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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Rain could benefit Southeast Missouri in more ways than one

Friday, April 21, 2006

SIKESTON -- Despite the area's recent storms, farmers and gardeners could still use more rain for their crops.

"We're moving into a water deficit pretty quick," said Anthony Ohmes, Southeast Missouri regional agronomist.

Ohmes is hoping rain forecast today and Monday will bring more moisture than Thursday's pop-up showers to help pull off a successful growing season.

"Even back then (in March) we didn't have a lot of rain. It's been relatively dry all late winter and early spring," Ohmes said.

The heat combined with a lack of rainfall has dried things out, Ohmes said. More rain is needed to really incorporate herbicides and fertilizers into crops like corn, he said.

In addition to fields, flower beds, gardens and yards are very dry. Homeowners and gardeners can irrigate easier than farmers, who should use an irrigation schedule, he said.

"We need a nice, slow, general rain across the region, and it would be nice to get an inch or two," Ohmes said.

Rain would also be a welcome change for allergy sufferers since it tends to lower the pollen count as it washes pollen away.

"The classic allergy season is here," said Dr. George Livermore, who specializes in otolaryngology with an interest in allergies.

Of course there's the standard hay fever response, but in this area, the year-

round allergies are always there, Livermore said, adding a lot of Southeast Missourians have mold allergies.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever," affects more than 20 percent of the people living in the United States, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Allergies are triggered by substances called allergens, such as pollen or mold spores. Many trees, grasses and weeds contain small and light pollens that are easily carried by the wind, causing allergy symptoms to flare up in the spring.

According to the National Allergy Bureau Pollen and Mold Report, as of Thursday the St. Louis region had a high concentration of tree pollen and mold spores, a low concentration of grass pollen and weed pollen was absent.

"The nose is a like a wet filter on a car motor, and it's picking up all of the allergens," Livermore said about allergic reactions.

Livermore, who practices in Sikeston and provides outreach services in Dexter and Cape Girardeau, said in this area there really is no peak allergy season.

"It depends on when different plants pollinate, and some of weeds are bad in the fall but not in the spring," Livermore said.

Mold and other environmentals such as cats, dogs and dust mites also play a role in allergy season.

"Allergies are a cumulative effect," Livermore said.

For example, someone may not be allergic to cats, but if he mows the lawn and the grass allergens get in his nose, and then he cleans out the basement and gets dust allergies and then goes over to a friend's house, where a cat lives, his nose gets stopped up.

"It's not because he's allergic to a cat; the reason is he's reached the limit of allergens," Livermore said.

Anything a person can do to limit the number of allergens will help, which is why environmental control is a big way to reduce allergens, or ordinarily harmless substances, Livermore said. It limits the exposure of the nasal lining to allergens, he said.

"And this involves things around the house, or anywhere you spend lot of time, such as work," Livermore said.

Allergens can cause the classic sinus symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose and itchy, watery eyes. Livermore suggested using saltwater nose drops after exposure to allergens.

The AAAAI also offers the following tips to help allergy sufferers find some relief during the allergy season:

-- Do a thorough spring cleaning -- windows, book shelves and air conditioning vents collect dust and mold throughout the winter that can provoke allergy symptoms.

-- Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Get up-to-date pollen information for your area from the National Allergy Bureau at www.aaaai.org/nab.

-- Take medications at least 30 minutes prior to outdoor activity. Consult with an allergist/immunologist to ensure medications are helping you, and notify an allergist/immunologist when reactions to medications occur.

-- Shut windows in your house on days pollen counts are high. Avoid using windows or fans that may draw pollen inside.

-- Wash bedding weekly in hot water.

-- Dry laundry indoors. Sheets hanging on an outside line are an easy target for blowing pollen.

-- Shower and wash your hair before bed -- pollen can collect on your hair and skin.

-- Keep pets off of furniture and out of the bedroom. Pollen can cling to the dog or cat after being outside.

-- Keep car windows closed during peak season. Use air conditioning and point vents away from face.

-- When mowing lawn or gardening, wear a filter mask.