Good News on Soil Moisture

The Illinois Weather and Crops report was released today by the USDA. As of March 24, the statewide topsoil moisture looked great with 81 percent “adequate” and 11 percent “surplus”. There was some lingering dryness across central Illinois. However, that was before Sunday’s storm that dropped a lot of snow whose water content ranged from 0.5 to 1.5 inches in that region.

Subsoil soil moisture was a little more pessimistic. Statewide numbers included 11 percent “very short”, 26 percent “short”, 58 percent “adequate”, and only 5 percent “surplus”. Some of the lowest numbers were in the northern and western part of the state. Subsoil moisture is not critical in the spring but provides a useful reserve, or cushion, during periods of dry weather in the summer.

The Illinois Weather and Crops is coming off it’s typical winter schedule of once per month to it’s growing season schedule of once a week. The reports can be found here. You can get the reports automatically by subscribing here.

Table from the USDA report, click to enlarge. 

table1

Guidelines on soil moisture (USDA)

Topsoil is defined as the top six inches. Subsoil is defined as the area from six inches below the surface to a depth of three to four feet.

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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