World War I in Lawrence: Crops, gardens on residents’ minds

With food conservation as a main concern, Douglas County residents were paying even more attention than usual to the condition of crops and garden produce. As always, the weather was on everyone’s mind. “There is but one topic of conversation in the rural districts of Douglas County,” reported the Journal-World. “The draft has been forgotten and all talk is of rain. It isn’t a rain to relieve heat and discomfort that the farmers want, it is a rain that will help beat the Kaiser. Just now the corn crop is in a critical condition. If a rain is not forthcoming within a few days the hope of slapping sneering Germany with a sixty bushel yield will be only an idle one. In many parts of the state, heat and dry weather have curled the leaves of the corn and a few days at the most will finish it.”

Less than two weeks later, the corn crop “was partially saved with the general rain which fell over the eastern part of Kansas…. The rain was only a small portion of what was needed in this section but with the light rains and a cooled atmosphere Douglas county farmers have hopes of saving at least half a corn crop this year.”

An article on the “first fruits from the University war garden” reported that “string beans in bountiful quantities” were the main crop on the five acres planted on the KU campus. Under the direction of the KU home economics department, some of the beans were to be dried and the remainder canned.