ST. LOUIS – Andy Welle, co-owner of Thies Farm, does not need to look at May’s rainfall totals to know our area is experiencing mild drought conditions.
“It’s been a struggle this year,” Welle said. “It’s been the driest spring as far as I can remember in the 40 years I’ve been working here.”
Data from the most recent United States drought monitor map shows St. Louis, Jefferson, Franklin, St. Charles, and Warren counties all experiencing abnormally dry conditions. In May, there’s been just an inch-and-a-half of measurable rainfall, the second lowest amount in 30 years. In April, rainfall totals were also well below average.
“Over the years, we’ve been purchasing all kinds of irrigation equipment so that when we get into these times, we can keep the waters running,” Welle said.
It’s an expensive process for the farm, which uses diesel-powered pumps to water all of its crops. Welle refilled the pump’s gas tanks several weeks ahead of schedule and he’s preparing for one of his biggest budgets in recent years.
“What I portioned for the gas for watering and everything will be double what I planned for,” he said.
Welle anticipates this year’s crops, like tomatoes and peppers, will survive the dry spring, but it could cost his customers.
“If you’ve sacrificed something, you have to try and make back a little something somewhere else,” Welle said.