Over the past two years, it's been quite a struggle for area corn and soybean farmers, who've seen crop yields fall short of regional averages. But this year, their fortunes may be changing.
This year's corn crop is alive and well, as it enters its reproductive phase, and there's hope among farmers that the sluggish seasons of 2002 and 2003 will soon be a distant memory.
A fairly wet growing season thus far has been a key contributor to the healthy crop. There are, however a few spots, mainly along rivers, victimized by excessive rainfall earlier in the season.
Despite the fact that the corn crop has performed well to this point, experts caution that it's far too early to know just how good the yields will be, and that Mother Nature can still have her say in the matter.
Jim Morrison, from the University of Illinois Extension Office in Winnebago County says a late July or early August drought could still prove to be devastating, as was the case last year. A prolonged hot spell could be cause for concern as well.
So while things are looking good for the time being, farmers throughout the area are keeping their fingers crossed for what could be a productive season.