Drought Expands in Illinois

The US Drought Monitor released their latest report this morning. It showed that drought has continued to expand in Illinois. The two areas to note are: 1) an expanded area of D2 “severe drought” in central Illinois, and 2) an expanded area of D0 “abnormally dry” into southern Illinois.

These changes are based on the lack of precipitation over the last 90 days, as well as reports of impacts on corn, soybeans, and pasture conditions. Several streams and rivers in central Illinois are beginning to have flows in the bottom 25th percentile (see USGS). The map of 90-day precipitation, expressed as a percent of average, is shown below. Much of the state experienced only 25 to 75 percent of average precipitation during this period.

Any precipitation at this point will have very limited benefit to the corn and soybean crops because most fields are nearing maturity. However, precipitation would benefit pastures as well as begin the recovery process for soil moisture that is key to the upcoming winter wheat crop and next year’s growing season. The next chance for precipitation in Illinois is on Saturday and Sunday as a cold front moves through the state.