July 21, 2005

Missouri Drought Effects Felt Across 106 Counties

Drought - it’s not a four-letter word, but it might as well be as far as most farmers are concerned. Scotland County is just one of more than 100 Missouri counties feeling the effects of a very dry summer.

Despite numerous opportunities for rain, the drops just didn’t fall last week, as the County recorded just 0.03 inches of rain in the week ending July 17th. The missed opportunities stretched the four-week dry spell that has seen just 0.63 inches of precipitation across the region according to the Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service.

But Scotland County is not alone in its plight.

Missouri’s Drought Assessment Committee has declared a Drought Alert for 54 Missouri counties, while another 52 counties are under a drought advisory. Recent rainfall has helped moderate conditions in southeast Missouri, but prolonged dry weather persisting over much of Missouri has expanded the overall area of drought concern.

The counties under drought advisory and drought alert as of July 13 are listed below:

Phase 1 — Advisory phase (54 counties)

Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Barry, Bates, Bollinger, Buchanan, Butler, Caldwell, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Cedar, Clark, Clinton, Dade, Daviess, DeKalb, Douglas, Dunklin, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Holt, Iron, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Madison, Mercer, Mississippi, New Madrid, Nodaway, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Putnam, Ray, Reynolds, Ripley, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Schuyler, Scotland, Scott, Stoddard, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Vernon, Wayne, Worth, and Wright.

Phase 2 — Drought Alert (52 counties)

Audrain, Benton, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Carroll, Chariton, Christian, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dallas, Dent, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Howard, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Maries, Marion, Miller, Moniteau, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Oregon, Osage, Pettis, Phelps, Pike, Polk, Pulaski, Ralls, Randolph, St. Charles, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Saline, Shannon, Shelby, Texas, Warren, Washington and Webster.

Missouri’s Drought Response Plan defines four phases of drought status.

These are levels of increasing concern based on the severity of the lack of moisture and corresponding impacts. These phases and their impacts are:

· Phase 1 - Advisory phase — below normal rainfall has occurred for several months. This is the beginning of a county’s monitoring by the Climate and Weather Committee of the Drought Assessment Committee.

· Phase 2 - Drought Alert — plants begin to show stress, stream levels drop, and rainfall is below normal for many months. Pond levels begin to noticeably fall.

· Phase 3: Conservation phase — streams are dry, river and lake levels are falling below what is expected to occur once every 10 years, soil moisture is approaching wilting point for plants and dry weather is expected to continue. Groundwater recharge has stopped. Water supplies should begin supplementing and conserving.

· Phase 4: Emergency phase — many ponds and streams are dry, river stages at record daily lows, crops cannot recover, trees begin to wilt, shallow and high use water levels drop below pumps, water rationing and hauling is needed.

The MASS report stated row crop conditions continue to decline as another week of hot, dry weather covered most of the State. The southeast district received much needed rain during the week. Producers in other areas of the State remain concerned that lack of precipitation may hinder row crop maturation of already heat stressed crops. Statewide, the topsoil moisture supply ratings averaged 42 percent very short and 36 percent short.

“The latter half of June was mostly rain-free with the exception of the last few days of the month when thunderstorms brought some relief to portions of western and far south central Missouri,” said Pat Guinan, Extension Associate in Climatology in his June 2005 report Weather and Its Impacts on Missouri’s Agriculture.

“By the end of the month much of southeastern Missouri was experiencing a moderate to extreme agricultural drought,” he said. “Below normal rainfall over the past four months has resulted in depleted topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies and crops and pastures were beginning to feel the effects of the long term dryness. Additionally, dry conditions were evolving over much of northeastern, east central, and southwestern Missouri. Hay production was also running well below normal.”

The Missouri Drought Assessment Committee is responsible for assessing drought conditions across the state and recommending actions to ease the drought’s adverse effects. Agencies represented on the committee include the state departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Public Safety, Health and Senior Services, Conservation and Economic Development; the U.S. departments of Commerce, Agriculture and Interior; the U.S. Army; the University of Missouri-Columbia; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For more information, call the Missouri Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-361-4827 or contact the department’s Water Resources Program at (573) 751-2867.

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