Chuck Winter has called to our attention an article in the current edition of WORLD magazine which focuses on the drought conditions in Kosciusko County, Indiana, which includes the Warsaw/Winona Lake area. Here is an excerpt–to read the entire article click here.
Our parched land
Farmers contemplate mowing cornfields, water reservoirs are sinking, and crop prices are skyrocketing as the United States swelters through its worst drought in a half-century | Daniel James Devine
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind.—The corn stalks in north central Indiana stand thin and pale, like rows of prison camp inmates. They’re short—about chest height, when they should be 7 or 8 feet tall this time of year. Their leaves are curled and limp to the touch, sometimes browned near the tips. They ought to be stiff, sharp, and deep green.
The problem is there’s no water here. At least not enough to replenish the sandy gray soil. Though scattered clouds flung raindrops here and there on a mid-July day, they were just teasing.
“We’ve had little showers come through,” said Matt Roberts, who runs a fourth-generation family farm in Syracuse. “It’s all been less than an inch.” As of midsummer, the largest downpour Roberts had seen since the growing season began was seven-tenths of an inch, in June.
“It dried up the next day. You couldn’t even tell it rained.”
Rain has been in short supply at many farms this summer. It’s steered around entire states as mountains and plains stretching from California to Michigan have experienced severe drought. Prolonged hot weather is shriveling crops, fueling wildfires, and sapping rivers and water reservoirs. Kosciusko County, Ind., is one of nearly 1,300 counties in 29 states that the U.S. Department of Agriculture listed as natural disaster zones this summer—the largest disaster declaration in the agency’s 150-year history.
Federal meteorologists say the drought is the most widespread the United States has endured since 1956. As corn and soybeans wilted under the sun, market prices for the two crops spiked, threatening to shoot up food prices in local grocery stores and foreign markets. In the meantime, farming communities in Indiana and elsewhere will have to cope with unforeseen losses.
“I know that the good Lord is going to take care of us,” said Roberts, 30, who has been praying for rain at the dinner table with his wife and 3-month-old son. Roberts expects to lose an entire cornfield this year for the first time in his life. He farms about 250 acres apiece of corn and soybeans and has never used artificial irrigation, since rains and thick soil have, in the past, been sufficient to quench his crops.
Now, corn stalks are scraggly and bean plants are knee-high instead of waist-high. It’s been so hot here—triple digits some days—there’s often no morning dew. In some cases, ears of corn have grown only as thick as a thumb, with tiny kernels. Sections of Roberts’ cornfields have no ears at all, because pollen from the corn tassels never fertilized the dehydrated plants.