Conversion to Truck Farming

    ‘When man-made disaster struck in 1916, the colony was not so fortunate.  The ship channel to Orange was straightened and dredged for navigational purposes.  The deepened channel allowed salt water, which is heavier than fresh water, to creep into the waterways feeding the Sabine River and Sabine Lake.  Because Cow Bayou was fed by the Sabine River and was contaminated as well, salt water destroyed the colonists' crops when they irrigated their fields.  Although the Japanese colonists tried to solve the problem the following year, they met with the same disastrous results.  At a time when rice prices were soaring because of World War I, the Kishi farm was forced to stop growing rice in favor of crops which did not require such extensive irrigation.’[1]

    ‘Although few colonists at the time realized it, the loss of the colony's ability to produce rice was really a blessing in disguise because it forced the Japanese to diversify.  The Kishi colony was thus unaffected when the market for rice completely collapsed in the years following the end of World War I.  In 1924, when the Texas farms owned by Mayumi and the Onishi's were failing because of the low price of rice, the Kishi colony was prospering by growing and selling vegetables.  Their success amazed everyone, since the local consensus for years had been that truck farming in Orange County could never be profitable.’[1]

    ‘In the 1925-1926 season, Kishi increased his acreage in cabbage to 325 acres. He had “one of the largest cabbage crops ever grown in Southeast Texas,” averaging about 7½ tons to the acre and making the total shipment of 2,430 tons or 180 carloads.  After cabbage was harvested in the spring, Kishi used three tractors and 35 teams of horses and mules to put the fields in shape.  Irish and sweet potatoes, spinach, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other vegetables were planted.  In 1924 Kishi planted strawberry and got a fine crop.  People came from Orange and Beaumont to pick and buy strawberries.  In 1926 he planted 400 acres of land to beets, carrots, celery, lettuce, and spinach.  In 1923 he planted young fig trees on 45 acres.  These trees grew so nicely that his orchard was judged as one of “the finest in this section” in November 1925.’[2]

    ‘Kishi continued to raise livestock on his farm, but the major part of his livestock changed from hogs and poultry of the 1900’s and 1910’s to cattle in the 1920’s.  At one time Kishi was keeping about 300 head of cattle including several registered Brahmans.  These cattle of Indian descent withstood hot and humid weather, were resistant to insects, and were free of eye troubles.  The Brahmans were obtained specifically for crossbreeding with other breeds of cattle poorly adapted to the subtropical conditions of the Gulf coast. Peter McDonald, the foreman of Kishi’s farm, looked after the cattle.’[2,3]