Local farmers hoping for rain as dry spell threatens crops

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PECATONICA, Ill. (WTVO)- Drought conditions across the Stateline are causing headaches for local farmers.

“It’s already obvious we’re not going to get a record crop this year,” said Richard Beuth. “Being this hot and this dry in May and early June is very unusual.”

Beuth harvests corn and soybeans on his Pecatonica farm, both of which ideally need an inch of rain per week to grow properly.

“For us, we’ve only had .6 of an inch in the past 32 days,” Beuth said. “All the corn should be over our knees right now. And a lot of it is still only 18 inches, 12 to 18 inches tall.”

The lack of precipitation is also threatening the corn crop yield for Steve Fricke, president of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau.

“I have some corn fields right now that we’re really concerned about that we planted at the end of April and some of the seed still hasn’t sprouted because there hasn’t been enough moisture to get them started and we’re concerned whether they’re ever going to make it,” Fricke said.

Fricke’s plant that have started to shoot up are having to battle against the elements.

“It’s curling up and trying to expose less of the leaves to the heat and the sun,” he said.

Despite the tough go so far this season, both farmers believe there’s still time for a turnaround. They’re closely monitoring the weather in hopes the dry spell will end.

“When these scattered storms are going through, I’m checking my phone almost every hour,” Beuth said. “Farmers are constantly checking the weather. First thing I do when I wake up in the morning is look at what the weather forecast is.”

“If we got some rain in timely fashion right now, we could still probably have a fair to average crop,” Fricke said.

The latest drought monitor shows much of Winnebago and Stephenson Counties is experiencing moderate drought conditions, while drought conditions are severe in Boone County.

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