Chief Deficiencies of Farming in the Great Plains

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Discuss the chief deficiencies to farming in the Great Plains. Many men and women took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 and headed west to the Great Plains. The $10 registration fee and the promise to cultivate the land for five years was an easy price to pay for 160 acres and the opportunity of a new and exciting life. Unfortunately, life in this new land was much more difficult than settlers had expected. Two-thirds of all homestead claimants failed to farm their land, due primarily to the lack of rainfall, inappropriate tools, and incorrect crops. Much of the Great Plains saw less than twenty inches of rainfall annually, living up to its name "the Great American Desert. The little rainfall was not enough to support extensive agriculture. The arid climate left the ground hard and impossible to plow. There were no rivers or lakes to provide irrigation and what rain did fall was soon evaporated by the sun. The tools settlers brought with them from the east were useless, as well as the seeds from their previous eastern crops. Plows were not strong enough to cut through the hard ground, and the plants were simply not hearty enough to live in such tough conditions. Even if farmers were able to manage to produce enough crops to feed their families there still wasn't enough to sell to financially sustain their them. The land they had been given to cultivate was nowhere near a fertile and yielded fewer crops. In order to have enough crops to feed and support their families, farmers needed larger farms. The dry climate also increased to the possibility of fires. Often, fires would start and destroy entire crops leaving the families with absolutely nothing. If fires and drought were not enough, insects also joined the proverbial party of doom. In 1871, 1874 ,and 1875 plagues of grasshoppers swarmed the plains devouring everything in sight. Within
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