Drought Conditions Could Persist Even With Normal Precipitation

3 years 2 months 4 weeks ago February 06, 2013 Feb 6, 2013 Wednesday, February 06 2013 Wednesday, February 06, 2013 7:35:00 PM CST in News
By: Nichole Cartmell

CLARK - The mid-Missouri area has received about 2.67 inches of rain since January 1. This is .38 inches more than last year at this time. But that doesn't mean drought conditions won't continue this year.

Associate Professor of Soil Sciences Randy Miles predicts drought like conditions will continue for the next two years even if Missouri receives normal precipitation. He explains the soil is dry except for the top 10 to 14 inches. This means crops don't have a reserve to tap into.

"We don't have a reserve. If we get into higher temperatures, greater water use, and let's say some short-term drought, it could be very devastating to our crops," Miles said.

Agriculture economist Ron Plain estimated livestock farmers across Missouri lost a total of more than $500 million. And crop farmers without insurance most likely lost considerably more.

For those like Clark resident, John Smith, who chose to purchase crop insurance, the effects weren't as bad. Smith explained his grain yields were hit the hardest from last year's drought, but without the insurance he might have faced an "economic blowout."

"It did have a little economic impact in that we won't have as much grain to market this year. I fortunately elected to take out crop insurance. And had I not done that it would've affected me greatly," Smith said.

The drought also has a major impact on consumers. POET, a biorefining plant, has suspended its operations temporarily because of the inability to purchase local corn. POET general manger Steve Burnett said in a typical year farmers produced 136 bushels. This past year they only produced 30 bushels.

"Anything that affects the farmer, has an affect on the whole state," Burnett said.

Miles said Missouri receives 40 inches of precipitation per year on average. Since November, Missouri is running 11 inches short of that average. The state needs at least 10 to 12 inches of moisture above the average to get back to normal.

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