August 8, 2012

What I learned this week about the drought

Last week I posted the experimental design for the project I'm working on right now.  Even though I look at all those seeds every single day it's not that exciting and I don't have much to show for it.  Sprouted seeds that have been deprived of light just aren't that cute.  Especially since it is the time of year when there are just so many good things to eat (see below, which was dinner a few nights ago).

Here in New Hampshire the nationwide drought doesn't seem too bad since it is only 'abnormally dry.'**   In the past few weeks there have been a few of the USDA's 'charts of note' about the drought and how it will affect food prices.  You might notice below that produce isn't mentioned, or perhaps it's lumped into 'other foods.'  Most of the categories on the chart are heavily dependent on the midwest corn crop, which is threatened by 'extreme drought' right now.  Why will the price of dairy and eggs increase so much in 2013?  Think about what they eat - corn based feeds.

California, where a lot of produce is grown, doesn't have any red 'extreme drought' bits in it either.  But much of the irrigation water used to grow all those crops comes from the Colorado river (it runs through the Grand Canyon so you better know where that is!).  Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico all contribute to the river and they have some pretty big 'extreme drought' spots in them.  Less water affects everyone, not just the people in the red spots.  

The NYTimes has a nice graphic mapping yearly drought for every year since 1896.

** 8/9/12 After talking to people up at the research farm I've learned that yes indeed the drought is affecting crops in NH.  For example, blueberries are drying up on the bushes, something that hasn't happened before.

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