Crawford County crops have benefitted from recent hot weather, but what the corn and soybeans really need is a nice drink.
August has been a dry month; only .65 inch has fallen here since Aug. 1. Last year, when the county was still suffering from drought, most of the month's 2.92 inches of rain had already fallen by this date. About 5.94 inches fell here in July.
"There are places that could use a shower for the crops," Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist John Pearse said. "There's still some ground moisture, but we haven't had a nice, mild rain for a while."
The recent run of daytime high temperatures in the upper 70s to mid-80s have been helpful, but overall, this summer's weather has not helped corn and beans mature the way they ought, Pearse added.
Crops around the county are in various stages of development thanks to the rain-prolonged planting season. That has farmers wondering how long harvest will drag out. It could take months to get all the crops in.
The longer harvest takes, the greater the odds that some crops won't be harvested. Also, it could mean that farmers who had intended to plant winter wheat after reaping their other crops won't have time.
On the plus side, however, the recent dry weather has allowed farmers to cut and bail hay.
Crawford County is not the only dry part of the state. Soil moisture continued to decline across Illinois with levels at 2 inches 27 percent lower on Aug. 15 than those from July 15, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring Program Manager at the Prairie Research Institute, Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.
Soil moisture in the state averaged 0.17 water fraction by volume (wfv) at depths of 2 inches on Aug. 15, which is significantly lower than the historical average of 0.25 wfv. Levels dropped throughout the state with central Illinois having the lowest numbers, averaging 0.14 wfv or just at the wilting point for most soils measured.
Levels also declined at the deeper depths with a statewide average of 0.23 wfv at 20 inches, a 37 percent decline from July 15.
Soil temperatures have declined slightly over the past month. Temperatures at depths of 4 inches measured under bare soil averaged 77.4 degrees statewide, 5 degrees less than on July 15. Declines were also seen at measurements made under sod with averages of 75.8 degrees and 74.6 degrees at depths of 4 and 8 inches, respectively.
The Illinois State Water Survey's WARM Program collects hourly and daily weather and soil information at 19 stations across the state. Daily and monthly summaries can be found at the WARM website (www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/) and in the Illinois Water and Climate Summary (www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/climate.asp).
Maps of soil temperatures and moisture levels can also be found at the WARM website (www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/soiltemp.asp).