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2008 Weather in Review

The spring season was very wet and cool. Heavy March rains caused minor flood damage to some pastures and wheat fields and delayed the start of field operations throughout the state. Consistent rains during April kept corn planting well behind normal, while below-normal temperatures delayed pasture growth. Corn planting was 8 percent complete as of April 27, nearly 4 weeks behind normal. Virtually no sorghum or soybeans had been planted. Damp and cool conditions continued into May with the exception of the Bootheel, where drier weather allowed corn, cotton, and sorghum planting to accelerate markedly. Farmers used a few stretches of dry weather to pick up the planting pace during the second half of the month, but heavy rains returned near month’s end to again halt fieldwork. Corn planting and emergence ended the month over 3 weeks behind normal, while soybean planting averaged 2 weeks late. Young corn plants in some areas were struggling in cool field conditions. Alfalfa and other hay cuttings were about 1 week behind normal.

After the wet spring, even heavier rains fell in June. Floodwaters covered thousands of acres along the Mississippi River. Minor flooding was also a problem across northern, west-central, and southwestern areas, where monthly rainfall totals of 8 to 15 inches were common. In contrast, dryness was creeping into the southeastern third of the state. June rainfall averaged 7.05 inches compared with the 30-year average of 4.19 inches. As of June 29, 8 percent of the corn crop had yet to emerge, while soybean planting and emergence were over 3 weeks behind average. Only 26 percent of intended soybean acres were planted in the Southwest district. July turned drier, allowing farmers to complete late soybean planting and catch up on winter wheat harvesting. Temperatures warmed to near normal levels, promoting crop growth. However, corn silking, at 76 percent, and soybean blooming, at 28 percent, were still over 2 weeks behind normal as of July 27. August rainfall was below normal in most areas, but normal to below normal temperatures and adequate subsoil moisture kept row crop conditions stable. By month’s end, the good to excellent rating was 47 percent for corn and 42 percent for soybeans. Rice heading was near the normal pace with nearly the entire crop in good to excellent condition. Cotton boll opening was 1 week behind normal at 16 percent.

The first half of September was dominated by rains from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Heavy rains once again flooded rivers and tributaries in some parts of the state, most prominently in the northeast district. Abundant moisture, cool temperatures, and the effects of late planting significantly slowed the maturation of row crops, limiting the benefits of dry harvesting weather that appeared in late September and into the first half of October. Wet weather returned later in October, keeping harvest and wheat planting well behind normal. Rice harvest finished in early November, with cotton done soon thereafter. Cotton harvest was notable for finishing well ahead of normal. Farmers remained about 1 month behind normal with the corn harvest during November, while soybean and milo harvests were 1 to 2 weeks behind normal. As of November 23, 12 percent of the corn crop, 9 percent of soybeans, and 11 percent of sorghum were still in the field; meanwhile, wheat planting had caught up to the normal pace of 93 percent.

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