Formation of New Dust Bowl in Southwest
Formation of a new dust bowl in the southwestern section of the Great Plains, approaching in magnitude the area afflicted 20 years ago, has spurred efforts not only to meet the current emergency but also to check for all time the periodic destruction of the region's soil by wind erosion. Recollections of the severe dust storms of 1935–38 grew dim during the moist decade of the 1940s, when fertility was restored temporarily to most parts of the old dust bowl, and when high prices for wheat, corn and cotton encouraged overcultivation of the land. Since 1950, however, the region has had scarce rainfall, crops have repeatedly burned out, and the dry, loose soil has been exposed to the strong winds that are characteristic of the area in the early months of the year.
If proper conservation practices had been followed during the good years, and if emergency treatment had been undertaken on a sufficiently wide scale as soon as it became apparent that the region might be in for another long dry spell, much of the recent damage would not have been inflicted. Many farmers did take precautions, but even well-managed lands were hurt by deposits of soil blown from adjacent lands that had been neglected or mistreated.
Soil damage in the immediate situation has been checked since mid-April by a break in the drought; numerous farmers have put their land again to seed or are preparing it for a sowing of winter wheat. However, many acres were so badly eroded by wind storms early this year that they are as yet untillable. There is considerable danger that an unfavorable turn in the weather will bring even deeper and more widespread despoliation of the land when the strong winds return early in 1955.