Area farmers were saved from the brink of a long drought with rain this past weekend after northeast Illinois had seen rainfalls 20 to 40% below normal.
The weeks-long spate of fields left dry had been a worry for the local agricultural community until about two inches of rain fell Saturday night, May 8 with more precipitation expected early next week.
Eric Thorson, a farmer in Plano, said most local farmers were “in the same boat” with drought conditions before the weekend.
“If we wouldn’t have caught that we would had to keep praying for rain,” Thorson remarked. “We haven’t really experienced a spring like this that I can remember in quite a long time.”
The drought had been largely contained to northeast Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Northern parts of Kendall County and most of Kane County even saw rain levels up to 50% below normal, the worst in the state. Yet most of Illinois stood either at normal or slightly above average precipitation levels.
But the lack of rain did have some benefits this planting season. The amount of corn planted in the ground jumped 20% in the second week of May, per the USDA, with soybeans increasing 16%. Both figures are well above historical averages.
That allowed most farmers to get their planting in well ahead of schedule.
“The last few years we’ve had really really wet springs so this is really an anomaly,” said Victoria Wax, manager of the Kendall-Grundy Farm Bureau. “From a farmers standpoint that is a good thing. That means our guys have been able to get in super early and get a lot done very quickly.”
Some obstacles do remain this season, however. Low temperatures at night run the risk of putting a layer of frost on fields, but for now that concern is still minimal.
“Just as long as we can keep getting some rain and get some heat and keep getting a few showers here and there we should be okay,” Thorson said. “If things dry and we don’t get any rain we’re going to be right back in the same position that we were in.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle