Joe Wertz

Joe has previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., lives in Oklahoma City, and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.

The Salt
4:06 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Oklahoma's Extreme Drought Has Wheat Farmers Bracing For Worst

Fred and Wayne Schmedt say the drought has withered their wheat plants down from an average height of 24 to 30 inches to just 6 to 8 inches.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oaklahoma

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 7:27 pm

Rainfall totals in southwest Oklahoma are more than 3 inches below normal. And that means that the wheat crop grown in brothers Fred and Wayne Schmedt's farm is several inches shorter than normal as well.

Laughter is key to surviving as a farmer here. Fred Schmedt looks out on his field, then down at his legs and laughs at how short the wheat stalks are.

"What would you call that, high-shoe-top high?" he says. "In a normal year — a really good year — it'd be thigh-high. So we're looking at plants that are 6 to 8 inches tall versus 24 to 30 inches tall."

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Around the Nation
6:18 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

A Sharp Rise In Earthquakes Puts Oklahomans On Edge

Chad Devereaux cleans up bricks that fell from his in-laws' home in Sparks, Okla., in November 2011, after two earthquakes hit the area in less than 24 hours.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 7:29 am

For the past three decades, Oklahoma averaged about 50 earthquakes a year. But that number has skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2013 — the state's most seismically active year ever — there were almost 3,000.

The quakes are small, and they're concentrated in the central part of the state, where the Erwins live.

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Environment
5:18 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Dust Bowl Worries Swirl Up As Shelterbelt Buckles

A Dust Bowl farmer digs out a fence post to keep it from being buried under drifting sand in Cimarron County, Okla., in 1936.
Arthur Rothstein Library of Congress

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 6:39 pm

In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl ravaged crops and helped plunge the U.S. into an environmental and economic depression. Farmland in parts of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas disappeared.

After the howling winds passed and the dust settled, federal foresters planted 100 million trees across the Great Plains, forming a giant windbreak — known as a shelterbelt — that stretched from Texas to Canada.

Now, those trees are dying from drought, leaving some to worry whether another Dust Bowl might swirl up again.

An Experiment That Worked

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