Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-25-2004, 04:39 PM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 3,545
What areas in the US have the most fertile land?

I don't mean for large agricultural farming, I just mean places that would work best for subsistance farming with minimal technology.

What areas in the U.S. have the most fertile soil for this kind of farming?
Old 03-25-2004, 04:43 PM
duffer duffer is offline
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Milwaukee
Posts: 7,410
Eastern North Dakota to NW Minnesota and south to about Kansas and Missouri.

Pretty damn fertile.
Old 03-25-2004, 04:57 PM
Abbie Carmichael Abbie Carmichael is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: WV
Posts: 2,465
You can grow quite a bit of stuff in Pike County, KY.
You claim you never asked for this crap, but there's your signature, plain as day, on all the crap-request forms.
Old 03-25-2004, 05:16 PM
Earthling Earthling is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Up a creek with no paddle
Posts: 1,376
California's San Joaquin Valley has been called "the world's richest agricultural valley." From a 1999 report to Gov. Gray Davis:
Market Value of Agricultural Products Sold (in $1,000):
Texas:               $13,766,527
Iowa:                $11,947,894
San Joaquin Valley:  $11,645,271
This richness is due at least partially to the building of irrigation projects, so that doesn't directly answer the OP's question. However, one may guess that the soil was probaly pretty fertile already when people started farming it way back when.
Old 03-25-2004, 05:39 PM
Finagle Finagle is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Somewhere near Boston
Posts: 9,913
The Connecticut River Valley has wonderful soil. A lot of New England got scraped down to bedrock by the glaciers, but the Connecticut River Valley was essentially Lake Hitchcock until the last Ice Age which resulted in deep, essentially rock free soil. Regrettably, it's getting very built up and a lot of the land is being converted to housing.
Old 03-25-2004, 05:57 PM
ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Humboldt County, CA
Posts: 6,339
Originally Posted by Earthling
California's San Joaquin Valley has been called "the world's richest agricultural valley."
Not to far away, in Monterey County, you can also find the Salinas Valley, aka The Salad Bowl of the World. My extended family has farmed there for a few generations.

Valleys often include what used to be riverbed or other drainage, and such soil can be extremely rich, as nutrients and sediment are washed in and deposited from surrounding areas and higher elevations. This accumilates on the valley floor over time, as the river changes course and snakes back and forth through the years.
"Follow Your Bliss" - Joseph Campbell
"There is no one right way to live." - Daniel Quinn
"hot tip: DO NOT POP the BALLOONS, or the hate mail gets serious" - abby
Old 03-25-2004, 06:33 PM
Yeticus Rex Yeticus Rex is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Himalayas & California
Posts: 6,766
The Imperial Valley in SE California is also quite fertile plus the growing season is nearly year-round (actually gets too hot in summer for some crops to grow), but the San Joaquin is probably the best overall. The growing season there is almost as long....
MEMO to the CULT of PETA:
I shamelessly admit to killing another hamster with this post,
but you just killed another hamster yourselves by reading this post.
Have a nice day...
Old 03-25-2004, 07:22 PM
kunilou kunilou is online now
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 22,801
Starting in the Red River valley of North and South Dakota, picture a crescent going through eastern Nebraska and Kansas, includes southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and all of Iowa, down through the northern half of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and winds up in upstate New York.

That's the best blend of soil, climate and rainfall you'll find in the U.S. Other areas may have one or two of those characteristics, but not all three.
I'm not just a hack writer -- I'm a hack author
Old 03-25-2004, 07:59 PM
ftg ftg is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 16,292
The Willamette valley in Oregon beats the corn belt in 3 of the 3 categories kunilou posted. Methinks some local boosterism is going on here.

For the record: much milder climate, more reliable rainfall and the soil is rich from volcanic ash.

The region centered around Iowa does have nicer soil than most places (but not all), but that's about it.

Places with fertile soil and other good farming properties are usually dense with "truck farms". People can eke out a living on a small patch of land. Lot's of truck farms in the Western valleys, not too many in Iowa. In the corn belt, it's hard to make a living even on 160 acres.
Old 03-25-2004, 08:19 PM
kunilou kunilou is online now
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 22,801
Originally Posted by ftg
Methinks some local boosterism is going on here
Oh come now. I gave autz 12 states. How local is that?

I'll concede the climate and soil of the Willamette. In my defense, the couple of farmers I've talked to up there are much more concerned about consistent, year-in, year-out average and timely rainfall than any Corn Belt farmers I know. But I'll grant my sample base for that region is limited.

Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot of fruit/vegetable farming in the Midwest. If that's a benchmark, I'd suggest the LeSeur valley in Minnesota and a rough circle about 50 miles around Toledo, Ohio.
I'm not just a hack writer -- I'm a hack author
Old 03-26-2004, 12:19 AM
1000monkeys 1000monkeys is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 176
Don't have a site because frankly I'm too lazy but I recall that for years and years New Jersey had the most productive farms per acre (beleive it or not for those that assume its nothign but a couple of highways runnig between toxic waste dumps).

I dont know if this makes it the most fertile but it seems like a good arguement to me. I also remember reading that Michigan supplanted NJ in these stakes thus giving it a claim, but my assumption would be that NJ lost its claim because such a large percentage of its best farmland is being plowed under and paved over for more strip malls.

So there's two more possibilities for you.
Old 03-26-2004, 12:49 AM
KGS KGS is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Porn Capital USA
Posts: 4,657
The coastal areas of Ventura County, CA have some of the richest farmland in the world, along with a very moderate climate: 55-75F year round, with NO sub-zero temps (well, maybe once per decade) which can destroy delicate crops like citrus trees. Tons of organic fruits & veggies are grown there. It's the only part of metro L.A. which is still more profitable to farm than to build condos & strip malls on...for now.

It's all irrigated, so I guess it doesn't match up to the rainfall criteria -- but hey, who needs rain when you can import all your water, eh?
"The Matrix has you." -- Morpheus
Old 03-26-2004, 02:23 AM
Ephemera Ephemera is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Chattanooga
Posts: 14,037
It's been about eight months since I've read the book but Jared Diamond says in "Guns, Germs, and Steel" that the western coast of North America, from California to Washington, is one of the four most naturally fertile areas in the world due to climate and soil.

Anyone else that might have the book on hand and know which chapter I'm referring to might be able to give you a better answer though.



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:36 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017