Most of Missouri in an extended drought, Springfield farmers hope for rain

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Farmers in Springfield say if drought conditions don’t improve soon, we may feel it at grocery stores this summer.

"It's going to get serious here pretty soon - in two weeks or three weeks,” Springfield produce farmer Dan Bigbee said. “It's going to get serious here pretty soon in two weeks or three weeks. We're going to need some rain, and we're going to need quite a bit to catch up. "

Farmers like Bigbee say they need the sky to open up soon or their crops may struggle through the growing season.

"We need some rains that are 1", 1.5", 2" that get into the subsoil and we're going to need those on a fairly regular basis to get back to even," he said.

All of Missouri is experiencing at least abnormally dry conditions. Since September we've had just more than 8 inches of rain. That's about half of what we normally get, and the driest January-to-September spell in 40 years.

"Unfortunately in the Ozarks, we've seen drought before in the winter and summer,” University of Missouri Extension horticulture educator Kelly McGowan said. “Hopefully as we get into spring we'll get a lot of bountiful spring rains and hopefully it'll bring us back to normal levels."

McGowan says the biggest thing to watch out for now are dry conditions leading to brush fires. But it can mean money lost for farmers.

"It can have effect on our livestock industry,” she said. “If farmers have to feed more hay to their cattle, that's certainly an increased expense."

Despite the current conditions, Bigbee is optimistic.

"I don't think it's time to worry,” he said. “I believe rain is on the horizon and it'll come in a timely fashion and do all us farmer's pretty much just what we need."