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Angie Peltier

Angie Peltier
Former Extension Educator, Commercial Agriculture

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Hill and Furrow

Current topics about crop production in Western Illinois, including field crops research at the NWIARDC in Monmouth.

March 2012 NWIARDC Weather Summary


Soil Temperature

Air Temp

4" (Bare)

4" (Sod)



Monthly average high




Monthly average low




Observed high (date)

57 (30)

62 (30)

45 (30)

Observed low (date)

3 (3)

30 (23)

31 (16,20)

2013 PRECIPITATION (in inches)

Since January 1


Monthly Total

Monthly departure from average

Total accumulation

Total departure
















NWIARDC and regional field conditions

Despite the high winds over the weekend, the most recent snow fall has left many fields at the NWIARDC too wet to begin most spring field operations. However, during my commute this week it appears that at least two producers along Highway 164 have begun spring anhydrous applications. It is amazing the difference a year can make - it appears that the cool night-time soil temperatures and tacky soils have kept those daring folks that planted in early April in 2012 from chancing it this spring.

The United States Department of Agriculture – National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) released their Illinois Weather & Crops bulletin this Monday. In this issue, which summarized planting progress and weather for the week ending March 31st, they stressed that most crop reporting districts, including western Illinois, had few days suitable for field work. This was due to both below normal temperatures and high top and subsoil moisture levels. In western Illinois, 73 percent of the topsoil was estimated to have adequate moisture and 15 percent was estimated to have a surplus. These figures estimate the level of soil moisture required for normal plant development and may be much more than is ideal during planting.

In these USDA-NASS reports, there are tables that show the soil moisture supply of a particular crop reporting district. You may be wondering who supplies this information to the USDA-NASS. These tables are generated from reports that come in from Farm Services Agency employees and others that have follow the USDA-NASS Weather and Crops Survey Reporting Guidelines. These guidelines ask that these professionals use their best judgment to assess the topsoil (top 6 inches) and subsoil (6 inches to 3-4 feet) moisture supply according to the following guidelines:

"Very Short - Soil moisture supplies are significantly less than what is required for normal plant development. Growth has been stopped or nearly so and plants are showing visible signs of moisture stress. Under these conditions, plants will quickly suffer irreparable damage.

Short - Soil dry. Seed germination and/or normal crop growth and development would be curtailed.

Adequate - Soil moist. Seed germination and/or crop growth and development would be normal or unhindered.

Surplus -Soil wet. Fields may be muddy and will generally be unable to absorb additional moisture. Young developing crops may be yellowing from excess moisture."

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