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Weather Shifts Force Kentuckiana Farmers to Try Different Crops, Cultivation Methods

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

While some of them still aren't convinced that humans are to blame, farmers across the nation - including those in Kentucky and Indiana - increasingly acknowledge that they're having to deal with the consequences of climate change.

"Every day we get up, put our shoes on and watch the weather," Spencer County farmer Scott Travis said during a break while driving a soybean harvester this fall.

"I've accepted for me to stay in business, I have to adapt. I need to assume it's going to be hot and dry, and if it's not, I'll be fine."

Climate change can come in many forms. Just in the past year:

• An early warm spell coaxed fruit trees and bushes, including blueberries, to blossom early, only to be frozen by the return of a more seasonal killer frost.

• The warm winter meant the ground didn't freeze and thaw, a process that normally opens the soil and lets moisture soak in.

• More frequent heavy storms threatened to wash away unprotected topsoil.

• A massive drought, the worst in 20 or 30 years, prompted disaster declarations in roughly 2,200 counties from New York to California and Texas to North Dakota, including all of Indiana and nearly all of Kentucky.
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