Every farmer in Texas has been feeling the effect of the drought this year. While some have experienced milder effects than others, it’s safe to say that most farmers will suffer as a result of the drought this year, no matter how well they managed their resources. That said, many farmers are still in shock after finding out just how bad their corn crop fared this year. According to Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service, Texas has the worst corn crop in the country, with predictions of only 12 bushels per acre.
The Perfect Storm
Meteorologists say that a confluence of circumstances has caused the worst drought in years—if not decades—in certain areas of Texas. It’s not unusual to have a dry winter and spring here in Central Texas, but we don’t usually see these kinds of conditions where everything is so dry all at once, said local weatherman Joe Weathergood. And when you combine these kinds of conditions with global warming, then you get a lot more evaporation than normal. That means it’s very likely things will only get worse before they get better. It’s going to be a rough summer for sure, he said. There are no two ways about it. We just have to ride out what Mother Nature throws at us for now.
When the Corn Goes Bad
When crops are drought-ridden and produce is bad, farmers don’t get paid much. That puts extra pressure on everyone involved; if corn isn’t good enough to sell on its own as cattle feed—and it often isn’t—farmers are sometimes forced to sell their corn for $1 a bushel. As an added insult, they still have to pay out of pocket for fuel costs to haul that crop off. If you’re one of those unlucky farmers looking at a load of bad corn, you might want to consider burning it off instead. While it’s not advisable to burn your fields (it can be dangerous), you can use a small portion of your land for burning as long as there aren’t any flammable materials nearby. Burning will help rid your field of unwanted plants and weeds, which could ultimately save you money when it comes time to harvest again next year. It also allows your soil to breathe easier, since droughts can cause water retention problems that lead to plant stress and stunted growth.
Why it Matters?
That’s pretty depressing stuff, but it’s also an indicator of things to come. As climate change brings more extreme weather and less predictability with it—as well as a steady rise in sea levels and more frequent coastal storms—we’re going to see more and more disastrous effects on food production. That could spell trouble for not just corn farmers but also people who depend on corn products (aka everyone). The good news is that there are plenty of ways we can adapt to these changes, from developing drought-resistant strains of crops to using desalination technology to convert seawater into drinking water. And if you have any ideas on how we can better prepare ourselves for our changing climate, please let us know! We would like to know your opinion.
What Does this Mean For Us?
The lack of water is also impacting other areas of crop production as well. Over 20% of our nation’s cotton crop is grown in Texas, making it a large producer for cotton. But when you have drought conditions like these, there’s just not enough water to keep things alive and healthy. This has led to more than half of the state’s cotton to be considered poor quality due to its stunted growth and its inability to produce full bolls. These sub-par crops will bring down prices and make it difficult for farmers to turn a profit. Even worse, we may see higher prices at your local grocery store because of low supply levels.
Ways to Save Money on Produce
The key to saving money on produce is buying fruits and vegetables when they’re in season. Doing so can save you as much as 50 percent off of your grocery bill—because most food stores only buy out-of-season products at a premium price. During non-peak months, focus on frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen foods are just as nutritious as fresh produce—but they tend to be even cheaper. And if you can’t find any good deals on fruits or veggies, try growing them yourself! It may sound intimidating, but it’s actually pretty easy to do. Just check out these tips for getting started with indoor gardening.
How About Frozen Vegetables?
When vegetables are trucked from California or Mexico (or grown as a hydroponic product), they lose a lot of nutrients. We recommend avoiding these foods if you want to eat nutrient-rich produce. Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, contain an average of nine more nutrients than their fresh counterparts! Frozen broccoli actually contains more calcium and iron than fresh broccoli—and just as much Vitamin C. So give frozen veggies a try next time you’re at your local grocer. They might be just what your body needs.