An arid spring brought only 4 inches of rain to Missouri in May and June. Normal rainfall is 10 inches, says a University of Missouri climatologist.

We have a 6-inch moisture deficit going into what are normally the hottest and drier months of summer, says Pat Guinan with the MU Extension commercial agriculture program.

In addition to the rain shortage, January-to-June temperatures show the warmest average on record in 118 years. The state continues to set heat records: Third warmest winter, warmest March and warmest spring.

“It’s a unique growing season,” Guinan says. High heat and lack of rain indicate possible prolonged drought.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like 1988,” says Bill Wiebold, MU Extension agronomist.

Guinan says 1988 was one of the three worst droughts of the last century. That includes the mid-1950s and the dust bowl days of the 1930s.