With the lack of spring rains in many areas and the early higher than normal temperatures in recent weeks, citizens in Pettis and surrounding counties are already wondering if the calendar may have skipped a few months to August.
One group in particular that is already feeling the heat so to speak is area farmers, according to Agricultural Business Specialist University of Missouri West Central Region Brent Carpenter.
“We’re way behind on rain, we’re behind for the entire spring and certainly for the month of June and that has us concerned,” Carpenter said. “We know we’re hotter and drier than we have been and June is often one of our wettest months.
“Often it is all about timing and we know some areas have received some good heavy rainfall but that has been really spotty here locally,” he added. “There is some moisture still available in the ground but too many more areas are hot and dry and everything is looking stressed.”
Carpenter, who recently returned from a conference in South Dakota, traveled through the heartland along Interstate 29 and said he saw many crops on both sides of the road.
“From the windshield some of the crops are showing signs of stress and not just in Missouri but in other states,” Carpenter said. “We’re still hoping for a good crop locally but from what we know right now the forecast doesn’t look too good for the area.
“Last year was fantastic for many area farmers, but this year is a different story,” he added. “From what lenders are telling us, farmers are seeing some financial stress and we’re waiting to see how bad the decline is.”
Agencies are watching and trying to be prepared to help respond to the concerns, Carpenter added.
Carpenter was also quick to point out that there is not a widespread crisis at this time.
“We know that farming is cyclical and we are trying to be aware of the situation before it worsens,” Carpenter said. “We’re trying not to sound alarms but we do want people to be aware of the situation.
“It is becoming critical that we get some good rains especially over the next three weeks,” he added.
Carpenter described the cornfields as “twisting,” explaining that in many fields, the stocks are starting to get a greyish hue and the leaves are growing close to the stalks.
“As you look at many of the fields, the leaf are growing out from the stalks and slightly bending to get that good sunlight,” Carpenter commented. “A lot of it is getting ready to tassel and we really need to get some soaking rains in the next few weeks.
“I don’t think there will be a stellar yield this season,” he added. “We’re taking it day by day to see how much it will suffer.”
Soybeans also need the rains, according to Carpenter. Bean growth is behind average because they were planted later with the timing of the spring rains, Carpenter said.
“We are on the front end of the wheat harvest,” Carpenter said. “A lot is being done this week, which is pretty normal.
“We don’t have any yield reports in yet so we’re waiting to see the impact (of the weather) on the wheat crops,” he added.
Area farmers have also been spending their time in the hay fields trying to put up as much as they can now.
“The grasses have really quit growing with the weather and this may be about all they are going to get,” Carpenter said. “We’ve already been hearing reports of farmers down-sizing their herds especially in the southwest regions of the state.
“It’s hard to predict and time because you don’t want to be the guy who waits too long,” Carpenter added. “Some farmers would rather take their lumps now than wait and see what a pro-longed drought may do.”
Carpenter stated that this year will more than likely be a disappointment for many area crop producers.
“We know now that this isn’t going to be an outstanding year,” Carpenter said. “Farmers only get one crop a year and probably only 40 in a lifetime.
“It’s tough to see and watch it deteriorate,” he added. “Locally, we’re still hoping for a good crop yield but that doesn’t appear to be the case throughout the state.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484