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Worsening Drought Leaves Farmers Worried About Crop Yields Come Harvest
Missouri Ag Connection - 06/05/2023

As the 2023 season continues, dry weather persists across the Midwest, causing farmers some concerns over whether they’ll have a crop come harvest.


In Nebraska, Hannah Borg, a sixth generation farmer in Dixon County, Nebraska, says that her family’s operation did get some good rain this past spring, allowing their first cut of hay to be about normal this year.

The recent lack of precipitation, however, has left their operation without any reserve moisture. “Because we’re so behind in rain we have no subsoil moisture,” Borg says, and “no reserves that the roots can tap down into. We’re kind of in a situation where things go downhill real quick if we don’t get any rain.”

According to this week’s drought monitor map, nearly 11% of the land in Nebraska is now in D4 exceptional drought conditions compared to no acreage experiencing that level of drought last week. D3 extreme drought conditions have also increased slightly from just over 7% to over 9%. D2 severe drought conditions are holding steady across the state at nearly 40%. With drought conditions increasing, less of the state is in a D1 moderate drought at 24% compared to last week’s over 46%. Abnormally dry conditions, though, are spread across 15% of the state's acres, leaving less than 1% of the land drought free.

Because their farm grows dryland corn and soybeans, Borg says they have to pray for rain for the crops to grow. “Everyone needs rain,” Borg says, “we’re not unique. It’s not like anyone controls the rain.”

Borg shares that the tone of her community softens when they do get rain. “Farming is a profession of faith,” she says.

Editor's note: Shortly after speaking with Hannah Borg for this article, her family's farm received some much-needed rain for their crops.

Across the state, topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies are predominately short according to the May 28 Crop Progress Condition report for Nebraska. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 22% very short, 35% short, 39% adequate and just 4% surplus. As for subsoil moisture supplies, Nebraska currently has no surplus moisture. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 31% very short, 44% short and 25% adequate.


In Missouri, drought conditions have worsened, not only from last week, but also from last year at this time. Dr. Tony Lupo, interim state climatologist for Missouri, says that there was a severe drought in the state last year, and normal precipitation this winter, “wasn’t very helpful, so it left us with very little reserves.”

Lupo says that the dry spring has continued to make drought conditions across the state even worse. “We haven’t seen anything like this in 30 years,” Lupo states. “Normally you wouldn’t expect the year after a substantial drought to happen again.”

Missouri’s latest drought monitor map shows nearly 7% of the state’s acreage is in D3 extreme drought. Over 16% of the state is in D2 severe drought, 26% is in D1 moderate drought, and 30% is abnormally dry. Only 20% of the state is drought free. Last year at this time, 100% of Missouri’s acres were drought free.

When it comes to the state’s crops, Lupo says he’s heard that plant growth has slowed because of the dry weather. “There was just enough precipitation in May to get things going,” Lupo mentions. The rain that Missouri received in May, however, Lupo says only affected the shallow ground.

In the past two weeks, though, Lupo says a few areas have received some much-needed precipitation. “It’s been very hit or miss, though,” Lupo says. “Only about 10% of Missouri has been affected by the rain.”


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