2006 Weather in Review
After a wet March, most of April was dry, allowing rapid planting of row crops but raising concerns about lack of topsoil moisture for germination. The dryness also pushed wheat maturation, with 64 percent of the crop headed as of April 30, compared with 22 percent as the 5-year average. The southwest part of the state was in most need of rain after several consecutive months of severe dryness. Those rains did come the last week of April, helping row crops and pastures, although much of the wheat crop in the southwest had matured too far to be helped by the moisture. As of April 30, corn planting was 90 percent complete while rice was 87 percent complete, both 3 weeks ahead of average. Sorghum planting was 24 percent complete, while the Bootheel had 44 percent of the cotton in the ground, both about 4 to 5 days ahead of normal. April rainfall averaged 3.19 inches, compared with the 1971-2000 30-year average of 3.80 inches.
The first half of May was cool, cloudy, and rainy, slowing crop emergence and development. The Bootheel was especially wet, causing some poor cotton stands and forcing replanting. A dramatic change in the weather pattern toward the end of the month brought summer-like temperatures, as readings soared into the 90’s throughout the state. The heat quickly dried soils and facilitated soybean planting. By the end of May, the state saw nearly total emergence of the corn crop, almost 3 weeks ahead of normal. Soybean planting stood 11 days ahead of normal at 74 percent complete, while cotton planting caught up to the average pace. Hay harvest was ahead of normal but production was fairly light. Wheat was in mostly good condition with the exception of the southwest district, where 64 percent was rated poor to very poor. May rainfall averaged 3.48 inches, below the 30-year average of 4.68 inches.
Farmers entered the heart of the growing season concerned about a dwindling subsoil moisture reserve. However, mostly adequate rainfall combined with warm temperatures during June to promote normal row crop development and maintain fair to good crop and pasture conditions. Heavy rain fell early in the month along the I-70 corridor, resulting in some flash flooding but little long-term damage. Soybean planting was mostly finished by mid-month, over 1 week ahead of normal. June rainfall averaged 3.11 inches, over 1 inch below the long-term average of 4.19 inches.
Cooler than normal temperatures kept row crop conditions stable in early July, but lack of moisture sent the topsoil moisture rating and pasture condition plummeting state-wide. The southwest and south-central districts had pasture ratings of 89 and 80 percent poor to very poor. Wheat harvest was complete by the second week of the month, a few days ahead of normal. Timely, soaking rains at mid-month boosted row crop conditions, soil moisture supplies, and pasture condition. The revival was short-lived, however, as two consecutive heat waves arrived to finish off the month. The extreme heat sapped moisture supplies and dropped crop condition ratings. Most of the corn crop was through the critical silking and pollination stages before the heat arrived, keeping the heat waves from being severe yield-reducing events. Corn silking was 89 percent complete as of July 23, slightly ahead of normal. By the end of the month, farmers were finishing up the last of the other hay harvest as well as the second alfalfa cutting. The state averaged 3.61 inches of rainfall for the month, slightly below the 30-year average of 3.76 inches.
The heat and dryness continued into the first part of August, further stressing pastures and row crops. Subsoil moisture was critically short in several districts. As of August 6, the west-central district was 100 percent short to very short of subsoil moisture, the southwest was at 99 percent, and the central was at 95 percent. Other districts were not much better, with the exception of the Bootheel, where plentiful moisture kept cotton and rice in mostly good to excellent condition. Relief came during the second and third weeks of the month, when good rains in the major crop-producing districts benefited soybeans that were setting and filling pods. By August 27, 90 percent of the corn was dented, over 1 week ahead of normal, while soybean pod set was at 93 percent, 4 days ahead of average. The third cutting of alfalfa was virtually complete. Hay production was light for the year, setting the stage for hay shortages over winter. August rainfall averaged 4.50 inches, above the 30-year average of 3.73 inches.
Moving into September, corn harvest was already well underway in the central and southern areas that had seen the driest summer weather. Farmers quickly harvested corn to prevent loss from brittle, drought-damaged stalks. Overall, however, the bulk of the crop was slow to dry during cool, wet conditions early in the month. Meanwhile, pasture conditions gradually improved after bottoming out during the previous month. Parts of the Bootheel received torrential rains in late September, causing severe floods, damaging soybeans, cotton, and rice, and setting back harvest by several days. Otherwise, most of the state was dry the last week of the month, allowing corn, soybean, and milo harvest to progress at or ahead of the normal pace. Rainfall for September averaged 2.70 inches, well below the 30-year average of 4.22 inches.
Dry, sunny weather the first two weeks of October made for good harvest weather, promoting a harvest pace ahead of normal for all major crops except cotton, which was still lagging due to the flooding rains in September. The last half of the month turned rainy, delaying the completion of corn harvest in northern districts and slowing progress of soybean and sorghum harvest. As of October 29, corn was 91 percent harvested, the soybean crop was at 71 percent, sorghum was at 85 percent, and rice was at 97 percent, all slightly ahead of normal. Cotton harvest stood at 54 percent complete, 10 days behind the normal pace. The state averaged 3.74 inches of rainfall, above the 30-year average of 3.37 inches.
The first part of November was dry in most of the state as farmers finished up the row crop harvest. By November 19, corn harvest stood at 98 percent complete, soybeans at 92 percent, and sorghum at 98 percent, all near or ahead of the normal pace. Almost all corn remaining in the field was in the northwest district, which experienced a slower dry-down. The Bootheel was continually beset by rains that fell on already saturated soils, delaying soybean and cotton harvest as well as winter wheat seeding. As of November 19, cotton harvest was nearly 3 weeks behind normal at 72 percent complete. State-wide, winter wheat seeding was at 91 percent complete, with 89 percent of the crop rated fair to good. November rainfall averaged 3.44 inches, compared with 3.16 inches as the long-term average. December rainfall, at 2.92 inches, was slightly above the 2.67 inch normal.
Total precipitation in Missouri for 2006 averaged 37.16 inches, below the 30-year average of 40.67 inches. The Bootheel was by far the wettest with an average of 58.22 inches and a range among counties from 51.49 in Stoddard to 64.11 in Mississippi. The south-central district finished with 47.45 inches, including 66.18 inches in Shannon, the high for the state. The southwest and east-central districts were near 36 inches for the year, while the northwest, north-central, northeast, west-central, and central were in the 31 to 33 inch range. The low counties for the year were scattered around the state and included Morgan at 24.00 inches, Benton at 24.46, Daviess at 24.74, Clark at 26.38, Vernon at 26.69, and St. Louis at 26.81.