With harvest nearing, many Northwest Missouri farmers still find themselves battling a drought once thought to be a dim memory.
By RAY SCHERER
St. Joseph News-Press
Steady thundershowers hit parts of the area Sunday in the wake of a report that shows severe drought growing across Missouri’s northern third. All or parts of Nodaway, Worth, Gentry, Harrison, Mercer, Daviess, Grundy, Caldwell, Livingston, Clinton and DeKalb counties were undergoing severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Portions of Platte, Atchison, Nodaway, Andrew, Worth, Harrison, Mercer, Buchanan and Clinton had moderate drought.
Elsewhere, parts of Platte, Atchison, Holt, Nodaway, Andrew and Buchanan counties were abnormally dry — along with Doniphan and Atchison counties in Kansas.
The expanded dry territory has led University Extension officials to declare that any late-planted corn north of Interstate 70 is either dying or already dead. Extension regional agronomist Wayne Flanary said cropland east of Maryville and eastward from Stewartsville is hurting, with much of the corn brown and drying and some soybeans prematurely yellowing.
The situation isn’t that much better around St. Joseph, said Bob Kelly of Extension’s Buchanan County office.
“Now half the county is in a moderate drought,” he said.
“This year I think our bean crop is going to be a disaster,” he said.
Three farmers reported on the expectations for their row crops.
“I think my corn will be average and my beans will be close to average,” said John Hickman, who farms land just northeast of St. Joseph. “We were begging for rain in July and August.”
Halls area farmer Jeff Gaskill was traveling through flood-ravaged Colorado on Thursday when reached by the News-Press. He plans to allow his corn to dry naturally and begin harvesting by the end of the month.
“It’s very dry,” he said of his Platte-Buchanan properties. “At this point in time, the rain’s not going to make much difference.”
Richard Fordyce raises corn and beans near Bethany and estimates he'll have only about half the yield of corn he first anticipated back in spring.
“We’ve just been incredibly dry here,” he said. “It’s really taken a toll on our crop. I think it’s going to be pretty substantial.”
About an inch of rain fell on Mr. Fordyce’s farm last week — the most since June 22.
Missouri State Climatologist Pat Guinan said Grundy County was among areas of the north that recorded a very dry August with less than .10 of an inch of rain.
Rosecrans Memorial Airport recorded .46 of an inch of rain by 2 p.m. Sunday, said FOX 26 KNPN Chief Meteorologist Lindie Patton. A total of .72 had fallen at a station in the Rea, Mo., area in northern Andrew County.