May 23, St. Louis Post-Dispatch – (Missouri) Missouri farmers battling ‘flash drought’.
Missouri climatologists and farmers are calling it a “flash drought” — a quick burst of dry heat that is parching plants and threatening the State’s crops. “It’s rapidly emerging across the state,” said the University of Missouri extension’s State climatologist May 22. “It started in the Bootheel, but over the past, two or three weeks, much of Missouri has seen negligible rain. We’ve had a lot of above-normal temperatures, low humidity and lots of sunshine. The moisture has just evaporated out of the vegetation.” The conditions threaten the State’s vulnerable, young corn crop, and could mean a tough summer for all crop producers, as well as cattle ranchers and dairy farmers. “If it stays dry for the next two to three weeks, we’re going to see some die-offs,” the climatologist said. Temperatures across Missouri were 4 to 6 degrees above normal and rainfall south of Interstate 70 is below normal for the first half of May. The Bootheel is already experiencing moderate to severe drought, but those conditions are creeping northward. This could be the second summer in a row farmers in the State have struggled with dry weather. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 101 Missouri counties natural disaster areas because of drought conditions. The loss to the State’s grain farmers was an estimated $350 million, with corn farmers losing roughly 24 million bushels of yield and soybean farmers about 20 million. Cattle ranchers were particularly hard hit because grassland and hay were in short supply.