MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) – Humidity can reach high levels in the summer, and farmers feel it more than most people because of their crops.
“It can get pretty hot and humid in the microclimate of a corn field,” said Wisconsin farmer Scott Fleming. “When you’re in there, there’s not a lot of air movement, and the humidity is pretty high.”
Humidity levels increase in crop fields like soybeans and corn, according to UW-Madison Agronomy Professor Joe Lauer. Crops pull water from the ground and evaporate the moisture on the surface.
“Corn, like you and I sweat, basically perspires,” said Lauer. “I mean you can feel it when you're in the field but to really influence our weather and things like that it would take square miles, I mean lots of area to really be able to influence the weather if you will.”
Crop fields are only a supplement to the humidity, according to UW-Madison Agronomy Department Chair Chris Kucharik. The crops aren’t the only source of humidity.
“If corn wasn’t growing here, it still would have been humid, but maybe having the corn here is adding a few extra degrees to the dew point,” Kucharik said.
He also said there’s no specific data on the exact difference in humidity. However, as fields get denser, their dew points increase. Dew points are a way to measure humidity.
“We can only point to some longer term observations and trends that show as corn planting density has gone up over the last few decades,” said Kucharik. “You're basically planting more and more corn plants on a field that dew points have generally trended upwards across the Midwest at a variety of places.”
Cities are often hotter than rural areas, called a heat island effect. Kucharik said field-dense areas endure the same characteristic during summer months.