Agriculture in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Agriculture in Wisconsin

Agriculture in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.


People have practiced agriculture in Wisconsin for nearly 3,000 years. Woodland Tradition peoples, 500 BCE to 1250 CE, raised vegetables and maize. Their successors, the Oneota, 1150 to 1600 CE, practiced year-round intensive agriculture in large settlements from eastern Wisconsin to the Missouri River. Some Oneota garden beds survived until the 20th century.

Modern Indians were growing corn and a variety of other vegetables when the first white farmers arrived. These new immigrants planted wheat and other crops brought from Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Wheat remained the staple crop of most Wisconsin farmers until the late 19th century, when insect infestation and market forces gradually persuaded most farmers to switch to dairy products.

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