Grasshoppers Devoured Crops During the Depression Era

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By Capper's Staff | Feb 29, 2012

We lived on a farm in the depression era and raised cattle, grain, hay, chickens and a garden. Crops in general looked promising, just right for a grasshopper invasion. It was 1936 and we were newly married and had hope of a good year. The medium size brownish hoppers came in droves and cleaned fields quickly with their voracious appetites. I remember a large field of tall corn near roasting-ear stage was devoured to six-inch stalks in less than a week. Men worked long hours to put crops in silos to save all’ possible. Alfalfa was a favorite crop for them to eat. Summer apples and peaches were eaten from the tree as cleanly as birds could. Harness and pitchforks had to be put inside as sweat attracted their appetites. Holes were eaten in clothing as it hung on the line.

Farmers tried plowing a strip around their fields, did some burning and in a few places put out poison mash. One man herded his flock of six hundred turkeys from farm to farm. The turkeys did a good job on the brownish grasshoppers that did finally disappear. Some big greenish ones, big as your thumb, then arrived. Their spurs were so big and sharp, they cut the turkey crops, so they didn’t make satisfactory turkey feed. Most gardens were eaten up. Fodder and hay crops were scant for livestock. Some sold their cattle for lack of feed.

It was a hard year for farmers, but most survived. Farmers are hopeful souls – next year will be better, so they live in hopes of a better time as they go ahead.

Mary Worley
Azalea, Oregon

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.

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