Wisconsin's crops are in need of heat. Everything from small grains and cranberries to corn and soybeans requires warmer weather to pollinate or mature, according to the latest "Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition Report."
"Cool weather for this time of year is slowing growth and putting an already late crop in even more danger of not maturing before first frost," said the Rusk County reporter in the document created with input from reporting farmers and county ag agents across the state.
Although state farmers got a few clear days to do fieldwork, last week brought more intermittent rainfall and high moisture levels that continued to slow field operations and stress crops in low-lying areas.
"We are taking a lot of prevent plant crop reports and seeing a few drowned-out spots in low areas of fields," an Ozaukee County reporter said.
According to the crop report for the week ending July 13, topsoil moisture levels declined to an overall level of 25 percent surplus, down from 30 percent the previous week.
"We continue to get good rainfall — probably too hard, but better than not at all," the St. Croix reporter said. "Crops continue to look good, except where they've drowned out early."
For the week, precipitation totals ranged from 0.23 inches in Green Bay to 3.51 inches in La Crosse. Getting row crops sprayed has been a challenge with the rains, the Sawyer County Reporter said, noting some areas in the county were pelted with small hail, but no damage was reported.
Hail also fell on parts of Vernon County, and the rain continued, making it hard to bale dry hay and spray. But the crops look good overall, the reporter observed, and farmers aren't complaining much.
In Price County, almost daily rain made it extremely difficult to do any type of field work. Some spraying got done, the reporter noted, but the fields were muddy.
Fond du Lac County got 0.7 inches of rain timed to allow some field work and the harvest of some very good second-crop hay and winter rye for forage, as well as fertilizer and manure applications.
Temperatures were near normal, with average high temperatures reported between 79 and 82 degrees and average lows marked between 59 and 63 degrees.
It was a good week of good weather for Juneau County. "No bad weather, some rain and the crops are doing well. The corn and soybeans really took off," the reporter observed.
According to the Sawyer County reporter, crops look very good, but their development is behind. "Like the rest of the state, our heat unit accumulation is 300 or more units behind normal," he pointed out.
Farmers took advantage of the 4.6 days suitable for fieldwork statewide to apply herbicides and sidedress nitrogen. Second-crop alfalfa progressed well, although drying the hay continued to be a problem in some areas.
In Shawano County, growers who got the first cutting off in time were enjoying a second cutting of alfalfa classified as excellent in both quantity and quality.
As of July 13, the first cutting of alfalfa was 97 percent complete and the second cutting was 44 percent complete, well above last year's mark of 31 percent, but lagging behind the five-year average of 58 percent.
Corn was beginning to tassel, but more heat units are needed to promote pollination. By week's end, 5 percent of the state's corn crop was silking, compared to the five-year average of 12 percent. Corn condition was rated 77 percent good to excellent.
Corn was 4 feet tall in Waukesha County, although in Dane County, where it ranged from 3 to 8 feet tall, there were no tassels to be seen.
Soybeans were 24 percent blooming with 1 percent of the crop setting pods, compared to zero percent last year and even with the five-year average. Soybeans were rated at 74 percent in good to excellent condition.
The report said the majority of corn and soybeans were in good condition, but crops in late-planted and moisture-stressed fields continued their struggle to catch up.
The majority of the state's hay fields were also doing well with 88 percent rated in good to excellent condition, as were 92 percent of pastures and 92 percent of potatoes.
The state's oat crop was rated 82 percent in good to excellent condition. Ninety percent of the crop had headed, close to the five-year average of 92 percent, and 36 percent were turning color. The harvest had begun with 3 percent harvested for grain by week's end, compared to 2 percent last year and the five-year average of 7 percent.
In the state's wheat fields, 79 percent of the plants were turning color and 2 percent had been harvested. The crop was considered 73 percent in good to excellent condition.
Shawano County was on the other side of that statistic. With all the wet weather, the winter wheat has been starting to deteriorate. Disease is in most stands even if a fungicide has been applied, the reporter said, and many fields need to be sprayed for weed control.
The weekly "Wisconsin Crop Progress and 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.