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'Flash drought' brings dust and dread to southern farmers

In this Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 photo, cracked earth is left behind after an ongoing drought dried up a stream at Pettit Creek Farms in Bartow County, Ga. Owner Scott Allen says that natural water sources like this one used to provide water for the zebras and other animals in the farm. Allen is now relying on city water from Cartersville, Ga, to care for the animals. (AP Photo/Jeff Martin)

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — Across a vast expanse of the South spanning from Texas to Maryland, there are growing concerns for the cattle, cotton and corn amid a worsening drought that has been fueled this past summer by record hot temperatures.

One of the bullseyes marking the nation’s driest areas is Bartow County, Georgia, where extreme drought conditions have kicked up buckets of dust and left cattle pastures bare.

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report shows the county is among the hardest-hit areas in more than 12 Southern states where more than 45 million residents are living in some type of drought conditions.

Now, farmers are concerned about the long-term outlook as late October is typically among the driest periods in the South.

A new drought report is expected later Thursday showing how far it has spread.

Jeff Martin, The Associated Press