Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat continues to wilt southeast Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Stifling hot conditions will continue across the Midwest, making life hard on farmers.

Michael Aide chairs Southeast Missouri State University’s Agriculture Department. He says that hot nights are taking a toll on corn.

"The night times are so warm that we’re losing the photosynthesis we make out during the day," Aide said.

Aide has noticed slower growth in rice and corn. But grain sorghum is thriving.

The wet spring - combined with this summer’s prolonged heat - is a double-whammy for farmers. Many farmers were late to get their crops in the ground, and now the plants are not as developed as they should be.

"Whenever the soils are very wet, when the plants are emerging and beginning to grow, they won’t put down deep roots," Aide said. "They’ll say shallow-rooted. Because of that, we’re paying the price now. The roots systems aren’t as deep as they ought to be and therefore they’re not looking for the deepoer water that might be underneath that root system."

Meteorologist Chris Noles at the National Weather Service says the spring’s floods are partially to blame for the so-called "heat dome’s" misery. Moist soils exacerbate the heat index by keeping humidity high.

"We have a lot of evapotranspiration going on, unlike last year when we were facing more drought-like conditions," Noles said. "This year’s its greener and we’re having more of this evapotranspiration going on. That’s bringing the humidity up."

Hot conditions and heat index readings north of 100 will continue through Sunday. Noles says that Sunday and Monday may cool down a bit … but only in relative terms.

"We have a frontal system that’s forecast to come in to the area Monday morning, and ahead of it during the day Sunday and again Monday we’ll have more clouds and a chance of showers and thunderstorms. That should bring the temperature down a few degrees."

The National Weather Service continues to run its Excessive Heat Warning through Saturday.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


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