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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Part of region in 'moderate' drought

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Laine McElveen of New Madrid worries that many plants are in need of a drink of water. Armed with her watering can, she does her best to keep their roots wet and the flowers blooming. With an unusually warm and dry spring, farmers in New Madrid and Mississippi counties are already turning on their irrigation systems.
(Jill Bock, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Sporadic and scarce rainfall across Southeast Missouri this spring has forced the region into abnormally dry and even drought-like conditions.

Rain in the Bootheel has definitely been spotty, according to Sam Atwell, agronomy specialist and county program director for the University of Missouri Extension in New Madrid County and Southeast Region.

"By and large, everyone needs a rain, and there may be a mile or two stretch somewhere that got a good inch or so of rain, but it's few and far between," Atwell said.

In general, two-tenths of an inch is what most of the area has received in rainfall so far this month, Atwell said.

"We're probably nine or 10 inches behind the average rainfall for the year and about five inches behind for the month of April. We haven't had any rain (except maybe two-tenths of an inch) in May," Atwell said.

Growers are already having to irrigate earlier than normal -- and more than normal, Atwell said. Adding to that is the fact the planting season occurred early because of the warm weather, he noted.

"Crops that were really early and ahead of schedule are now hitting "crunch time," and almost all the farmers are now waiting on rain to finish their planting as there are still a lot of cotton and soybeans that need to get in the ground," Atwell said.

The majority of corn and rice are growing and are large enough now to handle irrigation, however, Atwell said.

"Every day that stays dry just puts a lot of pressure on crops -- specifically cotton and soybeans -- that are real young or not even planted yet," Atwell said.

According to the latest report by the U.S. Drought Monitor, all of Mississippi and New Madrid counties are in a moderate drought while the majority of Scott and Stoddard counties are classified as being abnormally dry. A small southern portion of Scott County, a southwestern portion of Stoddard County and the north half of Pemiscot County are also in a state of being moderately drought.

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