Drought 'moderate' in Quad Cities area

Originally Posted Online: Sept. 05, 2013, 5:28 pm
Last Updated: Sept. 05, 2013, 7:29 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
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, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)