Media-Newswire.com reports that Texas drought conditions becoming historic.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Texas Drought Conditions Becoming Historic
(Media-Newswire.com) - Heard the one about the Texas farmer whose land was so dry, his cow was giving powdered milk? The lack of rain in the state is quickly becoming no laughing matter as a drought has a firm grip on most of Texas and there appears to be little or no relief in sight, contends a Texas A&M; University professor who says conditions could even get worse.
Steve Quiring, a professor in the Department of Geography who specializes in Texas weather patterns, says 88 percent of Texas is experiencing abnormally dry conditions and 18 percent of the state is in either extreme or exceptional drought conditions.
“Drought conditions for most of the state have gone from bad to worse over the past few months,” Quiring says.
“Many counties that were experiencing moderate drought are now in either extreme or exceptional drought conditions. We' re seeing more and more of the state becoming drier and drier.”
He notes that “exceptional” drought conditions are those that usually occur only once every 50 years.
The hardest hit areas are those counties in and around Austin and San Antonio, “and from there, just about every direction you go, there will be either extreme or exceptional drought.
“It ( drought areas ) just keeps expanding almost every month,” he adds.
The current drought is reaching historic proportion. Dry conditions near Austin and San Antonio have been exceeded only once before in Texas — the drought of 1917-18, Quiring explains.
At present, 168 Texas counties have issued outdoor burn bans, he notes.
“The bad news is that both short and long-term forecasts don' t call for much rain at all,” he adds.
“We usually get nice rains from February through April, but the forecast models do not look promising at all. If the current trend continues, many Texas farmers and ranchers are looking at some very grim conditions over the next few months.”
AP reports that Texas drought worsens and cattle are dying.
Texas drought worsens, cattle dying
Friday, January 16, 2009
By BETSY BLANEY, Associated Press Writer
LUBBOCK, Texas — Drought conditions in Texas are so bad cattle are keeling over in parched pastures and dying.
Drought conditions worsened significantly in the past week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday. Seventy-one percent of the state is now in some stage of drought, up from 58.3 percent last week.
A week ago the two worst drought designations _ extreme and exceptional _ covered 9.1 percent of the state. This week the two categories cover 15.1 percent of the state [today it is 18 percent], with a circle near San Antonio and Austin widening in all directions. Only the eastern and southeastern parts of Texas are without any drought status.
It all results in death for dozens of cows in Bastrop, south of Austin. At Dr. Lee Davis' veterinarian clinic, up to 10 cows a week have been brought in for treatment over the past month. They fell in pastures from weakness due to lack of grazing forage, and most didn't survive, Davis said.
"The problem is they're not getting enough energy because the grass is dead," Davis said. "Everywhere you go there's no grass. It's nothing but dirt."
Once a cow falls, bloodflow to muscles is diminished and chances of survival go down with time.
"It's hard to bring back a cow after it's been down for a couple of days," Davis said.
Even when given supplemental feed, some animals are left weak.
Lack of rainfall this past fall and into 2009 has left pastures barren. Cattle producers are instead feeding animals hay.
But there is a shortage of protein in some hay because some hay producers don't pay the high cost of fertilizer, which aids in building protein. Fertilizer prices are tied to natural gas prices.
Rachel Bauer, Texas AgriLife Extension agent for Bastrop County and a part-time rancher, has lost seven cows in the past six weeks.
"There is no outlook for any rainfall coming," she said.
The cause is a La Nina weather pattern settling over the central Pacific Ocean, bringing with it the likelihood of below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures.
Some cattle have gotten hurt trying to get water from drying stock ponds.
They seek out the ponds despite water troughs being set out, said Troy Tiner, who ranches in counties that include Bastrop, Travis, Fayette and Hays. He also puts out protein cubes to ensure his cattle get the proper nutrition.
"We keep them fed, but the killer is when they get stuck in mud holes," he said. "That's the biggest problem of everything."
Cattle producers are culling their animals and pulling cattle off pastures and arranging for supplement feed. Those planting crops this time of year are waiting for moisture.
The state has been drying out for several months. In late October, 71.3 percent of the state had no drought designation. [Today only 12 percent of Texas has no drought designation]
The parched land will respond if Mother Nature comes through.
"It's just amazing what a little rain will do," Tiner said. "Just a little bit of rain." [There has been no rain since this story was written 3 weeks ago]
BBC reports that drought worsening in Georgia, USA.
Drought worsening in Georgia, USA
by Philip Avery
The ongoing drought affecting much of the state of Georgia is growing worse. Northern parts of the state are hardest hit.
Georgian officials have now described the drought as “exceptional” in the northeast. Water levels in lakes and streams right across the state have fallen to record low levels, with 60 percent of Georgia classified as being in moderate drought.
Georgian authorities are particularly concerned about water levels in Lake Lanier — Atlanta' s main water supply, and other important reservoirs scattered across the state that have fallen to very low levels for mid-November. Water restrictions have been enforced in many parts since last year to save dwindling resources with a complete ban on all outdoor watering throughout northern parts of the state.
Authorities fear that many of the lakes and reservoirs may not fully recover this coming winter, even with average rainfall amounts. Georgia receives its largest amount of rainfall over the winter months and into the start of spring. There are no indications that the winter of 2008/2009 will be abnormally wet or dry; however, the last few winters across the southeast USA have generally trended towards being dry.
China View reports that China's drought worsens and summer harvest is now threatened.
The area of affected crops has expanded to 161 million mu by Feb. 6. 4.37 million people and 2.1 million livestock are facing drinking water shortage, according to data released by the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
The scarcity of rain in some parts of the north and central provinces is the worst in recorded history, as the drought spanned from autumn to winter -- a weather trend not witnessed in years, according to Sun Zhengcai, the Minister of Agriculture. The situation in some areas is extremely severe, he said.
Lack of rain has created a layer of three-to-ten-centimeter of dry soil in many parts of northern China, Sun said.
As the drought will not be relieved in the short-run, more seedlings are likely to be killed as spring approaches, which could threatened the summer harvest.
MOA data showed more than 2.3 million mu of wheat seedlings in Henan, Anhui and Shandong provinces had perished.
This year's summer harvest became more unpredictable as Puccinia striiformis, or stripe rust, one of the most damaging wheat disease began to show signs of spreading across the nation, MOA warned.
Bloomberg reports about drought in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Drought in parts of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay will probably reduce output after a credit crunch led farmers to buy less fertilizer than needed to strengthen plants, Weisser said today in an interview during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He didn't provide a specific forecast for prices.
"We are probably going to have lower yields," said Weisser, head of the world's biggest oilseed processor. "It's something that one needs to worry about because we already have low stocks."
Brazil and Argentina, the world's biggest soybean and corn exporters after the U.S., have faced a drought just as farmers need water for a critical growth period.
Bloomberg reports that Brazil cut its outlook for the crops.
Brazil, the world's second-biggest exporter of soybeans and third-largest for corn, yesterday cut its outlook for the crops and may revise the estimates again after assessing damage to plants from desiccation in major producing regions.
Growers in Brazil will harvest 50.3 metric tons of corn this year, compared with a Jan. 8 forecast of 52.3 million tons and 58.7 million tons produced last year, Brazil's Agriculture Ministry said yesterday. The soybean forecast was cut to 57.2 million tons from 57.8 million tons estimated last month and 60 million tons harvested in 2008.
The country may cut the forecasts for a third time as it assesses drought damage, Agriculture Minister Reinhold Stephanes said yesterday.
Prensa Latina reports that severe drought affects Paraguay economy.
Asuncion, Feb 6 (Prensa Latina) The drought in recent months has caused losses for $500 million to the Paraguayan economy, company managers of the agricultural sector warned on Friday.
Paraguayan Agricultural Coordinator's Office Chair hector Cristaldo said the main damage fell on crops as corn, soy, wheat and sunflower.
The losses in those crops reached $556 million, as confirmed by the Agriculture and Cattle Raising Ministry Production Guild Union.
Faced with the harsh drought, the Paraguayan government decided to declare agricultural emergency in the Itapua department, known as the country's granary.
Many of the crops that have direct impact on cattle food are ruined, and the soy plantations have been almost totally lost in some areas, said Juan Afara, the demarcation's governor.
Paraguay is the country with larger proportion of soy agricultural areas in South America and the fourth world exporter of the oily plant, beaten only by Argentina, Brazil, and the United States.
AP reports that Mexico City cuts water service as reserves dip.
Mexico City cuts water service as reserves dip
New conservation program in place affects more than 2 million residents
The Associated Press
updated 7:26 p.m. ET, Sun., Feb. 1, 2009
MEXICO CITY - Mexico City shut down a main water pipeline under a new conservation program, cutting service to more than 2 million residents Sunday after some reservoirs dropped to their lowest levels in 16 years.
The Mexico City government and the National Water Commission will interrupt service for three days every month until May, when the rainy season begins.
Even before this weekend, some residents have had virtually no running water because of the poor condition of their pipes.
City water pipes are so leaky, experts estimate 40 percent of drinking water is lost, and nearly all Mexico City's abundant rainfall simply flows into sewage drains.
The shut-off also will allow authorities to make much-needed repairs to the pipelines.
Officials say they have no choice: An unusually dry rainy season last year left the city's Cutzamala water system, comprising seven reservoirs, at 63 percent capacity compared to 85 percent in previous years, according to a Mexico City government news release. The system supplies 25 percent of the metropolitan area's water.
IRINnews reports that Persistent drought in Jordan could devastate crops.
JORDAN: Persistent drought could devastate crops
IRINnews,Thu 25 Dec 2008
December 2008 (IRIN) - Jordan's plight with drought has been highlighted this year with almost no rain falling on the kingdom, prompting officials to call on citizens to pray for rain on Friday 26 December.
Fear is growing that if no rain falls in the coming few days, the agriculture season for vegetables, wheat and barley would be wasted. [there was no rain]
In the Jordan valley, one of the kingdom's main vegetables suppliers, rain has been scarce and farmers fear for the viability of their crops.
Farmers from Deir Ala, in the northern Jordan Valley, told IRIN the government stopped pumping water to their farms to preserve the water for drinking purposes amid declining levels of rain.
"What can I do with my plants?" asked Mohammad Barawi, a farmer. Also in the southern city of Kerak prospects for this year's wheat and barley produce are bleak as farmers worry that without water seeds might rot underground.
"I only pray that rain falls very soon, or else I will lose all my harvest," said Salim Abdullah, a farmer with 100 donums of barley on the outskirts of Kerak.
The Green Prophet reports that Syria suffers water shortage.
Syria Suffers Water Shortage - More News on Middle Eastern Drought
Feb 5th, 2009
by Rachel Bergstein
Yesterday Daniel wrote a sobering report on the increasingly serious drought conditions throughout the entire region. Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Iraq have all reported water shortages that are sure to affect both the environment and international security.
Sadly, Syria can also join this unfortunately long list.
Syria has been suffering from a drought for the past five years. Like other Middle Eastern countries, Syria' s demand for water in the industrial and agricultural sectors, which comprise 90 percent of its entire water consumption, has increased over the past few years. The severe lack of rain this winter exacerbates the problem.
Damascus already felt the impacts of the drought this summer, when the taps ran dry in many neighborhoods and residents of the capital city were forced to buy water on the black market.
Mufak Khalouf, the head of the Damascus Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, recently spoke at a special conference in Damascus, and warned that the city might remain without water. “If we don' t do something fast, we' ll be facing a catastrophe we have not witnessed for the past 50 years,” he said.
Although the Syrian officials have taken steps like developing additional wells and replacing pipes to prevent leakage and waste, Khalouf indicated disaster may be imminent if the country does not adopt stronger measures.
A study by Japan' s International Cooperation Agency concluded that Syria will have to spend billions of dollars to prevent a severe water crisis in Damascus. The Japanese government already funded a $50 million project to help replace 100 kilometers of piping in the city in 2004. They also stated they intend to continue investing in Syrian water projects, which many include a $2 billion water transportation project from the Euphrates River to Damascus.
My reaction: Seems like most of the world' s major food producers are suffering devastating droughts.
1) The current drought is reaching historic proportion. Dry conditions near Austin and San Antonio have been exceeded only once before in Texas - the drought of 1917-18. 88 percent of Texas is experiencing abnormally dry conditions and 18 percent of the state is in either extreme or exceptional drought conditions. The drought areas have been expanding almost every month.
2) Drought conditions in Texas are so bad cattle are keeling over in parched pastures and dying. Lack of rainfall this past fall and into 2009 has left pastures barren. Cattle producers are instead feeding animals hay, "Everywhere you go there's no grass. It's nothing but dirt."
3) Both short and long-term forecasts don't call for much rain at all, which means the Texas drought is set to get worse.
4) The drought in Georgia is growing worse, with 60 percent of state classified as being in moderate drought. Northern parts of the state are hardest hit, and Georgian officials described the drought as "exceptional" in the northeast. Officials are particularly concerned about the falling water levels in important reservoirs across the state.
5) China's drought worsens and summer harvest is now threatened. The area of affected crops has expanded to 161 million mu (was 141 million last week), and 4.37 million people and 2.1 million livestock are facing drinking water shortage. The scarcity of rain in some parts of the north and central provinces is the worst in recorded history.
6) Brazil cut its outlook for the crops yesterday and may do so again after assessing damage to plants from desiccation in major producing regions. Brazil is the world's second-biggest exporter of soybeans and third-largest for corn.
Brazil' s numbers for corn harvesting:
Harvested in 2008: 58.7 million tons
January 8 forecast: 52.3 million tons
February 6 forecast: 50.3 metric tons
Harvested in 2009: ???
7) Severe drought affecting Paraguay' s economy has pushed the government to declare agricultural emergency. Crops that have direct impact on cattle food are ruined, and the soy plantations have been almost totally lost in some areas.
8) Droughts worldwide will reduce output after the credit crunch led farmers to buy less fertilizer than needed to strengthen plants. Low stocks of foodstuff make this falling agriculture output especially worrisome.
9) As reported by Farm Week, wheat plantings this year are down about 4 million acres in the US and about 1.1 million acres in Canada. So even without the droughts, US and Canada face lower agricultural output.
10) Mexico City is shutting down a main water pipeline (cutting service to more than 2 million) three days every month until May after some reservoirs dropped to their lowest levels in 16 years. An unusually dry rainy season last year left the city's Cutzamala water system, comprising seven reservoirs, at 63 percent capacity compared to 85 percent in previous years.
11) Jordan's persistent drought grows worse, with almost no rain falling on the kingdom this year. Jordanian government has stopped pumping water to farms to preserve the water for drinking purposes.
12) Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Iraq have all reported water shortages.
13) Syria has been suffering from a drought for the past five years. Last summer, the taps ran dry in many neighborhoods of Damascus and residents of the capital city were forced to buy water on the black market. The severe lack of rain this winter has exacerbated the problem.
14) Thailand has had severe problems with droughts in recent years and 2009 looks to be more of the same.
Conclusion: Take a look at the graphic below (Countries by USD value of agricultural output).
Here is the same graphic with regions experiencing drought highlighted:
As you can see, there are a large number of severe and historic droughts this year. Most worrisome, the worse cases of droughts are happening in the biggest food producing nations.
Worse drought in decades:
the Palestinian Territories