Installment of rain pays off in many areas
Much of Wisconsin was blessed with rain last week, although amounts were all over the board.
According to the “Wisconsin Crop Progress Report “ released July 30, precipitation totals ranged from 0.0 in Portage County and 0.05 inches in Eau Claire to 2.29 inches in Green Bay and over 3.0 inches in Calumet County.
Some sections of Marquette County were merely dampened with 0.3 inches of rain, while others measured an inch.
Fond du Lac County welcomed some long-awaited rain, but localized wind and hail damage came along with the 1.0-3.0 inches that fell.
St. Croix County was graced with 1.5 inches and “things look great,” the reporter cheered in the document created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents around the state.
Unfortunately, it was not so in other areas.
“There are no pastures left and there are many fields with grasshoppers eating all the forage,” the Marquette County reporter relayed, while the reporter from Portage County said there is no third cut growth, no pasture growth and cattlemen are feeding hay to keep their livestock going.
Much-needed rain fell on Dane County, where third crop hay is short and poor quality, and corn is trying to pollinate.
“Silks are out, but not much pollen is available,” the reporter said. “I’m expecting about 50 percent pollination when it’s done.”
In Oconto County, as much as three inches of rain fell, while Calumet County received between 1.75-3.5 inches to add to the previous week’s 1.75-4.0 inches.
“We now have adequate moisture for the short term,” that local reporter said.
Corn and soybean development jumped in response to the moisture. By July 29, the state’s corn crop measured an average of 75 inches in height, up five inches from the previous week and one inch below the five-year average.
The crop was 83 percent silked and 10 percent in the dough stage, compared to the five-year averages of 60 percent silked and four percent in the dough stage.
Flowering soybeans benefited more than corn, the report said, noting the crop’s progress was not as far ahead of average. By week’s end, soybeans were 82 percent in bloom with 41 percent setting pods, compared to the five-year averages of 69 percent in bloom and 26 percent setting pods.
As of July 29, 30 percent of the state’s soybean crop was rated in poor or very poor condition, 61 percent was fair or good, and nine percent was excellent.
Soybeans in Dane County were among those that responded very well to the rain. Flowering is going well and pods are forming, the reporter shared.
The rain also benefited the beans in Walworth County and they are “finally” starting to canopy over.
Marinette County reported that timely rains have been enough to keep things going, but the heat and locally dry conditions have certainly impacted yields negatively.
For the last full week of July, the report marked temperatures four to six degrees above normal, with average reported highs ranging from 85-89 degrees. Milwaukee topped 99 degrees, while La Crosse and Madison hit 98 degrees during the week offering 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork.
As of July 29, the state’s soil moistures were 71 percent short to very short, compared to 76 percent short to very short last week.
Statewide, pastures were 62 percent in poor to very poor condition. Livestock operations were turning to emergency CRP grazing and haying, the report said, feeding hay baled earlier this season or purchasing feed for their cattle.
In Sauk County, a grower of evergreen trees reported losing all the trees he’d planted during the past three years. Those with better established root systems are okay for now, the reporter relayed.
Depending on soil type, planting dates and the amount of rain received, there was wide variation in the condition of corn and pollination rates across the state. In some areas, reporters said rain came too late to allow good pollination, while the corn was pollinating normally in other areas.
In Sauk County, the recent rains have not only improved the crops, but also some farmers’ outlooks. “A few are actually expecting a near-normal crop of corn,” the reporter said.
In Walworth County, a check of early planted corn fields showed that affected areas are forming ears, but have missed the pollination, resulting in a few kernels on very small ears.
In Chippewa County, small beneficial rains have apparently helped most of the corn to pollinate, but in the southern parts of Wisconsin, a few producers were chopping their drought-damaged corn for silage.
Trempealeau County was among those where some corn has been chopped and more is being considered. “Crop insurance adjusters hold the decision-making cards,” the reporter noted.
Statewide, the condition of corn was rated as 19 percent very poor, 24 percent poor, 25 percent fair, 12 percent good and two percent excellent.
A graph comparing of the weekly percentage of corn in poor to very poor condition in 1988, 2011 and 2012 shows 2012 presently tracking about 10 percentage points below (meaning not as bad as) 1988’s level, which got a bit worse (eight percentage points) before the situation improved.
Although rain and high humidity slowed combining, oats finished the week with 66 percent harvested for grain, far above the five-year average of 21 percent. Yield reports ranged from 70-90 bushels per acre.
Reporters said straw tonnage was high and many farmers were baling straw for feed.
The state’s winter wheat harvest was also slowed by wet and humid conditions, but reports put yield, test weights and straw tonnage at high levels.
In Calumet County, several producers averaged over 120 bushels per acre. “Straw is in high demand and the tonnage was good this year,” the reporter noted.
Farmers took off 63 percent of the state’s third crop of hay last week, far ahead of last year’s mark of nine percent and the five-year average of six percent.
However, harvest timing has greatly affected the quality and yield of third crop, reporters said. The recent rains mean dormant stands are beginning to green up and, in some areas, fourth cutting was already commencing.
In Oconto County, where most corn and soybean crops are looking very good, producers reported lower hay yields and insect problems.
In Trempealeau County, some producers enjoyed an excellent third crop, while others are bringing in a very light crop. Spotty showers are to credit or blame, the reporter said.
In Sauk County, hay has been behind all year and cannot be expected to catch up, the reporter said, and many growers are now talking about taking a fifth crop.
Sweet corn was being picked in Oneida and Calumet Counties, as well as Portage County where crops on irrigated sand are reportedly doing well. The early fresh market potato harvest has begun with good yields, and snap beans are being harvested.
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.