The first frost of the year may be later than usual.
The first frost, which usually marks the end of the growing season, is typically witnessed in northern Illinois between Oct. 1 and 10, said Jim Angel, the Illinois state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey.
The first frost varies from region to region, and also by plant type, with northern Illinois typically seeing its first one before the rest of the state.
The first frost happens once the temperature reaches 32 degrees, at which point the growing cycle for most annuals will stop, Angel said, adding that some perennials can continue to grow after the first frost.
“The northwest part of the state, the dates [for first frost] are in the early October time frame on average,” Angel said. “It varies year to year. ... Maybe on a rare occasion it can wait until November to see that real cold temperature.”
Central Illinois typically sees its first frost in mid-October and southern Illinois in late October.
“The coldest it has got [in Morrison] was back on Sept. 14, down to 39 degrees,” Angel said. “That’s as cold as we’ve gotten so far. Looking at the forecast for the next few days, it’s not indicating we’ll see frost anytime soon.”
According to the National Weather Service, the coldest temperature in the next week is expected on Tuesday night, when the low is forecast at 43.
A late frost means a longer growing season, which can be good for farmers who may have planted their crops late.
Mark Fassler, 53, farms 4,100 acres of commercial corn and soybeans between Sterling and Dixon with his brother.
“We weren’t that super late to get things in,” he said. “In our area, it’s getting close to normal frost so it won’t affect [too much].”
On Wednesday, Fassler said he expected to finish his soybean harvest, which will account for about half of his 4,100 acres, and then switch to harvesting his corn today.
“The beans have been better than we expected,” Fassler said. “Normally, you say if you get a big rain in August, it gets the bean yield. We didn’t get that and were expecting a disaster. And they turned out to be a hair better than average.”
August was abnormally dry in the Sauk Valley and much of northern Illinois and the Midwest, where 25.6 percent of the region was declared in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Sauk Valley farmers could be done harvesting soybeans this week, and then move on to corn next week, said Gunnar Ortgiesen, 28, the CFO and general manager of Tettens Grain LLC in Sterling.
The soybean yields have been in the 50- to 60-bushels-an-acre range, which is a little better than average and better than what was expected about a month ago, Ortgiesen said.
Corn yields have been ranging between 160- and 220-bushels an acre, but Ortgiesen said next week should be a better indication of what the crop will be.
Because of the government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service hasn’t been releasing its weekly weather and crop reports, which includes the percentage of completed harvesting.