Thursday, July 12, 2012

"It’s like farming in hell.”

That was a statement from Fred Below, a plant biologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana quoted in an article in Bloomberg Businessweek.  He estimated that during the heat wave last week corn yields were dropping by five bushels per day in the driest parts of the Midwest. Commodity prices are rising as yield estimates continue to tumble.

The U.S. Drought Monitor for July 10 (released today) depicts only two states not affected by abnormal dryness or worse - Vermont and Maine.  Eighty percent of the lower 48 states is affected by abnormally dry weather to exceptional drought. Severe to exceptional drought covers 37 percent of the lower 48. Both numbers are a few percentage points higher then the week before.

Although the focus has been on the corn crop in the last few days, that is by far from the only crop or agricultural sector affected.  Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture named more than 1,000 counties in 26 states as natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the USDA.

To get a feel for the scope of this disaster you have to look no farther than the drought impacts reported by CoCoRaHS observers across the country.  Here is a sampling.

Cracks in the ground are getting larger.   KS-JF-3   Jefferson County, KS   7/12/12
Very little irrigation water so we won't get a hay crop and will have to buy all of our hay this year. We are planning on selling some of the livestock. Horses. Also, the drought has caused wildfires which have closed roads to our area, thus stemming the flow of tourists we rely on for income. Thankfully no fires in the immediate area.  CO-JK-25 Jackson County, CO  7/3/12
We have reached a point that everything is so dry that fires are starting to pop up. Tuesday's fire took out over 500 acres. Fortunately no one lost Life or homes. It did get close and evacuation was necessary. This drought is at a very severe point, where we are going to see fires pop up every where. The loggers were shut down late last week, until we get some rain. Whole herds of cattle are being sold off because the producers can't feed them or they have run out of water or both. Tri-County water is in a severe shortage of water and has even mentioned that the lack of water may put some home owners with no water in an area from 105 north across to Gum Log. The fire fighting Tuesday was handy capped by the shortage of water to fight fire with. AR-PP-15    Pope County, AR  7/5/12

I've measured 1.21 inches of rain this calendar year. You can't raise a cactus on that!!  NM-RV-1    Roosevelt County, NM  7/2/12

Lawns are crisp and dry, and the ground is cracked. Plants are drying up and dying and watering is necessary for vegetable gardens. Corn in fields is showing signs of needing water. Water restrictions have not been put in place as of yet. Risk for fire is high.  PA-MT-56   Montgomery County, PA  7/11/12

Milo crop in area is averaging between 400 - 1100 lbs/acre. Normal average is 3000 - 3500 lbs/acre. Corn crop is burned up but harvest has not begun on the corn. Drip watering to keep trees and shrubs alive. Wildlife coming to water troughs near house to drink.  TX-JW-6  Jim Wells County, TX  7/11

Some friends here in the Sierra foothills are on "survival mode". Some of our wells are low because of little snow in the mountains this last winter.   CA-MP-1  Mariposa County, CA  7/9/12

Drought conditions continue to intensify from the drought which has developed back in May. Lawns across the region have gone completely dormant (brown). Larger landscape plants are constantly wilted and smaller plants are dying off. Large trees are now showing stress with color change and leaves falling off. Most streams and rivers have very low flows. OH-SN-3  Seneca County, OH  7/9/12

Watching friends and neighbors lose their crops. Ii [is] very discouraging. The field corn is turning blue and the soybeans keep losing blooms and stunted growth.  KS-SN-7  Shawnee County, KS

Some of the trees are starting to show yellow leaves. The ferns are either wilted or turning yellow. Fire danger is still extremely high. Been using leaf blowers to move the dead leaves away from the house & outbuildings.  MI-VB-2  Van Buren County, MI  7/6/12

Ground settling around lagoon knocked fence out of alignment. Pastures are very dry. Are having to feed some hay to the horses. tree leaves are starting to shrivel up. Pond and lagoon levels are dropping. electric use is up because we are using the AC's more and have to run a fan in the barn to keep the horses cool. We have been able to keep up with watering the garde and plants. Which means more electric use and wear and tear on the well pump. If we don't get significant rain Monday or Tuesday things will begin to look dire. Did have five deer grazing in my South pasture this morning which is competition for the horses.  MO-BN-20  Boone County MO  7/6/12

Corn is devastated. Cotton and soybeans are hurting. Severe fire dangers too. Showers this week have been spotty and light. Thankful for what we did get. TN-LC-7  Lincoln County, TN  7/6/12

We began chopping our corn crop for silage to feed the animals on July 1st. Two other farmers in the area have begun doing the same. The corn in our area has not produced corn cobs and will likely yield nothing. The only areas that appear to be salvageable for yields are low-lying areas near creeks and rivers.  IL-EF-13  Effingham County, IL  7/5/12

You can view all of the drought impacts reports submitted by CoCoRaHS observers on the CoCoRaHS web site. Select View Data in the top line menu, then select Drought Impact Reports in the left hand menu.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting to see these comments. This has inspired me to check out the Drought Impact Reports on the site for my and surrounding states. MD-CV-7.