The rural landscape filled with tractors last week as Wisconsin farmers raced to take advantage of a solid five days of warm, dry and sunny weather. Soils warmed, fields dried and crops popped up.
According to the “Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report”, the week ending May 25 offered 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork that state farmers used to catapult levels of planting and tillage. Temperatures warmed above normal and gave crop emergence measures a satisfying boost.
“What a difference a week makes. Everywhere you look, you can see tractors working. We finished planting night,” the Barron County reporter said in the document created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents across the state.
In La Crosse County, tractors were running day and night trying to get seed in the ground, fertilizer trucks were burning up the roads, and spray rigs were racing to keep up with the rest, the reporter said. “Spring work and planting has definitely gone wild. I just hope that farmers are getting adequate rest and take care not to take chances where they shouldn’t,” he added.
The weather “turned around nicely” for Dodge County, with seven good days. “We had lots of sunshine and warmer temperatures,” that reporter cheered.
Although not everyone got a full week without rain, even in the northwest where it came down heavy, farmers were able to get into their fields by the weekend, the report said. All told, precipitation totals ranged from 0.14 inches in Madison and Milwaukee to 1.0 inches in Outagamie County and 1.6 inches in Eau Claire.
A good 2.25 inches fell in western Marathon County, but the prognosis was fine. “It was a beautiful week to work on fields with clear, warm and sunny skies,” that reporter shared, although Waushara County reported that clay soils on the east side of the county remained too wet for many farmers.
Statewide, spring tillage was 74 percent complete by May 25, a full 28 points above the previous week. Although the measure trails the five-year average of 87 percent, it drew ahead of last year’s mark of 72 percent.
The amount of corn planted topped 67 percent, a huge leap of 31 points over the previous week and closing in on the five-year average of 80 percent.
With crop insurance deadlines looming, the report said, producers were working into the night to plant, spread manure and apply chemicals.
In Waupaca County, the stretch of favorable weather had producers working full tilt to try to catch up with the very late start to spring planting, the reporter said. In many cases, it’s a full month behind normal, he observed.
By week’s end, 39 percent of the state’s soybean crop was in, compared to 8 percent the previous week.
It was a wonderfully warm week with daytime highs lofting into the 80s across most of the state. Madison and Milwaukee topped out at 86 degrees. On the average, temperatures were normal to 4 degrees above normal, with average highs ranging from 71 to 75 degrees and average lows holding between 47 and 51 degrees.
The warmth sent topsoil moisture levels spiraling from 30 percent surplus to 19 percent surplus by Memorial Day. Pasture conditions improved quickly, jumping from 62 percent in good to excellent condition to 72 percent.
The report, which also said 3 percent of winter wheat had headed, rated 66 percent of that crop in good to excellent condition.
By morning, 4 percent of the state’s soybeans were up, even with last year, but lagging the five-year average of 14 percent, and 21 percent of this year’s corn crop had emerged, compared to last week’s piddling 1 percent.
In Trempealeau County, although early peas have germinated well and yields on first crop hay are expected to come in above average, the emerged corn is yellow.
Waupaca County also reported some oats and wheat have become very yellow due to extremely wet soils.
As of May 25, over three quarters of the state’s oat crop was in and nearly half had emerged. Both measures were 21 points above the previous week. The level of potatoes planted jumped 17 points to 83 percent, and alfalfa hay was reportedly stretching with the seasonal temperatures.
First cutting got underway with 4 percent taken by morning, compared to 2 percent last year and the five-year average of 17 percent.
Statewide, hay fields were rated 84 percent in good to excellent condition. “Alfalfa looks real good, very little winterkill,” the Barron County reporter said, while the Marathon County reporter observed the alfalfa looks good and is loaded with dandelions.
Florence County hay fields were judged a couple of weeks behind in growth, but looking good with minimal winter damage.
While Buffalo County’s soil temperatures 3 inches down registered 56 degrees, readings in Clark County were 49 degrees. The hay crop looks good, that reporter observed, but is slow to develop. Reading from south to north, the county’s PEAQ stick readings ranged from 232-270 relative feed value.
In Grant County, where some hay was also being cut, famers commented they could use some rain. Rain was also called for in Walworth County, following the week of great weather for planting. Despite recent rain, the topsoil is dry in Rock County, too. “Irrigators are running, as are rotary hoes trying to break up the crust,” that reporter said.
The weekly “Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report” is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the National Weather Service.