McLean County farmers hope for more rain

MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) – Dry weather in the Twin Cities may soon begin to affect the growing season for local farmers.

The USDA lists most of McLean County as abnormally dry based on the amount of precipitation the area has received.

Rodney Weinzierl, executive director of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, said this is a critical stage for corn crops right now. Weinzierl said about last week that pollination has started for corn crops and is playing a major role in determining yields for the harvest season.

On average, Weinzierl said farmers hope to see three to four inches of rain per month in the summer.

“We could use rain over the next week or two, or we could start to experience some top-end yield loss,” Weinzierl said.

Weinzierl said it’s currently too early to predict what corn crop yields will be, but expects it to be in fairly good condition.

“I would say right now the corn crop is probably still an average to above average crop, but the next few weeks will really determine that. An inch or two of rain over the next two weeks will likely do 80-85% of the crop,” Weinzierl said.

Arin Rader, owner of Rader Farms, grows corn, soybeans, pumpkins and sunflowers at home. He said that right now, below-average June rainfall that continued into July is hampering the growth of his soybean crops.

“It took longer without rain to cover the rows, so we get more sunlight down to the ground, which dries out the soil faster,” Rader said.

Pumpkin crops on the farm are also taking longer than usual to “cover up” due to the rain, according to Rader. Rader said insects also become a problem during drought because they look for other places to cool off if the grass dries out.

“Insects move into the fields and start eating the leaves and all that does is reduce your leaf area where you get your photosynthesis,” Rader said.

According to the USDA, this time last year McLean County was listed as having no abnormal drought.

Their next weekly report comes out on Thursday.

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