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Missouri Drought Crisis: Pasture Stands and Yields Suffer
Missouri Ag Connection - 06/08/2023

Missouri is facing a severe drought crisis with thin pastures and low yields reported across the state. The lack of rainfall in May, the wettest month historically, has worsened the situation. The US Drought Monitor shows extreme D3 drought intensity in central Missouri and pockets of northeastern Missouri, with a significant portion of the state experiencing moderate to severe drought (D2).

The USDA's Crop Progress and Condition Report reveals that only 24% of forage crops are in good to excellent condition, while 35% of pastures are in poor to very poor condition. Moreover, 61% of the state is experiencing short to very short supplies of hay.

To address the forage shortage, farmers are advised to reduce stocking rates by culling herds and seek emergency supplemental feed. When rainfall returns, planting emergency forages like sorghum x Sudangrass or pearl millet into existing pastures can be considered.

Long-term solutions include converting fields to native warm-season grasses and novel-endophyte fescue. Farmers may explore planting summer annuals in designated strips within cool-season pastures. It is important to monitor and manage the effectiveness of these methods over time.

For more information and resources, farmers can contact their regional extension agronomist or livestock specialist or visit MU Extension's website at

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