This summer’s devastating drought and heat wave actually benefited some of Missouri’s native birds, in particular the bobwhite quail.
Bobwhite quail build their nests on the ground, and the hot and dry weather from both this summer and last provided better conditions for incubation. Max Alleger is a wildlife ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). He says the bobwhite quail population took a big hit in 2008 due to record-setting rainfall, as it was hard for them to keep their eggs warm on wet ground.
Missouri’s overall drought picture remains dry, although there is some slight improvement in portions of the Show-Me State.
The latest map shows the drought still covering the entire state, and most of it in the severe category – although three pockets of land where drought conditions are only moderate have grown slightly larger over the past two weeks. Those pockets are located in northeast, east-central and southwest Missouri. Mark Svoboda is a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
With far less than half of their normal corn yield, the Ulrich brothers are relying in part on government-subsidized crop insurance to keep their farm afloat.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR
Kansas farmer Luke Ulrich pilots his combine through the last eight rows of this year's ragged crop, which produced far less than half the normal yield.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR
The dairy Eric Neill and his wife operate in Freeman, Mo., nearly went under this summer, crushed by high feed prices from drought-scarce grains. The farm was saved by restorative rains brought by Hurricane Isaac.
After one of the driest summers on record, recent rains have helped in some parts of the country. But overall, the drought has still intensified. The latest tracking classifies more than a fifth of the contiguous United States in "extreme or exceptional" drought, the worst ratings.
In some parts of the Lower Midwest, water-starved crops have collapsed, but the farmers have not. Farmers across the country are surviving, and many are even thriving. This year, despite the dismal season, farmers stand to make exceptionally good money, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Updated 1:45 p.m.Lock 27 reopened this morning at 3:30 a.m. after being closed for 5 days. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, it may take up to 72 hours to push through the 63 vessels and 455 barges, some from as far as New Orleans, that backed up during the closure. The Corps estimated that the closure cost nearly $3 million per day . Lock 27 underwent major rehab in the past few years and was damaged due to low water levels.