Farmers could begin returning to the field soon, if they haven’t already, after a stormy start to the month that caused widespread harvest delays.
The outlook the rest of the month leans toward below normal precipitation and near to above-normal temperatures across Illinois.
“Things look to dry out over the weekend and into (this) week after a halt to what otherwise had been a pretty quick start to harvest,” said Trent Ford, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey.
Corn harvest surpassed the halfway point at 55% complete statewide as of Oct. 11, 9 points ahead of the average pace, while 43% of soybeans were in the bin as of that date, two points behind average.
Recent harvest delays were the result of a stormy pattern the past two weeks, which included some severe weather Oct. 11 and 13.
“We had a pretty strong system move through pretty much the entire state (Oct. 11), at least the northern two-thirds,” Ford said. “Initial tallies from the Storm Prediction Center showed six tornado reports.”
Tornadoes were reported near Jacksonville, between Peoria and Bloomington and near LaSalle Oct. 11. The storm also produced strong wind gusts — including 63 mph at Peru — small hail and widespread rain.
“Pretty much every county north of I-70 had at least one observation of over three-quarters of an inch, with some isolated 2.5 to 3-inch totals,” Ford said. “On the back side (of the recent storm systems) came some cooler weather, following what had been a very warm start to October.”
Statewide, the temperature averaged a sultry 68.8 degrees the first full week of October, 12.2 degrees above normal.
The return of more seasonable temperatures doesn’t necessarily indicate the first fall freeze any time soon, though.
“We’re reaching the climatological point, but the outlook isn’t real bullish on the likelihood of a freeze any time, at least in the next couple weeks,” Ford said. “Lows could dip to the high-30s or low-40s, so we likely will see some patchy frost.”
Meanwhile, fall colors could begin popping after a slight delay to that process caused by the weather conditions.
The change in coloring is the result of chemical processes in trees as the season changes. In fall, a decrease in intensity and duration of sunlight and cooler temperatures cause leaves to stop the food making process.
The Illinois fall color report from the Department of Natural Resources noted some maples are starting to show their red/orange colors, walnuts are beginning to yellow and some white oaks are beginning to brown in the northern half of the state.
But, it could be another week or so before oak colors begin to peak.
In drought areas, particularly northern Illinois, the colors may not be as brilliant this season, Ford added.