Crops cranking as heat wave continues
It felt like deep summer across Wisconsin again last week as rainfall proved shy in many areas and maximum daytime temperatures topped 90 degrees for a fifth consecutive week.
According to the “Wisconsin Crop Progress Report” issued June 18, Green Bay pegged 93 degrees, Eau Claire and La Crosse hit 92 and Madison topped 91 degrees.
“This report begins and ends with high temps of 90 degrees and zero rain,” the reporter from Fond du Lac County shared in the document created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents across the state.
Stress on corn and beans is now across all soil types and land features, he continued, and although second crop was put up in excellent condition, yields were below average.
For the week that offered 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork, average temperatures ran two to six degrees above normal, the report said, with average high temperatures ranging from 79 to 84 degrees and average lows from 56 to 60 degrees.
It told of a hit-and-miss pattern to rainfall.
Northwestern Wisconsin received significant and sometimes heavy rainfall, with storm damage reported in Barron, Burnett, Ashland and Taylor counties.
“Well-needed rain, but straight-line winds on Friday morning caused damage to trees and some buildings,” the local reporter noted.
Jackson County hit the jackpot with needed rain. “It has gotten soybeans to pop and the corn to take off,” the reporter said. “Second crop is also taking off.”
Pepin County welcomed two inches of rain on Thursday. Crops are looking good, but pastures are dry, that reporter commented.
In the south and east, spotty rainfall patterns brought little relief and conditions remained very dry.
Vernon County received sporadic rain throughout the week with gauges measuring anywhere from 0.2 to 0.7 inches, leaving crops in need of more and pastures looking stressed.
Topsoil moisture was over 70 percent short to very short in five of the nine reporting districts, the report said; crops are stressed and development has halted in some areas due to the lack of moisture.
“It’s very dry. We haven’t had any rain for over 2 1/2 weeks,” the reporter from Shawano County said.
Rainfall ranged from Green Bay with 0.05 inches to La Crosse with 1.94 inches.
Waushara County, where the last measurable rain fell on May 26, received 0.1 inch on Saturday and 0.6 inch on Sunday. “Most crops are still looking pretty good considering the lack of rain, but pastures and hayfields will be short,” the reporter said.
Iowa County is feeling the effects in light first and second crops of hay, corn starting to curl in some areas, and obvious damage to apple and berry crops. “It appears significant – 40 to 50 percent production,” the reporter noted.
The corn is curling up in Dane County. “I’m finding armyworms, and I haven’t seen them in years,” the reporter said. “We need rain bad.”
It was the same story in Green County, where less than one-quarter inch of rain fell during the week, and in Kenosha County. “We desperately need rain,” that reporter said. “Some damage is irreparable.”
In Ozaukee County, where 0.5 inches of rain fell Saturday night, the topsoil is reportedly very dry, second crop hay is short and the weeds are growing good.
Across the state, corn hit 18 inches high on average, compared to the five year average of 13 inches and, in some areas, is already knee-high.
Reporters in many areas, including Taylor, told of cutworms plaguing fields.
“We’ve had numerous calls on black cutworms in corn,” the reporter from Clark County shared. “No-till fields have received the most feeding damage. Much of the corn now may be beyond the critical V5 stage.”
In the northwest section of the state, some growers are replanting corn due to heavy rains.
Soybeans were up to the tune of 94 percent across the state, although reporters in dry areas said soybeans on light soils have yet to emerge.
By week’s end, 72 percent of the state’s oat crop had headed, far above last year’s mark of 14 percent and the five-year average of 28 percent.
Farmers completed 97 percent of the first cutting of hay and closed in on 25 percent of the second cutting. Manitowoc County growers were among those kicking off their second pass during the week. “It’s hard to believe the second crop hay harvest is happening in the second week of June!” the local reporter marveled.
In the southeast section of the state, reporters commented that second crop was short due to lack of moisture, while problems with alfalfa leafhoppers were reported in Shawano, Chippewa and Vernon counties.
“Populations are going up. Several fields have exceeded treatment thresholds,” a reporter from Chippewa County said, adding that no-till corn into rye stubble has had problems with armyworm.
Winter wheat was developing rapidly, reporters said, with many noting the crop heading out and starting to turn color.
Sweet corn had begun tasseling in Green and Rock counties and, in Waupaca County, the raspberry harvest has begun a full three weeks early.
Strawberry season was in full swing and, in southern Wisconsin, already drawing to a close. “Strawberries are done,” the Dane County reporter observed.
In Oneida County, temperatures fell into the 30s on June 9 and June 12, so growers ran their sprinkler irrigation systems.
Most of the early varieties of cranberry vines are from 40-80 percent in bloom, while late varieties are 5-15 percent in bloom. Honeybee hives for pollination were delivered in placed on Sunday, June 17, the Oneida County reporter said, about a week earlier than usual.
Potatoes and cranberries are in full bloom and “looking good” in Portage County, although hay-making has been slowed or stalled by the threat of rain or actual rain. “We only have dried baled hay to make,” the reporter noted.
The weekly “Wisconsin Crop Progress Report” is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection and the National Weather Service. It is produced at National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Wisconsin field office under the direction of Robert Battaglia.