First Water, Then Sand and Now Drought Fears Plague Farmers

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MOUND CITY, Mo. - Next week will mark one year since the flooding of the Missouri River started in northwest Missouri. Now farmers have a new concern: Could this be the summer of drought?

In October, the flood waters receded, and in late winter, farmers realized they had a new force to deal with, as several feet of sand now sits on top of their soil - sand that will probably never go away.

"If you're moving sand, it's a lot heavier, and so it's more costly," said agronomy expert Wayne Flanary. "It's best just to leave it alone. Don't put any more money into it."

Flanary's seen the effects this newly-formed desert has on farmers, who once had some of the best farmland in the region.

"All at once their valuable ag land is worth very little," Flanary explained.

Now when the sand blows across barren land, it just kills the other crops nearby.

"It just sandblasts or it just tears the tissue of the crops that are downwind from it," Flanary said.

It's unlike anything farmer Morris Heitman's ever seen.

"The sand and the damage, no, we didn't have this sort of thing in '93," he explained.

The summer of 2011 was tough on him.

"The farm in Corning was all flooded, we lost all of our crops there last year," Heitman said.

Now, he fears the summer of 2012 could be even worse.

"We've got a good start on something that could be significant," he said.

Flannary and Heitman are both worried about the possibility of a drought.

"We're setting ourselves up for dry weather," Flanary explained.

Flanary says leaves are starting to curl on corn plants, which is a sign they're deprived of water.  It could mean a sign of another hard summer and difficult year for farmers here.

"If we don't get a rain soon, we're really impacting our crop yields," Flanary explained.  "It's gonna put some people in financial problems."

Heitman doesn't want the drought, but he refers to farm folklore to put a silver lining on the situation.

"There's an old saying that says farmers always worry about dry weather, but the floods are the ones that put them out of business," he explained.

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