Drought spreads across Missouri, could affect spring planting decisions

Nearly every county in Missouri is at least abnormally dry, with a wide swath of the state experiencing either severe or extreme drought, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At this level, some damage to crops and pastures can be expected, as well as some water shortages.

Although the effects of such dryness aren’t seen as much in the winter months, an extended period of drought could cause serious trouble as the weather gets warmer, said Mark Fuchs, senior service hydrologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

“If we don’t get significant rain soon, it will get a lot worse as things start to warm up and there’s not a lot of moisture to green things up,” Fuchs said. Many crops will be planted beginning in April, but with the current deficit in moisture, some farmers are uncertain how this season will look. Extension agronomist and Montgomery County farmer Rusty Lee said the moisture level still could improve.

If the drought continues, officials say wheat farmers will need to decide whether they would like to continue with their crop or destroy it and switch to a summer annual, like corn.

Read more: Columbia Missourian

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