Qian Xuesen’s computation on China’s crop harvest

It is well-known that during the “Great Leap Forward” industrial movement of 1958, Qian Xuesen (or Ch’ien Hsueh-sen 钱学森) had an article in the People’s Daily newspaper that claimed China’s crop harvest could potentially produce over 20,000 kilograms of rice per mu (0.16 acre) by planting more seeds in the field than the usual density . His assessments were used by then Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong which led to that year’s disastrous agricultural policy. Tens of millions died during the famine in the three years that followed.

It is not well-known, however, that In 1993, Qian still believed his computation on the yield of 10 thousand kilograms per mu. More precisely, his computation showed that the ideal annual yield was 32-53 metric tons. The number is even higher.

The English edition of wikipedia does not mention about it at all.


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