Missourians sometimes jokingly refer to their home as “The State of Misery.” But it’s no laughing matter that an overabundance of rain this spring and summer has left Missouri farmers with one of the more frustrating crop seasons in recent memory – and possibly the wettest growing season in 121 years of recordkeeping.
“It could be the wettest on record, as current numbers are preliminary,” says Pat Guinan, University of Missouri Extension climatologist.
From May to July, the Show Me State averaged 22.41 inches of rainfall, which is 0.14 inches short of a record set in 1981. It will take time to tally results from the state’s 200 official reporting stations, Guinan says.
“The wet year is an anomaly,” he says. “It’s not just total rain, but the frequency.”
For example, during the May through July stretch, Kansas City reported 48 days with measurable rain – 16 days above normal. The wet weather has hindered Missouri farmers, delaying and preventing corn and soybean plantings, and keeping livestock producers from baling quality hay for winter feed.
“Haymaking was hit hard,” says Craig Roberts, MU Extension forage specialist. “Those with management-intensive grazing did well if they matched livestock demand to forage growth. A downside was waterlogged soils.”
Guinan says soggy conditions were widespread and statewide.
According to the state’s USDA progress report from August 2, 2015, crops are behind but not egregiously so. Corn is at 91% silking, compared to 94% for the five-year average. Soybeans are 46% blooming, versus 68% for the five-year average. And 52% of cotton is setting bolls, as opposed to a 68% five-year average.
Crop conditions support the narrative of traumatic weather. The following percent of crops were rated “very poor,” “poor” or “fair” in the Aug. 2 report.
- Corn – 48%
- Soybeans – 71%
- Cotton – 64%
- Rice – 39%
- Sorghum – 59%
- Pasture – 32%
The wet season hasn’t only affected Missouri farming, Guinan adds. Construction and transportation were constantly interrupted, and the state reported numerous lost bridges and washed-out culverts.
It’s unclear how El Niño conditions will further affect state weather later this year, he adds, as Missouri lies in a “transition zone” between the northern and southern U.S.