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Dry soils still a problem in some areas of Illinois
By TIM ALEXANDER
Illinois Correspondent

According to AgriVisor Services analyst Dale Durchholz, the steady creep north and east of dry soils from the Southern Plains has some in the farming industry nervous about the success of this year’s corn and soybean crops.

In addition, a report by the Illinois Ag Statistics Service reveals some areas of the state have not had much precipitation over the last few weeks, causing measurable topsoil moisture to decline to 8 percent “very short,” 34 percent “short,” 56 percent “adequate,” and 2 percent “surplus.” Only the northwest and east-southeast districts of the state received above-normal rainfall during most of June, according to the report.

In central Illinois, where some fields are still reeling from last year’s drought conditions, subsoil moisture is lacking.

“Indications suggest that subsoil moisture is on the dry side for this time of year, maybe 10 to 20 percent below normal,” said Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey, Department of Natural Resources.

“It is still better than a year ago when amounts of 40 to 60 percent below normal were common throughout central and northern Illinois. While central Illinois has missed out on a lot of rains in the past 30 days, compared to northern and central Illinois, we had a wetter spring this year, which helps.”

Durchholz said that over much of the Corn Belt, with the exception of Indiana and Ohio, the accumulated rainfall during much of June was 25 to 75 percent of normal.

The difference between this year and last year, Durchholz said, is the moisture supplies at the beginning of the growing season. Last year, most of the Corn Belt came in with a “full tank,” but the 2006 season began with moisture supplies that were a little to a lot below both last year’s and normal measurements.

An University of Illinois ag economist said that farmers shouldn’t worry too much, yet.

“The current weather pattern and short-term forecasts are not ideal, but generally support prospects for at least trend yields in 2006,” said Darrel Good.

Ag Services reported last week that corn is growing rapidly statewide, as the average height jumped 14 inches to 44 inches tall, compared to 43 inches last year and 39 inches for the five-year average.

Nearly all of the single-crop soybeans have emerged, while wheat harvested stands at 65 percent, compared to 64 percent last year and 57 percent for the five-year average.

This farm news was published in the July 5, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

7/5/2006