Soviet Union Table of Contents
A staple of the Russian diet for centuries and an important animal feed source, potatoes are grown on private plots throughout the country. They are cultivated on a large scale in the Ukrainian, Belorussian, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian republics and in the central European part of the Russian Republic. The area devoted to growing potatoes decreased steadily between 1960 (7.7 million hectares) and 1986 (6.4 millon hectares), although potatoes still accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total area devoted to vegetable crops. Potato harvests also declined substantially--from an average of 94.8 million tons annually between 1966 and 1970 to fewer than 78.4 million tons per year in the 1980-85 period.
Traditionally, the most widely grown vegetables in addition to potatoes have included beets, carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. These crops have been grown on an ever larger scale since the 1960s, and in 1986 they occupied nearly 1.7 million hectares. Yields increased proportionately, reaching a record 29.7 million tons in 1986. Thanks to the proliferation of large clusters of hothouses, it was possible to supply fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, among other produce, to the residents of major urban centers throughout the year. With private plots yielding roughly 40 percent of the vegetable harvest, much of the population, particularly the kolkhoz residents, grew a portion of their own produce.
Data as of May 1989