Poor agricultural practices and years of sustained drought caused the Dust Bowl. Plains grasslands had been deeply plowed and planted to wheat. During the years when there was adequate rainfall, the land produced bountiful crops.
But as the droughts of the early 1930s worsened, the farmers kept plowing and planting and nothing would grow. The ground cover that held the soil in place was gone. The Plains' winds whipped across the fields raising billowing clouds of dust to the skys.
The sky could darken for days, and even the most well sealed homes would have a thick layer of dust on furniture. In some places the dust would drift like snow, covering farmsteads. Aside from economic depression, psychological depression was common as farmers struggled to keep farms which had been in the family for years going and saw them and their dreams literally blown away.