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Despite Drought, Western IL Farmers may be OK this Spring


Even though it's sometimes referred to as “this summer’s drought," Western Illinois is still in drought conditions.

The most recent USDA Drought Monitor Map lists the region as being in moderate drought.

Angie Peltier with the University of Illinois Extension office in Monmouth said that even so, the soil has enough moisture for at least the beginning of the growing season, and that may be enough.

"Because the corn plants uses such a relatively small amount of water until the first weak in June," Peltier said, "we have a lot longer period of time to get that rain we do need."

She said that is true for most of the soil in the Western Crop Reporting District which includes: Knox, Warren, Henderson,  Hancock, McDonough, Fulton, Adams, Schuyler, and Brown Counties

Peltier said the most recent NOAA  forecast says the first three months of this year should see more precipitation than average.

She said that should help recharge the subsoil.  Peltier explains the moisture the soil does have is in the first eight inches, called the topsoil.  Below that, the subsoil, is still depleted by the drought.  That is the portion that needs to be recharged to get farmers through the entire growing season.

Peltier thinks in the short-term farmers have more to fear from too little water in the Mississippi River preventing their grain from getting to market, rather than from too little water in their fields.

Scott Stuntz is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.