A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors
Fruit and Arable Crops

by Peter Lang
Translation by Brad Schwebler

   Besides grapevines there were apples, pears, Weichsel (sour cherries), apricots, peaches, Ringlo (greengage), Zwetschgen  (Quetsche – squash?), raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrents (Ribisl), strawberries, almonds, and walnuts planted in the house gardens, vineyards, and the yards for their own needs.  Surpluses were sold or distilled for peach or sour cherry schnaps.

   Along the streets and in the yards there were mulberry trees, which were planted under Maria Theresia for the silkworm breeding.  After World War I the silkworms were no longer bred in Beschka, but rather about 20,000 liters of schnaps was distilled from the mulberry trees annually.

   Friedrich Scherer reported further (vgl. Reg. No. 630) that in Beschka the cultivation of corn from the year 1890 on always increased more.  At the time the people fled about 40 percent of the field surface was cultivated with corn.  They were back to growing sugar beets for it.  Lentil was grown as a nitrogen collector to improve the ground and for feed purposes.  Anton Bobosch (vgl. Reg. No. 219) reported to me that in the year before the people fled 40,000 double hundred weight of wheat was threshed with nine threshing machines in the course of six weeks in Beschka.  This corresponded to a worth of 1.5 million Deutsch Marks.  The yoke yields in wheat lay between 12 double hundred weight on leased fields and up to 22 double hundred weight on the best fields.  How high the harvest yields were at the time of settlement was not reported in any of the homeland books checked by me.  In the Torschau homeland book it is written down however, that in the year 1847, a good harvest year, a total of 17,025 Preßburger Metzen were harvested and were left with 3,394 Metzen as seed.  From this we can approximately calculate the yoke yield.  The relationship between total yield and the seeds left over amounts to 1 to 5, considering that at the time about 120 kg. of wheat per yoke was seeded by hand, so it followed that the yoke yield at the time was about 5 times 120 kg. equal to 600 kg. of wheat had to be set.  For the year 1864 – a year when the harvest was destroyed by hail – the following yoke yields are given in the Torschau homeland book:

   wheat 16 Preßburger Metzen per yoke = 7.44 dz  

   oats    22 Preßburger Metzen per yoke = 6.82 dz

   corn   15 Preßburger Metzen per yoke = 6.97 dz

   The above double hundred number (dz) I calculated.  A Preßburger Metzen has 62 liters.  The hectoliter weight of wheat and corn is about 75 kg. and that of oats is 50 kg. , so that a conversion is possible.  The statements provided show that in Torschau at the time from 1847 to 1864 a considerable increase in the wheat yields was entered, and that little corn was harvested.  One can derive from it that the relationship in Beschka was just the same.  So the wheat yields have increased from about 5 double hundred weight per yoke at the time of settlement to from 12 to 22 double hundred weight per yoke when the people fled.  This progress was not the result of greater diligence because the settlers were just as diligent as we are, but is based on the use of artificial fertilizer, on better plows, on the Hackpflug (hoe plow?), on the seed cleaning machines, and so forth.

[Published at by Jody McKim Pharr, 2005]