While not as challenging as other years, the 2022 growing season has had its fair share of impactful weather. A cool and gloomy April that ran into a hot and dry May. Extreme rainfall in pockets of the state and severe drought in others. During this ILSoyAdvisor webinar, Dr. Trent Ford, Illinois State Climatologist, will discuss what’s happened so far this year and how he sees the rest of the season and harvest shaping up. He’ll also discuss longer-term trends in our climate and the implications for agriculture in Illinois.

Download Ford’s PowerPoint Presentation.

  • Season so far – Temperatures
    • Very warm and dry May & June, followed by near normal July & August
      • Not much extreme heat since July
    • Nighttime temperatures were in low- to mid-70s in late June/early July
  • Season so far – Precipitation
    • Some areas had very dry conditions through June and July
      • Most concerning area was near Champaign
      • June was 20th overall driest month on record
    • Turned the dial from dry in May/June to wet and persistent conditions in July/August
  • Drought in central Illinois
    • Top 4-8 inches of soil somewhat to very dry across I-74 corridor
    • “Moderate” to “severe” drought in western and east central IL
    • Champaign had just 0.88 inches in June, but 6+ inches of evaporation
  • Extreme rainfall elsewhere
    • 6-8 inches in 6 hours in St. Louis Metro East
    • 6+ inches in 6 hours in Lake County
    • 12-14 inches in July in Edwards Richland Counties
    • 9-12 inches of rain in 24 hours in Effingham Olney area
      • Second wettest July on record in Olney
  • Heat & growing degree days
    • Most of IL were in 50 to 150 GDD ahead of normal
    • Still at normal for GDD
      • Shifted some of the critical reproductive growth phases
  • Poorly Time Warm Nights
    • Lower overall humidity than last summer
    • Poorly timed heat in early July, very high nighttime temperatures
    • Delayed planting shifted critical growth stages to align with heat, adding to drought stress in some areas
  • Less humidity & lower disease pressure…for some
    • Much higher-than-normal humidity in southern IL this summer and lower humidity in central & northern IL
  • Looking ahead – Next 2 weeks
    • Mostly less than 1 inch over the next 7 days, very dry in southern IL again
    • 8-14-day temperature outlook is near normal
      • Not currently seeing, but we don’t want to see high disease pressure and high temperatures that would knock down the crop
    • 8-14-day precipitation outlook shows southern IL could be a little wetter, with northern IL shifting to drier wetter
  • Looking ahead- Early fall
    • Forecasting of a third consecutive La Nina cold season
      • Meaning a drier-than-normal fall outlook, wetter winter
  • Longer-term trends: Longer growing season
    • Latest 30-year average growing season is 10 to 25 days longer than 1971 2000
    • Projected growing season length increases by another 8 to 12 days by 2050
    • Impacts
      • Lessens issues from delayed planting, emergence, etc. (e.g., 2019, 2022)
        • Higher chance of a later fall freeze
      • Increased weed pressure
  • Longer-term trends: Warmer soils
    • Fall soil temps have increased over the last 30 years, much more than spring
    • Impacts
      • Extension of warm soils in the fall reduces window of opportunity for fall fertilizer application (e.g., 2021)
    • Lack of spring soil warming has not facilitated earlier planting
  • Longer-term trends: More humidity + warmer nights
    • Impacts
      • Welcoming environment for insect and weed pests, and fungal disease (e.g., 2021)
      • Risk of extreme heat/demand stress on crops during silking, reproduction, grain fill
      • Higher risk of health impacts to outdoor workers
  • Longer-term trends: Poorly timed droughts
    • More summer rainfall variability + higher temps = more hot dry spells
    • Impacts
      • Crop stress from high evaporative demand & depleted soil moisture
      • Drought stress made worse by poor soil health & water holding capacity
  • Longer-term trends: Wetter springs
    • Models expect springs like 2019 to become much more frequent in the future… 1 in 10 years by 2050
    • Impacts
      • Spring fieldwork delays due to excessively wet soils, despite an expanded growing season (e.g., 2019, 2022)
  • Longer-term trends: Intense summer rainfall
    • Heavy rainfall is becoming more frequent, especially in spring and summer
    • Getting a lot of rain in a short period of time isn’t beneficial to have
    • Impacts
      • Crop inundation and standing water (e.g., 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)
      • Soil erosion
      • Nutrient runoff
      • Soil compaction, delayed planting/harvest
  • Longer-term trends: Soil erosion
    • New estimates suggest 30%-50% of A-horizon has been lost in the Midwest since 1800s
    • Estimated annual crop losses related to soil erosion range from $10,000 to $40,000 per farm in Illinois
    • Soil health degrades with erosion, economic losses difficult to quantify
  • Brass Tacks
    • Climate change is neither entirely destructive nor trivial to Midwest Ag… it’s far more complicated
    • Makes important decisions even more important
      • Pest/weed/disease management
      • Fertilizer application and timing
      • Crop and grazing rotation
      • Soil conservation practices (e.g., no/conservation tillage, cover crops)
      • Planting and harvesting
      • Marketing strategies
    • Management and practice decisions need to account for weather extremes and a changing environment, just like accounting for any other challenge…“is this decision making my operation more or less vulnerable and profitable in the face of extreme weather and climate?”
  • Climate resilient agriculture
    • Sustainable management practices that achieve long-term productivity and profitability
      • Reduced, conservation, or no till practices
      • Expanded use of winter cover crops
      • Integrating livestock grazing
      • Incorporating small grains/forage into extended rotations
      • Expanding bioenergy crops and agroforestry
      • Increased use to edge of field nutrient loss reduction

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