Extreme swings in weather impacting farms

By WEEK Producer

August 21, 2013 Updated Aug 21, 2013 at 6:58 PM CDT

MORTON, Ill. -- The ground in the corn maze at Ackerman Farms in Morton is almost bone dry.

That's a big change from this spring when excess rains delayed planting.

Farmers like John Ackerman wish they could have banked some of that rain for times like this.

"We had about three-tenths of an inch of rain a week ago and the week before that maybe two-tenths. A half-inch of rain doesn't amount to much over four weeks," said Ackerman.

He also worries that if his fields don't get more rain soon it will affect his yields and cost him money.

"Corn can really make its yields if you have a wet July. Soybeans often need that wet August to make yields. If you don't get that rain in late summer your yields can just fall apart," explained Ackerman.

Especially now that prices have dropped.

"Since last spring prices have declined for both corn and soybeans and its on the free market system," said Patrick Kirchhofer, manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau. "(It's) supply and demand."

Farmers would prefer longer stretches of normal weather cycles. But according to the weather experts these wild swings of hot and cold, and wet and dry we've been experiencing are going to continue for a while.

"The thinking is that these wide weather extremes that we've been having may be the new normal as opposed to just having average summers and average falls and average springs," said Chuck Collins, chief meteorologist for WEEK and WHOI.

On the farm those long-range forecasts are food for thought.