Figure 72 Grain production and scale of drought in the RSFSR 19541965

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Grain production, million tons

Sown area not affected by drought, %

dry in Kazakhstan and Western Siberia as well as in many regions of the Russian Federation (Figure 7.2.). Other key agricultural regions of the USSR, such as the Ukraine, suffered from severe droughts in 1954 and 1960. Weather did little to help Khrushchev's agricultural projects. One Soviet report evaluates 1960 to 1965 as the worst in Kazakhstan in terms of climate in the period 1946 to 1975 (Agroklimatichesky prognoz, 1978). Evidently the weather was not the only factor in the colossal losses of harvests in the virgin lands in those dry years, as inappropriate methods of cultivation (which were good in wetter conditions) exposed soils to wind erosion in the dry steppes of Kazakhstan and Western Siberia.

Already in the first year of the campaign, 1954, there was a drought in eastern and southern parts of the Ukraine. In this region the large losses of grain were reported to be caused exclusively by the dry autumn weather of 1953 and then by drought in the spring and summer of 1954 (Agroklimatichesky prognoz, 1978). The total grain production of the USSR fell by 24 percent below the average, mostly due to crop failure in the Ukraine, as the grain production of the RSFSR was relatively high (Table 7.8.). In the virgin land area of Western Siberia and Kazakhstan, new grain sovkhozes enjoyed rainy weather and relatively good harvests (Rudenko, 1958).

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