Rainfall numbers looking up

Although farmers say it isn’t enough to help battle the drought.
Sunday, August 14, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:41 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Business was slow at mid-Missouri farmers markets Saturday, but vendors didn’t seem to mind.

It was raining — and more rain could be on the way.

Fred Thoenen, of Frankenstein, was selling vegetables at the Columbia Farmers’ Market. He called the rain a blessing.

“We had probably an inch of rain in May and about 3 inches in June, and that’s about it,” Thoenen said.

Vendor Carol Nabelek, of Columbia, said fewer people than usual were shopping at the Columbia Farmers’ Market Saturday and that the rain probably kept them away. Victoria Day, volunteer coordinator for Sustainable Farms and Communities Inc., also noticed fewer customers than usual.

“I’m kind of surprised, because as dry at it’s been, you’d think people would be out dancing in the rain,” Day said.

Between Friday night and Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported about 1 to 2 inches of rainfall in mid-Missouri. Hermann received the most, about 3 inches, and the MU campus got about 1.5 inches.

Karl Sieczyski, public information officer with the weather service, said a “frontal boundary” draped across Missouri would probably bring more rain through today.

“It’s a focal point for storms,” he said. “It’s likely we’ll get another round tonight and Sunday.”

Mid-Missouri is 3.68 inches below normal rainfall for the year, Sieczyski said. Showers Friday night and Saturday, while welcome, didn’t add up to much in the midst of a drought that has ravaged the state in the past months.

Jerome Grethen, a herdsman for Sho-Me Farms, said he and other ranchers are feeding their cattle stored hay and grain because the pastures are so dry.

“It’s going to take more than one rain to end this,” Grethen said. “It’s a pretty severe drought.”

At the Boone County Farmers Market, Kenneth Derendinger said the rain is too little, too late for summer crops. But it will help the fall harvest of pumpkins, lettuce, spinach and turnips.

“It helps the soybeans some, but the corn is done,” Derendinger said.

Beneath a tent set up at the Columbia Farmers Market, Phil Stewart helped customers pick out the best of the squash, tomatoes and melons he had for sale. Stewart said the lack of rain this summer has forced him to use about twice as much water for irrigation. As a result, he said he doesn’t need the rain.

“We take what we get, though,” he said.

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