Kansas prospered in the period between 1900 and 1930. Agricultural production grew rapidly, and Kansas became one of the leading wheat-producing regions in the United States. World War I (1914-1918) increased the demand for wheat, which encouraged the expansion of acreage under cultivation. In addition, mechanization, widespread use of dry-farming techniques, and the increasing use of irrigation also contributed to the state’s increased agricultural productivity. Although the oil industry expanded rapidly following the opening of major oil fields in eastern Kansas during World War I, meat packing and flour milling remained the leading manufacturing industries in the early 20th century.
Economic depression in the 1930s brought hardship to Kansas. A prolonged drought from 1931 to 1937 worsened the plight of Kansas farmers. The Great Plains suffered from soil erosion, and high winds churned the loose topsoil into enormous swirling dust storms, or black blizzards. In Kansas and the rest of what was called the Dust Bowl, thousands of farmers, unable to farm profitably, if at all, abandoned their farms and migrated to other parts of the country, particularly the West. Between 1930 and 1940 the state’s total population decreased, despite the fact that the urban population increased slightly.
In the late 1930s, rainfall increased, reducing the dust storms. The federal and state governments also began widespread conservation efforts to help Kansans recover from the depression. These included stabilizing and diversifying the state’s agricultural economy by encouraging the use of better crop rotation and the greater production of sorghum grains and other crops. Kansas also benefited considerably from various federal public works programs such as the Works Progress Administration, which provided money to build public buildings and roads, as well as for Kansas artists. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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