A wet year so far Downstate

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June 3, 2013 at 9:16 am

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This banner seems to have become a permanent fixture at Weather.com (for the Knox County forecast)

Flooding again?? It has been a wet year so far out in Western Illinois! It has been raining for several days now with a period last week on Tuesday where Knox County received 3 inches in 1 ½ hours! This is on top of the deluge we had a few weeks before that. Most of the rivers and creeks are up over their banks. This includes the Illinois which recently flooded Peoria and the Spoon River which has not given the towns along its banks a break. London Mills has been extremely hard hit and received visits from Governor Pat Quinn and Representative Sherri Bustos earlier this year.  Last week FEMA arrived in Knox County to assess the damage.

London Mills

London Mills, Illinois Flooding

Elaine Stone – Fulton County Farm Bureau

Go figure, last year at this time I was worried about how I was going to water the ¾ acre of tomatoes, peppers, and other plants that I had put in. The water table was so low that I had trouble pumping enough water just for our house let alone water a garden and, with a 400 gallon tank I picked up, I had to haul water from a nearby town’s water tower. This year I can’t go out into the garden or work with our chickens and hogs without sinking a foot into the mud.

This year’s overabundance of rain is a far cry from last year’s under abundance but both have had an adverse effect on what people are trying to grow. What I am hearing from many gardeners in Central Illinois is that their cucumbers, squash, and beans are not germinating. Many downstate gardeners planted in early to take advantage of the warm temperatures that prevailed at that time. Cooler than normal temperatures for the past several weeks though, as well as the very wet conditions have made it a tough year for beans and cucurbits such as melons, cucumbers and squash. If the soil temperature is not high enough, above 60 F with 65-75 degrees F being ideal, this combines with the excessive moisture to cause mold and rot to form in the seeds. The 4 inch soil temperature here in Knox County was listed as 62.2 on May 28th. Although this is in the range for germination of cucurbits and beans, the moisture level is still very high and the germination has suffered.

Cuke Seedlings

Cucumber Seedlings

Vegetable-garden-blog.com

The tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other crops that have been planted already do not seem to be as affected by the wet conditions but that could change. The damp conditions could help spread diseases especially fungal diseases. Early blight and verticillium in heirlooms, that are not resistant to these diseases, could be a problem in a wet year.

tomato-trouble

Early Blight in tomatoes

Aside from the rain, the cooler temperatures this spring have not affected fruits this year. Last year a very early warm up with a late frost and hard freeze killed off a lot of apples, cherries, and peaches across the Upper Midwest. This year, at least from what I can see in our area, the fruit trees are bearing a healthy crop.

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Flooding in Court Creek Valley, Dahinda, Illinois 05/28/2013                 Fog due to cooler temperatures in Court Creek Valley

 

Most of Illinois’ corn crop was planted in the first weeks of May. In our area, some of the corn that was planted earlier is under water. The planting of much of the soybean crop and the rest of the corn crop has been put on hold for now. Mowing and baling hay, which requires dry conditions, has also been held up and the continued growth in the hay fields may degrade the first cutting of this year’s hay.

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Very wet corn fields in Knox and Peoria Counties, Illinois May 2013

What effect the flooding will have on what is going on with CSAs and what we will see in upcoming farmers markets is still to be seen. There is more rain in the forecast in Central Illinois for the upcoming week. Hopefully at some point we can dry out down here and get the season moving along soon!

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