The head of the USSR, Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1954, after assigning corn the status of "the main agricultural crop", called it "a tank in the hands of soldiers." Besides, Nikita Sergeevich felt genuine sympathy for the “queen of the fields, ” as she would later be called. But corn happiness never came to the USSR. Probably the US intelligence services also played a role in this.
Corn can be said to have saved Khrushchev's life. An inexperienced politician, a native of peasants, nevertheless possessing a peasant acumen, back in 1948, being the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, he ordered an increase in the area under corn. And as he looked into the water - the next year the republic was struck by a drought, which the corn did not care. But for the new "Holodomor" the party governor could answer to Comrade Stalin not only with his position, but also with his head.
To catch up and overtake America.
By the mid-50s of the last century, the sown area of corn in the USSR was only 15% of the total. And now, taking into account the proclaimed slogan "Catch up and overtake America!", In particular for the production of milk and meat, it was necessary to sharply strengthen the fodder base. And the main role in solving this issue was assigned to corn.
Of course, varieties of this cereal were grown in the USSR - in Ukraine, Moldova, the Kuban and the North Caucasus. But after genetics was declared a pseudoscience in the country, breeding work was practically reduced to zero, as a result of which the varieties began to degenerate. Specialists from the Ministry of Agriculture monitored and came to the conclusion that the most promising is the Cooper Supercross “double interline hybrid” variety, bred in the United States on the basis of farms of the Pioneer Hee-Brad Korn agricultural firm, which was reported to Khrushchev. He, after a short thought, agreed to purchase a large batch of grains. Nikita Sergeevich was also impressed by the fact that the founder and current president of the company was a certain Henry Egard Wallace, who was benevolent to socialism in general, and to the Soviet Union in particular. As a result of negotiations, the grain delivery was entrusted to the chief manager of Pioneer, an experienced farmer Roswell Garst, whom the Soviet leader received in Moscow in 1955 with open arms, and during a visit to the United States four years later he visited his friend's farm in Iowa. And after the batch of grain arrived in the USSR, our breeders, on the basis of the revived experimental stations of the All-Union Institute of Plant Industry, began to create domestic varieties. For three years, agronomists and breeders managed to breed four species - VIR-42, VIR-25, "Odessa-10" and "Krasnodarskaya 1/49". All that remained was to throw the grains into the ground and wait for the harvest.
Celebration of the "queen of the fields".
First, the fields of Ukraine and Moldova were chosen as testing grounds. The result was impressive, and the "queen of the fields" began a victorious march across the vast expanses of the country. And if in 1956 18 million hectares were sown with corn, then six years later the sown area has already doubled. In a country that had just comprehended the cult of Stalin, a new cult arose - the cult of corn.
In the excitement that arose, no one noticed the first danger - instead of the sown areas intended for the usual crop rotation (rye, wheat), plantations of "miracle cereals" began to grow like mushrooms after rain. Moreover, in accordance with the installation from above, not only in the southern regions of the country, but also in the northern ones - in particular, in the Arkhangelsk and Vologda regions. The main motto of agricultural workers was: "Give 50 centners per hectare!" Those who exceeded this plan received state awards or were awarded the title of "Honorary corn breeder". But the careless bosses, whose farms did not fulfill the plan, were mercilessly removed from their posts and deprived of their party membership cards. It even came to paradoxes: okay, magazine covers were full of color photographs of the "queen", even if books like "Corn Farmer Pelageya Gontar" were born, but the combine operator from Zaporozhye, who named his son Kukutsapol ("corn is the queen of the fields"), surpassed everyone. But the second mistake was noticed only in 1964, when it became clear: at least 60% of the crops from the grains produced two years ago had died. And then it turned out that Cooper Supercross really retains the quality of the grains not only in the first, but also in subsequent generations in accordance with the “effect of heterosis”. But this very effect acts only on the latitude of the state of Iowa, at which our southern, but by no means central, and even more so northern regions are located.
Did the Americans know about this? Of course, they knew, but they kept silent “tactfully”. The Americans were well aware that such climatic conditions in the USSR would not be found in the daytime with fire. We can say that it was a well-planned action, as a result of which the main "corn grower" of the country lost his position, and the USSR took a new course - towards stability, then to stagnation, and then to the complete collapse of the country.
But it all started with innocent corn, which in experienced hands can also become a time bomb.