As Illinois farmers have now wrapped up nearly all of their harvest season, eyes are turning toward next year. Much of 2023 was dominated by early drought conditions across most of the state, along with fears over what it would mean for the state’s top industry.

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service, soil in the Land of Lincoln is getting dry once again. Their data shows that just 53 percent of topsoil is rated as having adequate or surplus topsoil moisture. This comes in significantly lower than data from the same point in 2022, when 72 percent of topsoil was considered adequate or surplus.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, a joint effort of the USDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, maps drought conditions throughout the country. Their current map shows a slight majority of the state in “Abnormally Dry” to “Severe Drought” conditions.

If dry conditions continue, it could be rough not only for the state’s farmers, but also for gardeners and anyone who takes pride in a thick, lush yard.

Looking ahead, the NOAA’s seasonal outlook shows winter temperatures in Illinois leaning warmer than normal, but the agency’s precipitation model indicates normal precipitation levels for the majority of the state. However, that same model also shows the potential for drier than normal conditions in the Northeastern part of Illinois.

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