Wet Weather Challenges the 2008 Growing Season, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release July 29, 2008
Wet Weather Challenges the 2008 Growing Season
Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220, jimangel@illinois.edu
Lisa Sheppard - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540, sheppard@uiuc.edu

Champaign, Ill. - Although recent Illinois weather conditions have been ideal for crops, many areas have been affected by late planting and significant flooding across the state, according to State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey.

The statewide average precipitation for the first 28 days of July was 5.4 inches, almost 2 inch above normal.

"We are already on track for the wettest January-July since precipitation records began in 1895," Angel said.

An active winter storm season continued into a soggy spring, causing significant planting delays across the state, particularly in southern and central Illinois. Once fields were planted, continued precipitation flooded low spots, requiring replanting in some areas.

"With more rain in late June and July, low-lying areas were flooded again. Some fields that were planted and later replanted still may not make it."

Temperatures have been near-normal since June 1 with an absence of stressful hot weather, a boon for corn and soybeans. Growing degree-days have been near-normal for this same period, ranging from 1209 in far northern Illinois to 1495 in southern Illinois.

Near-surface soil moisture was above normal statewide in mid-July, according to the latest soil moisture summary provided by the Illinois State Water Survey. This reserve should help if drier weather occurs in August.

Looking ahead to the remainder of the growing season, the National Weather Service predicts warmer-than-normal temperatures for the next two weeks. Precipitation is expected to be near-normal. The three-month August-October forecast is neutral, calling for equal chances of above, below, and normal temperature and precipitation.

Illinois historical records indicate that following a wet July, August is most likely to have near-normal precipitation, which ranges from 4.4 inches on average in northern Illinois to 3.2 inches in southern Illinois, Angel said.

Producers are worried about the potential impacts of wet field conditions this fall, considering the present above-average soil moisture. Another concern is that the late planting and development of crops have left them vulnerable to an early fall frost.

"However, it's nearly impossible to predict frost occurrence more than a few days in advance," Angel said.

The Illinois State Water Survey, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, is the primary agency in Illinois concerned with water and atmospheric resources.

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