More than forty percent of the state's corn crop has already been planted, compared to just eight percent this time last year
Many corn fields in central Illinois may not look like much now, but area farmers are optimistic about this summer because of something else that they're not seeing yet: Bad growing weather from Mother Nature.
"The last three years, I think you could summarize and say that you kind of planted when you could. You didn't have a choice," says Peoria County farmer Aaron Ehnle. "Whenever it was fit to go, you went."
But this year has been different. Instead of flooding and overly wet conditions, March saw record-breaking warmth in central Illinois and close to a third of the season's crop is already in the ground locally. Ehnle says it could have been more.
"Very tempting. Those eighty degree days in March and the ground was dry and it felt like it was May and you should be doing something, but we're kind of waiting on the calendar."
That's because the lack of major rain gives farmers some more leeway on when they have to plant. This season, they're calling the shots, not the weather.
"Maybe the ground is fit, but you still don't think it's the right time, so you still wait," Ehnle says. "Whereas that last three years, if the ground was fit, you were planting."
Every growing season poses its own unique challenges, but farmers are hoping this year they can catch a break they haven't seen in quite a while.
Despite some cooler temperatures in April, farmers say the weather has also given them the chance to get an early start on their soybean crop this year.