Issue No. 1, Article 8/March 21, 2008
Extension center educators, unit educators, and unit assistants in northern, west-central, east-central, and southern Illinois prepare regional reports to provide more localized insight into pest situations and crop conditions in Illinois. The reports will keep you up to date on situations in field and forage crops as they develop throughout the season. The regions have been defined broadly to include the agricultural statistics districts as designated by the Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service, with slight modifications:
- North (Northwest and Northeast districts, plus Stark and Marshall counties)
- West-central (West and West Southwest districts, and Peoria, Woodford, Tazewell, Mason, Menard, and Logan counties from the Central district)
- East-central (East and East Southeast districts [except Marion, Clay, Richland, and Lawrence counties], McLean, DeWitt, and Macon counties from the Central district)
- South (Southwest and Southeast districts, and Marion, Clay, Richland, and Lawrence counties from the East Southeast district)
We hope these reports will provide additional benefits for staying current as the season progresses.
With the warm temperatures on March 14, most of the snow and ice has melted throughout the region, except for field edges. Most of northern Illinois has not experienced enough warm temperatures for wheat green-up for us to see how well fields fared through the winter. Some areas were under ice and snow for 6 or more weeks.
With the current wet field conditions tiles are certainly running, and no seeding of oats has occurred. Warmer, sunny days are needed throughout the area to dry out fields in order for any field work to resume.
Well, it is safe to say that the near-drought conditions of 2007 have ended for the southern third of the state. Rainfall amounts earlier this week ranged from 4 to 12 inches across most of the area, and to say that soils are saturated would be an understatement. Many sloping fields were showing severe erosion problems due to earlier heavy rains that occurred when the soils were still partially frozen, and the added rainfall will only add to the issue.
Wheat came through the winter in good condition and has fully broken dormancy, and half or more of the nitrogen has already been applied. For fields with poor surface drainage, the question is whether they can tread water long enough to survive.
At this point there has been no spring field work, and the likelihood of an early-April start to planting is pretty much nonexistent.
Plentiful rainfall the past day or so has greatly increased soil moisture across the entire region. Very little runoff occurred with the 1 to 2 inches of moisture that fell. Previous rains during the winter fell on frozen or partially frozen soils, which resulted in most of the rain failing to soak in. Although most ponds are bank-full (the first time in 3 years that this has been seen), quite a few ditches can be found in fields where runoff from the partially frozen soils took place.
Wheat is beginning to break dormancy and is showing excellent stands. Much of the nitrogen has been applied, although that task is not completely finished. Some of the soil that washed off during the rain events of the past 4 to 6 weeks partially covered wheat plants.
Alfalfa stands are also breaking winter dormancy. A little green can be seen in most plants. Very little heaving or other winter injury has been noted.