Meager precipitation and soaring temperatures have reached a level that is putting a major crimp on farmers who, at the mercy of the weather, are struggling to fight back.
"Every day you have another 100 degree temperature, it makes things worse," said Everette Wood, executive director of the Saline County Farm Service Agency Tuesday.
Crops are beginning to show stress from the heat wave which blanketed the area for the past week, Wood said. Less fertile patches of fields are becoming visible as crops lose their lushness, forming light green and brown regions.
Despite cooler temperatures today and some modest rain Tuesday, the FSA estimated 10 to 15 percent crop losses in Saline County fields because of the heat and recent lack of precipitation. The organization continues to monitor the situation, as this respite could be brief. Many forecasters are predicting a hot, dry August to match this July.
A drought assessment Web site maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that west-central Missouri would need to receive between 6.01 and 9 inches of rain during the month of August to completely alleviate current drought conditions.
Most farmers have to bite the bullet, with very few fields irrigated in the county.
"There's very little that can be done at this time," Wood said. "Once it's planted there's really very little the farmer can do besides hope for the rain and the cooler weather."
Gov. Matt Blunt has called the situation across the state a drought, naming 106 counties as affected, Saline County included. The Missouri Drought Assessment Committee has started monitoring conditions and damage assessment reports are being compiled. These will show the extent of the damage and may make producers eligible for federal aid dollars.
"We're not as bad off as some people," Wood said. Conditions in southeast Missouri are the worst, but even as close as Pettis County loss estimates are predicted close to 30 percent due to drier and thinner land. "But every day you go with a 100 degree temperature, that makes that loss go up."
Good land, Wood said, and higher average yields in this region will help to dull the impact of conditions. "We're going to see some guys see some good crops, I'm sure," he said.
On the Net:
Midwest Climate Watch:
U.S. Drought Monitor:
Contact Matt Heger at