That made Bob Flider’s first year as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture a miserable one, if you only consider rainfall.
“Everyone was so optimistic – a great spring, everybody got into the fields early,” says Flider. “The combination of the heat and the lack of moisture had a tremendous impact of the yields that we saw. We’re still dealing with some of the impacts of the drought … we did have some aflatoxin in the corn.”
Flider credits the creation of a drought taskforce helping Illinois through crisis providing information and trying to free up federal resources.
“We learned a lot last year and we're going to try to be as prepared as we can to deal with it," says Flider. "I think the key is you can't prepare for something that you don't know is going to happen, but what you know you can do is you stay close to, in our case, the farmers and the ag groups."
The drought was the nation’s worst since 1988. Flider says indications are for 2013 to be a normal year for rain.
“The forecasts are that it's going to be an average year," says Flider. "If it's going to be an average year it's going to be a far cry better than last year."
So far in 2013, Jacksonville has picked up just over 4.5 inches of precipitation. That’s nearly two inches above normal.
Jersey, Calhoun, Pike and southwestern Greene, are counties listed locally as “abnormally dry” by the U. S. Drought Monitor in West Central Illinois. The rest of West Central Illinois is not classified to be in any type of drought.