Thursday, September 22, 2011

New technology to boost rice sector

Pakistani villagers separate rice after harvesting rice paddy in Talhaar district. 

LAHORE: Manual transplanting of paddy has been a laborious job being done for decades in Pakistan and about one million workers, mostly women, enter the standing water under scorching heat to complete paddy transplanting in Punjab.
To remain on time, the operation must be completed within first half of July, thus creating immense pressure on the workers.
The rural labour willing to perform this job was getting short with consequences including delay in rice transplanting, low plant population (approximately 60,000 compared to 80,000 plants/acres recommended) causing 15-20 per cent reduction in yield, reduction not only in rice but also wheat yield due to delay in transplanting, social tensions among rural communities to grab the transplanting labour first, drudgery on women transplanting workers while performing their job in highly humid and scorching heat.
To overcome these problems, Punjab Agricultural Research Board (PARB) funded a research project on “Standardization and popularization of direct seeding to increase rice productivity and Resource Conservation” to Rice Research Institute, Kala Shah Kaku (RRI-KSK), at a cost of Rs 13.908 million, said PARB sources while talking to APP on Tuesday.
The main objective of the project was to develop an alternative to transplanting so that the crop could be grown in a field condition similar to the wheat crop. It will not only eliminate the drudgery of rice cultivation but also reduce water requirements for the crop and increase its productivity per unit area.
Giving details of the current status of the project, Chief Executive PARB Dr Mubarik Ali told APP that standardization of technology in terms of seed operations like soaking and drying, seed rate, number and intensity of irrigation, weedicide control and variety for DS technology had already been completed during the last two years experimentation at RRI-KSK. After two years’ experimentation, the RRI-KK has announced standard practices.
Dr Mubarik Ali, explaining benefits of the technology, said that it could decrease the cost of rice cultivation by Rs 3,000-4,000 per acre at current input-cost on account of saving in puddling and transplanting operations. In addition, it will save 50 per cent of water and increase the yield by 10-15 per cent. Overall, it will reduce social tensions among rural communities at the time of transplanting because of the shortage of labour.
The quality of rice sown has already been tested by the RRI-KSK seed lab and results indicate that the practice does not alter the quality of Basmati rice, he added.
Now the project is at the commercialization stage.
After standardization of the technology, RRI-KK has put the experiments on farmers’ field under direct supervision of the project staff.
Throughout Punjab about 20 experiments are being conducted. The farmers were provided with seed, fertilizer, weedicide and technical guidance, while all the operations are conducted by the farmers themselves.
All farmers confirmed Rs 4,000-5,000/acre net saving in cost and 50 per cent saving and water, but increased in yield cannot be confirmed as the crop is still in booting stage.
Looking at the response of farmers Dr Muhammad Akhter, Director RRI-KSK, believes that the technology will quickly spread in the rice belt.

Rice export surges 8.13 percent in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Basmati rice exports from the country surged by 8.13 percent during July-April 2010-11 to reach at US$78 million as against the exports of US$71 million during same period of 2009-10, however the overall rice exports decreased by 1.1 percent during period under review.
According to the official sources of Ministry of Commerce, the exports of Basmati and other rice varieties was 3,084,324 metric ton (MT) worth US$1.79 billion during July-April 2010-11 as compared to 34,23,613 MT worth US$1.81 billion during same period last year.
The exports of other varieties of rice during July-April 2010-11 decreased by 7.6 percent as compared to corresponding period of 2009-10. The exports of other varieties was 2,133,605 MT worth US$1.01 billion during July-April 2010-11 as against 2,570,541 MT costing US$1.09 billion during the corresponding period last year.
The United Arab Emirates has emerged as the top importer of Pakistani basmati rice by importing 2,10,351 metric tons of the commodity during July-April 2010-11. UAE imported basmati rice worth US$190.4 million during the period as compared to export of 1,84,398 metric tons worth of US$162.6 million during same period of last year.
Among other top Pakistani basmati rice importers, Iran was in the second by importing 1,13,476 metric tons of basmati rice worth US$68.3 million during the period under review, he added. Iran had imported basmati rice 1,53,207 metric ton worth US$105.8 million during the period from July 2009 to April 2010, he added.
Oman remain the third top destination of Pakistani rice during July-April 2010-11 as it has purchased 75,441 metric tons basmati rice and added about US$70.1 million as against the purchase of 46,364 metric tons costing US$45.4 million during same period last year.
The other top importers of Pakistani rice were Turkey with import of 65,469 metric tons worth US$38.9 million, United Kingdom (UK) 60,789 metric ton of 48.3 million, Saudi Arabia 58,992 metric tons worth US$50.4 million and Yemen imported 53,730 metric tons costing US$ 44.9 million during the period under review.
Pakistan produces different varieties of rice which are famous for their enriched taste and fragrance due to natural climate and soil qualities across the globe. The country also earned huge foreign exchange by exporting such varieties to UAE, UK, KSA, Russia and rest of the world.
About 7 million tons rice are produced annually in the country as against domestic requirements of 2 to 3 million tons while rest of the produce export which contributes a huge amount of foreign exchange in the nation exchequer. The export of rice can be enhanced by exploring more foreign markets and facilitating the growers and exporters by giving them proper training of storage and packing as per international standard and huge.
It is pertinent to mention here that the rice production targets have been set at 6.6 million tons for financial year 2011-12 as against the production of 4.8 million tons during 2010-11 showing the increase of 27.27 per cent. The rice production targets for the year 2010-11 was fixed at 6.17 million tons, however due to devastating floods that hit the country in 2010 the rice production target was not achieved. The production in 2010-11 was even 29 percent less than actual production of 6.8 million tons in 2009-10.

Black rice bran reduces inflammation

ISLAMABAD: A new study has claimed that black rice, a little-known variety of the grain that is the staple food for one-third of the world`s population, may help soothe the inflammation involved in allergies, asthma and other diseases.
Mendel Friedman and colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture`s Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California conducted the research, which became the focus of the latest episode in the American Chemical Society`s (ACS) award-winning podcast series, "Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions".
In previous research as well, the group identified several potential health benefits from eating black rice bran.
Bran is the outer husk of the grain, which is removed during the processing of brown rice to produce the familiar white rice.
Those experiments, which were done in cell cultures, hinted that black rice bran suppressed the release of histamine, which causes inflammation.
The new research involved giving black rice bran to laboratory mice.
A diet consisting of 10 per cent black rice bran reduced inflammation associated with allergic contact dermatitis, a common type of skin irritation.

Hybrid rice research new hope for food security

BEIJING/CHANGSHA - China broke a world record for rice output after developing a new breed of "hybrid rice."
Hybrid rice developed by Yuan Longping, known as the "father of hybrid rice," produced a harvest of 5,625.98 kg per acre during a trial harvesting operation conducted in Longhui County in central China's Hunan Province, the local agricultural academy announced on Monday.
Zhang Zhongjun, the assistant to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)'s representative in China, said that if the hybrid rice technology can be spread to less-developed countries, the breakthrough will be of great significance for world food security.
Food security a pressing issue
In 1974, the FAO officially defined food security as "the availability at all times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and offset fluctuations in production and prices."
Decades later, food security is still a major problem in many countries. Zhang said that over one billion people are still suffering from hunger and malnutrition, with  people living in some African and Asian countries unable to afford even cheap grain.
According to a recent report released by the United Nations, the world's population will reach seven billion next month. The number is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, creating even greater problems for global food security.
Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group, said food security is a pressing issue for China and other developing countries.
"All countries must work together to address food security," Zoellick said at a media conference in Beijing early September. "We're going to need all countries to do so if we're going to feed an expected nine billion people by the year 2050."
Magic rice provides new hope
Yuan started working on hybrid rice in the 1960s as part of the country's efforts to combat its starvation problem. Chinese farmers saw incredible rice output after switching to using Yuan's hybrid rice.
In 1999, under the support of the Hunan Provincial Academy of Agriculture and the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center, Yuan established an agricultural company called Longping High-Tech, which helped to encourage the use of hybrid rice in China and foreign countries.
The Shanghai-listed company exports 2,000 metric tons of hybrid rice annually, according to company data. It has also trained more than 2,000 technical personnel from over 30 developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America.
Yuan's hybrid rice has been planted in India, Vietnam and the United States, covering a total of three million hectares of land. Yuan said that an additional 75 million hectares would be enough to feed 400 million to 500 million people.
"We are ready to help other countries solve their food security problems," he said.
However, Zhang warned that breakthroughs in the field have only taken place at the trial level, and that it will take some time before the breakthroughs can be applied around the world.
"The impact will only be seen after the breed is widely planted," Yuan said.

After the rice is harvested

The combines have finished, but the work is just beginning

Anyone who drives the roads of Arkansas County throughout the year can follow the progress of the rice crop. It starts out as tiny green shoots, grows into something looking like a huge overgrown lawn and finally it develops the lush golden brown heads and is ready for harvest. The combines come in and cut it down, and the trucks haul it off.

But what happens to the rice after that? In this series, the DeWitt Era-Enterprise visits three of Arkansas County’s rice processors to pick up the story.

It’s 8 a.m. on a hot and sunny August day, and already rows of trucks are lined up Grandview Drive for about a quarter of a mile. It’s just another day during rice harvest at Producers’ DeWitt Dryer facility.

For 10 months out of the year, the dryer facility is a fairly quiet place. But for two months, it is the scene of constant activity 24 hours a day as farmers bring in their newly harvested rice. Dryer manager Brandon Staton explains the procedure as the trucks slowly make their way through the line.

The first stop is the sample house, Staton says. Workers collect information from the farmer, including the variety, moisture level and grade of the rice. This particular might settle.

“We’ve got to keep everything clean,” Staton said. “We clean all day long.”

Plant foreman Louis Clark provides the numbers. The dryer can handle about seven trucks an hour, for a total of 84 trucks in 12 hours. With each truck carrying 1,100 to 1,200 bushels of rice, that means about 103,000 to 105,000 bushels are coming into the facility during peak operations.

Trucks start dumping at 7 a.m., Staton said. On particularly busy days, a truck may have to wait until the next morning.

Once the rice has been unloaded, its first stop is the scalperator, which does an initial cleaning. This removes debris such as sticks, rocks or other unwanted items, but does not take off the rice hulls or bran. That isn’t done until the rice leaves the DeWitt Dryer or Producers’ Dixie Dryer south of DeWitt and goes to the mills.

The rice goes into one of several receiving bins after that; these bins feed the rice into one of two 7,000-bushel Shanzen dryers. Rice will usually have to pass through the dryer three to four times before it reaches the desired moisture level of about 12.5 percent. Rice that is not dried sufficiently will mold; rice that is dried too much will crack.

Once drying is complete, it is stored in one of the four 250,000-bushel storage tanks outside the facility. The rice is kept there until it’s time to move it to one of Producers’ two mills at either Stuttgart or Greenville, MS.

Rice May Drop as Indian Shipments Intensify Competition for Export Orders

Rice, which has beaten corn and soybeans in the past year, may drop as India restarts non- basmati exports after lifting a ban, buyers including Indonesia purchase less than expected and global harvests gain to a record.
The Indian shipments will have a bearish impact and futures may average $16 per 100 pounds in Chicago in the fourth quarter, according to Abah Ofon, an analyst at Standard Chartered Plc. That compares with $16.988 so far this quarter. Prices may fall as India’s shipments cut Thailand’s market share in Africa, said Mohammad Ismet, a senior adviser to Indonesian food agency Bulog.
Cheaper rice may improve the lives of the 1.1 billion the World Bank says live on less than $1 a day, while restraining food inflation and cutting the pressure on central banks to raise interest rates. Global food prices have rallied 26 percent in the past year, bolstered by a plan by Thailand, the largest exporter, to buy rice from farmers at above-market rates.
“There will be some short-term fears on India entering the white-rice market,” said Jeremy Zwinger, chief executive officer of The Rice Trader, a weekly industry report based in California. Still, “with Thailand staying strong on the price intervention, there may be a reversal of ideas as India sells quantity very quickly.”
Rice has surged 42 percent in Chicago in the past 12 months, beating rallies in corn and soybeans, while wheat has declined. The November-delivery contract climbed 0.2 percent to $17.225 at 4:20 p.m. in Singapore. The price touched $18.54 on Sept. 12, the highest since October 2008. The weekly rate for 100 percent grade-B Thai rice was quoted at $619 per metric ton today.

Indian Exports

India’s government, which banned private companies from shipping non-basmati rice in April 2008 amid a global food crisis, lifted that restriction on Sept. 8. Exports from the world’s second-largest producer may total 4 million tons in the year from April 1, Vijay Setia, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association, said on Sept. 13.
Indian shipments will account for 11 percent of global trade this calendar year, overtaking the U.S. and Pakistan to become the third-largest shipper, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, in a Sept. 12 report.
Shipments from Pakistan may exceed 4 million tons in 2011- 2012, beating a USDA estimate for exports, Shamsul Islam Khan, a board member of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, said at a conference in Singapore today. Production may surge 38 percent to 6.5 million tons in 2011-2012, he said.
“I don’t see rice prices running away,” Ofon, the analyst at Standard Chartered, said in an interview in Singapore today. “Prices will moderate.”

‘Quite Dangerous’

The end of India’s curbs, coupled with Thailand’s plan, may add to volatility, exposing traders to potential losses, said Amit Gulrajani, general manager for rice trading and shipping at Olam International Ltd. (OLAM), one of the world’s three biggest rice traders. “Going long or short could be quite dangerous,” said Gulrajani, referring to bets on gains and losses.
Imports by Indonesia may be capped at 1.2 million tons this year, said Bulog’s Ismet. That’s less than a forecast of 2.2 million tons from the USDA. Imports include the 400,000 tons bought from Vietnam last week, Ismet said.
Bangladesh, South Asia’s biggest buyer, may cut its forecast for imports by half as local output climbs, according to the Bangladesh Directorate General of Food. Shipments may total 400,000 tons in the year from July 1 compared with 800,000 tons estimated two months ago, according to Badrul Hasan, director for procurement at the Bangladesh Directorate General of Food. Imports were 1.26 million tons in the year to June 30.

Record Production

Global output may climb to a record 458.4 million tons in 2011-2012, buoyed by larger harvests in China, the Philippines and the U.S., according to the Sept. 12 report by the USDA. That would be a second year of record supply, outpacing demand and lifting so-called ending stockpiles to the highest level in nine years, the USDA said.
Thailand plans to pay 15,000 baht per ton ($493) for unmilled white rice and 20,000 baht for Hom Mali fragrant rice, as much as 50 percent above current rates, according to Bloomberg News calculations based on data from the Thai Rice Mills Association. The country is willing to give up its position as largest exporter to boost rural incomes, Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said on Sept. 12. State purchases are due to start on Oct. 7.
Thailand’s rice-buying policy may “create problems” for the government as it will inflate stockpiles and the state may be unable to sell them on the open market without losses, Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the Food & Agriculture Organization, said in an interview in Singapore yesterday.
The Thai export price may gain to about $650 a ton by the yearend, said Kiattisak Kanlayasirivat, a director at Novel Commodities SA’s Thai office, who correctly forecast a rally late last year. “That is the level that buyers can accept.”

Analysis: All-time high rice price: Inflation threat

After winning Thailand’s general election in July, Yingluck Shinawatra, the nation’s first woman prime minister, has implemented a popular move to cement her rural support by planning to buy November’s harvest of unmilled rice from farmers at THB15,000 (US$502) per ton, 51 percent higher than previously.

Today, global rice prices have risen 13 percent to $629 per ton — not a surprise given Thailand’s 32 percent share (9.7 million metric tons) of 2010 global rice exports (Chart 1), making it the world’s largest exporter. Thus, we expect Thailand’s policy shock to apply inflationary pressures across Asia, which accounts for 87 percent of global rice consumption.

At this stage of the cycle, it is worth pointing out that Indonesia’s domestic rice price has reached
Rp 7,700 per kilogram (87 US cents), up 9 percent year-to-date (ytd) and 10 percent year-on-year (y-o-y), reaching an all-time high. This is undoubtedly a source of concern, and is high time for the government to ensure sufficient domestic rice supplies, leading up to Thailand’s higher rice prices in November.

Note that the Thai government has not set a target on how much rice would be purchased, with the amount dependant on how close prices rise “close to or above” the guaranteed level. Going forward, we expect rice price volatility ahead to threaten our domestic food inflation in the first semester of 2012, particularly given Indonesia’s falling rice production growth (Chart 2).

Separately, from the domestic side, we note that government plans to raise electricity base rates (TDL) by 10 percent in April 2012 to help ease the electricity subsidy from Rp 65 trillion to Rp 45 trillion in the draft 2012 State Budget. This will increase inflationary pressure as electricity rate weighting is 3.5 percent of CPI’s calculation (Chart 3).

Thus, we expect 2012 inflation to rise to 5.7 percent y-o-y, even without accounting for electricity and rice price hikes. This means that the central bank will remain vigilant on the prospect of higher inflation, making it unlikely that Bank Indonesia’s 6.75 percent benchmark rate will fall from the current level in our view.

Leading up to this, we provide a sensitivity analysis (Chart 3) on the effects of our inflation forecast, assuming several possible shocks ahead, such as higher global rice prices, increased TDL and subsidized fuel prices, although the latter is unlikely to occur given current low oil prices.

Our sensitivity analysis reveals that every 10 percent increase in global rice price would add 0.48 percent to our current 2012 inflation rate of 5.66 percent. On TDL, a 10 percent electricity rate increase would result in 0.35 percent higher towards our 2012 inflation.

On the back of a lower global economic growth outlook, we believe oil prices will be well contained, allowing the government to retain its current fuel subsidy policy into 2012, particularly as political campaigns start in 2013 for the 2014 elections. Nevertheless, we show that for every 10 percent hike in subsidized oil prices, inflation will rise by 0.24 percent.

Finally, inflationary pressure could also stem from the recent sudden weakness in rupiah against the dollar, which broke through the Rp 9,000 level on Monday. With all of the rupiah’s gains wiped out, a stronger dollar does not bode well for imported inflation going forward, unless the central bank can imbue confidence in the local currency. On this note, we believe that the government should consider revising its exchange rate assumptions for the 2012 State Budget, which displayed a depreciating rupiah trend of Rp 8,800 at the end of 2012, down from Rp 8,700 per dollar at end 2011. This is necessary to restore confidence in our exchange rate, particularly given recent BI rulings restricting foreign borrowing, which might be perceived as some sort of a soft capital control on the foreign investment community.

The writer is an economist at PT Bahana Securities

Rains damage 0.5m tons rice crop in SindhRains

Rains damage 0.5m tons rice crop in Sindh President Sindh-Balochistan Rice Mills Association said the remaining area of 1.25 million acres in upper districts is safe and would enable the country earn substantial foreign exchange. 

KARACHI: Heavy and prolonged torrential rains in the lower Sindh has damaged around 0.5 million tons of standing paddy crop having export value of about $235 million.
As a result of this, exporters will lose traditional two months advantage of early arrival of crop over other rice producing countries.
Besides, forward selling in rice trade chain, starting from growers, millers and exporters, would cause heavy losses and many foreign contracts would be cancelled.
Arif Hussain Mahesar, president Sindh-Balochistan Rice Mills Association, said since paddy in lower Sindh is normally harvested in September, it gives edge to Pakistani exporters over other countries exporters.
However, damage caused by persistent and heavy rains has hit around 0.5 million tons or 20 to 25 per cent of total paddy of an average of 2.4 millions annually harvested in the province. The five districts of the province, including Badin, Sanghar, Tando Mohammad Khan, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas which have been the most affected on an average produce around 0.8 million tons Irri-6 per annum.
However, heavy downpour in these districts has inundated paddy and cotton fields causing heavy damage to the standing crops.
Mr Mahesar estimated that around 0.3 million tons Irri-6 could be harvested in these districts.
Though paddy in upper districts which produces around 75 per cent of the Irri-6 is fully safe but the advantage of early arrival of crop given by lower districts to export trade has been eroded by the damage caused by heavy rains, he added.
He further explained the next paddy crop is due late in October and during two months gap Pakistani exporters would have no Irri-6 to export and they would suffer heavy losses because they would not be able to honour commitments made in the world market.
Mr Mahesar hoped that the upper five districts, including Larkana, Kambat (Shahdad Kot), Shikarpur, Jacocabad and Khandh Kot Kashmor would produce around 1.8 million tons. However, the crop arrival be not before end October 2011, he added.
He said rains have affected paddy over 0.5 million acres in lower districts while the remaining area of 1.25 million acres in upper districts is safe and would enable the country earn substantial foreign exchange.
The rice export had been gradually increasing. Last year the country earned little over $2 billion in foreign exchange. The average price of Irri-6 in the world market current is around $470 per ton.

Water proposal could devastate Texas rice industry

South Texas rice farmers got some extra time to plan next year's crops -- and pray for rain -- under a drought response compromise approved Wednesday by the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Under the emergency order, which would apply to about 170 farmers, the river authority would cut off water only if the reserves in reservoirs drop below a specified level on March 1. The compromise pushes back the trigger date by two months, allowing more time for rain or backup plans.
"It's not what we wanted, but it gives us the opportunity to have a little bit of water, to keep us afloat, to keep us alive for one year," said Paul Sliva, a Matagorda County rice farmer. "We still know that if the conditions don't change, we're not going to get any water, we know that. They've got to improve quite a bit for us to get any kind of water."
The initial proposal would have halted water releases based on reserve levels on Jan. 1.
No water would be released if the stored water in the reservoirs falls below 850,000 acre-feet on March 1. If the combined storage of the reservoirs, currently at 789,000 acre-feet, reaches between 850,000 and 920,000 acre-feet on March 1, a limited amount of water would be made available for the farmers.
LCRA officials estimate that farmers will use about 450,000 acre-feet of water this year -- more than average because of the lack of rain. An acre-foot is the volume of water needed to cover an acre of surface to a depth of 1 foot -- almost 326,000 gallons, or about what two families of four people each use in a year.
While most of Texas and the Southwest are under moderate to extreme drought conditions, agricultural water rationing and curtailment proposals are becoming more widespread, even affecting parts of the Deep South. Texas is facing one of the most severe droughts in its history.
The affected farmers are in the state's three biggest rice-producing counties -- Matagorda, Wharton and Colorado. Texas produces about 170,000 acres of rice each year, around 5 percent of the nation's total.
"This puts the rice industry on a life support system and if anyone's going to pull the plug, I guess it's going to be God," said Wharton County Commissioner Chris King.
The water authority's board says the move is an emergency measure to save the water that's left. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality must sign off on the plan because it is a deviation from the state-approved water management plan.
But the proposal has pitted the South Texas farmers against several Central Texas communities upstream, including Austin, that depend on the reservoirs for drinking and other utilities.
"We have no other source of water," said Greg Meszaros, director of the Austin Water Utility. Austin, Texas' capital, has seen its population grow more than 20 percent in the past decade. Last year, the city used nearly 139,000 acre-feet of water.
The 862-mile long Colorado River starts near the Texas Panhandle and flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Near the river's middle, water is stored in manmade reservoirs, known as the Highland Lakes. The lakes are used as the primary source of water for Central Texas communities as well as for power generation, recreation and irrigation.
For irrigation, the river flows hundreds of miles downstream, into tributaries and manmade canals spread across farmland, where landowners have agreements with the LCRA. The river authority typically releases reservoir water to about 250 downstream farmers from a series of dams in Central Texas. About 170 of them are subject to being cut off -- meaning water would not be released for the farmers to use -- because of terms in their contracts. Once the water in their canals dries up, they won't get more, other than from the rain.
Under the agreement approved Wednesday, no water will be released until April 1.
Sliva, whose family has been farming in the area for 50 years, worries about the future if it doesn't rain.
"I don't know how many of us can make it without this water," Sliva said.
David Schroeder, executive director of the Wharton County Economic Development Corp., said a move to cut off water would be catastrophic to the region's economy, including farmers, their equipment suppliers and the production companies that depend on them.
"Jobs are going to be lost, second crops aren't going to be able to be done," Schroeder said. "Farms may shut down and prices may go up. This is how important it is for our community to have water."
LCRA general manager Becky Motal said the water authority recognizes that its customers could face financial and operational hardships, and considered its decisions carefully.
Since last October, Texas has seen the driest 11-month period since it began keeping rainfall records in 1895. This Texas summer has been the hottest in the nation's history. Officials say those conditions have increased evaporation on the Highland Lakes and reduced the flows in the tributaries that feed the lakes to a trickle.
Climate experts predict warmer and drier conditions to persist in Texas through the end of the year.
For now, farmers in Texas are trying to come up with backup plans. And they're still hoping for rain.
"We're Texans and we're going to find a way to get through it one way or another," said Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath. "Even if it means everybody's got to cut back, we've got to get through this somehow. Until somebody learns how to make it rain."