Three years out of four at Herat it does not freeze hard enough for the people to store ice; yet it was not very far from Herat, and could not have been at a greatly higher level (at Kafir Kala, near Kassan) that, in 1750, Ahmad Shah's army, retreating from Persia, is said to have lost 18,000 men from cold in a single night.
In this western third the rainfall is insufficient for Indian corn; but Kafir corn, an exceptional drought-resisting cereal, has made extraordinary progress in this region, and indeed generally over the state, since 1893, its acreage increasing 416'1% in the decade 1895-1904.
Alfalfa showed an increased acreage in1895-1904of 310'8%; it is valuable in the west for the same qualities as the Kafir corn.
Indian corn, wheat, cotton, oats and hay are the principal crops, but the variety of farm and garden produce is great, and includes Kafir corn, broom corn, barley, rye, buckwheat, flax, tobacco, beans, castor beans, peanuts, pecans, sorghum cane, sugar cane, and nearly all the fruits and vegetables common to the temperate zone; stock-raising, too, is a very important industry.
The hay crop of 1899 was grown on 1,095,706 acres and amounted to 1,617,905 tons, but nearly one-half of this was made from wild grasses; since then the amounts of fodder obtained from alfalfa, Kafir corn, sorghum cane and timothy have much increased, and that obtained from wild grasses has decreased; in 1909 the acreage was 900,000 and the crop 810,000 tons.