MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Tennessee’s corn harvest is three to four weeks ahead of schedule because an unusually warm spring allowed farmers to plant earlier.

Analysts were predicting a bumper crop this year, but estimates fell steadily as the summer progressed and drought conditions persisted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now says this year’s corn crop will likely be the smallest since 2006.

WASHINGTON (AP/WMOT) — Legislators in Washington are considering help for drought-stricken farmers in one of their final acts before adjourning for the August recess.

The House bill, scheduled to be voted on today, would restore four disaster assistance programs that expired last year. They would be reinstated for the 2012 budget year, at an estimated cost of $383 million.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (ANFINSON)  --  A new report shows a  large swath of Tennessee is now officially drought stricken.

The U.S. Drought Monitor report represents a consensus of federal and academic scientists.  Released Thursday, the report says that nutritious green grass is in short supply. Some farmers have begun feeding their herds winter hay reserves in summer.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)   --  A team of researchers from Middle Tennessee State University are attempting to drive cross-country this week on less than 10 gallons of gasoline.

MTSU Professor Cliff Ricketts, six students, and a couple of alumni volunteers were on schedule to pass through Oklahoma City at noon Tuesday on their way to Long Beach California.  They’re driving experimental hybrid vehicles that run on a variety of energy sources, including solar, hydrogen gas, ethanol and gasoline.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The economic downturn of recent years has been hard on Tennessee, but even in a recession some corners of the economy continue to prosper.

In a special series of reports we’re calling “Tennessee Works,” WMOT is searching out those places where Tennesseans have done well during the Great Recession.