Dry April slows down crop planting
CENTRALIA – April was a dry month. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there was only five inches of precipitation, and some of that was snow.
The dryness meant the growing season was pushed back for some local farmers, and they say that has them worried. The little bit of rain that did fall wasn't helpful.
"The problem with rain is that, even if it rains a lot over the winter, it doesn't matter until the crop is in the ground," said Dustin Stanton, president of the Boone County Farm Bureau. "We could be extremely saturated right now and then two weeks later be bone dry."
There are a lot of other factors that determine how well crops grow, from the level of clay in the soil, to temperature, to how bad insect attacks are.
Stanton said it takes bout 120 days for the crops his family grows to be ready for harvest. The unpredictability of growing season weather can either make the season a little longer, or much shorter.
The effects of a delayed growing season could include a rise in produce prices and a shortage of supply. Missouri's two biggest crops are corn and soy beans. A shortage of either could have unforeseen consequences.
"You see corn, but there's even different types of corn," said Stanton. "There's the type that consumers eat, but a lot of corn goes to animal feed. Even the price of your steaks or your pork chops or your chicken may go up drastically because a dry year happened."
Corn is also used to create ethanol, which can be mixed with gasoline, affecting gas prices.
According to the National Weather Service, the Columbia area will get some precipitation in the form of thunderstorms Wednesday and Thursday, and then again on Sunday.