By TIM ALEXANDER
URBANA, Ill. — Drought-like conditions increased in parts of Illinois and the eastern Corn Belt with crop emergence issues noted in some areas. With little to no precipitation forecast through at least June 11 across Illinois, speculation is spreading about how the weather will affect crop condition and value.
“Forecasts for the next seven days show continued drier weather with only a few chances of rainfall, and near to above normal temperatures,” said Illinois State Meteorologist Trent Ford on Friday, June 2. “Without significant rain in the next week, conditions will likely worsen, and more drought impacts may occur.”
In his weekly weather summary, Ford said the U.S. Drought Monitor had expanded to include the Chicagoland area, much of central Illinois, and areas along the Missouri border from Quincy to St. Louis in “moderate” drought status. In addition, the northern two-thirds of the state was characterized as abnormally dry. Farmers had indicated some visible stress in soybeans in central Illinois and emergence issues in corn in western Illinois, according to Ford.
The state climatologist noted that the combination of above normal temperatures and dry conditions have caused quick soil moisture declines in some areas. As of May 30, Illinois’ topsoil moisture supply was rated 14 percent very short and 28 percent short, while subsoil moisture was estimated at six percent very short and 31 percent short, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey, who helps author the drought monitor, said there is deepening drought not only in Illinois, but especially in the western Corn Belt. “The drier areas west of the Mississippi include Nebraska and western Iowa; those areas have been dry much longer,” Rippey told AgWeb.com. “You see a dry signal in those areas going back up to a year or more.”
East of the Mississippi, farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, are seeing a short-term dry signal, according to Rippey. “We still have plenty of subsoil moisture. If we get the crops emerged and established, those roots should be able to reach down into that subsoil moisture. But for the time being, it’s extremely dry on the surface. Just a few weeks of dryness has depleted that upper level of soil moisture, which makes it tough to get the crop evenly emerged and established,” he said. “If we can just get a little bit of rain in the next few weeks that should help the crops, and then get the crops into that deeper soil moisture.”
Russ Higgins, University of Illinois Extension commercial ag educator, said northeastern Illinois, and particularly Grundy County, is turning dry even as weeds flourish. “Despite dry conditions weed growth and diversity of species has been impressive in some fields, including robust vining weeds including burcucumber and morning glory,” Higgins reported in the June 2 University of Illinois CROP CENTRAL Weekly Crop Report.
In Ogle County, Extension commercial ag educator Kathryn Seebruck said pop up rainstorms in the area had been brief and insignificant, contributing to emergence issues. “With only one minor rain event having occurred the previous week, coupled with higher temperatures throughout this past week, soils are drying quickly. Some fields planted since the last rain event are experiencing uneven emergence due to the lack of moisture,” Seebruck said.
According to a May 30 USDA report, 34 percent of U.S. corn acres were in drought, including 15 percent of all Illinois corn acres. The Illinois State Climatologist is urging farmers to report local drought conditions to authorities so relief can be targeted to specific areas of greater need.
“As we move into drought in some parts of the state, it is extremely important for folks to report the conditions and impacts in their areas, regardless of if you are or are not experiencing drought impacts,” Ford said. “Please consider filling out a drought condition and impact report using the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Condition Monitoring Observer Report system. These reports are used by the State Climatologist Office and National Weather Service to monitor drought conditions and ensure resources are directed to the places in the state that are experiencing impacts.”
Local drought conditions and effects can also be reported by email to the Illinois State Climatologist Office, email@example.com.