Vegas there are also great areas with a loose alkaline soil, which has hardened to a thin fragile crust on the surface. Much of the desert land, which is unsuitable for fanning, can be utilized for grazing.
The Great Basin has no outlet to the sea, and the rivers which rise in the mountains finally sink in the sands or terminate in small lakes. Humboldt River, after flowing 300 miles, enters Humboldt Lake, and a number of other streams over 100 miles in length disappear in the sands, spreading out in great flats known as “sinks.” The climate of Nevada is characterized by extreme aridity; and as the average annual rainfall in the northern part of the state is less than 15 inches, and in the southern part less than 5 inches, it is insufficient for growing crops without irrigation. The two principal areas under irrigation are the plains watered by the Carson, Truckee, and Walker rivers and the valley, of the Humboldt River, reclaiming large areas in Washoe, Douglas, Lyon, Churchill, and Pershing counties. In the mountain valleys there are many places which can be irrigated to some extent by the intermittent mountain streams. The total area under irrigation is 561,000 acres. Several large irrigation projects are either under consideration or in a formative stage. Congress has already appropriated $500,000 for preliminary work on the Spanish Springs project. This project, when completed, will bring some 40,000 acres of land under irrigation in western Nevada.
The eastern counties of Eureka, White Pine, Lincoln, and Nye, which have an area of 26,700,000 acres, or more than one-third of the area of the entire state, reported very few colonies of bees and a relatively small acreage of alfalfa, although White Pine County reports 10,000 acres in alfalfa. All of these counties are large producers of live stock. The southern part of Nye County is occupied by the Ralston Desert.
At Las Vegas, Overton, and Bunkerville, in Clark County, in the extreme southern part of the state, beekeeping receives more attention, although the irrigated area and the alfalfa acreage are small. In the valley of Las Vegas there are four apiaries, the largest containing 70 colonies. The surplus is gathered from alfalfa, sweet clover, catsclaw, mesquite, and huajilla. During a period of seven years alfalfa, sweet clover, and catsclaw have proved reliable; but in 1919 mesquite failed on account of dry windy weather at the time of blooming. All cultivated crops are dependent on irrigation, as the climate is very hot and dry, the temperature running up to 129 degrees F., and the average rainfall is only four inches. Water is obtained from artesian wells 100 to 1000 feet in depth. From five to seven cuttings of alfalfa are made in a single season, but farming is as yet in its infancy. The little valley at Overton, also in Clark County, is better adapted to the raising of bees and the building up of colonies than for the production of honey. The apiaries seldom contain more than 55 or 60 colonies, as 75 colonies usually overstock the range. If the weather is hot and windy, little surplus is stored; but it there is rain and mild weather there is always a fairly good crop of light-amber honey. There are large areas of mesquite, which, with the mild winters and early springs, should be very valuable for an early honey flow. At Bunkerville, still farther north in Clark County, conditions are much the same as at Overton. An entire failure is unknown; but if it is very hot and windy only half a crop is obtained.
The Humboldt River rises in the northeastern part of the state, and after flowing westward and southwestward 300 miles empties into Humboldt Lake in the northern part of Churchill County. In the valley of this river, in 1919, there were in Humboldt County 207,000 acres under irrigation, and 27,000 acres of alfalfa. In Elko County 183,000 acres were irrigated, but there were only 8000 acres of alfalfa. Beekeeping does not appear to have received much attention, as only a few hundred colonies of bees have been reported in the two counties. In