After Record US Drought, Bleak Summer Looms

Texas farmers fear poor crops, Calif. preps for increased wildfires
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Mar 11, 2009 4:35 PM CDT
Cattle are shown on Joe Gonzales' ranch in Gilroy, Calif. California's worst drought in decades is forcing the state's cattle ranchers to downsize their herds.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The first two months of this year have been the driest on record in the US, foreshadowing a summer of poor crops and brutal wildfires. Texas farmers have delayed planting corn and cotton, while cattle ranchers have sold off cows they can no longer feed. “It might take me 10 years or more to get back where I was,” one tells USA Today.

In California, the state is using prison inmate crews to clear brush and create firebreaks around communities as the threat of wildfire increases. The winter dry spell—the worst since at least 1895—worsened conditions in already parched regions. The nation has had 11,814 wildfires this year, the most for a two-month period in a decade. (Read more drought stories.)