Summer weather has farmers concerned


This summer has been a tough one for area farmers.

First, May saw so much rain that farmers couldn’t get crops into fields. Then the rains stopped and the extreme heat moved in.

It has certainly led to some concern.

“We are probably at a lot more risk this year than we have been most years,” said Keith Poole, an area farmer and president of the Ogle County Farm Bureau.

Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) Program manager at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey, said that soils in July were warm across Illinois. They were certainly higher than the average temperatures last year.

Atkins said soil moisture levels also fell during July. That is a concern for people like Poole.

He said that because the early rains led to later planting, theoretically a warmer July would have been fine. But there just wasn’t enough rain, he said.

“We really needed some moisture to go with that heat,” said Poole, adding that at his farm there has been very little rain since June.

He said because of the early rains, the roots didn’t have to go very deep for moisture. Once they needed to go deeper for that moisture, there weren’t developed enough to do that.

The state Water Survey supports that, saying there is plenty of moisture deeper in the soil.

Poole said what is important now is that the first frost doesn’t come to early. Because so many crops were planted late, farmers need a longer season.

But even if the season is longer, it is still not looking like it will be a good one.

“We’re going to have reduced yields, no doubt about it,” Poole said.

But it could be worse for Ogle County farmers. Poole said that in some parts of Illinois farmers didn’t get anything planted.

The weather, coupled with trade concerns, has made 2019, “a year for the record books,” Poole said.

While Poole will be keeping an eye to the sky hoping for more rain and a late frost, he said farmers are certainly concerned.

“We are probably at a lot more risk this year than we have been most years,” he said.