The weather is nice for swimming or camping, but for agriculture, it’s been too dry in much of Illinois. Parts of Southern and Central Illinois are experiencing moderate to severe drought, according the U.S. Drought Monitor, a composite from several federal agencies.
That spells trouble for the crops, says Steve Hilberg, a climatologist at the Illinois State Water Survey. He says the unusually dry winter is carrying over into the summer, and the rainfall has been below average for the past few months.
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“This is the time of year when we typically get four to five inches of rain a month, and that’s what we need to keep the crops growing and that hasn’t happened,” Hilberg says.
He says the forecast for rain doesn’t look promising either, and if the trend doesn’t change soon, it will significantly affect yields.
“Nothing long term. We’re not looking at a couple days of rain anywhere right now,” Hilberg says. “At this time of year it’s very easy to go a week or 10 days without any rain. It’s not looking like we’re going to experience much of a change at this point.”
He says if the weather gets warmer in addition to being dry, it will be a double whammy for farmers. “If it gets hot on top being dry, that will be the one-two punch that will really bring the quality and condition of the crops down,” Hilberg says.