Poor Yields after Summer Drought and Extreme Weather

Revelations 18:23 ‘For the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.’

Important Takeaways:

  • The summer drought’s hefty toll on American crops
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • American corn is on track to produce its lowest yield since the drought of 2012
  • The California rice harvest is half what it would be in a normal year, an industry group said.

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Texas Drought: Dead crops and culled Herds

Revelation 16:9 “They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Dead Crops, Culled Herds: Texas Drought Approaches One Year With Little End in Sight
  • Greg Abbott renewed the drought disaster declaration last month, extending it to 189 of Texas’ 254 counties.
  • The drought pressing Texas’ agriculture industry — which is responsible for 10 percent of the state’s gross domestic product — is pushing farmers and ranchers to the brink. The state’s 247,000 farms and ranches covering 127 million acres haven’t had a whole year of rain since 2017. Almost 24 million of Texas’ population lives in drought-facing areas.

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Swarms of Crickets are destroying crops in the US: Some are calling it ‘Biblical’

Revelation 16:9 “They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

Important Takeaways:

  • ‘Biblical’ swarms of giant Mormon crickets destroying crops in US West
  • The insects prefer both hotter temperatures and droughts
  • In the past few years the crickets, in addition to grasshoppers, have destroyed swathes of crops as officials spend millions trying to control the swarms
  • One rancher told AP that the swarms have been “truly biblical.”
  • As they march across the country, the insects devour vegetation, damaging crops and even changing patterns of erosion, water runoff and nutrient cycling, says USDA. Last year, 10 million acres in Oregon — which has been especially hard-hit by the species — were destroyed by Mormon crickets and grasshoppers.
  • The US West is currently in the midst of a decades-long “megadrought”
  • These dry conditions are expected to get worse overall as the climate crisis deepens.

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If farmers can’t afford diesel there won’t be food in the grocery stores

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Could a food shortage be coming? Record diesel prices are crushing Pa. farmers, lawmakers told
  • Kotzmoyer told lawmakers diesel is a “huge, huge expense” for farmers. One Cumberland County farmer, he said, works about 3,500 acres with several diesel-consuming tractors and burns though about 2,000 gallons of diesel per month.
  • Average diesel fuel prices Tuesday in Pennsylvania were $6.19 a gallon, about 75% higher than a year ago, according to AAA.
  • Right now consumers are spending an average of $3,000 more a year on food and gas, because of inflation

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Texas Drought and Wildfires

2 Timothy 3:1 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”

Important Takeaways:

  • 5 things to know about the Texas drought: Wildfires, relief and more
  • There are 53 active wildfires in Texas burning more than approximately 237,227 acres in the state
  • Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 95.7% of the state is “abnormally dry,” which can lead to the postponement of planting and elevated risk of grass fires.
  • Slightly more than 40% of Texas is experiencing an “extreme drought” or higher rating designation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This level of drought can lead to sand and dust storms, decreased yields for crops and increased need for supplemental feed, nutrients, protein and water for livestock.
  • Additionally, 6.2% of the state is in an “exceptional drought,”
  • Texas isn’t the only state dealing with drought conditions. A little more than 58% of the nation is at least abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with 14.3% experiencing an extreme drought and 1.6% experiencing an exceptional drought.

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91% of Portugal hit with severe or extreme drought

Important Takeaways:

  • Portugal drought worsens, raising fears for crops and water supply
  • A severe drought spread across almost all of mainland Portugal in February, threatening crops and water supplies across a wider area than during the last record dry spell in 2005
  • The area of mainland Portugal suffering severe or extreme drought doubled in the first two weeks of February to cover 91% of its territory, the IPMA said (the meteorology agency)
  • Earlier this month, the Portuguese government ordered some hydropower dams to temporarily limit water use for electricity production and irrigation, prioritizing human consumption instead.
  • Environment Minister Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes said at the time the government would have to “go beyond these measures if the forecast became gloomier.”

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Brazil in recession as drought, inflation and interest rates bite

By Marcela Ayres and Camila Moreira

BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazil’s economy contracted slightly in the three months to September, government data showed on Thursday, as surging inflation, steep interest rate hikes and a severe drought triggered a recession in Latin America’s largest economy.

The 0.1% decline in Brazil’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter, reported by official statistics agency IBGE, was below a median forecast for zero growth in a Reuters poll.

Brazil’s economic rebound from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has sputtered as inflation surged into double digits, forcing the central bank to raise borrowing costs aggressively despite the downturn.

Economists have said that the stubbornly high levels of inflation in Brazil have steadily eroded consumers’ purchasing power, proving a drag on the economy.

Some analysts said Thursday’s weak data may discourage the bank’s monetary policy committee, called Copom, from an even larger interest rate increase at its December meeting.

“Against this backdrop, we no longer see Copom upping the pace of monetary tightening next week,” William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told clients in a note, forecasting another rate increase of 150 basis points.

Big rate hikes from the central bank, whose autonomy was written into Brazil’s constitution this year, are one more headwind for a weak economy, which is weighing on President Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity as he prepares to seek reelection in 2022.

Revised data showed a 0.4% drop in the second quarter, worse than the 0.1% decline reported previously. Two straight quarters of contraction meet the definition of a recession.

Unusually dry weather this year has also hurt key Brazilian crops such as corn and coffee. Vanishing reserves at hydropower dams drove up electricity costs, adding to price shocks.

Agricultural production fell 8.0% in the third quarter, while industrial output was flat and services advanced 1.1%.

Brazil’s auto industry has struggled to ramp up production amid a shortage of components such as microchips in global supply chains. Shortages have also hurt manufacturing in Mexico, whose economy contracted more than expected in the quarter.

WORSE TO COME

Some economists are warning of a deeper downturn next year.

The market outlook for 2022 economic growth has fallen from 2.3% in June to less than 0.6% in the latest central bank poll of economists, released on Monday.

Brazil’s Economy Ministry dismissed that consensus in a statement on Thursday, reaffirming its forecast of economic growth above 2% next year and pointing to recent job creation data as evidence of a resilient recovery.

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to 12.6% in the third quarter from 14.2% in the prior quarter, data showed this week, hitting the lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The government has an obvious bias to overestimate (growth) as long as possible. But there comes a point when you can’t,” said José Francisco Gonçalves, chief economist at Banco Fator.

Compared to the third quarter of 2020, Brazil’s economy grew 4.0%, IBGE data showed, below a median forecast of 4.2% growth.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres in Brasilia and Camila Moreira in Sao Paulo; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Daniel Flynn and Richard Chang)

 

NOAA expects U.S. Southwest drought to continue or worsen this winter

By Karl Plume

(Reuters) – A harsh drought is expected to continue or worsen across parts of the U.S. West and northern Plains this winter, including in central and southern California, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) winter outlook.

NOAA, however, expects the drought to lessen in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and northern California amid an emerging La Nina phenomenon, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said on Thursday.

A drought spanning much of western North America has damaged crops from apples to wheat, and has cooked cattle grazing pastures, weakened bee colonies and fueled concerns about rising food prices.

Nearly the entire U.S. West is in some level of drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, with almost half of major agricultural state California under exceptional drought, the most severe category.

“A major region of concern this winter remains the Southwest, where drought conditions remain persistent in most areas,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“The Pacific Northwest, northern California, the upper Midwest and Hawaii are likely to experience drought improvement,” he said during a webinar highlighting NOAA’s December-to-February outlook.

The conditions are expected to be fueled by an emerging La Nina pattern and its colder-than-normal Pacific Ocean surface water temperatures for a second straight winter.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

Late monsoon floods kill more than 150 in India and Nepal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -More than 150 people have died in flooding across India and Nepal in recent days, as heavy late monsoon rains triggered flash floods, destroyed homes, crops and infrastructure and left thousands stranded.

The north Indian state of Uttarakhand has been especially badly hit, with 48 confirmed deaths, SA Murugesan, secretary of the state’s disaster management department, told Reuters.

In Nainital, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan state, the town’s main lake broke its banks, submerging the main thoroughfare and damaging bridges and rail tracks.

In nearby Chamoli district, rescuers from India’s paramilitary National Disaster Response Force continued to search debris following landslides caused by the heavy rains.

India’s federal interior minister Amit Shah surveyed badly hit areas on Thursday.

“Crops and homes have been wiped out, which is a severe blow to families already grappling with the devastating fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Azmat Ulla, a senior official at the International Federation of Red Crescent Societies.

“The people of Nepal and India are sandwiched between the pandemic and worsening climate disasters, heavily impacting millions of lives and livelihoods.”

Some 42 people have died in the last week in the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to a statement from the chief minister’s office.

In neighboring Nepal, at least 77 people have died.

India’s annual monsoon rains usually run from June to September.

(Reporting by Saurabh Sharma in Lucknow and Jose Devasia in Kochi, Writing by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie)

Chemical signal for locust swarming identified in step toward curbing plagues

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have identified a chemical compound released by locusts that causes them to swarm, opening the door to possible new ways to prevent these insects from devouring crops vital to human sustenance as they have for millennia.

Researchers said on Wednesday they identified the pheromone – a chemical produced by an animal that affects the behavior of others of its own species – in the world’s most widespread locust species, the migratory locust, or Locusta migratoria.

Called 4-vinylanisole (4VA), it is primarily released from the hind legs and is detected by the antennae of other locusts and sensed by odorant receptors, the researchers said.

4VA powerfully attracted locusts regardless of age or sex, the research published in the journal Nature showed. Its production was triggered in the insects when as few as four to five solitary locusts came together, precipitating swarming behavior.

“In human history, locust plagues, drought and flood were considered as three major natural disasters which caused serious agricultural and economic losses all over the world,” said research leader Le Kang, a professor of entomology and ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Zoology.

“As the most widely distributed and one of the most dangerous locust species, the migratory locust represents a serious threat to agriculture worldwide,” Kang added.

Swarms can include billions of locusts and span hundreds of square miles (km) as the insects voraciously consume crops, imperiling food security. Migratory locusts inhabit Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, attacking pastures and critical crops such as wheat, rice, corn, millet, barley, oats, sugarcane and sorghum.

Kang said further research is needed on whether 4VA exists in other locust species such as the desert locust, called Schistocerca gregaria, that currently is ravaging parts of Africa and the Middle East.

The chemical insecticides currently used to suppress locust outbreaks raise concerns about human health and safety. The identification of 4VA could inspire new methods.

A chemical could be developed to block 4VA’s effects to prevent swarming, Kang said, or a synthetic version could lure locusts into traps to be killed. Locusts genetically modified not to respond to 4VA could be developed and released to establish wild non-swarming populations, “subject to biosecurity evaluation,” Kang added.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)