the number of livestock increased until 1896, this did not repre sent a significant change. When A. E. Schantz tried to establish a cheese factory at Schanzenfeld in 1885 he met with no success, as he could not convince farmers to supply him with sufficient milk. A similar attempt to found a creamery at Rosenfeld in 1895 also met with failure. 26 One indication of the role wheat farming played in the munic ipality was that by 1891 the acreage seeded to wheat represented over 75 per cent acreage.
Table 8 Farm Statistics 1891
Mode Farm Size Total Occupied Total Improved Under Crops Wheat
Acres 100-200 274509 98206 98206 73668
6220 17661 5939 343
Source: Census of Canada
(Note: In 1891 the Census of Canada gave statistics for both the Municipality of Douglas and Rhineland despite the fact that the two had merged in 1890 under the name Rhineland therefore the figures in this chart represent the combined figures reported as Rhineland and Douglas.)
While the wheat boom in Canada did not arrive until 1896, farmers in Rhineland continued to expand their wheat production through the 1880's and early 1890's. The late 1880's were very prosperous years as wheat prices remained high with generally good yields. These booming years allowed almost all farmers to get out of debt and many began building new houses. 27 High yields and good prices did not last through the 1890's. 1892 was the last excellent year for farmers. In that year the price of wheat remained steady at 75¢ a bushel, with many farmers getting 30-40 bushels an acre. That fall there was a shortage of threshing machines in the municipality, and labourers were commanding two dollars a day on threshing gangs. 28
Following 1891, wheat surplus and low demand brought the world wheat price down dramatically. Between 1892 and 1897 the price of wheat in the R.M. of Rhineland fluctuated between 30-60¢ a bushel, usually hovering at the 40-50¢ mark. While farmers continued to expand their acreages, many refused to bring their wheat to market, and many began growing more flax, which was selling at a better price.