Above-average temperatures this winter, plus above-average rainfall this spring could spell trouble for Illinois farmers.
Agronomist Mark Bernards, a professor at Western Illinois University, says warm soil temperatures more quickly increase the transformation of nitrogen from a fertilizer in the fall, to a nitrate susceptible to loss in the spring.
“As you drove around last spring you may have noticed areas where there were yellow patches in the field. Those were areas where typically the nitrogen had been lost because of too much water,” he says. “With the warm weather this winter, if we have a wet spring, there’s a likelihood farmers will lose a lot of nitrogen.”
Bernards also says warm soil means insects that usually die due to soil deep freezes could survive the winter. He says the ones to look out for are aphids, which transmit diseases, plus corn flea and bean leaf beetles, which damage crop leaves.