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Project Tornado: Weather, Climate and Farming

Changes to our weather and climate can cause issues for our farmers
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:59 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - “Weather is so intrical in part of our farming operation”

We are dependent on our farmers, and they are dependent on mother nature. Local farmer Brian Wieland has a simple playbook for a successful planting and growing season.

“Every farmer would dream of having a reasonably dry spring to get the crop planted in warm, sunny weather and get the crops off and going, and then rain throughout the summer.”

But Mother Nature doesn’t always follow this plan. In addition to some difficult growing seasons in the last few years, we’ve seen some climate trends that could create issues for farmers.

Every ten years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases new climatological averages looking back at the previous 30 years. Our current averages were released last year and include data from 1990-2020.

Compared to the previous averages, springs in Peoria had the biggest increase in precipitation, seeing a more than 5% jump in rainfall. Wetter springs could cause issues for when farmers plant their crops.

Manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau, Patrick Kirchhofer, says this will make the dry days even more important.

“It’s going to make the timing and the efficiency that more critical because farmers are going to have to get their crops planted in the smaller window of opportunity that they have. If that window is narrowing, that just means it’s more critical for the farmer to have his equipment ready to go”

Summers in Peoria are now slightly drier. While the difference in precipitation isn’t as big as the spring, farmers need rain to fall during the summer months to ensure that their crops continue to grow.

“Farmers are always leery about drought and dry weather, especially in July and August.”

If local, national and global trends continue, this could have a large impact on global food production. A 2021 study suggests a warming climate could cut corn and soybean yields by as much as 5% by the end of the century.

However, both Wieland and Kirchhofer are skeptical, saying farmers have the technology to overcome weather challenges.

“Farmers, historically, have been progressive when it comes to using the latest technologies.”

“Genetics is probably the one thing that has helped yields in the past two decades. Plants and seeds are becoming more drought tolerant and being able to be more efficient in taking up water from the soil profile.”

But no matter what mother nature brings, our farmers will be ready.

“The farmers get it done.”

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