The dry conditions of the past two growing seasons may have frustrated many Missouri corn farmers, but it may have had at least one positive effect on their crop. A corn disease that peaked in 2011 has been on the wane.
Until recently, Goss’s Wilt was confined to eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. Then, beginning in 2008, it moved eastward, infecting farms across the corn belt. Iowa State University plant pathologist Alison Robertson says modern hybrid corn varieties may be to blame for the resurgence.
The driest August across northern Missouri since 1984 has the United States Department of Agriculture revising crop yield projections downward for the upcoming harvest. In addition, a continued drought plagues the northern part of the state, with 20 counties affected by what the National Weather Service calls a “severe drought”.
“Drought has and always will be a part of the Missouri landscape,” said University of Missouri Climatologist Pat Guinan. However, he characterizes the last few weeks as a flash drought, and a “drought on steroids.”
Farmers across the country received more than $17 billion in federal crop insurance payouts after last year’s drought. A report released on Tuesday by an environmental group blames farmers for not doing enough to shield the soil against the heat.
Drought remains a threat to Missouri, despite the wet spring and improved rainfall this summer.
Right now, a large portion of northwest Missouri is experiencing moderate drought conditions, while the rest of the state is classified as either “abnormally dry” or normal.
“We are looking at abnormally wet conditions along the Mississippi River and points to the east, where things get progressively wetter across parts of south-central Illinois," said Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in St. Louis.
This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which reporters talk to newsmakers and experts about important issues related to food production.
Over the last three years, the Midwest has gone from flooding to drought and back to flooding. This is a case of “weather whiplash,” a term first used in April by Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and co-founder of the online weather forecasting site Weather Underground.
If you've experienced sticker shock shopping for ground beef or steak recently, be prepared for an entire summer of high beef prices.
Multi-year droughts in states that produce most of the country's beef cattle have driven up costs to historic highs. Last year, ranchers culled deep into their herds — some even liquidated all their cattle — which pushed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest point since the 1950s.