Report: Drought covers 70 percent of Illinois
A barn is surrounded by corn swept over by strong winds moving through the Midwest Wednesday, near Kenney, Ill.
Associated Press/June 20
SPRINGFIELD — About 70 percent of Illinois is in a drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Friday, and northern Illinois is "extremely dry," prompting the state to activate its Drought Response Task Force for the first time since 2005.
It was warm and dry all spring, Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel said Friday, and the summer looks like it will be more of the same. Botanic gardens are using more water and canoeists are moving to deeper rivers.
"We're used to certain seasons in Illinois, but it's as if our weather is three to four weeks ahead of schedule," Angel said.
National Weather Service data show rainfall deficits in Illinois when compared the first six months of 2012 to the same time period in 2011. Chicago is nearly 3 inches below average, Rockford is nearly 5 inches below average and Pontiac is 6 inches below average.
The parched conditions are affecting farmers.
Kane County corn and soybean farmer Joe White says his crops are definitely suffering, and he says the last time he saw conditions this severe was during the drought of 1988.
"We need rain in the next week or 10 days," said John Hawkins, spokesman for the Illinois Farm Bureau. "Otherwise, we're going to have severe repercussions. If it remains hot and dry, as we have seen, we definitely will have a smaller crop this fall."
Illinois' crops are starting to show signs of stress, University of Illinois Extension educator Dennis Bowman said.
Bowman said corn roots, for example, don't like to grow in dry soil, He also said some plants sent to the university's Plant Clinic are showing signs of nutrient deficiency.
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