The effects of the drought are not only setting forests ablaze, or pushing cattle from the parched range; it is also claiming grain yields and altering regional farm economies.
To the east in the nation's Corn Belt wet weather has slowed planting progress of corn and soybeans. For the most part farmers have caught up, but rains discouraged farmers from planting at least a half million acres in corn. In total 76.1 million acres were planted in corn. That's down four percent from last year.
The diversion of corn to soybeans pushed planted acreage for America's favorite legume to 75.4 million acres, one percent above last year. Soy plantings may have been higher, but the government's generous subsidies for cotton under the new farm bill have drawn acres from soybeans in the south. The government projects cotton planting will total 74.3 million acres, up 2 percent from.