Soil Temperatures in Fall in Illinois

The Illinois Agronomy Handbook recommends that fall N applications should be done when the daily maximum bare soil temperature at 4 inches is below 50 degrees. Fall application is not recommended south of Illinois Highway 16.

The Illinois State Water Survey’s Water and Atmospheric Resource Monitoring (WARM) program has a network of 19 sites around Illinois with daily soil temperature readings at 4 and 8 inches. You can see the reports from “yesterday” on their soil temperature page. Be sure to look at the daily maximum 4-inch bare soil temperature.

As of this writing (November 4), the daily maximum 4-inch bare soil temperature is below 50 degrees in the northwest part of the state. However, it is still in the low to mid 50s across northeastern and much of central Illinois.

Of course, the soil temperature in a particular field can vary due to the temperature, soil moisture, vegetation and tillage, and even soil color.

The figure below shows the average date when the 4-inch soil temperature reached 50 degrees in the fall. In general the average date was in mid-November. However, it can vary from year to year depending on weather and soil conditions.

Average date when soil temperatures at 4 inches reach 50 degrees.Click to enlarge.
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