August 10, 2006

Scotland County Remains at Stage 2 Drought Alert As Conditions Worsen Across State

Due to the extreme heat and worsening drought conditions, on August 2nd Governor Matt Blunt requested the statewide Drought Assessment Committee, which is made up of 14 state and federal agencies, to reactivate to address mitigating the impact of the worsening drought.

A total of 21 western Missouri counties ó ranging from the Iowa border to southwest Missouri ó are now in a conservation phase drought, according to one sub-committee of the Missouri Drought Assessment Committee.

The number of counties classified as being in a Phase 3 ó or ďconservation phaseĒ ó has increased from 12 a month ago to its current level of 21, according to the climate and weather subcommittee. All of Missouri outside of the southeast remains in some level of drought.

Although the state is now at a Phase 3 conservation phase in these areas, most of the public water supply sources have not indicated supply problems.

Extensive heat and dryness will create extreme peak water demands and water conservation is needed to avoid water delivery problems in these areas.

While localized rains had helped most row crops, the recent excessive heat has baked maturing and late planted crops.

A Missouri extension agronomy specialist located in the West Central region reports that corn is currently being chopped for silage. Agricultural extension agents are concerned about nitrate levels in both corn and pasture for cattle producers, as they would expect them to be potentially high.

The long-term effect of the drought has greatly impacted pond levels as many livestock ponds are now dry. This low water condition is accumulative since the state has experienced on and off drought conditions since 1999 and sub-soil levels have never completely recovered.

West central Missouri has been in a continuous drought since last summer.

An agronomy specialist in northwest Missouri reports that pasture conditions are poor to very poor with much of the grass being eaten to a minimum level. Many pastures this week have gone from green to brown in response to the excessive heat. Some producers to fill the void are feeding hay. Ponds are well below standpipes, with some producers preparing to haul water or switch to rural water supplies. Increased water use upon rural water suppliers could create water delivery problems.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the western half of the state needs an additional 9 to 15 inches of rain immediately to break the drought.

Those counties currently in Phase 3 drought include Harrison, Mercer, Davies, Caldwell, Clinton, Platte, Clay, Ray, Jackson, Lafayette, Cass, Johnson, Pettis, Henry, Benton, Morgan, St. Clair, Hickory, Cedar, Polk and Dade.

In addition to those counties in Phase 3 drought, 58 counties, including Scotland County, were determined to be in Phase 2 ó ďdrought alertĒ ó drought, and 15 were classified Phase 1 drought ó ďadvisory phase,Ē which is the least serious drought level. The remaining 20 Missouri counties are not considered to be in any sort of drought.

For more info including the current drought map, the Missouri Drought Plan and information on the Drought Assessment Committee see the drought Web page at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wrc/droughtupdate.htm.

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