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The Contribution of Wheat to Australian Agriculture from 1861 to 1939


Australian Economic History Review

Published online on


The influence of agriculture on Australia's nineteenth and twentieth century economic development is well known. While wool's contribution is rightly celebrated, the contribution of agricultural crops has received less attention. This paper focuses on one major staple, wheat, from 1861 to 1939. Both patent data and a new measure of technological progress, the cumulative number of wheat varieties tested for local adoption, are used to quantify the contribution of agricultural innovation to growth. We find innovation in this sector made an important contribution to the growth of total factor productivity over the period.