Drought brings AZ conditions to Midwestern farms

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Video by kgun9.com

Drought brings AZ conditions to Midwestern farms

CREATED Aug 8, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - The summer sizzle is one for the record books.  Tucson hit a record Wednesday at 108 degrees, and July was the hottest month ever for the Continental United States, with an average temperature of 77.6 degrees.  It beat the previous record set in 1936, bringing triple-digit temperatures to the Midwest, killing their crops.

Community Food Bank farmer Maggie Whiteside knows a little about growing food in those kinds of temperatures, but this year even she's feeling the heat.

She pointed to tomato plants growing fewer flowers, and pepper plants with pint-sized produce.

"In the heat it seems like the fruit, we are getting fruit on the pepper plants but they are a lot smaller," she said.

It's a sign of what's happening elsewhere in states that grow on a much larger scale. 

"If they're experiencing temperatures that we're used to, I'm imagining it's going to be very hard to grow corn," she said, "I don't even bother with corn because it's very hard to grow."

Whiteside said anyone would be hard-pressed to find corn in Arizona because it does not thrive in a hot, dry climate.  Dragoon farmer Jim Dumas says he grows only vegetation that thrives in the climate.

His concern this year has been the water.

"Definitely less moisture in our area," he said comparing to last year, "If we don't get at least consistent rain when we're supposed to then our aquifers start becoming less and less and that's always a concern."

Dumas says he feels for fellow farmers in the Midwest, who don't deal with these conditions year-round.

"That's how we do things in Arizona," he said, "Totally different ball game in that neck of the woods where you depend on mother nature and mother nature can sure mess you up sometimes."