A wet spring is creating erosion problems for some farmers across Missouri. According to Newell Kitchen, the damage could have serious impacts on crops later this year.
Just how wet is the state? Precipitation during the week of June 18 averaged 1.78 inches statewide, wich is not alarming. However, areas like Clay County reported 3.61 inches of precipitation. But a significant rain event June 16 dropped as much as 9 inches on acres in Springfield and 7 inches to farm fields near Hardin.
All of this rain is wreaking havoc on land that suffered drought conditions last year.
"Even the untrained eye of citizens who don't think about agriculture on a day-by-day basis can see the erosion on side slopes," Newell Kitchen, adjunct associate professor of soil science at MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, said in a recent news release. "From the freeway between Kansas City and St. Louis, it doesn't take much to see the scars of erosion that has taken place with the heavy water accumulation."
Kitchen, who is also a soil scientist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service, says rain has washed away quite a bit of sediment from fields, and there is very little crop in some of those areas.
Soil washed on to other crops in some places
However, some areas rains washed large amounts of soil into nearby planted crops. Kitchen said that the soil is covering some of those plants. He fears they may see a loss of stand in these areas.
Still some areas of the state were still waiting for planting, while others faced replanting. The rains delayed corn planting throughout the Midwest. Farmers had a narrow window of opportunity to plant. With late planting, Kitchen worries about pollination problems.
"A big portion of the corn crop has been planted at just about the same time," he explained. "So if we were to hit a dry period at the same time that corn is pollinating, it could be catastrophic."
The other option will be for farmers to plant soybeans, which still has a fairly wide window for planting. And for those double cropping soybeans, the good news is that the wheat crop has kept erosion down and preserved moisture, so conditions could be favorable for double-crop beans.
Source: University of Missouri Extension