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Burned by California Wildfires: Local Marijuana Industry

At least 31 pot farms have been destroyed, with many more damaged—and no crop insurance

(Newser) - The same fires that have destroyed Northern California's wineries have also taken a toll on the region's marijuana farms, which were about to begin an important harvest less than three months before the nation's largest recreational pot market opens for business in January. At least 31 marijuana... More »

Tiny Invader Threatens Food Staple in Africa

Fall armyworm is wiping out maize crops

(Newser) - Still reeling from a severe drought, Zimbabwe is now on the brink of going hungry as an invasive pest wreaks havoc on the staple crop maize. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that seven of the country's eight provinces have been hit by the fall armyworm, and as... More »

Craft Breweries Are Finding Specialty Hops All Tapped Out

In spite of rapid growth in supply, demand is causing headaches

(Newser) - Henry VIII once called hops a "wicked and pernicious weed," but they're crucial to the production of most beers, especially when it comes to "hoppy" India Pale Ales, or IPAs. In fact, more than 4,000 brewers are battling for less than a dozen popular hop... More »

Brewers Are Scrambling to Get Pumpkin for Fall Beers

Blame it on the weather

(Newser) - No, the predicted Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015 didn't actually live up to its name, as Fortune reported last November. But that's in part because the companies that can pumpkins didn't hold onto reserves for the following year's crop—that would, of course, be this year'... More »

Bees, Butterflies May Go Way of the Dinosaur

United Nations report says world crops are at risk

(Newser) - Don't care much about birds and bees going extinct? OK, but you may have to forgo popular foods (like blueberries, apples, and coffee) that depend on creatures that pollinate plants, the Christian Science Monitor reports. According to a UN scientific report approved by 124 nations, the coming extinction of... More »

One of Our Favorite Fruits Looks Doomed

A lethal fungus jumped continents in 2013 and is on a global rampage

(Newser) - If you like bananas, it's time to start savoring them while you still can. A deadly fungus that's been killing the plant since the 1960s has jumped continents, moving from where it ravaged crops for decades in Southeast Asia to parts of South Asia, Australia, the Middle East,... More »

Confusion in Wake of Indian Farmer's Suicide at Rally

Supposed suicide note mentions poverty, but some say Gajendra Singh was egged on

(Newser) - A land-reform rally in India's capital went horribly awry yesterday when a farmer took his own life in front of attendees, the Independent reports. Gajendra Singh, said by the Hindustan Times to be a 43-year-old father of three, shocked onlookers at the Aam Aadmi Party gathering by climbing a... More »

Researchers Solve Piece of Easter Island Mystery

The ongoing debate: Did Rapa Nui do themselves in, or are Europeans to blame?

(Newser) - The ongoing debate over what prompted the decline of Easter Island's native Polynesian inhabitants, known as Rapa Nui, is being clarified by scientists digging for answers in the soil. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , an international team of researchers explain that they examined agricultural... More »

We'll Have 'Big Plants but Nothing to Eat' by 2070

Grain crops to have less nutrients in 40 to 60 years: study

(Newser) - As more carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere compliments of global warming, crops will indeed grow faster, but Harvard scientists have stumbled upon a big downside, too. They placed "rings of carbon dioxide jets" amid rice, wheat, peas, and other crops around the world to study what happens when the... More »

Get Ready for the Biggest Corn Crop Since 1936

2012 drought sent prices soaring

(Newser) - Last year's drought sent corn prices soaring, and this year, US farmers are looking to take advantage of it. They're set to plant the biggest corn crop the country has seen since 1936, USA Today reports, sowing some 97.3 million acres of the commodity. Right now, corn... More »

Climate Change's New Vital Crop: Bananas

Warming to force farmers to switch away from spuds

(Newser) - As the planet gets warmer, farmers are going to have to give up on certain crops and people are going to have to get used to radically changed diets, according to a new report. Agricultural experts predict that harvests of maize, rice, and wheat are set to fall in many... More »

In Record Drought, Nation's Farmers Twist in Wind

Depression, lost land, ditched vacations

(Newser) - The worst drought in decades has reached farming families' personal lives, making for a year very different than they might have expected. "You probably can’t print our mood," says a South Dakota rancher. "The wife says she can’t drink enough to dull the pain of... More »

With Gadhafi Gone, Locusts Plague Libya

Insect swarms threaten crops in neighboring countries too

(Newser) - One little drawback to Gadhafi's downfall: Locust swarms are buzzing around the Libyan desert and putting croplands at risk, Mother Nature Network reports. "The fall of Gadhafi was an enormous factor, to be honest," says the top locust forecasting officer at the Food and Agricultural Organization. "... More »

Farming's Future: No More Plows?

'No-till' agriculture is eco-friendly and rising in popularity

(Newser) - A transformation in farming may be under way, one that leaves plows in the dust. It's called "no-till" farming, and the AFP (via Raw Story ) catches up with the growing trend in Indiana. The idea is that a plow—or on a smaller scale, a garden shovel—... More »

Insects, Diseases Invaded After 9/11

Tiny terrors infect food supply, bump prices

(Newser) - America's obsession with terrorism after 9/11 has left our borders prone to the tiniest of invaders, an AP study finds. Focused on guns and bombs, inspectors have overlooked foreign insects and plant diseases that menace the country's food supply, send prices soaring, and leave pesticide residue on food.... More »

USDA Sinks $60M Into Trio of Climate Change Studies

3 projects seek adaptable agriculture for specific regions

(Newser) - The USDA is sinking $60 million into a trio of studies that will investigate how climate change affects crops and forests. The three studies will focus on specific crops in specific regions—Midwestern corn, Northwestern wheat, and pine forests in the South—and aim to help farmers and foresters continue... More »

Global Warming Could Push 6.7M Mexicans to Migrate to US

Crop failures, cuts in food production projected to boost relocation

(Newser) - Rising temperatures due to climate change could result in mass migration from Mexico to the US, according to a study. Based on the assumption that climate projections are correct, experts estimate that up to 6.7 million Mexicans could migrate by 2080 as a result of crop failures and reduced... More »

Mystery Investor Buys Every Cocoa Bean in Europe

Who's hoarding all that cocoa, and why?

(Newser) - The supply of cocoa beans sitting in warehouses across Europe could fill more than 5 Titanics, and as of last week it all belongs to one mysterious figure. An anonymous investor sparked intrigue last week when he, she, or they bought 241,000 tons of cocoa—essentially, every cocoa bean... More »

In Search of Profit, Tobacco Farms Morph Into Vineyards

(Newser) - A falloff in demand and an end to subsidies has tobacco farmers across the country turning to the vino, the Wall Street Journal reports—farming grapes and making wine, that is. “The small-plot tobacco farmer is a thing of the past,” says a North Carolina wine official, who... More »

Fungus Poised to Kill Off World's Wheat

US scientists race to find plants resistant to the Ug99 fungus

(Newser) - A rust-colored fungus could destroy 80% of the world's wheat crops in a few years unless scientists counter it with genetically resistant strains, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Ug99 fungus—an ancient wheat-killer that rose up again in Africa 10 years ago—is already threatening 19% of the world's... More »

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