Harvesting the High Plains: John Kriss and the Business of Wheat Farming, 1920-1950

Harvesting the High Plains: John Kriss and the Business of Wheat Farming, 1920-1950

by Craig Craig Miner, Craig Miner
     
 

The semiarid plains of western Kansas and eastern Colorado are hardly the setting for an agricultural empire, but it was here that former field hand John Kriss managed G-K Farms for Wichita entrepreneur Ray Garvey. Their enterprise became one of the largest wheat operations on the plains and yielded Kriss a one million bushel crop.
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Overview

The semiarid plains of western Kansas and eastern Colorado are hardly the setting for an agricultural empire, but it was here that former field hand John Kriss managed G-K Farms for Wichita entrepreneur Ray Garvey. Their enterprise became one of the largest wheat operations on the plains and yielded Kriss a one million bushel crop.
Harvesting the High Plains is the rags-to-riches story of how Kriss applied hard work and common sense to make large-scale farming work under the most adverse conditions. Drawing on correspondence between Kriss and Garvey, it tells how the two men had to make innumerable decisions about the purchase of expensive machinery and of ever larger tracts of land, and how Kriss kept detailed records of crops and rainfall to manage the land carefully, farming thousands of acres in an environmentally sensitive way and retaining a viable operation even during the Dust Bowl years.
In chronicling the story of Kriss's success, historian Craig Miner provides a bold counterpoint to the argument that large, technology-based farming is inherently bad or that only small farmers can be conscientious stewards of the land. He sets his narrative in the context of local and agricultural history-as well as the Kriss family's own story-in order to document the transition to mechanized, specialized farming on the plains. He addresses philosophical and historical questions about the relation between agriculture and nature in a semiarid region, showing that G-K Farms managed to strike a remarkable balance between profit and ecology. He also suggests that G-K may even have done its region more economic good than small farms simply by staying in business during bad times.
The Kriss family still works the land, and although their operation is huge, it still depends on traditional family farming values and approaches. Harvesting the High Plains provides keen insights into their special approach to large-scale farming and gives a human face to the faceless statistics of other agricultural studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Historian Craig Miner recounts the story of a former field hand whose joint enterprise with Wichita entrepreneur Ray Garvey created an agricultural wheat empire which still operates today. Miner details the daily decisions the men made which led to their success, as well as treating philosophical and historical questions about the relationship between agriculture and nature in a semi-arid region. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700608744
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
02/28/1998
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

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