Area Drought Creates New Problems For Fall Harvest

By Benjamin Cox on September 19, 2023 at 10:10am

Major portions of West Central Illinois remain under moderate drought as we move to the fall harvest.

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford says that moderate drought brings big concerns to farmers because of low levels on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The low river levels will impact barge traffic, and cause problems for the grain market.

Ford says the drought also brings other concerns for farmers: “It’s not just we get a bunch of rain here in Champaign or there in Springfield and then we are good to go. We need a lot of rain over a large area of the Midwest. The problem is that we’ve been dry for so long now that the soil has dried out quite deep. When we do get a rain, that soil, generally speaking, is going to soak it in first before it pushes a bunch to run off into a pond or into streams. The other impact that we need to be thinking about right now is as we do get harvest going, there is going to be a lot of hot machinery running through some very, very dry fields. That always increases the risk of fire.”

Several larger field fires have been called out across Morgan, Scott, and Cass counties just this past week. The U.S. Drought monitor also lists most of Pike, Brown, Adams, Menard, Schuyler, and northwestern Sangamon under moderate drought.

Scattered thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon in the region, but new rainfall amounts are only expected to be between a tenth to a quarter of an inch. More precipitation isn’t predicted to hit the region until possibly Friday.