Iowa Public Television


Drought and Western Fires Continue, Wheat Harvest Progresses

posted on June 21, 2002

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

Selected economic indices would seem to suggest these should be the best of times. Consumer and wholesale inflation are barely visible. Employment is rising, and interest rates remain low, spurring new home construction and sales.

Yet there remains considerable angst on Wall Street where investor interest remains low, due in part to a loss of confidence in corporate America's accounting and management practices.

In Rural America fears continue to be fueled more by the forces and vagaries of nature than the machinations of business leadership. The progress of the nation's major grain, oilseed and fiber crops is being tested by aberrant weather, while parts of the West are going up in smoke.


Wildfires continue to blaze in a growing list of western states, despite improving weather conditions, in some regions, that have allowed firefighters to gain the upper hand.

Current conditions throughout the intermountain west and high plains favor the development of more wildfires this summer. Nearly 2-million acres have been charred so far this season… more than double the 10-year average.

The arid conditions are taking their toll in western cattle producing regions. In New Mexico, for example, 90-percent of the pasture and range land is rated in poor to very poor condition.

Similar conditions abound in Kansas; where 20-percent of the winter wheat crop has been harvested. Nearly half the Kansas winter wheat crop is rated poor to very poor. Nationally, 40-percent of the winter wheat has been harvested.

For the most part, the drought hasn't had much of an effect on America's corn crop – at least not yet. 62-percent of the nation's corn is rated in good to excellent condition. A notable exception can be found in Texas, where 31-percent of the corn is rated poor to very poor.

Meanwhile, 62-percent of America's soybeans are rated in good to excellent condition but less than half of the cotton garnered similar ratings this week.


Tags: agriculture crops drought fire harvest news weather wheat