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Seeking Hardier Breeds For Drought, Climate Change

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ABILENE, TX - JULY 26:  Cattle are held in a pen prior to going up for sale at Abilene Livestock Auction July 26, 2011 in Abilene, Texas. A severe drought in the region has caused shortages of grass, hay and water forcing ranchers to thin their herds. The Abilene Livestock Auction has been selling at least two to three times the number of cattle each week compared to last year.  The past nine months have been the driest in Texas since record keeping began in 1895, with 75% of the state classified as "exceptional drought", the highest classification.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

ABILENE, TX – JULY 26: Cattle are held in a pen prior to going up for sale at Abilene Livestock Auction July 26, 2011 in Abilene, Texas. A severe drought in the region has caused shortages of grass, hay and water forcing ranchers to thin their herds. The Abilene Livestock Auction has been selling at least two to three times the number of cattle each week compared to last year. The past nine months have been the driest in Texas since record keeping began in 1895, with 75% of the state classified as “exceptional drought”, the highest classification. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Confronted with the hottest, driest summer in decades, the nation’s farmers and crop scientists are looking ahead to the future heat waves and water shortages that are expected to result from climate change.
They’ve concluded that it’s too late to fight the shifting weather patterns. Instead, they are aiming to adapt with a new generation of hardier animals and plants specially engineered to survive in intense heat with little rain.
In Texas, a rancher is breeding cattle with genes that trace to animals from Africa and India, where their ancestors developed tolerance to heat and drought.
In seed laboratories, researchers are developing corn with larger roots to gather more water. Someday, the plants may even be able to “resurrect” themselves after a long dry spell, recovering quickly when rain returns.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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