Florida Freeze Destroys Estimated 70% of Southwest Vegetable Crop

See also: Deep freeze kills millions of fish in Florida


Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) — At least 70 percent of southwest Florida’s winter crop of vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers, were destroyed by freezing weather, said Gene McAvoy, the director of the Hendry County extension office for the University of Florida.

Losses will be more than $100 million, McAvoy said today in a telephone interview. Tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers are the major crops in the estimate, he said. In the U.S. winter, Florida provides about 70 percent of the tomatoes sold in the nation, McAvoy said from LaBelle, Florida.

Read moreFlorida Freeze Destroys Estimated 70% of Southwest Vegetable Crop

Airborne fungus Ug99 threatens global wheat harvest

From the article:

“The US army produced wheat rust as part of its biological weapons programme in the 1960s”


New variety of an old crop disease called “stem rust” can infect crops in just a few hours and vast clouds of invisible spores can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles


New variety of an old crop disease called “stem rust” can infect crops in just a few hours. Photograph: Steve Satushek/Getty images

The world’s leading crop scientists issued a stark warning that a deadly airborne fungus could devastate wheat harvests in poor countries and lead to famines and civil unrest over significant regions of central Asia and Africa.

Ug99 — so called because it was first seen in Uganda in 1999 — is a new variety of an old crop disease called “stem rust”, which has already spread on the wind from Africa to Iran. It is particularly alarming because it can infect crops in just a few hours and vast clouds of invisible spores can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles.

Scientists meeting in Mexico this week at a summit on Ug99 worry it will continue travelling east and infect major wheat growing centres in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, which produce nearly 15% of the world’s wheat and feed more than a billion of the world’s poorest people. Plant breeders are now racing against time to develop new resistant wheat strains and distribute the seeds around the world.

The fungus was thought to have largely disappeared since the 1960s when original disease-resistant varieties were developed and planted. But Ug99 has evolved to take advantage of those varieties, and it is now believed that 80-90% of all wheat varieties grown in developing countries are susceptible to the new fungus.

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Britain is facing its worst harvest for at least 40 years

Britain is facing its worst harvest for at least 40 years as 30 per cent of the country’s grain lies in waterlogged or sodden ground. Hilary Benn, the Rural Affairs Secretary, is expected to give the go-ahead today for farmers to salvage what is left of their crops by using heavy machinery on wet fields.

European Union rules ban farmers from using combine harvesters on wet land to protect soil quality. Those who flout the ban can be prosecuted. The exemption is expected to last for about three weeks.

Read moreBritain is facing its worst harvest for at least 40 years

US: Citrus Crops Under Siege From Unknown Bacterium

(NaturalNews) Citrus greening is blazing through the Florida citrus groves like wildfire. Scientists don’t know how long it will take to find a treatment or cure for this contagious bacterial disease. One scenario projects that within nine to ten years, all the citrus trees currently in the ground will be dead.

Citrus greening, caused by a bacterium yet unnamed, is one of the most serious citrus diseases in the world, destroying the economic value of the fruit while compromising the tree. The disease has significantly reduced citrus output in Asia, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Brazil. Now trees grown in the U.S. are in jeopardy.

Read moreUS: Citrus Crops Under Siege From Unknown Bacterium

Prince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster

Prince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster Listen: The Prince of Wales speaks out

The mass development of genetically modified crops risks causing the world’s worst environmental disaster, The Prince of Wales has warned.

In his most outspoken intervention on the issue of GM food, the Prince said that multi-national companies were conducting an experiment with nature which had gone “seriously wrong”.

The Prince, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, also expressed the fear that food would run out because of the damage being wreaked on the earth’s soil by scientists’ research.

He accused firms of conducting a “gigantic experiment I think with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong”.

“Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate change and everything?”.

Related article: The Prince of Wales: ‘If that is the future, count me out’

Relying on “gigantic corporations” for food, he said, would result in “absolute disaster”.

Read morePrince Charles warns GM crops risk causing the biggest-ever environmental disaster

Top 25 Things Vanishing From America: No.1 The Family Farm

Here you will find all Top 25 Things Vanishing From America.

This series explores aspects of America that may soon be just a memory — some to be missed, some gladly left behind. From the least impactful to the most, here are 25 bits of vanishing America.

1. The Family Farm

My mother grew up on her family’s dairy farm in central Oregon, and when she was a child she was in 4-H — just like all the kids in her town. I’ve always admired her way with the “home arts” (she makes a mean jar of cucumber relish, and her embroidery festoons quilts for all my boys) so when I saw her 4-H ribbons I assumed that big purple one must have been for brownies, or jam. “Oh, that was for the pig I raised,” she said matter-of-factly.

Read moreTop 25 Things Vanishing From America: No.1 The Family Farm

Drought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops

Power outages disrupt irrigation

BAGHDAD – It’s been a year of drought and sand storms across Iraq – a dry spell that has devastated the country’s crucial wheat crop and created new worries about the safety of drinking water.

U.S. officials warn that Iraq will need to increase wheat imports sharply this winter to make up for the lost crop – a sobering proposition with world food prices high and some internal refugees already struggling to afford basics.

“Planting … is totally destroyed,” said Daham Mohammed Salim, 40, who farms 120 acres in the al-Jazeera area near Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad. “Even the ground water in wells is lower than before.”

The Tikrit area, where Saddam Hussein was born, normally is flush with green meadows in the spring and early summer – but this year has only thistles, said 30-year-old farmer Ziyad Sano. He’s resorted to collecting bread scraps from homes to feed his 70 sheep, but 20 have died.

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The dry weather has hurt areas from Kurdistan’s wheat fields in northern Iraq to pomegranate orchards, orange groves and wheat fields just north of Baghdad.

Read moreDrought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops

Australia faces worse, more frequent droughts: study

PERTH (Reuters) – Australia could experience more severe droughts and they could become more frequent in the future because of climate change, a government-commissioned report said on Sunday.

Droughts could hit the country twice as often as now, cover an area twice as big and be more severe in key agricultural production areas, the Bureau of Meteorology and Australia’s top science organization, the CSIRO, said in a joint report.

The study also found that temperatures currently defined as “exceptional” were likely to occur, on average, once in every two years in many key agricultural production areas within the next 20 to 30 years, while spells of low rainfall would almost double in frequency from current figures.

Australia, suffering its worst drought in 100 years, has seen its wheat exports tumble in the past two years.

The Pacific nation is normally the second-largest wheat exporter in the world, but the harvest has been decimated to just 13 million tonnes last year because of drought.

Read moreAustralia faces worse, more frequent droughts: study

36% of bee hives lost in the U.S. last year

A survey of bee health released Tuesday revealed a grim picture, with 36.1 percent of the nation’s commercially managed hives lost since last year.

Last year’s survey commissioned by the Apiary Inspectors of America found losses of about 32 percent.

As beekeepers travel with their hives this spring to pollinate crops around the country, it’s clear the insects are buckling under the weight of new diseases, pesticide drift and old enemies like the parasitic varroa mite, said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of the group.

This is the second year the association has measured colony deaths across the country. This means there aren’t enough numbers to show a trend, but clearly bees are dying at unsustainable levels and the situation is not improving, said vanEngelsdorp, also a bee expert with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

“For two years in a row, we’ve sustained a substantial loss,” he said. “That’s an astonishing number. Imagine if one out of every three cows, or one out of every three chickens, were dying. That would raise a lot of alarm.”

Read more36% of bee hives lost in the U.S. last year