The end of Missouri’s dry season looks positive, especially for farmers

Apr 30, 2014

Credit USDA

Deadly arctic storms, freezing rains and thunderstorms, Missouri has seen it all so far this past spring. As we enter into warmer months, local farmers are hopeful for a good planting season.

Crops like wheat are planted a week before or after the first frost. Come late-March, early-May, rain is needed for moisture as the crops come out of dormancy.

“Moist soil helps to activate herbicides, if they’re being used, and that way they will better control the weeds that they’re trying to target,” said Kelly Smith, director of marketing commodities for the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Mid-Missouri has been seeing a steady recovery from the 2012 drought since the beginning of April. According to Pat Guinan, extension climatologist of MU’s Commercial Agriculture Program, precipitation has increased above normal precipitation totals in these past few weeks. This has allowed some moistening to previously dry soil.

“Initially when the year started, there was justifiable concern about the lack of moisture, especially in the soil profile as well as the surface water supplies,” Guinan said. “And of course we’ve had a very cold winter. The ground was frozen for most of the winter and any moisture that did fall from above really provided no opportunity to percolate through the soil because it was frozen.”

This did not last long as April brought its showers of rain that ranged from 3 to 6 inches. Parts of central Missouri saw 7 to 8 inches of rain.

Although this spring brought out some chillier temperatures, Smith said that farmers are looking to have a normal production of crops. Unlike in 2012 when the weather was hot and dry, the average crop in Missouri on corn yield was 75 bushels per acre. Many farmers lost their whole crop.

This year, the projected yield for corn is over 158 bushels per acre. The yield for wheat on the other hand is looking to be about 47 bushels.

“As long as we continue to get timely rainfall as we move forward, once the crop is planted into the ground we should be in good shape,” Smith said.