Dry conditions in Central Illinois these past weeks have continued to provide challenges for agriculture producers and in the home landscape. As my Extension colleague, Doug Gucker recently posted, “Dry conditions have led to overly dry crops, especially soybeans harvested at moistures less than 10 percent moisture. It is an unfortunate situation leading to yield reduction due to moisture shrink."

Doug continued his comments with, “Another issue popping up is 'weak' stalks in areas where corn plants were stressed this summer. Remember, if more than one in 10 corn stalks breaks over when pushed toward the next corn row (push test), then that corn field should be at the top of your field harvest list due to standability issues."

In the home landscape, the effects of low soil moisture conditions is especially evident with premature leaf drop. Many trees are forgoing their show of fall colors by shedding dried green leaves. Many perennial flowers are also going dormant a bit earlier than normal, unless homeowners provided supplemental watering.

Weather forecasts have rain predicted for the later part of this week. This may cause additional challenges for fall harvesting activities, depending on the amount of rain received. In the most recent USDA crop conditions report, topsoil moisture supply in central Illinois was rated at 75 percent short to very short, while subsoil moisture was rated 73 percent short to very short. On the other hand, rainfall would begin to improve soil moisture conditions.

If you have finished vegetable gardening for the season, remember to remove dead plant material as a way to reduce disease carryover to next year. In addition, leaves in the landscape can mulched or composted and then applied to the garden to increase organic matter. So, take advantage of the free source of organic matter.

For more information on University of Illinois Extension programming in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties, visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call us at 217-345-7034.

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