Heavy rain washes in cooler temps

Smoldering hot to more comfortable

Carole Curtis


Farmers and their livestock felt a sea change in the weather last week, as a stretch of widespread rain marked the switch from smoldering hot to more comfortable.

The "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending August 21 detailed the transition from daytime highs in the mid 80s to highs in the 60s to low 70s.

Heavy rains marked the transition to cooler temperatures, cutting the days suitable for fieldwork to just over four. In some areas, as much as 11 inches of rain has fallen over the past few weeks.

"The soil and the crops got a good drink, anywhere from 0.5 to nearly 4 inches of rain, with most producers seeing around two inches", the Kewaunee County reporter said.

For some producers, the rain that has fallen will nearly be enough to finish the growing process of the crops, he added.

Ozaukee County farmers concurred. "Welcome rains this weekend will help finish the corn and soybean crops," that reporter observed. "The rains will get the cover crops up and growing, getting the best out of the remainder of the growing season."

Columbia County was also refreshed with the week's 2.5 inches of rain.  "Corn and soybeans are looking the best ever," the reporter said.

Madison got 3.5 inches of rain and La Crosse measured over 2.5 inches, the report said, noting widespread ponding in fields and flood damage along streams and waterways.

"We received a lot a lot of rain this past week that really wasn't needed – three to four inches in most areas, with some receiving quite a bit more," the Juneau County reporter said.

However, there wasn't any significant damage to corn and, although the soybeans may have gotten knocked down a little bit, they  should come back. "Things are still looking very good," he observed.

The north part of St. Croix County received two nice rains totaling around 1.5 inches, while the southern section got between three and five inches.

As of August 21, topsoil moisture supplies for the state were rated 0 percent very short, 5 percent short, 82 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture was rated 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 82 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus.

Fieldwork on hold

Across the state, hay and oats harvests were put on hold where fields became too muddy.

The week ended with 85 percent of the third cutting of alfalfa and 29 percent of fourth cutting off the fields.

Farmers in St. Croix County had taken fourth cutting on most fields being cut four times, as well as third crop on fields on a three-cut program.  Some fall seeded alfalfa is emerging and looks good, the reporter added.

In Sawyer County, where the dry hay and haylage harvest has been a challenge because of all the rain, some second crop hay is still standing

Clark County also marked another wet week with two inches of rain falling on some areas. "Small grains are being harvested and, with the wet conditions, there are a few ruts in the field," the reporter said.

Dry hay has been almost impossible, he added, although a good deal of third crop was being harvested amidst concerns of rutting the fields.

Meanwhile, Florence and Forest counties welcomed the inch or so of rain that fell. "It was well-needed," that reporter said.  "Hay and pastures are still well behind for this time of year, but they are showing green again."

The report rated the condition of all hay at 91 percent good to excellent, the same as the previous week, while pasture condition rose a point to 77 percent good to excellent.

As the third full week of August ended, 98 percent of the state's winter wheat was off the fields and 88 percent of oats for grain had harvested, three days ahead of last year.

Chippewa and Eau Claire counties reported very good oat yields.

Corn, soybeans ahead

As of August 21, 72 percent of the state’s corn acreage was in or beyond the dough stage, two days ahead of last year and eight days ahead of the five-year average. Denting was also ahead, with 25 percent of corn at that stage, four days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the average.

In some areas, the harvest of corn for silage had begun.  The condition of the crop held steady  at 88 percent good to excellent.

In the state's soybean fields, 94 percent of the crop was setting pods or beyond, seven days ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the average.  Leaves were turning color on 4 percent of soybeans.

A few producers in Juneau County had significant damage from white mold, as well as some sudden death syndrome.

In Vernon County, where another 1-3 inches of rain and a bit of hail fell during the week and crops look excellent, a little mold has been found in some corn and a case of what appears to be early signs of sudden death syndrome in beans.

Sawyer County reported that white mold in soybeans and other diseases favored by high humidity were starting to show up.  Water hemp was found by an area agronomist and has been sent in to test if it is Roundup resistant.

Statewide, soybeans held their condition rating of 87 percent good to excellent.

Other crops

Fourteen percent of potatoes had been harvested statewide, 17 days behind last year.  Potato condition fell a point to 90 percent good to excellent.

The report noted that dry weather is needed in much of the state to facilitate the end of haying and the beginning of the corn silage harvest.

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.

Heavy rains marked the transition to cooler temperatures, cutting the days suitable for fieldwork to just over four. In some areas, as much as 11 inches of rain has fallen over the past few weeks.