Page 44 2020 Logan County Farm Outlook LINCOLN DAILY NEWS March 19, 2020 After last year, weather fear is a real and serious thing for farmers. The equipment was all prepared, the seed bought and delivered, but the weather last year prevented planting, and the date got later and later and later. Some farmers had to choose Prevent planting. Some sign of normal weather and stable climate this year would be a welcome and comforting thing for farmers and citizens alike. NWS Meteorologist and Hydrologist Chris Miller says 2020 will not be a repeat of 2019! This year coming out of winter soil moisture is still in that 90th percentile. The ground is moist and even muddy in areas, and water can be found less than a foot under the surface in many areas. Soil moisture amounts across the whole U.S. look above normal: sump pumps are running and farm tiles are flowing and water is moving off into streams and creeks. Central Illinois had a very mild winter with above normal temperatures, and we are currently having above average temperatures. It is forecasted that we are still going to get our share of rainfall here in 2020. Current precipitation is about 1.2 times the average, but the pattern of precipitation and storms has shifted to the south this year, and the heavy rainfall and storm pattern has moved into Kentucky and Tennessee. The difference this year is that warm temperatures and significant wind is also doing its work to dry off the fields. This is not the same pattern as 2019. Soil frost never penetrated deep into the soil this past winter, and so moisture is able to soak in and permeate to greater depths earlier than usual. Since we had such a mild winter and little freezing of the soil, it is thought that this might be a significant year for insects which normally would get killed by advancing frost. It continues to be the recommendation for Logan County farmers to invest in tiling fields. The drawbacks: More water is being channeled to creeks and streams coming up faster, causing heavier flooding along streams and rivers in low lying areas; and soil moisture during fall droughts is lower in tiled fields. But these conditions are preferable to the ponding effects that cause replanting and crop loss. So, Miller recapped, saying the heavy rains that were headed directly at us in 2019 have shifted to the south, and we should have more near normal rainfall. Warmer temperatures and winds will dry fields this year, and unless Mother Nature sends us a last minute curve ball, conditions look favorable for a much better planting season and crop year in this 2020 season.