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2001 Weather in Review

Spring fieldwork got off to a slow start in Missouri, as wet weather and muddy fields hindered progress. Tillage and corn planting were several days behind normal until the last week of April when warm, dry weather permitted rapid progress. By the end of the month, 71 percent of the ground intended for spring crops had been worked, close to normal, while corn planting jumped a few days ahead of normal to 49 percent complete. Wheat came through the winter in generally good condition and pastures were mostly fair to good. Rainfall during April averaged 3.03 inches, compared with the 30-year average of 3.48 inches.

Heavy rains fell in many northern counties during the first half of May, while the southern third of the State remained mostly dry until later in the month. Army worms caused major damage to pastures and hay crops in many southern counties. Corn planting progress stayed several days ahead of normal for most of the month although wet conditions delayed progress in several north-central and northeastern counties. By the end of May about 97 percent of the corn and 64 percent of the single-crop soybeans were planted, both similar to average, while 19 percent of the sorghum (a week ahead of normal), had been planted. Winter wheat was developing nearly a week ahead of normal with 97 percent headed and 58 percent turning color by late May. The hay harvest was progressing slightly ahead of average. Rainfall for the month averaged 5.76 inches, compared with 4.68 inches normally.

Frequent rains during the first 3 weeks of June stressed crops in low areas and slowed soybean planting in the northern two-thirds of the State. The wheat crop matured ahead of normal but harvesting got off to a slow start because of rain. The wheat harvest later advanced ahead to 81 percent complete by the end of June, a week ahead of normal. Condition of crops and pastures improved in most areas during June as a result of the good moisture supply, but pasture and hay growth remained poor in many south-central counties where moisture was short and army worm damage was excessive. Virtually all sorghum and single-crop soybeans had been planted by the end of June. Rainfall averaged 6.14 inches for the month, well above the 30-year average of 4.19 inches.

Condition of row crops held up well in most areas during July, as moisture supplies were mostly adequate and no extreme heat occurred. Double-crop soybean planting was completed a few days ahead of normal. The wheat harvest was virtually complete by July 10, over a week ahead of average. Ninety-four percent of the corn crop had silked and 63 percent had reached the dough stage by the end of the month, about 4 days ahead of normal. About 69 percent of the soybeans were blooming and 32 percent were setting pods, slightly behind average, while 93 percent of the cotton was setting bolls, similar to normal for July 31. Ninety-five percent of the second crop of alfalfa and 96 percent of all other hay had been cut by the month's end, both close to average. July rainfall, at 5.06 inches, was above the 3.76 inch normal, marking the third consecutive month to exceed the 30-year average.

The first 3 weeks of August brought only limited rainfall and mostly above normal temperatures. Condition of row crops declined in some areas but the good subsoil moisture supply helped to maintain the over-all ratings in the fair to good categories. Seventy-eight percent of the corn had reached the dent stage and 43 percent was mature by the end of the month, close to the 5-year average. Soybeans averaged 88 percent setting pods and 11 percent turning color by late August, about 2 days behind normal. The sorghum crop stayed on a faster maturity pace than normal, reaching 80 percent turning color by August 31. Forty-six percent of the cotton was opening bolls, 3 days ahead of average. Corn harvesting began in late August in the southeast and southwest districts, just slightly ahead of normal. General rains in the northern half of the State late in the month helped pastures and soybeans, while pastures in the southwest and south-central districts continued to deteriorate. Farmers in many southern counties fed hay to supplement the limited pasture feed. August rainfall averaged 3.18 inches, compared with 3.73 inches for the 30-year average.

Crops continued to mature about on schedule during September. The corn crop advanced to 95 percent mature, with 49 percent harvested, virtually the same as the 5-year average. Eighty-five percent of the soybeans were turning color and 56 percent were dropping leaves, while 8 percent were harvested by September 30, a few days behind normal. Cotton bolls were opening on 91 percent of the crop and 36 percent was harvested, 3 days ahead of average. Eighty-five percent of the sorghum reached maturity and 51 percent was harvested, 8 days ahead of normal. Pastures were in poor to very poor condition in most southern counties. Rainfall for September averaged 3.39 inches, compared with the 4.22 inch 30-year average.

Harvesting progress advanced moderately during October with frequent interruptions from rain during the first half of the month. The moisture supply improved in most areas, with significant benefit to late pasture growth, although many southern counties were still in need of rain for pastures and stock ponds. Soil conditions for seeding winter wheat were good and farmers had 72 percent of the crop in the ground by the end of the month, 2 days behind average. Row crops reached maturity in all areas during October with no frost damage. By October 31 about 88 percent of the corn, 82 percent of the cotton and 87 percent of the sorghum had been harvested, all equal to or ahead of the 5-year average. The soybean harvest, at 71 percent complete, was 6 days behind normal. The monthly rainfall averaged 4.42 inches, well above the long-term average of 3.37 inches.

The month of November provided some excellent harvesting weather enabling farmers to reach virtual completion of the row crop harvest by mid-month. Wheat seeding was completed in normal time, with the crop getting off to a good start before winter. November rainfall averaged 2.47 inches, compared with the normal of 3.16 inches. The December precipitation of 2.89 inches was similar to the 2.67 inch 30- year average.

Precipitation for Missouri in 2001 averaged 44.66 inches, compared with 35.76 inches in 2000 and 40.67 inches for the 30-year 1961-90 long-term average. Butler County received the most precipitation at 61.70 inches, followed by Pemiscot, Saint Clair, Platte, New Madrid and Dunklin, all over 55 inches. Ozark County received the least rainfall with 31.38 inches, followed by Saint Francis, Douglas, Washington and Laclede, all under 35 inches.