The summer drought’s hefty toll on American crops

It was a bad year for corn. And for tomatoes. And for many other American crops. Farmers, agricultural economists and others taking stock of this summer’s growing

season say drought conditions and extreme weather have wreaked havoc on many row crops, fruits and vegetables, with the American Farm Bureau Federation suggesting yields could be

down by as much as a third compared with last year. American corn is on track to produce its lowest yield since the drought of 2012, according to analysts at Rabobank,

which collects data about commodity markets. This year’s hard red winter wheat crop was the smallest since 1963, the bank’s analysts said. In Texas, cotton farmers have walked

away from nearly 70 percent of their crop because the harvest is so paltry, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The California rice harvest is half what it would be

in a normal year, an industry group said. The poor yields are probably more than a one-year blip, as climate change alters weather patterns in agriculturally important

parts of the country, contributing to higher food prices that experts don’t see ebbing any time soon. Drought has consumed 40 percent of the country for the past 101

weeks, USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey said. But precisely where that 40 percent is has shifted over time, meaning different swaths of the country’s agricultural land have been

affected at different times, spreading pain and difficult choices geographically and by crop.