July 04, 2007

Severe Drought in the Deep South

Here's an article in today's New York Times about the exceptional drought in the American Southeast.

From the article,

Scientists call it a cruel freak of nature, one that is causing misery to farmers at a critical period in the growing cycle and has already ruined a “startling” proportion of Alabama’s agricultural output, said Douglas Le Comte, a senior meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some 88 percent of the state’s corn crop is classified by the government as poor to very poor, along with 85 percent of its soybeans and 74 percent of its cotton.

“The reality is, we’re going to lose a significant amount of money this year,” said Stuart Sanderson, a fourth-generation farmer in Limestone County, east of here. The foothills of the Appalachians make an alluring backdrop, but the reality on the ground is grim.

“A disaster like this is one you never see coming. We’re looking at a 70 to 80 percent loss,” Mr. Sanderson said, standing by a useless field of shrunken cornstalks. The rare, stunted ear could only manage a few malformed grains.

Deep cracks in the red earth indicated dry soil inches deep. “I’ve never seen this ground do that,” he said.

Rainfall is at least 20 inches below the normal 32 inches and in some places far lower than that.


At July 04, 2007 5:54 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

seems like a lot of records are falling lately. I was just reading that article and it scared me. I remember a severe drought down there in the 80s when midwestern farmers sent hay to the southern farmers. This sounds much worse. I always thought of Alabama as wet.


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