Crops – Growing More for War and Peace

crops_0101The war and its aftermath demanded that farmers become more productive. Farmers and the researchers who support them responded. This was a decade of major changes in crops and livestock.

The decade began with calls for farmers to increase production to support the war effort and for urban dwellers to plant their own mini-farms, known as “Victory Gardens.” Farmers grew more with less human help available, and even had the energy to try new corps, like soybeans.

When the war ended, some of the technology that had been used to make bombs was redirected into growing crops better. Fertilizer use exploded as a result. The science that produced new hybrid varieties of plants and animals contributed to the productivity increase, as well. The shortages of the war years became the surpluses of peace, and farmers and the government had to figure out how to store it all. As cropping patterns and mechanization changed, the functions of the venerable barn changed as well.

Antibiotics and additives, genetic breeding programs and veterinary medicine were all new technologies that changed the livestock industry forever.

geeryWorld War II, like all wars, was a time of tremendous challenge.
Don Geery says that farmers were as important to the war effort as defense workers or, even, soldiers
. “Somebody had to feed all these people,” he points out. In meeting the challenges of World War II, American farmers developed incredible new technologies in crops and livestock.

Written by Claudia Reinhardt and Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. A partial bibliography of sources is here.

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