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Too wet ... now too dry?

PRINCETON — The hot and dry weather conditions this summer haven’t been too hard on Bureau County crops so far, but it would be nice to give them a good drink of water, according to Ag View FS staff agronomist Ben Johnson.

Johnson said Bureau County is sitting in a good place compared to other parts of the Midwest with local farmers able to get their crops in the field in a more timely fashion than in other areas. Though Bureau County was wet with its spring rains, that early moisture is what has carried the crops through to this point. But, it would be nice to get a good rain shower before long, he said.

Bureau County did get some rain on Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, but that rain totaled only about 0.07 inch, according to records kept at the Princeton Water Treatment Plant. The crops could still use another bigger drink of water, Johnson said Wednesday morning.

Looking at local field conditions, Johnson said he has flown over the county to check on the crops, and there are cornfields where some of the plants have rolled leaves, which is something the plant does when it tries to conserve moisture. It’s a reaction to drier conditions than the plant wants, he said.

Though there are varying conditions from field to field, there does not seem to be a widespread problem with a lack of moisture around Bureau County. Johnson said he’s seen more extreme conditions in parts of neighboring Whiteside and Lee counties. In the drier areas with sandy soil, those farmers would typically use irrigation.

There is also the concern that root systems won’t go down deep if spring planting conditions are wet, like it was last spring, but the roots will go after the water they need, he said.

Overall, corn conditions appear to be slightly behind what they are in a “normal” year. However, defining “normal” can be hard to do. Johnson said he’s been a staff agronomist for 10 years, and he’s not experienced a “normal” year yet.

As far as the local soybean crop, there are areas of Bureau County in which the crop got in the field in a timely fashion, but other areas in which the planting was late. Things looked rough for a while for soybeans, but things are starting to do better now. August is more the month to tell the story on soybeans, he said.

The Japanese beetle is also a concern, since they are being found in the area — though the numbers are not heavy yet, Johnson said, adding there’s still time for that to happen.

Statewide, crop development continued to take off last week in most parts of the state, according to Monday’s Illinois Weather Crops report issued by the Department of Agriculture. Weather conditions have stressed some crops, and farmers will need rain in the days ahead, except in the southern portion of the state that has received ample rainfall. Temperatures across Illinois averaged 80.7 degrees last week, which is 3.9 degrees above normal.

As of Monday’s report, corn conditions in Illinois were rated as 1 percent very poor, 7 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 46 percent good and 19 percent excellent. Soybeans conditions were rated as 2 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 59 percent good and 13 percent excellent.

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