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2005 Weather in Review

Fieldwork was active throughout the State in early April, with tillage and corn planting progress ahead of normal. Repeated showers during the last half of the month interrupted field work but farmers still managed to stay ahead of average with spring tillage. By the end of April, 72 percent of the corn was in the ground, equal to the normal pace, while 52 percent of the rice and 38 percent of the cotton were planted, both about 3 days ahead of average. A light frost in late April burned the upper leaves of corn in many counties, slowing growth and resulting in some replanting, but most of the crop recovered and resumed normal growth. Wheat and pastures were progressing well, mostly in fair to good condition. April rainfall averaged 3.29 inches, compared with the 30-year average of 3.80 inches.

Dry weather during much of May was conducive to rapid planting progress. Cool weather early in the month slowed growth of crops and pastures but near-normal temperatures soon followed. Corn planting reached 98 percent complete during the third week of May, a week ahead of normal. By month’s end about 85 percent of the soybeans and 90 percent of the sorghum were planted, both 2 weeks ahead of average, while cotton planting was completed a week earlier than normal. Haying progress advanced a few days ahead of normal. Topsoil moisture shortages were developing in the central, east-central and southern counties, causing some moderate decline in condition of row crops and slowing pasture growth. State rainfall for May averaged 2.22 inches, sharply below the 4.68 inch average.

Rainfall in early June improved crop and pasture growth in most of the State although many east-central and south-central counties remained mostly short of moisture. Lowland flooding occurred in some northwestern and north-central counties. Soybean planting reached virtual completion by June 20, about 2 weeks ahead of average. The wheat harvest began around the second week of June in the Bootheel and advanced to 83 percent complete by the end of the month, 3 days ahead of average. Row crop development was generally equal to or ahead of normal, with reported condition holding mostly fair to good. Progress of haying remained ahead of normal but hay yields in many southern counties were hurt by the moisture shortage. June rainfall averaged 4.20 inches, virtually the same as the 30-year average, with the distribution well above average in most northern areas but sharply below normal in east-central and southern counties.

The outlook for Missouri crops began to fade during July, as drought conditions developed over most of the State. Heat and dry weather caused a marked reduction in condition of row crops, particularly corn. Farmers in some of the driest areas began cutting some of the poorest corn for silage since it was deteriorating rapidly. Crops in the northwestern and southeastern counties were less affected by the drought due to some timely rains in those areas. By the end of July, pastures were rated as 78 percent poor or very poor and farmers in many southern counties were feeding hay to cattle on pasture. Water levels in stock ponds were becoming low in many areas. Rainfall averaged 2.70 inches in July but distribution was uneven, with a large proportion of counties receiving less than 1 inch, while many southeastern and extreme northwestern counties had 5 inches or more.

Hot, dry weather continued through the first week of August, further limiting crop yield prospects. However, rainfall in each of the following 3 weeks averaged over 1.5 inches, helping the late-developing row crops. By the time the rains came, most of the corn crop was too advanced to receive significant benefit from the available soil moisture. A large degree of uncertainty was prevalent regarding the recovery potential for soybeans but it gradually became apparent that pods were filling better than expected. Corn, soybeans and sorghum were all developing ahead of normal. By the end of August, about 59 percent of the corn and 22 percent of the sorghum were mature, and 19 percent of the soybeans were turning color. Pastures were showing substantial improvement by the end of the month but most areas still needed more rain and cooler weather to fully revive grass growth. August rainfall averaged 5.48 inches, compared with the long-term average of 3.73 inches.

Dry weather for most of the first half of September permitted harvesting of corn, sorghum and rice to move ahead similar to the normal schedule. Widespread rains around mid-month interrupted progress but harvesting operations soon regained momentum. By the end of the month, about 65 percent of the corn and 52 percent of the sorghum were harvested, both 2 days ahead of average. The soybean harvest was 3 days behind average at 10 percent complete, as the beans retained moisture in the pods longer than normal. Harvesting of cotton and rice fell behind normal due to excessive rains in the Bootheel. Pastures continued to show improvement but still provided less grazing than normal. Rainfall in September averaged 3.91 inches, compared with the 4.22 inch average.

October weather was notably dry, with only a few periods of shower activity to slow fall harvesting. By month’s end, 93 percent of the corn was out of the field, 4 days ahead of average, while 83 percent of the soybeans were harvested, a week ahead of normal. The sorghum harvest was similar to normal at 86 percent complete. Rice harvesting reached completion and 92 percent of the cotton was harvested, both 2 weeks ahead of average. Eighty-five percent of the winter wheat was seeded, over a week ahead of normal. Rain was needed in many areas for growth of wheat and pastures. Supplemental hay feeding remained necessary for cattle on pasture in several southern counties. October rainfall averaged 2.23 inches, well below the 3.37 inch normal.

The first 2 weeks of November were dry in nearly all areas, with temperatures averaging several degrees above normal. Only a minor amount of row crop acreage was left to harvest after mid-month, with virtual completion of all crops reached a week later, all ahead of normal. November rainfall averaged 2.78 inches, down from the 3.16 inch average. December rainfall, at 0.88 inch, was sharply below the 2.67 inch normal.

Precipitation for Missouri in 2005 averaged 36.84 inches, sharply below the 2004 average of 45.43 inches and the 30-year 1971-2000 average of 40.67. Nine counties received less than 30 inches, compared with none in that category in 2004. Linn County recorded the least precipitation (25.35 inches), followed by Audrain, Grundy and Ralls, all under 28 inches. Only Shannon County (57.31 inches) received over 50 inches, compared with 20 counties in that category a year earlier. Other leading counties with over 46 inches include Platte, Cape Girardeau and Morgan.