Taylor Ridge farmer Tom Mueller puts fuel in one of his tractors in this file photo. Mueller wonders if this year's corn, soybean harvest will start as late as November this year because of the cool, wet July. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times) John Schultz

Taylor Ridge, Ill., farmer Tom Mueller would love to see the thermometer register 85-90 degrees almost every day this month.

He'd also like to see a bit less rain, too.

With all the cool, wet weather, Mueller said his corn and soybean crops are "sitting still. ... They need some heat to mature, and they just aren't getting it."

Mueller is not alone.

Farmers in Illinois and Iowa are watching their crops develop ever so slowly because of the cool July weather. Now, Mueller is wondering if this year's harvest will start as late as November.

For the Quad-City area, July was the second coldest on record with an average temperature of 69.3 degrees. The coldest July was set in 1891 with an average temperature of 69.2 degrees.

"We missed a record by 3 degrees," said meteorologist Tom Philip of the National Weather Service, Davenport. "If we would have been 3 degrees colder at some point, we would have tied the record. It would have averaged out."

Other areas of Iowa, such as Marion, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Burlington, set records for the coldest July.

The normal average temperature for July is 75.3 degrees, according to National Weather Service statistics. The average high is 86.1 degrees, while the average low is 64.5 degrees.

Philip said that for comparison, July 2006 was the ninth warmest on record with 79.2 degrees.

Meteorologist Bill Nichols said the reason for the colder weather is that the jet stream is further south than normal and is running from British Columbia to the lower Mississippi Valley and then back up into the Carolinas.

Iowa and Illinois are on the north side of that jet stream, he said.

"It's caused a lot of precipitation and has created a lot of opportunities for cool air to come down, which is why we (experienced) near-record cool readings here for July," he said.

Most of the United States is running below normal, he said.

Drawing a line from New Orleans to Amarillo, Texas, to Great Falls, Mont., Nichols said that east of that line temperatures are below normal, which is basically the northeastern two-thirds of the U.S., while west of that line is above normal.

"The very coldest area of below normal is Wisconsin into Iowa and northern Illinois," he said.

Despite the heat in the west, Nichols said, "the U.S. overall is going to average out below normal."

Total rainfall for July in the Quad-Cities amounted to 7.78 inches. Normal rainfall for the month is 4.03 inches. There also were two days during the month when more than 2 inches of rain fell as recorded officially at the Quad-City International Airport near Moline. On July 10, 2.46 inches of rain fell, while 2.44 inches of rain fell July 24.

"We didn't make the top 10 wettest, but we came close," Philip said, adding that the 10th wettest July was in 1915 when 8.05 inches of rain fell, while the seventh wettest is 8.57 inches that fell in July 2007.

With all the cool, wet weather, Mueller said he is concerned about how deep the roots of his corn are going.

"They haven't had to go far to get any water," he said. "You can see the wet spots on the fields."

This is usually the time when corn is tasseling, too, he said. In some spots, the corn is in full tassel, while in other places in the fields the corn is short and has not tasseled.

"It's not going to mature at the same time," he said. "We're at the first of August now, and there's still a lot of corn that hasn't pollinated."

Corn needs so many heat units or growing days to reach maturity, Mueller said, "and we just aren't adding them up."

Soybeans are the same, he added. "With the moisture we've had they should be growing really fast, but they're not reaching their potential.

"Several 85-90 degree days wouldn't hurt a thing," he said.

The corn and soybean crops in Iowa and Illinois are progressing well behind the norm this year, according to Crop and Weather reports from each state.

What Mueller is hoping for is either a hot August, or a fall that is warm so he can leave his crops in the ground longer.

"If it's warm in the fall like it was last year, the crops will have time to mature," he said. "We still won't start harvesting until the first of November. Usually we're in the fields by the first of October.

"An early frost, on the other hand, could be very detrimental," Mueller said.