Complete coverage of Texas' record heat wave of 2011

Developing Heat, Drought-Tolerant Plants

North Texan is researching ways to make crops survive extreme conditions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Researchers are trying to breed crops that can handle the Texas heat. (Published Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011)

    With the drought and heat wave scorching crops across Texas, a team of researchers is trying to breed crops that can handle the tough Texas climate.

    A researcher at the University of North Texas is looking for ways to help plants survive a combination of heat and drought. Ron Mittler studied desert plants and noticed how they tolerate the extreme conditions.

    Heat-Tolerant Crops on the Way?

    [DFW] Heat-Tolerant Crops on the Way?
    Researchers are trying to breed crops that can handle the Texas heat. (Published Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011)

    "They can take a combination of drought and heat and survive, while a soy bean will completely die," Mittler said. "I just need to teach the crops to be like the desert plants."

    His team wants to pinpoint specific genes that are important for the survival of desert plants and then put those genes in other crops.

    Heat Forces Early Harvest at Vineyards

    [DFW] Heat Forces Early Harvest at Vineyards
    The extreme temperatures have scorched North Texas vineyards, forcing wine makers to harvest their grapes early (Published Friday, Aug 5, 2011)

    But Mittler's research would reach much further than North Texas. While no plants are completely resistant to extreme conditions, Mittler said even a slight improvement could have monumental effects.

    "Even a 10 percent improvement in yield production will save billions of dollars, but we are looking for more than the slightest. We are trying to save those crops," Mittler said.

    Warning: Intense Heat Is Deadly

    [DFW] Warning: Intense Heat Is Deadly
    Dallas County Health Officials are cautioning people to check on their elderly neighbors to make sure they aren't suffering from the sweltering summer temperatures. (Published Thursday, Aug 4, 2011)

    Meanwhile, farmers in Texas are praying for rain.

    "We will not break even on this year's crop," farmer Jim Blalock said.