drought

facebook.com/oklahomacottoncouncil

Oklahoma farmers are close to stripping cotton, but some are losing crops from dry weather in August.

Seth Byrd, an Oklahoma State University Extension cotton specialist, said this year’s crop had a lot of potential. With unexpected dry weather in August, he’s slightly adjusting expectations.

“We kind of realized in the middle of August that, you know, if we don't get a rain pretty quick, we're going to start definitely losing some of that yield potential,” Byrd said. “And that happened, we were pretty hot and basically dry through … almost the whole month.”

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Three rural Oklahoma communities are receiving $7 million in grants and loans to improve water infrastructure. The money is part of a $462 million investment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help modernize rural water and wastewater systems across 44 states.

SHERI GLAZIER

Sheri Glazier is used to seeing dry conditions on the family farm in central Oklahoma around wheat harvesting time in June. But this year, the heat came faster than normal. She remembers the unusually early heat one day while driving the combine in the wheat field.

“I was extremely worried about heat strokes that day, and I don't ever remember truly being that early in June, being that extremely concerned about ‘where's the water, where's the Gatorade, where's the fire extinguishers?’ All in one day, that early in wheat harvest,” Glazier says.

On a pitch-perfect autumn afternoon, a remote sheep farm in southern Greenland is quiet. The only movement is from a little girl playing outside her house with a fluffy border collie puppy.

The silence is abruptly broken when dozens of sheep come thundering across the hills overlooking the farm. Shooing them along is the girl's grandfather, Lars Nielsen, and her dad, 37-year-old Kunuk Nielsen.

When California's historic five-year drought finally relented a few years ago the tally of dead trees in the Sierra Nevada was higher than almost anyone expected: 129 million. Most are still standing, the dry patches dotting the mountainsides.

But some trees did survive the test of heat and drought. Now, scientists are racing to collect them, and other species around the globe, in the hope that these "climate survivors" have a natural advantage that will allow them to better cope with a warming world.

Dave Huhn is a sheriff's deputy for Montezuma County, Colo., a stretch of sagebrush mesas and sandstone cliffs bordering Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, home to Mesa Verde National Park, where ancestral Puebloans' cliff dwellings still stand.

Huhn specializes in the complex world of water law. His job has become more important in this region after a series of hot, dry summers have made farmers more desperate for water, and more willing to steal it or go to battle over it.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it's the driest part of the state this year.

"We really haven't really had any measurable rain since the middle of October," says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville. "I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust."

At least a dozen wildfires burning in Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Florida have charred more than 1,700 square miles and remain largely uncontained.

Rachel Hubbard of member station KOSU in Oklahoma City, Okla., reported at least six people have died in the wildfires:

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