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2004 Weather in Review

Fieldwork began early in the southeastern counties and was gathering momentum throughout the State by the second week of April. Tillage and planting activities progressed rapidly, although a few days of rain late in the month caused some delays. By the end of April, tillage for spring crops was several days ahead of normal and 84 percent of the corn was planted, about 2 weeks ahead of average. Cotton planting was delayed by wet weather in the Bootheel. The wheat crop and pastures were in fair to good condition. Average precipitation for April was 3.58 inches, compared with the 30-year average of 3.80 inches.

Row crop planting proceeded rapidly in early May with progress jumping well ahead of normal until about mid-month when a few days of wet weather delayed fieldwork. Good moisture conditions helped the new plantings get off to a good start. Fieldwork was again interrupted during the last week of May when heavy rains fell over the northern two-thirds of the State, accompanied by high winds, hail and flooding in many localized areas. Farmers were about 2 weeks ahead of normal in the completion of planting of corn and rice prior to the heavy rains. By the end of the month planting was slightly ahead of average for soybeans at 60 percent complete, sorghum, at 70 percent, and cotton, at 96 percent. State rainfall for May averaged 5.84 inches, compared with the 30-year average of 4.68 inches.

Farmers completed row crop planting before the end of June except for some late double-crop soybeans following wheat. The wheat harvest was active in the Bootheel by the second week of June and reached 80 percent complete for the State by the end of the month, 3 days ahead of normal. The good moisture supply and moderate temperatures were favorable for growth of crops and pastures. About 44 percent of the corn was silked by the end of June, a week ahead of average, and soybeans had begun blooming, a few days earlier than normal. All of the first crop of alfalfa hay and nearly half of the second crop were cut during June, slightly ahead of average, while cutting of other hay was 75 percent complete, similar to normal. June rainfall averaged 3.77 inches, compared with the normal of 4.29 inches.

The frequent rainfall and generally cool temperatures of July were beneficial to continued growth and development of crops. Sixty-six percent of the corn reached the dough stage or beyond by the end of the month, 5 days ahead of average, while soybeans were 70 percent blooming and 38 percent podding, also a few days earlier than normal. However, the cool weather slowed cotton development to 77 percent setting bolls, 5 days days behind average. July rainfall ranged from 4.47 inches in the north-central district to 6.64 inches in the central and southwest districts. The State averaged 5.57 inches, well above the 3.76 inch 30-year average.

August weather was a continuation of frequent, substantial rainfall and below-normal temperatures which contributed to excellent development of corn ears and soybean pods, while slowing the maturing process to about the normal pace. By month's end, about 87 percent of the corn was dented and 44 percent was mature. Soybeans had virtually completed podding and 16 percent were turning color by August 31. Cotton development was slowed by low temperatures more than other crops, reaching 18 percent with bolls opening, more than a week behind average. The cool, wet weather kept pastures in prime condition and enabled additional cuttings of hay. Rainfall for August averaged 5.42 inches, compared with the long-term normal of 3.73 inches.

Dry weather in early September allowed harvesting to begin for corn, sorghum and rice in the earliest areas. With only minor interruptions from rain during the month, farmers made major progress in harvesting of most crops, although high moisture content in corn and some shortages of storage caused some delay. By September's end, about 59 percent of the corn, 19 percent of the soybeans, 42 percent of the sorghum, 66 percent of the rice and 13 percent of the cotton were harvested, all close to the 5-year average except cotton, which was 10 days behind normal. Pasture condition was in mostly fair to good condition except across the southern third of the State where moisture shortages began to limit growth. Rainfall during September averaged 1.24 inches, well below the normal of 4.22 inches.

October weather continued favorable for harvesting until the rains of October 7 and 8 stopped progress. Following that time, sunny weather alternated with intermittent rain and general damp conditions, permitting only about 3 days or less of harvesting weather per week for the rest of the month. With the resulting interruptions, harvesting progress by the end of October advanced to only 85 percent complete for corn, 11 days behind average, and 62 percent for soybeans, 9 days behind average. Harvesting of sorghum, at 70 percent complete and cotton, at 57 percent by October 31, suffered the largest delays, both over 2 weeks behind normal. The wet weather also put seeding of winter wheat about 2 weeks behind average, at 48 percent complete. October rainfall averaged 5.32 inches, sharply above the 30-year average of 3.37 inches.

Harvesting progress was hampered by intermittent damp weather during most of November and the first half of December, with less than half of that period suitable for fieldwork. At the end of November, soybean harvesting was virtually complete, while 2 percent of the corn and 5 percent of the cotton remained to be harvested. Many farmers were still harvesting in the third week of December or later but most reached completion without major losses. November rainfall averaged 5.31 inches, up sharply from the 3.16 inch average. December averaged 1.30 inches, compared with 2.67 inches for the 30-year average.

Precipitation for Missouri in 2004 averaged 45.43 inches, well above both the 40.68 inch average of 2003 and the 30-year 1971-2000 average of 40.67. All counties received at least 35 inches of precipitation except for Atchison, at 30.19 inches, Holt, 31.74 inches, and Texas, 34.65 inches. In comparison, there were 22 counties in that category in 2003, with 9 averaging less than 30 inches. Twenty counties received 50 inches or more, compared with 6 counties in 2003. Montgomery County received the highest rainfall, at 59.80 inches, followed in order by Henry, Lawrence, Shannon, Pemiscot, Maries and Jackson, all over 53 inches.

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