Crop conditions in Illinois continued to decline last week despite brief relief provided by rain showers June 16 and 17.
Many areas in a wide swath of Illinois, from Peoria to Champaign up to Kankakee, received about an inch of rain while isolated areas in Northern Illinois reportedly received as much as 3 to 4 inches.
“Some areas got a much-needed boost,” said Josh Darr, meteorologist with Chesapeake Weather Services. “It bought about a week to 10 days’ insurance” for crop development.
Unfortunately, rainfall was not widespread enough to improve crop conditions in the entire state. And no substantial rainfall fell to ease abnormally dry and drought conditions in Southern Illinois.
And the forecast for the first part of summer, which officially began last week (June 20), is not promising.
“It looks like we’ll continue to see stressful conditions for corn and soybeans the next 30 days,” said Darr, who will be a featured speaker July 25 at the Illinois Farm Bureau Commodity Conference at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.
“There’s no rain in the foreseeable future and (the dryness) could be accompanied by heat and windy conditions that would dry down the topsoil even more.”
Topsoil conditions after the rain event last week were rated 24 percent very short, 46 percent short, 29 percent adequate, and just 1 percent surplus.
The portion of the crops rated good to excellent from May 27 to June 18 declined from 66 percent to 52 percent for corn and from 60 percent to 47 percent for beans.
Meanwhile, the portion of the crops rated poor or very poor increased from 6 percent to 13 percent for corn and from 6 percent to 14 percent for beans.
“The crops are showing the effects of the lack of rainfall and high temperatures,” IFB President Philip Nelson told the RFD Radio Network. “Some of the cornfields look like pineapple groves and some of the beans have gone dormant.”
The situation is starting to give some farmers flashbacks to other drought years such as 1988, 1991, and 2005.
The epicenter of the drought in the Corn Belt so far this season is Fort Wayne, Ind., according to Darr. He said that area so far this season has received less rainfall than it had at the same point in 1988.
“We don’t want a repeat of ’88 and ’91,” said Bob Nielson, Purdue University Extension corn specialist. “It’s not a disaster yet. We still have opportunities to recover (if the Corn Belt receives timely rainfall).”
Darr agreed that rainfall events in coming weeks will be critical.
“More so than other years, timely rain events in July will determine corn yields (as the crop enters pollination) and potentially bean yields,” he said.
Crop Conditions Report