HARVARD, Ill. (WTVO) — With the worst dry spell hitting northern Illinois since 2013, the lack of rain has been tough on regional farms.
Cody Book and his family have run Book Cattle & Grain, at 22905 Bunker Hill Road, for more than 100 years.
He and other farmers across the region have been working through drought conditions for most of 2023’s growing season.
“I try not to do things on the field when it’s extremely hot. Spraying for weeds when it’s really hot, in the nineties, it can be really hard on the crops. Just because they’re tolerant to it doesn’t mean they’re not metabolizing it,” he said. “That takes energy, and you don’t want to take away any energy that they don’t have to give.”
The Stateline area only recorded two inches of rain in the month of May, when it usually receives double that amount.
In addition to the crops, Book said his livestock are affected by the dry conditions as well.
“Pasture grass isn’t growing. So, those animals get a lot of moisture from the grass. A lot of them have a water source, whether it be a creek or a pond. Those are starting to dry up some. And in doing so, now you’ve got to provide extra water for them,” Book said.
Book said he experiences drought conditions such as these about every seven years. In the past, he’s employed different strategies to cope. “
“[You can] select your hybrids differently. Different corn is more tolerant to drought than others. You can change your tillage practices. You might go, instead of working a field up and giving up some of that moisture, you might try to not till some farms that are more drought stressed type soils that are sandy or lighter ground,” he said.
Book says if the area doesn’t receive some heavy rainfall by June 10th, farms could be in critical condition.