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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 2, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

Drought could affect this fall's peanut harvest

The historic dry weather and high temperatures aren’t just affecting people, they're also hurting crops like Wheat, corn and soybeans. The drought could set back the fall harvest of peanuts.

Also known as groundnuts, they don’t get harvested until early October, but some Oklahoma farmers have noticed their plants have been growing slower than usual.

Ron Sholar is the executive director of the state peanut commission.

“When the temperatures get as high as they have been recently, this can kill the pollen and you can fail to get seed-set. So that’s what we’ve been concerned about — whether the plants are pollinating and whether we’ll have seeds formed and the pods underground,” said Sholar.

Although the drought has been hard on peanut crops, Sholar says there’s still time to produce a good harvest.

Oklahoma ranks seventh in the nation for peanut production and makes up about nineteen million dollars of the state’s agricultural economy.

Weather overview for July

You could sum up July in one word—hot.

State Climatologist Gary McManus said the statewide average temperature last month was nearly 86 degrees, 4 degrees above normal.

It went down at the seventh warmest July on record, tying 1998 and 2012. The hottest temperature recorded last month was 115 degrees at Mangum, a temperature not seen in the state since 2012.

In addition, below average rainfall contributed to rising drought.

McManus says hot and dry conditions are expected to prevail into August. The outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center call for increased odds of above normal temperatures across the entire state and below normal precipitation in all but the western Panhandle.

Absentee ballot request deadline

The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the upcoming Aug. 23 runoff election is fast approaching.

According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, applications must be received by your County Election Board no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8.

In Oklahoma, no excuse is needed to vote absentee. Voters can apply for an absentee ballot online at elections.OK.gov or at their County Election Board.

DHS director resigns

The Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced he will resign later this month.

After more than three years of leading the DHS, Director Justin Brown announced he will resign on Aug. 19. He will continue to serve as secretary of human services within Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet.

In a news release announcing his departure, Brown trumpeted his accomplishments. For example, he recently secured more than $30 million in funding to clear the state’s 13-year long developmental disabilities waiting list by 2024. DHS also gave $27 million of unspent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program funds to 11 different nonprofits that focus on family stability.

Gov. Stitt, who appointed Brown in 2019, will also appoint his successor.

Unemployment claims rising in Oklahoma

Unemployment numbers are rising in Oklahoma.

In its latest report, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says unemployment claims across all categories are trending up.

OESC Executive Director Shelly Zumwalt says a seasonal increase in claims during June and July is not uncommon, but she added the current economic environment of the nation could be contributing to the rise in jobless numbers.

Oklahoma is on the lookout for college students to join its Math Tutoring Corps

As Oklahoma gears up for a new school year, the State Department of Education is seeking college students to help middle schoolers in math.

The idea is simple and has been around for a while in Oklahoma.

College students are paid to tutor middle schoolers in math in online sessions three times a week.

The state hopes to support up to 1,500 middle schoolers this fall and will pay college students $25 per hour for their work.

The program has already shown some success, with the vast majority of student participants reporting they improved their math skills as a result.

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