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

(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.

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)
Farmer Gene Corrigan looks at freshly planted seeds on his farm in La Pryor, Texas, today. Farmers have delayed the planting of several crops there because it's too dry.   (AP Photo)
Texan Hal Jessee, 83, is among farmers across the state who are again facing drought conditions and must decide whether to plant crops and hope for rain or cut their losses now.   (AP Photo)
Dry land farmer Gene Corrigan is shown driving a tractor on his farm in La Pryor, Texas, earlier today.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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