story about northern rainfall, with some comparison with rainfall elsewhere in the state.
ROCKFORD — Local farmers loved Monday’s rain.
It was the first significant rainfall in a week and a half and brought June up to normal levels.
That was welcome news after a very dry May curled up corn leaves, stunted stalks of alfalfa and worried farmers about their crops.
“Northern Illinois is the one part of Illinois that’s not suffering as bad as parts farther south,” Winnebago County Farm Bureau President Earl Williams said. “Long grasses are starting to turn a little brown but, with the rain we had this weekend, I don’t see any problem, at least in the short term.”
Since May 1, rainfall at Chicago/Rockford International Airport is about 2.8 inches below average, according to the National Weather Service, as reported by the Associated Press on Tuesday. Many parts of the state farther south are 3 to 4 inches below normal, with Urbana more than 6 inches below normal.
“We needed it this week. If we didn’t get rain, we would have gotten worried,” Boone County Farm Bureau President Larry Anderson said. “They’re talking dryer weather next week again. If it stays dry for the next couple of weeks, we’ll be seeing problems.”
It’s not uncommon for one part of the state to get more rain than others, said meteorologist Chris Gitro of the National Weather Service’s Romeoville office. Even in the Rockford area, rainfall varied greatly — the airport got half an inch Monday, but other parts of Winnebago County got a few inches and faced flash floods.
Conditions can also change quickly. Last spring, Northern Illinois faced drought-like conditions but was then hit by a series of storms after Easter, Gitro said.
“It looks like it’s going to be kind of rainy the next couple of days and into portions of the weekend. Hopefully if everything pans out the way it looks now it might put a dent into some of the dryness in the area,” he said. But next week looks hot and dry again, he said.
In the past four weeks, the lack of rain already has robbed Illinois corn of some of its potential, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as reported by the Associated Press.
On May 20, the USDA reported that a healthy 69 percent of the crop was in good or excellent condition. This week the agency said the figure had dropped to 56 percent.
Uncertain forecasts have made crop prices hard to predict.
“I talked to a grain broker and he said, ‘If you need to sell some, sell some and hope you do it on an up day not a down day,” Williams said.
The dry weather has also affected other parts of the areas.
Weekly mowing at the Rockford Park District was canceled the week of June 4 and again this week, said Deputy Director of Maintenance Ron Butler.
“When it gets dry, it’s good to leave the grass longer,” he said.
Mowing is canceled an average of three times a year, he said. The most in a year has been six times.
Of course, the park district started mowing earlier than normal this spring because it rained more than normal in March.
Staff writer Katie Micik contributed to this report.
Staff writer Thomas V. Bona may be contacted at 815-987-1343 or firstname.lastname@example.org.