Drought Contributes to Wildfires, but Affects Crops too

By Sarah Mirza 09.15.2011 blog

When we were in Texas a few weeks ago, I took my first trip to a cotton field. The only problem is, there wasn’t much cotton to see.

That’s because Texas is experiencing the worst drought in decades. Thanks to soaring summer temperatures and very little rain, the state has lost more than half of its cotton crop. One teen farmer we interviewed said that in a normal year, the cotton can grow up to your knee, and it can be so thick that you won’t even see the bottom half of your leg. (As you can see in this picture, that is not currently the case.)

And it doesn’t stop with crops – ranchers are selling cattle in historic numbers, dry roads are in desperate need of repair, and wildfires have burned more than 3.6 million acres since last November.

Just this weekend, the Texas Forest Service responded to 63 new fires, and more than 1000 homes were destroyed.

While there are many troubling facts and figures surrounding this terrible drought, the worst news of all is that the La Nia> effect could kick in again this winter. If that happens, experts say the conditions could be even worse next year.

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