1857 Crop Failure

The nation was in the middle of a depression in 1857, and Iowa, with its currency problems, was in no shape for crop failure. However, crop failure did come to Iowa in the summer of 1858, and with it came ruin of many Iowa farmers. Anything possible that could go wrong with the weather and crops in 1858, did. Spring came early, but so did the cold rains that kept the farmers from planting. Those who did manage to seed their fields saw the rains flood the fields and rot the seeds into the ground. Any seed that did sprout, grew rank and yellow. Weeds came up to smother the corn before it could gain height. Frost finished off what did manage to grow.

Many farmers plowed their fields and planted late buckwheat, but once again the weather stepped in. Hot winds and days with no moisture shriveled the wheat and small grains and made them worthless for anything but straw. The seed that did grow was discolored and poor in nutritional value and, certainly, it was not good enough to plant for the next year's crops. To make matters worse, currency problems in Iowa left no money to The crop failure extended over 2/3 of the state. The weather came in excess, from one week to the next. Cold spells, heat waves, droughts, and heavy rains, all combined to cause the summer of 1858 to be the worse in Iowa history. Many Iowa families decided that year whether they would stick it out or move further west.

Source:"True Tales from Iowa's Past"


Return to Farming