2000 Weather in Review
Dry spring weather enabled Missouri farmers to begin fieldwork early and plant corn at a record pace. By the end of April, 91 percent of the corn was planted, a month ahead of the 5-year average. Other plantings were also sharply ahead of normal. Soil moisture ratings were becoming short to very short over the State except for the Bootheel. Wheat condition was mostly fair to good, with 34 percent headed by late April, the earliest since 1981. April rainfall averaged 1.32 inches, the lowest in 15 years.
Rapid row crop planting continued in May as dry weather persisted. Although most plantings managed to find enough moisture to germinate, the dry soil conditions were becoming a major concern before widespread rainfall was received late in the month. Over 90 percent of the sorghum and single-crop soybeans were planted by the end of the month, both sharply ahead of normal. Row crops were mostly in fair to good condition. The wheat crop was virtually all headed by late May and over 70 percent was turning color, 2 weeks ahead of normal. Haying was also early, but yields were hurt by the moisture shortage. Most pastures were in poor condition. Rainfall during May averaged 4.11 inches, compared with the 30-year average of 4.68 inches.
Sorghum and single-crop soybean plantings were virtually complete by June 10, a month ahead of normal and near-record time. Wheat harvesting was under way in the Bootheel in early June and spread rapidly over the rest of the State, with progress being 1 to 2 weeks ahead of normal. Substantial rainfall during June aided crop growth and development, and improved pasture condition. Some low lying fields had temporary flooding, but crop losses were minor. Double crop soybean planting reached 65 percent complete by late June, a week ahead of normal. Wet weather frequently interrupted haying operations, but with the early development, farmers had cut over half of the second crop of alfalfa and 80 percent of other hay by month's end, 10 days ahead of normal. June rainfall averaged 6.98 inches, well above the 30-year average of 3.76 inches.
Topsoil moisture supplies were rated as mostly adequate to surplus in early July, and periodic rainfall maintained adequate moisture for crop development through the month. The wheat harvest was complete by mid-July, 6 days ahead of normal. By month's end, about 65 percent of the corn had reached the dough stage or beyond, the earliest development since 1987. Soybeans, sorghum and cotton progress were also well ahead of average, and producers were envisioning some record yields. Pasture condition held in the mostly fair to good range. Early July temperatures averaged above normal, but the last half of the month was moderately cool. Rainfall averaged 3.77 for the month, virtually the same as the 30-year average.
All major row crops continued to develop ahead of normal in August. A large majority of the crops stayed in good condition through the month, although below-normal rainfall caused a slight decline in soybean and sorghum condition in some areas. The corn crop, which was more advanced with over 90 percent dented and 50 percent mature by the end of August, showed a slight improvement in condition. About 11 percent of the State's corn was harvested in August, several days ahead of normal.
Virtually all soybeans had podded by late August and nearly 30 percent of the crop was turning color, a week ahead of normal. Pasture condition declined noticeably due to warm, dry weather, with 35 percent in poor or very poor condition by month's end. August rainfall averaged 2.75 inches, well below the long-term average of 3.73 inches. September weather continued warm and dry, hastening the maturing process for all crops. The moisture shortage caused some decline in soybean condition, especially for the later planted fields. The corn harvest jumped ahead to 76 percent complete by the end of the month, nearly 4 weeks ahead of the 5-year average. Two-thirds of the soybeans had reached maturity and 28 percent were harvested by September 30, about 10 days ahead of normal. The sorghum harvest, at 60 percent complete, was moving at a near-record pace. Forty-one percent of the cotton was harvested in September, over a week ahead of average. Pasture condition declined sharply to 60 percent rated as poor or very poor, as moisture was not adequate to sustain growth. Supplemental hay feeding was necessary in many southern counties. Rainfall for the month averaged 2.90 inches, compared with the September 30-year normal of 4.22 inches.
Row crop harvesting progressed at a record pace in early October, with only temporary interruptions from rain. Widespread killing frost occurred late in the first week of the month. Actual crop damage was mostly limited to late soybeans in the west-central and southwestern counties where some beans had not reached maturity. Fall seeding of winter wheat proceeded normally and was 83 percent complete by the end of the month. Corn harvesting was 97 percent complete by October 31, equaling the 1987 record and 25 days ahead of the 5-year average. The proportions harvested for soybeans at 89 percent, and sorghum and cotton both at 95 percent, were only slightly behind the record pace of 1987. Considerable pasture remained in poor condition. Stock ponds were low on water and hay supplies were becoming short in some areas, particularly in the south-central counties. October precipitation averaged 2.90 inches, compared with the long term average of 3.37 inches.
November included some damp weather that delayed harvesting of the small amount of crops still remaining in the field. The frost damaged late soybeans required a longer drying period than normal, but virtually all crops were harvested well before the end of the month. Some of the new wheat seedings were in need of more moisture before going into dormancy, but most of the crop was in fair to good condition. November averaged 2.82 inches, down from the 30-year average of 3.16 inches. December marked the fifth consecutive month of below-normal rainfall with 1.45 inches, compared with the 2.67 inch normal.
Precipitation for Missouri in 2000 averaged 35.76 inches, compared with 37.52 inches in 1999 and 40.67 inches for the 1961-90 long-term average. New Madrid County received the most precipitation at 53.35 inches, followed by Warren at 52.28, Franklin at 49.12, and Mississippi with 49.00 inches. Camden County recorded the least precipitation with 24.74 inches, followed by Dallas and Gentry, both under 26.00 inches.