Drought 'moderate' in Quad Cities area

Originally Posted Online: Sept. 05, 2013, 5:28 pm
Last Updated: Sept. 05, 2013, 7:29 pm
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By Tyler Langan, tlangan@qconline.com

The Quad Cities saw less than an inch of rain in August and farmers are not sure how much more dry weather their stressed crops can take.

Heavy spring rains provided enough moisture to keep the Quad Cities out of a drought, but the U.S. Drought Monitor report issued today said local communities are now in a moderate drought. Unfortunately for farmers, there isn't much hope for rain.

Moline received 0.76 inches of rain in August, 3.76 inches below average, according to the National Weather Service.

The NWS is predicting storms on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but Meteorologist John Haase at the NWS said it isn't certain what those storms will actually produce.

"That's a matter of how wide it is and who gets (the rain)." Mr. Haase said. "That's kind of tricky to predict at this point."

Despite the drought conditions, the Quad Cities area is still 4.97 inches of rainfall above average for the year, according to the Mr. Haase.

Crops in Mercer County began showing signs of stress about six weeks ago, said Michael Zecher, a Mercer County farmer.

"It was pretty obvious that the stress was becoming very prominent in a lot of our fields," Mr. Zecher said. "It's just continued to get progressively worse everyday."

The corn crop may suffer, Mr. Zecher said, but he expects soybeans will take a harder hit. August rain is vital for soybeans because during that period the plants develop pods that carry beans, he said.

"At this point in the ballgame, we've got the pods developed," Mr. Zecher said. "But now we have to get beans inside the pods, and that's what ... is becoming critical."

Tom Mueller, who farms in Rock Island County, said his bean crop is developing, but he's worried it won't produce a good harvest.

"There are some pods on the beans, and you can feel that there's a bean in them, but it will take some moisture so that bean can get some size to it," he said. "I'm afraid the beans we have now will be like BBs instead of full-size beans."

Corn develops kernels in July, and the Quad Cities had high rain levels. The problem, Mr. Mueller said, is the kernels will not develop as much depth and weight without steady rainfall.

According to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, corn futures have fallen $0.11 since trading began on Monday, and soybean futures fell $0.27, despite the local uncertainty. Mr. Mueller said other parts of the country are growing healthier crops.

"The crop looks pretty good in Indiana and Ohio and especially in southern Illinois," he said. "The harvest is starting in the deep south, and yields have been very good down there."



Local events heading

  Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The female sex seems to have gone crazy on the subject of dry goods. When high prices keep them from increasing their wardrobes, they turn to stealing. Yard goods, hats, shoes and other items are being picked up and carried home.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Members of Everts Commandery No. 18, Knights Templar, under Commander H.C. Cleaveland, marched from the Masonic Temple to Trinity Episcopal Church for their annual Easter services.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Nate Hultgren pitched the Augustana College baseball team to a 10-3 victory over Carthage, striking out 11 men and allowing only four hits.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Marvel Leonhardi, a Rock Island High School senior, was the winner of an essay contest on advertising sponsored by The Argus and Advertising Age, a national advertising publication.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Augustana College band drew a crowd of 1,200 people for its annual home concert in Centennial Hall. The size of the crowd was indicative of the fact the band is rapidly approaching the stature of the Augustana Choir.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A benefit to raise money for extracurricular activities in the Rock Island Milan School District will be April 27 at the Quad City Downs harness race track. People buying $17.50 tickets to the second annual "Night at the Quad City Downs" will be entitled to an evening of harness racing and dinner.

(More History)