As harvest season gets under way, farmers find that drought-stressed crops are susceptible to toxins and contaminants, further reducing yields
The drought that has kept much of the nation in its grip this summer brings a host of additional downstream worries for growers already struggling with reduced yields.
|Corn infected with the fungus Aspergillus flavus.|
The worst drought to hit the United States since the 1930s has farmers coping with a number of impacts, from cyanide poisoning in cattle to fungal infestations in corn. Image: Photo courtesy the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Cattle are being poisoned by cyanide-laced weeds in Arkansas. Across the Midwest water-soluble fertilizers are concentrating in soils and plants, making them harmful rather than productive. And in Missouri, samples suggest that more than half the corn crop isn't fit for human consumption, thanks to unusually high levels of a carcinogenic toxin.
For farmers coping with the worst drought to hit the United States in decades, it's another chapter in an unfolding disaster that shows no sign of abating. And with climate projections showing more frequent summer droughts in heavy farming areas, these elevated drought-related poisons add to the challenges growers face in a changing climate.
Continue Reading: U.S. Drought 2012: Pick Your Poison: Scientific American