Issue No. 2, Article 8/April 4, 2008
Rainfall for March ranged from 5 to 10 inches across east-central Illinois, with the amounts increasing from northwest to southeast. More important than the number of inches is the fact that we have been receiving enough rain to keep soils in near-saturated conditions. To date, no spring fieldwork has occurred. Wheat and alfalfa fields are starting to green up.
Widespread precipitation occurred throughout the region on March 31. Present soil moisture and predicted cool temperatures will prevent any immediate fieldwork. Very limited oat and alfalfa seeding have occurred this spring. To date, wheat appears to have survived the winter, but many fields have not reached "100% greenup" by April 1 due to the continued below-average temperatures. Some wheat fields have yet to have nitrogen applied this spring. Several reports indicate that alfalfa north of Route 30 has not broken winter dormancy.
Extension educators throughout the region will be moderating black cutworm moth traps this spring. Moth catch results will be shared in future issues.
Continued heavy rainfall during the past week has added insult to injury in already soggy fields in the south. No fieldwork has been done up to this point, and the 10-day forecast does not predict any opportunities for improvement. Although it is too early to panic, some growers are already questioning whether there will be a greater shift from corn to soybean if delays continue much longer. If fieldwork is delayed until mid-April, there will be temptation to try to "open up" fields with shallow tillage to get the seedbed dried out. With wet subsoil conditions, this will greatly increase the potential for soil compaction and lead to even greater problems later in the summer.
Because of cool growing conditions, wheat appears to be about a week behind what it has been for the past couple of years; it is now at Feeke's Stage 5. Fields with good surface and/or internal drainage appear to be handling the wet conditions well and have good color and growth. Flat, poorly drained fields are beginning to show severe damage in areas where water has ponded. Any wheat planted in river and creek bottoms is pretty much gone.
There were a few fields of oats seeded along with some other forages early last week on the better drained soils, prior to the rains arriving. Some dry fertilizer applications were also made in selected fields for corn or soybean crops.
Wheat continues to improve in color. Most wheat fields look very good.
Grass pastures are not yet showing much growth. Greenup of alfalfa began several weeks ago but has not progressed much.
Producers are waiting--impatiently--for warmer, drier weather.