Drought Continues Into New Year

The devastating drought that ravaged most of the country last year appears unlikely to change anytime soon, climatologists say, leading many farmers to worry about the future of their harvests.

For most of 2012, farmers across the country experienced some of the worst drought conditions seen in more than fifty year. Farmers from California to Ohio experienced record high temperatures and record low precipitation, leading to devastating crop losses for farmers across the country.

The year that began with about 32 percent of the country experiencing drought conditions has ended with more than 62 percent of the country experiencing drought conditions, a dismal forecast for farmers looking ahead to their winter wheat harvest. According to the director of the Nation Drought Mitigation Center, “Unfortunately (the drought is) not over and we’re definitely starting 2013 in a different status than what we entered 2012.”

Winter wheat conditions across the country are as bad as corn conditions were last summer. According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 70 percent of South Dakota’s crop, 49 percent of Nebraska’s crop, and 31 percent of Kansas’ crop are in poor or very poor condition.

While many farmers are at least protected by federal crop insurance programs, the increased cost to the federal budget could be immense and could further compromise efforts to pass a new farm bill this year.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer