The Dust Bowl was a treacherous storm, which occurred in the 1930's, that affected the midwestern people, for example the farmers, and which taught us new technologies and methods of farming.
Concisely, the adverse weather conditions in conjunction with the changed farming practices played a substantial part in causing the dust of bowl. Soil erosion is the main trigger of dust storms as long as the loose soil lies in the path of strong winds. Therefore, measures should be taken in the environment to ensure that the soil remains intact to avoid the occurrence of other dust storms. The prevention of soils erosion can be done in the grass roots by ensuring that there are no adverse agricultural practices such as keeping large herds of cattle and continuous ploughing of the land. The “black Sunday” marked the day when the federal decided to take an action of stopping the dust storm because it had already caused harmful effects to the people who lived in those areas. Houses were covered by dust, animals died and a lot of people developed pneumonia.
As John Steinbeck wrote in his 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath: "And then the dispossessed were drawn west- from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out. Carloads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand. They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless - restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do - to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food.
During the year 1930, there were great changes in the weather patterns over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The Atlantic Ocean became warmer than normal while the Pacific Ocean became cooler. Therefore, tis change in climate was sufficient enough to change the jet stream’s’ direction. Normally, the air current is known to carry moisture towards the great plains from the Gulf of Mexico and in turn, causes rain on reaching the Rockies. Hence, when the jet stream shifted to the south, rain never reached the great plains resulting to dry soil. Whenever the strong winds blew, they swept away the top soil causing the dust bowl.
The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land." The early thirties opened with prosperity and growth. At the time the Midwest was full of agricultural growth.
The dust bowl was a storm that affected the Canadian and American agricultural practices in the 1930’s. It was characterized by strong dust storms which caused a great destruction in the farms hence affecting outcome and worsening the great depression. The drought destroyed plants that held soil together, covered houses with dust as well as suffocating animals. The main cause of this dust bowl was changes in climatic conditions and agricultural practices as discussed below.
The Panhandle of the Oklahoma and Texas region was marked contrast to the long soup lines of the Eastern United States.
Farming was the major growing production in the United States in the 1930's. Panhandle farming attached many people because it attracted many people searching for work.
The seeds of the Dust Bowl may have been sowed during the early 1920s. A post-World War I recession led farmers to try new mechanized farming techniques as a way to increase profits. Many bought plows and other farming equipment, and between 1925 and 1930 more than 5 million acres of previously unfarmed land was plowed [source: CSA]. With the help of mechanized farming, farmers produced record crops during the 1931 season. However, overproduction of wheat coupled with the Great Depression led to severely reduced market prices. The wheat market was flooded, and people were too poor to buy.
The best crop that was prospering around the country was wheat. The world needed it and the United States could supply it easily because of rich mineral soil. In the beginning of the 1930's it was dry but most farmers made a wheat crop.
One of the main causes of the Dust Bowl was the geography of the Southern Great Plains. A sheepherder from the west said, “Grass is what holds the Earth together.” (Doc B) Although the grass in the region was not very tall, the grass and its roots were a barrier that kept the soil and sand in place. Wheat farmers plowed the short grass leaving the dirt exposed and unprotected when the strong winds struck, creating massive dust storms as the wind picks the dirt up.
In 1931 everyone started farming wheat. The wheat crop forced the price down from sixty-eight cents/ bushels in July 1930 to twenty-five cents/ bushels July 1931. Many farmers went broke and others abandoned their fields.
Farmers were unable to earn back their production costs and expanded their fields in an effort to turn a profit — they covered the prairie with wheat in place of the natural drought-resistant grasses and left any unused fields bare. But plow-based farming in this region cultivated an unexpected yield: the loss of fertile topsoil that literally blew away in the winds, leaving the land vulnerable to drought and inhospitable for growing crops. In a brutal twist of fate, the rains stopped. By 1932, 14 dust storms, known as black blizzards were reported, and in just one year, the number increased to nearly 40. •When settlers came to the area, they built farms and planted crops. Their crops replaced the natural grasses in the area, which had root systems more capable of sustaining life under the difficult conditions.
As the storms approached the farmers were getting ready. Farmers increased their milking cowherds. The cream from the cows was sold to make milk and the skim milk was fed to the chickens and pigs. When normal feed crops failed, thistles were harvested, and when thistles failed, hardy souls dug up soap weed, which was chopped in a feed mill or by hand and fed to the stock.
During the first world war, the agricultural prices became high hence forcing farmers to grow more crops for the military troops. The increased cultivation activities had adverse effects on the land leading to the dust bowl. Hence, the creation of farming spaces required ploughing and destruction of grass that held the soil layers together. Also, livestock was introduced back into farming and this worsened the situation due to overgrazing. Therefore, the first world war contributed a lot to the effects that led to the dust of bowl.
This was a backbreaking, disheartening chore, which would have broken weaker people. But to the credit of the residents of the Dust Bowl, they shouldered their task and carried on. The people of the region made it because they knew how to take the everyday practical things, which had been used for years and adapt them to meet the crisis.
Also, the farmers kept large herds of cattle which ended up overgrazing the prairie grass that held the soil. Therefore, the topsoil became loose and vulnerable to the strong winds that blew across the plains. The strong winds swept away the top layers of the soil causing large amounts of dust storms which resulted to the dust bowl era. During the period when the lands were still covered by prairie grass due to less agricultural practices, then the strong winds did not cause any substantial damage to the region.
Next, the heavy farming machinery being used destroyed the plains and eventually led to the Dust Bowl. Fred Folker, a farmer, purchased and used a tractor that did the work of ten horses. (Doc C). By using this new tractor, Folkers was able to produce a greater amount of goods than before. On top of that, this tractor also increased the amount of shortgrass destroyed. The number of acres that were harvested between 1899 and 1929 doubled in eight Great Plains states (Doc D). This new, heavy machinery that many farmers used crushed the dirt and soil into smaller pieces and could easily be swept up into the air by the winds.
The final reason for the cause of the Dust Bowl was the dry climate. The Western explorer, John Wesley Powell discovered that the minimum amount of rainfall for successful farming on the Southern Great Plains was 20 inches. (Doc E). However, the average amount of rainfall for famers was between 17 and 18 inches. In Dallas, Texas, the average rainfall decreased from starting at 33 inches in 1923, to 12.74 inches in 1940. The amount of rainfall was not enough to grow crops, so a massive drought was caused.
The farmers adopted a new method of farming for the purpose of increasing agricultural produce which involved the use of ploughs to dig the soil. As a result, continued ploughing of larges acres of land led to the weakening of the top layers of the soil making them both unproductive and prone to soil erosion. Also, the ploughing was done occasionally which contributed to weakening of the soil. Whenever the winds blew, the swept large amounts of the top soil hence causing a cloud of dust which went to the extent of covering houses and animals.
To finalize, the Dust Bowl was a very depressing time. Families and people were struck by massive storms of dust, along with the Depression. If it wasn’t for the geography of the Southern Great Plains, heavy machinery, and the extremely dry climate, the Dust Bowl would have never existed, and times back then would be much easier.