Published on: 13:54PM May 22, 2009
The 2008 tropical storm season came and went with Galveston taking a direct hit from Hurricane Ike last September. As insurance companies can attest, inland destruction from flooding can be more costly and deadly than the wind damage from the hurricane itself. For agriculture, the effects of these tropical events can be delayed 7-8 months as has been the case in Illinois and Indiana in April and May of this year.
Record breaking precipitation from the remnants of Lowell (Pacific Storm), Ike, and Gustav inundated Chicago, Peoria, and Springfield, Illinois last September. Follow those three storms with heavy winter snowfall and normal to above spring rains and you end up with a May 19th corn crop sitting at 20% planted… nearly 72% behind normal for this time of year. Peoria recorded an annual surplus of over 24.5 inches since last May, Springfield 25 inches and Chicago 26.1 inches. Throw in a colder winter with 32 inches of snow, transition into a cooler and more persistently wet spring, and you have all the ingredients for the mess many farmers currently find themselves in.
Peoria reported 11 rain free days in a row from March 11th to March 21st, but morning low temperatures started out at 18F and 14F. The water sat in the fields as ice and snow. Since then, nearly 15 inches of rain fell and the longest dry stretch was 5 days. One 4-day warm spell with temperatures in the 80s occurred at the end of April, but it rained 3 of the 4 days. The last batch of precipitation moved through on the 15th and 16th of May and warm, dry weather should persist through Saturday, the 23rd of May and perhaps Sunday the 24th -- and probably to everyone’s amazement, it won’t rain. Unfortunately, next week we leave off where we started in 2008.The 2009 tropical season is now upon us and we may see the first sub-tropical storm of the season bring moisture back into the corn belt after Memorial Day.