There was a time when Wichita wasn’t known as the Air Capital of the World.
Instead, city leaders promoted it as the broomcorn capital of the world, because more than 75 percent of the crop during its heyday of the 1930s and 1940s was grown in the Wichita area. The broomcorn industry flourished from about 1908 to 1970.
The Wichita Beacon reported in a special edition on Sept. 27, 1919: "The Wichita territory is supplying the material in one year’s cutting which would sweep every home in the United States at one time. Most of this material is handled directly or indirectly by Wichita dealers."
More than 3,000 carloads of broomcorn bales moved through Wichita every year, with 16 local broomcorn companies handling the brunt of the crop at one time.
Broomcorn’s biggest competitor was wall-to-wall carpeting.
It used to be rugs and carpets were swept with brooms for six months, then taken outside and beaten over a clothesline to rid them of dust. But with carpeting, vacuum sweepers replaced the loyal broom.
Broomcorn belongs in the same species as sorghums, kaffir and cane. It differs from the others in that its seed heads are much longer and straighter. The broomcorn’s seeds are called branches or straws. It is those seeds, or straws, that are used to make brooms.
Because raising broomcorn was such a labor-intensive crop, U.S. farmers began growing less by the 1970s.
Much of the crop today is grown in Mexico, Argentina, Hungary, Italy, Africa and Indonesia.
Question: Two types of broomcorn were raised in the Wichita area. What were they? .
Answer to Saturday’s question: The first formal coursing event to use greyhounds was at Cheyenne Bottoms near Great Bend. It was held in 1886. Greyhound racing in the United States traces its start to the 1886 event.
Check back in this spot Monday for the answer to today’s question.