Aug 8, 2011

MedicalConspiracies- US DROUGHT ravages corn, sucks house foundation dry



US drought ravages corn, sucks house foundations dry
Monsters and Critics.com
Drought is ravaging the southern tier of US states, from Arizona across Kansas and east to the Atlantic Ocean, with 14 states firmly in its brittle jaws. In Texas, drought has hit particularly hard, stripping the land of green as more than 90 per cent ...
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US drought ravages corn, sucks house foundations dry

By Kaitlin Durbin Jul 23, 2011, 0:39 GMT

undefined Washington - Dead corn stalks march across fields, cattle are sent to market early, house structures crack and water supplies dry up.

Drought is ravaging the southern tier of US states, from Arizona across Kansas and east to the Atlantic Ocean, with 14 states firmly in its brittle jaws.

In Texas, drought has hit particularly hard, stripping the land of green as more than 90 per cent of the state stands in 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought, the top two intensity markers on the federal government's drought monitor.

Texas hasn't seen a quenching rain in nine months, one of the longest dry spells since 1895 and the worst drought in 60 years.

'It kind of looks like winter time, but the temperatures are 110 degrees (43 Celsius). We're cookin',' Travis Miller, associate department head of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University told the German Press Agency dpa.

This 'historic' drought, Miller says, has many in Texas murmuring: Could they be in for the next Dust Bowl?

He was referring to the 1930s when drought turned many states in the mid-west to, well, dust. Families were forced out of their homes as the land dried out and literally blew away, becoming virtually uninhabitable.

'Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that is could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes,' John Steinbeck wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Grapes of Wrath.

Miller says that it is very unlikely that Texas will turn to dust as it did in the 'dirty-thirties.'

'We've got a lot better agricultural systems today; more conservation methods to reduce the dust,' he said.

But tell that to Jeff Davis, 71, who watched 80 per cent of his corn crop dry up and disappear.

'We've had dry years before, but I've never seen it this dry,' Davis told dpa. 'It done gone [sic] from bad to serious now for farmers and ranchers.'

Ironically, Davis says he's even better off in central Texas than farmers further south.

'We were able to make a little crop here. You go down south and a lot of them didn't make anything,' Davis said.

During years like this Davis says there is crop insurance to help cover damages, but he doubts it will cover his expenses in growing the crop.

All told, losses in corn, cotton and other crops run into billions of dollars across the country as farmers are forced to 'just abandon fields,' as Miller says.

The drought's ripple effect means many farmers have sent their livestock to market early because they lack grass, grain and water for feed. Bill Hyman, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen's Association of Texas, told dpa that ranchers in central and southwest Texas have sold up to 40 per cent of their cattle.

In towns across Texas, the picture is equally gloomy as wells and rivers run dry. In state capital Austin, it's a question of how much water you can use outside your house.

'Houses on the right side of the street can only water on Thursdays and Sundays between midnight and 10 am,' Sandy Owen, 74, told dpa.

But she isn't watering her flowers or lawn. She's watering her house.

Residents all over Texas are being reminded of how important moisture is to keeping their foundations from cracking amidst weeks of 40-plus temperatures and the longer drought.

'A lot of people have cracks [in their foundations and walls],' Owen said. 'We're used to heat, but we've never had a drought like this.'

Owen is fortunate because she can protect her home without sacrificing her health. For 3,500 residents in Llano, Texas, north-west of Austin, even drinking water is a luxury as their sole source of water, the Llano River, nears zero-flow.

A typical flow this time of year is around 60-200 cubic feet, but that has dropped to a mere trickle of 2-3 cubic feet per second, Llano city manager Finley deGraffenreid told dpa.

If the drought continues, deGraffenreid says there is no doubt that the river will hit zero-flow. At that point, an emergency backup system can provide some water for up to 90 days.

'We really need some rain,' deGraffenreid said. 'But it's likely the relief we need will not be here until September.'

Despite all of the hardships the state has already endured this year, Texans are standing their ground, unwilling to let the drought claim both their land and their spirit.

'I don't want to preach all doom, but it don't [sic] look real good right now,' Davis said. 'But it could turn around. That's the thing about farming in Texas, we can go from one extreme to the other.'

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