Moderate drought hurts bottom line for Illinois and Iowa farmers

MONMOUTH, Illinois -  Farmers are now battling low prices, tariffs and drought. That's after the southern portion of the WQAD viewing area was designated in moderate drought.

Abnormally dry conditions also reach directly into the Quad Cities.

"Your beans are mostly made in August," said Research Specialist Marty Johnson, at the University of Illinois Research Center, on Thursday, August 9.

But high above Monmouth, the view shows areas of moderate drought spreading into the area.  During this crucial month, crops are feeling the stress.

The latest crop report lists about one-quarter of Illinois and Iowa corn and soybeans at fair to poor.

"That's hard," said Johnson, digging into the ground with a soil probe. "The front foot is just powder."

Powder dry is not a good sign this time of year.

"It tells me that there's no moisture," he continued.

There's a similar story in nearby Mercer County.  The last full-fledged drought took place in 2012.

Chad Bell is already bracing for economic impact at his farm.

"We could go through an extended period with lower crop prices, which means less money in our pockets as farmers," he said.

Back at the test farm in Monmouth, a second soil sample reveals similar results.

"It's hard and dry," Johnson said.

Dry because this farm is short about eight inches of rain in 2018.

"If you have a low price and low yields, that's a recipe for disaster," Johnson said.

Weather is now part of the pressures on farmers, who already feel like they've got two strikes against them.

"Overall, that's just a bad deal for farmers," Bell concluded.