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Severe drought affecting crops in Canada and the U.S.


The drought has stunted the growth of crops in Canada and the U.S. (courtesy: Ryan Larose)
The drought has stunted the growth of crops in Canada and the U.S. (courtesy: Ryan Larose)

The Canadian Press

July 25, 2012 — Severe drought has slowed the growth of crops on both sides of the border, damaging crops and sending the price of corn soaring.

Many counties in Ontario have been starved for rain this season (courtesy: Jennifer)
Many counties in Ontario have been starved for rain this season (courtesy: Jennifer)

Stand far enough away and the fields of Debra Pretty-Straathof's family farm appear green and lush.

But a closer look reveals parched earth littered with dead or dying leaves, and crops whose growth has been stunted by severe heat and drought.

The conditions are much the same on neighbouring farms in the eastern Ontario town of Arnprior, close to an hour's drive west of Ottawa, Pretty-Straathof said Tuesday.

The small town in Renfrew County is typical of others across the province that have been starved for rain during one of the worst droughts in recent memory.

"Where we are, near Arnprior, we've had like 10 drops a couple of weeks ago, but we haven't really had anything since the third week of June," Pretty-Straathof said.

"Up until a week or so before that, we were getting timely showers. And then it just stopped. And so the crops just stopped."

But as bad as things are in Canada, it's even worse south of the border. The extreme drought in the U.S. recently sent corn prices soaring to a record-high of $8.00 (US) a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Prices could rise even higher as more corn crops wither in the United States -- the world's biggest corn grower and exporter. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 45 per cent is in poor or very poor condition, up from 38 per cent a week ago.

Soy beans are also being hard hit, with more than a third in poor or very poor condition.

It's unclear when things will improve, and local governments are devising strategies that will mitigate economic losses.

In the meantime, people on both sides of the border are keeping their fingers crossed for rain.

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