For the first time in many months, the Illinois Drought Monitor map is completely white, with no yellow abnormally dry or light orange moderate drought areas. “That’s because it’s all snow,” Trent said with a laugh. Trent just got home from his mid-winter vacation. He decided to dig up a big stump recently (March 11, 2023). After digging down through the topsoil, Trent observed that “The clay is dust. Usually, it will [be wet enough to] stick in the [backhoe] bucket, but I was eight feet down, and it was crumbling to dust.”
Trent was optimistic about having enough moisture to start and grow his corn and soybeans successfully this year. “We’ll probably get a gully washer right when we want to plant,” Trent concluded. The nearest Illinois State Climatologist soil moisture sampling station to Trent’s farmland is in Urbana. That station reports current soil moisture in the upper 20% of historic numbers at all depths: 4-inch, 8-inch, and 20-inch. The lack of prolonged hard freezing this winter has let the frequent rainfalls pass through the topsoil and soak up the subsoil in many places. Except where Trent was digging his stump.