Missouri farmers face aftereffects of dry conditions
Record drought ravaged parts of Texas and Oklahoma this year, but Missouri was hard hit, too — and now the state's dairy and cattle industries are scrambling to cope with the aftereffects of the parched summer as they prepare for winter.
"We've heard an awful lot about the extreme drought in Texas and Oklahoma, and areas farther west," said Mike Collins, a professor of plant science at the University of Missouri. "But if you look at the drought map, it projects into Missouri."
Last month, in fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 101 Missouri counties natural disaster areas because of the drought, and one estimate puts the loss to the state's grain farmers at nearly $350 million. University of Missouri researchers say the state would need to get an unlikely 13 feet of snow this winter to compensate for the scorching heat and lack of rain that shrank crop yields last summer.
"In mid-Missouri and particularly as you go southwest, (the soil) was pretty well depleted four to six feet down. There's not much left there for plant growth," said Randy Miles, a soil scientist with the university. "We need to recharge the piggy bank, so to speak."