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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

University of Missouri says that it will take two years to recover from drought.

Randall Miles of the University of Missouri created a stir with a news release that said it will take 2 years to recover from the drought of 2012. I follow what he is saying to a certain extent.  I am not sure exactly what point he is trying to make.  I will concede that the US Drought Monitor generally shows drier conditions in Missouri than in Illinois, so that may support Dr. Miles premise. It is natural to be concerned about dry growing conditions, but Darrel Good pointed out last week that records seem to indicate that one extremely dry year rarely follows another.  In Illinois, our soil moisture conditions are improving to the point that crop production in 2013 will depend more on rainfall received during the growing season than on subsoil moisture at the present.  Also keep in mind that every rain no matter how small tends to infiltrate into the soil at this time of year.  We have virtually no evapotranspiration taking place until around April 1.  We still have  a lot of time and rain chances to recharge the soil.  I am not sure why he says we need 16 inches more than normal to add 16 inches of water to the soil.  It would seem to me that we need 16 inches of water to add 16 inches of water.  That is assuming no runoff, and we will have some runoff, but it will be minimal until the soil is saturated.

Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist posted this information about the outlook for the coming growing year. Angel also pointed out that January rainfall is above average despite a  lack of snow. Here is Angel's latest drought update as well.        
Dad always said it takes two years to dry out after a wet year.  My own unscientific observations have led me to believe there is some truth in that statement.  It might also stand to reason then, that it could take two years to fully recover from a drought.     

I tend to agree that it might take two years to get the moisture to flow in the soil as a continuum.  Just because the subsoil moisture is not connected to the groundwater does not mean we can't have a good crop.  At this point the drought is affecting river flows and wells more than crop potential in Illinois.  Yes we could use more water, but I think we also  have the potential to have a very good crop year.  

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