Missouri farmer Ben Mefford digs for moisture in his field.
While moisture levels in parts of the Midwest are improving, it doesn't mean planters will be rolling any time soon.
As Northwest Missouri Ben Mefford digs for moisture, he’s pleasantly surprised.
"We come up with moisture down to about four feet," says Mefford, who farms outside Weston, Mo. "Below that, it’s pretty dry."
A couple late season snowstorms dropped wet, heavy snow on this parched Missouri soil. Meffords credits that for the improvement in the moisture situation.
"It’s actually better than what I thought," he says. "The last few snows we’ve gotten had quite a bit of moisture in it. And it’s put quite a bit in the top soil."
While it’s good news for the moisture situation, it isn’t helping farmers get in the field anytime soon.
"We're normally waiting on the crop insurance date to come so we can get in the field," he says. "It's usually around the 3rd or 4th of April."
Last year at this time, planters were rolling in the field, ahead of average. This year, it already looks as if planting could be behind. This year, Mefford says the likelihood of planting in the next couple of weeks doesn’t look promising.
"We need some sunshine and warm days to get the ground warmed up," he says. "It's just too cold, he says.
Temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing both Monday and Tuesday night this week. As soils struggle to warm up, area farmers like Mefford are worried about the issues they could face this summer.
"We are concerned about planting later and getting into the heat of July and August," says Mefford.
It’s more than just the late planting season weighing on his mind. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) latest spring flood risk shows a strong chance his land along the Missouri River Bottoms could go from extreme drought last year, to being under what this year.
"We have major concerns about it, because all of our levees have just been repaired," he says. "With all the snow pack I’m hearing up north, it sounds like chances are pretty likely."