Severe drought stunting crop growth in Dunklin County


Over the last month, irrigation wells have been droning into the night.

This is normally the sound of summer time, yet another week has gone by in Dunklin County without spring rain.

The Missouri Bootheel has picked up about a half-inch of rain since the beginning of May.

Without a doubt, this has been the driest spring in over 100 years.

Dunklin County Program Director Michael Milam is concerned that any non-irrigated crops may not make it through the summer.

"We've always recommended that you have irrigation around here for corn. Some years you can get by with a lot less than others, but this year's been constant. I've seen a lot of furrow irrigation already on corn."

Area farmers are seeing twice as many suitable fieldwork days than last year.

However, an increasing sun angle, mostly clear skies, and strong winds have led to a moisture deficiency in the topsoil.

"Most of our corn is irrigated, but in some parts of the state it's not developing the root system properly."

Soil moisture is 80 percent "short" and "very short" which is bad news for non-irrigated cotton, corn, and soybeans.

"There's nothing a farmer can do except wait on a rain or irrigation."

Nearly an inch of water per week is necessary for the roots to take hold.

Yet as spring comes to a close, Milam is doubtful the rainy season will even arrive this year.

"This is Memorial Day Weekend, it's more like Fourth of July or going into August."

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.