Brutal winter is good for local farmers

By Ashley McNamee

February 6, 2014 Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 11:38 PM CDT

TAZEWELL CO. Ill -- These fields may not look like much to the average person, but they look awfully promising to area farmers, mostly because of the snow.

"Right now we probably have 10 to 12 inches on the ground, that's equivalent to about an inch of rain," said Patrick Kirchhofer with the Peoria County Farm Bureau.

This winter's combination of moisture and bitter cold is good for farmers in three ways.

"One thing, we're re-charging the sub soil with the snow and early season rains we had this winter. We're breaking up the compaction with the hard freezes and we're also breaking up the cycles of some insects," said, Kirchhofer.

While the snow is beneficial for a lot of crops, it's absolutely necessary for winter wheat.

"I plant it in the fall, I harvest it in the summer. If it's too cold it's going to damage it. The snow creates a blanket," said John Ackerman, Tazewell Co. Farmer.

Ackerman says the winter helps his crops, but not his animals.

"It's hard on my livestock. I still have a little bit and we have to bring them fresh water everyday, we have to bed them down and we have to have feed that's not frozen," he said.

Meteorologists say the amount of snow on the ground will keep most of central Illinois out of a drought this year once it melts, but how it melts is key.

"If we get too quick of a melting what will end up happening is that it will run-off into tiles and sewers in cities, but also into rivers and creeks and then we have the potential for flooding," said Chris Miller, National Weather Service Meteorologist.

So while we're all ready for the warm up, farmers hope it comes gradually and without a lot of rain.