DWIGHT -- Central Illinois farmers on Thursday had their eye on some warm weather in the forecast, hoping to make up for lost time after a cold stretch and heavy rains left some fields underwater.
Matt Boucher, a Dwight farmer, said some of his fields had excessive ponding and nearby creeks were full and flowing fast after Wednesday's dual storms dropped 1.85 inches of rain in the area. Staying underwater too long can damage young corn and soybean crops, leading some farmers to decide to replant the seed.
"It's nothing too severe right now as long as it doesn't keep raining," Boucher said Thursday.
But more rain is in the forecast tonight into Saturday for Central Illinois, the National Weather Service said. That would cap a cool, damp stretch, including Thursday's high in the 50s -- well below the mid-70s average.
"This morning was kind of a shocker," Dave Steward, who farms in western DeWitt County, said of Thursday's cold start. At this rate, "we wouldn't need rain till the later half of June," he said.
The NWS forecast calls for above-average temperatures to hit the high 80s Sunday and Monday.
"A warm-up will help real good," Steward said.
The cool weather actually helped soften the blow for any ponding from Wednesday's rains, said Kevin Black, insect and plant disease technical manager at Growmark, the Bloomington-based agricultural cooperative.
In warmer weather, biological reactions in the soil that help power young crops increase, consuming more oxygen. Ponding deprives oxygen, but the need for it in the soil has been lessened because it's been so cold.
Separately, intense rain can cause some crusting of the soil surface, which makes it harder for newly planted corn or beans to emerge. About 71 percent of Central Illinois' corn and 10 percent of its soybeans had emerged as of Sunday, the government reported earlier this week.
"A little bit (of ponding) is not gonna hurt as much as it would have," Black said.
Dennis Wentworth, a Downs-based farmer, said he already had to replant some corn more than a week ago after it was drowned out in April's heavy rains. On Thursday, Wentworth said some of his fields were ponding anew, with the hardest-hit areas southeast of LeRoy where rain was heaviest.
Wentworth said the forecast indicates farmers have "turned the corner" on cool temperatures, but he'll have to wait and see how some of his crop fared after draining takes care of the ponding.
"We just have to see what this looks like a few days from now," he said.