The Great Plains stretch for miles from the Dakota's into Texas, miles that many believed would prosper bountiful crops. However, with the challenge of the extreme weather and lack of rain, made farming a struggle. At times, the rain would allow for prosperous crops but during a dry spell the land would yeild nothing but wind and dirt. Today, The Great Plains are a main food source for much of North America, producing dozens of food and fiber products. The most important crop is wheat. Barley, canola, corn, cotton, sorghum, and soybeans are also grown.
The Plow that Broke the Plains
The Plow That Broke the Plains is a 1936 documentary film which shows what happened to the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada when uncontrolled agricultural farming led to the Dust Bowl. When watching this film, take notice of the scenes of the land; how dry and desert like it was.
Agriculture Thru the Ages
1870s - Settlement on the Plains began.
1880s - Great Plains farmers follow same agriculture practices as they have been used to. They do not realize that the land will need to be changed and adjusted for conventional farming.
1890s - Inadequate rainfall leads to drought and crop numbers drop. Many settlers left the region. Those whose remain talk about setting up an irrigation system, but in 1896 the rain came and the conversation was put on hold.
1906 - Enlarged Homestead Act passes.
1915-1916 - Demands from WWI motivates farmers to plow up millions of acres of land to plant wheat.
1920s - End of war leaves farmers in debt or bankrupt from drastically declining wheat sales.
1930s - Dust Bowl
1940s-1980s - Irrigation is set in motion and farm equipment improves.