“Our pastures were totally brown. Now we’re seeing a little green cast to it,” said Allen Entwistle, a farmer from Riverton and president of the Sangamon County Farm Bureau. “I hope (pasture conditions) continue to improve. We’ve been feeding a lot of hay (to cattle) lately.”
Thunderstorms Thursday dropped between 1 and 2-plus inches of rain across two large bands in the state -- one along the Interstate 74 corridor in East-Central Illinois and the other between Interstates 70 and 64 in the south- central portion of the state. Some of the storms produced crop-flattening winds.
Rainfall Thursday totaled 2.71 inches in Vandalia, 2.66 inches in Farmer City, 2 inches in Paxton, and 1.93 inches in Bloomington, Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey, reported.
“We received 1.82 inches in Champaign,” Angel said. “That is the largest one-day total of 2012.”
Meanwhile, temperatures last week around the state were about 4 degrees below average, which was a welcome relief from the scorching heat that dominated the weather pattern in much of June and July and into August.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but I’d hesitate to call it any type of recovery,” said Angel, who noted many areas of the state last week received little or no rain.
“We’ll likely see some improvement in topsoil moisture,” he continued. “But the deeper layers are still very dry at this point. We’ve got a long way to go for stream flows and groundwater to recover” from the worst drought since 1988.
Some farmers started or continued to harvest corn last week. Overall, 1 percent of the corn crop was in the bin as of the first of last week.
“Some of the corn is drier than I thought it would be (with moisture readings between 15 and 16 percent),” Entwistle said. “Yield averages are all over the board, with lows of 10 to 20 bushels and highs around 110 to 120 bushels.”
Last week’s rain will do little to help the corn crop (90 percent of the crop was in the dough stage compared to the average of 67 percent) but Entwistle believes a milder, wetter stretch of weather could improve bean yields.
“I think it will help the soybean crop,” he said. “We were aborting pods with all the heat, but with the cooler temperatures and rain we’ll at least get some pod filling.”
Ken Reinhardt, a FarmWeek Cropwatcher
from Mercer County, also believes soybean potential improved in recent weeks.
“Soybeans have responded to the moisture and lower temperatures the past couple weeks,” he said, “Pods have developed from nodes that appeared to be all but done for.”
Unfortunately, the recent shift in the weather pattern may not last. The seasonal outlook for September last week predicted an increased chance of above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation in Illinois, Angel reported.