Key Factors Of The Dust Bowl

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In the book Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s the author, Donald Worster, makes the argument that the Dust Bowl was a mostly a direct result of farmer’s methods and misuse of the fragile plains environment. However, there were many other largely contributing factors to the Dust Bowl. While the farmer’s methods played a role, other factors such as economic decline, unusually high temperatures, an extended drought accompanied by and economic depression, and the resulting wind erosion were all factors that help explain The Dust Bowl.
Worster argues that the farmer’s ethos was the main cause of the Dust Bowl, however the causes of the Dust Bowl were mostly geographical. In his introduction Worster says it “came about because the culture
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The drought caused a lot of unfavorable conditions for farmers in the southwest. In Worster’s book he says “Few of us want to live in the region now. There is too much wind, dirt, flatness, space, barbed wire, drought, uncertainty, hard work…” (Worster 105). The droughts caused many unfavorable condition throughout the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and neighboring sections of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Thus, roughly one-third of Texas and Oklahoman farmers left their homes and headed to California in search of migrant work. The droughts during the 1930s are a drastically misrepresented factor of the Dust bowl considering “the 1930s droughts were, in the words of a Weather Bureau scientist, the worst in the climatological history of the country.” (Worster 232) Some of the direct effects of the droughts were that many of the farmers’ crops were damaged by deficient rainfall, high temperatures, and high winds, as well as insect infestations and dust storms that accompanied these conditions. What essentially happened was that the soil lacked the stronger root system of grass as an anchor, so the winds easily picked up the loose topsoil and swirled it into dense dust clouds, called “black blizzards.” The constant dry weather caused crops to fail, leaving the plowed fields exposed to wind erosion. The effects of the drought happened so rapidly and progressively over time that…show more content…
The country at the time was in the deepest and soon to be longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world and this caused years of over-cultivation of wheat, because “during the laissez-faire, expansionist 1920’s the plains were extensively and put to wheat - turned into highly mechanized factory farms that produced highly unprecedented harvests” (Worster 12). ¬The farmer’s actions were prompted by the economic decline America was facing. With the economy in a recession, farmers were looking for a way to make a living and in 1930 wheat crop were becoming very popular. In 1931 the wheat crop was considered a bumper crop with over twelve million bushels of wheat. Wheat was emerging all over the plains. The wheat supply forced the price down from sixty-eight cents/bushel in July 1930 to twenty-five cents/bushel in July 1931. Many farmers went broke and others abandoned their fields, but most decided to stay despite the unfavorable
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