Crop Stress, Water Shortages, Western Wildfires Manifest Urgency of NAWAPA XXI
June 29, 2012 • 8:47AM

Not only multiple deadly wildfires in the West, but also extensive crop stress, and urban water supply shortages, all manifest the physical breakdown process, for which NAWAPA XXI is an urgent remedy.

As of today, there are 47 "Current Large Incidents" of wildfires in the U.S., of which 41 are Western, including 2 in Alaska and 1 in Hawaii. [A "large" wildland fire is defined as involving 100 acres of timber, or 300 acres of grassland, by the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho].

In Colorado, there are eight large fires, among which the monster Waldo Canyon fire has razed at least 300 homes in outer Colorado Springs, and forced the evacuation of 33,000 people this week. Obama will visit the area tomorrow, after his non-attention was exposed by a reporter at yesterday's White House press briefing, who pointed out that Obama hadn't spoken with Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper for over two weeks.

There are nine large wildfires in Montana alone, where Gov. Schweitzer has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in 10 counties and the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Hundreds of people have been evacuated in both Montana and Utah.

The high temperatures and dryness are also stressing crops. One marker is the worrisome condition of the U.S. corn crop. The Agriculture Department on June 25, lowered its rating for the condition of the national corn crop down to only 56% good-to-excellent, down 7 points over just a week. The 56% level is the lowest rating since 1988, for the late-June time period. The drought in 1988 resulted in a huge year-on-year loss of U.S. corn production.

The corn plants in many parts of the Cornbelt, planted early because of the mild Winter, are now entering their pollination phase early, amidst extreme heat and aridity. There is the risk that the ears will be stunted, and won't fill out.

Indiana and Illinois are among the hardest hit states for corn stress. "Clearly it's one of these nasty droughts. If it doesn't surpass 1988, it certainly is going to rival it or be among the so-called great droughts we've had in the past 30 years," is the description of Purdue University extension agronmist, Bob Nielsen, to Reuters today.