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Does living near a corn field impact humidity? Here's what the science says

Evapotranspiration, or "corn sweat," will rapidly increase the moisture level for areas surrounding agricultural fields.

MOLINE, Ill. — Farmers have been busy these last few weeks tidying up the last of the spring planting season and already we're starting to see crops poke out the top of the ground, including corn which is nearly knee-high! So, that begs the question, can these fields actually increase the moisture in the air for the surrounding area? Let's dig in!

Is it more humid when you have a 40-acre corn field by your backyard than in the city or does wind dissipate the humidity to other areas?

Candy from Geneseo, Illinois, has a great question at hand here and she is correct, it is indeed more humid when you have a large agricultural field sitting in your backyard. The reason? Corn sweat, and soybeans do it, too!

As the corn and soybean crops begin to rapidly grow these next several weeks, they'll be using a lot of water in the process. That water will be shuffled from the ground up through the plant stalk and then eventually thrown into the air via the evapotranspiration process. This absolutely increases moisture levels, especially the dew point temperature which can oftentimes exceed a balmy 80 degrees near these fields on a hot summer afternoon.

Credit: WQAD
As corn nears the tassel stage, its water usage grows.

This process begins to slow down some once we reach the end of August going into September as the plants start to mature, using less water. 

Credit: USDA.gov

If you look at the spread of farm fields across the United States, specifically corn, it's easy to see why this is such a big deal here in the Quad Cities. The density in terms of bushes is quite high compared to the rest of the country, meaning we are moving a ton of moisture here.

Now, when it comes to dispersing that higher humidity surrounding the fields, that can at times come into play. However, remember that the summer months feature some of the lightest average wind speeds for the entire year in the Quad Cities. So, while it may help move the higher moisture levels around a bit, it really won't help in terms of getting rid of that nasty, sticky feeling to the air itself.

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