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It's all over the news.

Heat Waves hitting the grain belt of the U.S., and it appears that the dryer and hotter than "Normal" temps are taking a toll on our crops.

Shocking! [not really]

Remember last year, in this state [Oklahoma], many crops just fell over a died, or were stunted by the heat, not only the temperature of the air, which was hot hot hot, but also the very hot soil. And the fact, that the temperatures didn't adequately cool at night.

What is that? A quadruple whammy?

Check out this MSNBC Page, Drought Hits 56 percent of continental United States, takes significant toll on crops.

The Drought Monitor noted that the drought is starting to "take a significant toll" on food supplies. "In the primary growing states for corn and soybeans, 22 percent of the crop is in poor or very poor condition, as are 43 percent of the nation’s pastures and rangelands and 24 percent of the sorghum crop. MSNBC"
Expect the price of every kind of food to go up, including pet food. Corn and soy products are in everything. Corn Syrup is in soda pops, candies, pastries, many sauces, it's in livestock feed, and is a filler in cheaper dog and cat food. Corn oil, and corn starch too. And the fake green fuel, ethanol will also go up in price, because in this country, it's rendered from corn.

 Lots of health foods will also be affected by the soy crop lower yield or outright failure.

Rain and cooler temps are forecast for many areas in mid-July but over the summer "drought is likely to develop, persist or intensify" across much of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, the Corn Belt region, the Mississippi Valley and much of the Great Plains, the weather service said Thursday in its latest Seasonal Drought Outlook. IBID
You see this year, because of the early heating of the soil and the lack of hard frosts, we would have gotten  very large yields, had the temperatures not risen above normal, and had rain fall stayed in normal parameters. But, like last year, the heat simply started early, but didn't stop. So all that promise is gone in a poof of dust.
Crop insurance agents and agricultural economists are watching closely, a few comparing the situation with the devastating drought of 1988, when corn yields shriveled significantly, while some farmers have begun alluding, unhappily, to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Far more is at stake in the coming pivotal days: with the brief, delicate phase of pollination imminent in many states, miles and miles of corn will rise or fall on whether rain soon appears and temperatures moderate. NYT
Farmers are worried about the GOP's new climatological "normal". It's easy to bitch and moan about corn prices, and the heat when you go to an air conditioned cubicle or office and then to a car and then home. But the farmers live much closer to the land. The notion that this only started this year is bunk. Last year Oklahoma, Texas and other areas in the Southwest were effected by an extreme drought that also sparked crop failures, massive fires, and  the need to sell off livestock because they couldn't feed them., This was also at times true for even pets. Even Wildlife abandoned young because parent animals could not feed their babies.  Now the drought is shifted North and East taking the drought to the deep South, and the Midwest. Though things are still dry in Oklahoma and Texas. We have had *some improvements, but we are worried about what the next couple of months will bring.

FYI, the drought is still lingering in some parts of Texas. Animals are being abandoned in Texas still and Louisiana as well because people cannot feed them.

Texas has 1.4 million fewer cattle than it did a year ago, a drop of 10.5 percent.

"Texas has large, large, large, large ranches. As the wells dried up and grazing's gone down, animals are coming up to the fence to eat. People are realizing they've sold all their cattle ... but they've got 20 donkeys," Meyers said earlier this year. Huffpo 2012

On a related note, I have already seen patches of Goldenrod blooming in the fields. It's not late September yet, which is the normal time for such plants to bloom. Right now it seems like we are having a bumpercrop of honey, but that will only remain true, if we are not struck by a long dearth of blooms in late summer and throughout autumn. Some of us are putting off harvesting of the honey til then, so we know how much we can take. The Farmers in the Midwest are watching what we saw last year: Their crops withering in the ground and turning to dust.
“It all quickly went from ideal to tragic,” said Don Duvall, a farmer in Illinois who, in what was a virtually rainless June, has watched two of his cornfields dry up and die as others remain in some uncertain in-between.

“Every day that passes, more corn will be abandoned,” Mr. Duvall said. “But even if it starts raining now, there will not be that bumper crop of corn everyone talked about.”

There is a reason that corn isn't grown much commercially in Oklahoma. We get too hot. Triple digits aren't that unusual in these parts, during the summer. But go up north, where normally it doesn't get above the low 90s, and that is a remarkable departure for crop growers. There are more than a few folks up north who don't bother with air conditioners, or at least they didn't in the past. A heat wave was 87 degrees sustained, 100s were unheard of for any substantial passage of time.

For Oklahoma, a heatwave is sustained temperatures at 104 or above. For many of the states up north of us, that is an unconscionable and hellish existence.

But lets go to one more story: Mother Jones, Climate Change is Already Shrinking Crop Yields.

According to this article, Monsanto's GMO Corn that is supposed to be drought resistant, isn't increasing yields at all.

... these new technologies have failed to materialize. So far, Monsanto has managed to produce just one of these wonder seeds, a "drought-tolerant" corn variety that the USDA approved for use last last year. The moment should have been a great success for Monsanto, but there was one problem: According to Monsanto's own data, the seeds don't work any better than already-existing conventional varieties, and the USDA acknowledged as much in its Final Environmental Assessment of the crop. Mojo
When you couple this with the fossil fuel shilling for increased CO2 in order to feed crops, it makes it very clear that--as usual, the science has not been applied to the best interests of the people, but instead it has been used to line the pockets of investors and lobbyists.
...the thinking went, climate change will likely make droughts more common and make some already-hot areas too hot for farming; but it will also lengthen the growing season in cold-winter areas like the US Midwest, perhaps increasing crop yields. Also, all that carbon dioxide we're pumping into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels would be manna to plants, allowing them to grow faster. These factors, many thought, would largely cancel each other out, and mean that climate change would have no great effect on global food production. Mojo
That can only happen if the soil temperatures remain in the proper parameters needed to sustain plant life and growth. I cannot believe that no one took into account how surface temperatures might affect soil temperatures. Especially if there has been a significant loss of cover due to an extended drought.  As a non-Scientist, that just boggle's my mind. Even I understand how critical that is for germination, and how to use it to either speed up germination [use of seed heating mats] or to stop it all together via the use of black or clear plastic to sterilize weed seeds in raised beds. It's a big ole DUH moment for me.  And as a tomato gardener, I got a crash course on the effects of air temperature, on the viability of pollen a while ago. If it's too high, then the pollen is sterilized. It's nothing more than a dry hump for the plants, because the stamens are shooting blanks!

I suspect that sterilized pollen also carries less nutritional value for pollinators as well. But that is another discussion.

Add to all this underwhelming performance, the creation of superweeds, and cross pollinated GMOs and I have to question why we allow this company to run amok with nature and agriculture, in such an uncontrolled manner.

Perhaps we should look at Heirloom varieties of Drought Tolerant Corn found in New Mexico. Clearly Monsanto's product has not lived up to the hype, but with these growers, we have proven performance. How else have indigenous peoples been able to feed themselves for generations in that harsh environment?

"Seeds are the memory of life," said Isaura Anduluz of plaintiff Cuatro Puertas and the Arid Crop Seed Cache in New Mexico.  "If planted and saved annually, cross pollination ensures the seeds continue to adapt. In the Southwest, selection over many, many generations has resulted in native drought tolerant corn. Nation Of Change
Because this is what we are looking at as a potential new normal:

March has meant 6,000 weather records broken.

Anyone who has read past weather diaries here, and then perused the comment section can see that this story reflects what people from all over the country are talking about. It got too warm, too early and it didn't stop in some places, and worse yet it is not being mitigated by gentle rains. Instead we are seeing weather phenomenon that is more normal over Oklahoma, N. Texas and parts of  southern MO and Ark. Powerful squall lines that form an arc known as a Bow Echo as they race across a vast swath of land, blowing over trees, striking with lightning and dumping lot of rain in a very short period.

Those sorts of storms don't break heat waves or droughts. Weather like that knocks trees and power lines down, washes away topsoil, and if they produce hail, will damage vegetable and fruit crops as well. These are some of the dangers presented by more intense storms driven by climate change.

My suspicions are that in the next few years, Central Oklahoma will start to look more like New Mexico, Missouri and Kansas, Ohio, even parts of the deep south will dry up and begin to more resemble Oklahoma with it's long drought cycles and more violent spring and fall weather.

If that comes to pass, then corn will have to be grown mostly in the Northern states like Wyoming. We will loose more soil fertility with this change, and smart people will begin to invest in storm shelter and safe room manufacturing.

The fact that the US traditionally SUCKS at water conservation will simply make an already bad situation worse. Already states have been duking it out over water rights to rivers and lakes. See this 2009 story: Southern States at War.

GEORGIA, ALABAMA and Florida aren't the only states fighting over water. No fewer than seven Southern states are waging uncivil wars, trying to establish legal claims to this increasingly precious resource.
Oklahoma has been fighting it's indigenous tribes over water rights.

And to top it all off, Water Quality will go down, because of bacteria and other sources of pollution thanks to increased heat, lower oxygen levels in the warmed, dirty water and just plain old stupidity.

Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 6:46 AM PT:

Originally posted to GreenMother on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 06:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Community Spotlight.

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