No drought relief in sight
Dry conditions are expected to get worse in the coming days, and it will take a whole lot more than scattered thunderstorms to break the drought.
“We’re way, way, way below normal in rainfall,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Fred Glass said. “Most of the area is in severe drought conditions, it’s going to quite a bit of rain to make that up, probably in many areas 8-12 inches, and in some areas in excess of 12 inches.”
Monday is forecasted to be the 20th day in a row the mercury will top 90. That has the region closing in on the all-time record of 28 days above 90 degrees, which was set in 1936.
At best, Glass said the region is expected to have only scattered rainfall in the foreseeable future, and that’s ratcheting up the level of angst for farmers and ranchers in Missouri and Illinois.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is set to tour drought stricken farmland Monday and announce his plan for helping growers.
Conditions have been especially hard on farmers in the southern part of the state, which as a whole ranks second in the nation in corn production. To further compound the problem, the mercury started to climb right as corn was entering a critical period of pollination, and without rain, some farmers have completely given up on this year’s crop.
In Missouri, which ranks second in the nation in cow-calf operations, the drought has burned through pasture land.
University of Missouri Extension agronomist Richard Hoorman says many producers have been forced to feed cattle hay stocks they had originally set aside to get through the winter.
“We’re going to need some good moisture otherwise this will be a problem that extends into next year,” Hoorman said.
Many ranchers, he said, are thinning their herds, looking to cut their losses while they can.