Farmers out in full force last week

Carole Curtis

MADISON - The weather finally unleashed farmers and fields were buzzing last week as they took advantage of an excellent week of planting weather.

Planting raced forward across Wisconsin last week as an excellent week of weather unfolded.

"For the first time this season, a full week of fieldwork was had. A great deal of progress was made across all soil types," the Fond du Lac County reporter cheered in the "Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending May 14.

"A few nice days makes all the difference when planting," the Lincoln County reporter said, applauding the week that offered state farmers 5.3 days deemed suitable for fieldwork.

The report pegged topsoil moisture supplies on May 14 at 2 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus, down from the previous week's 72 percent adequate and 28 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture supplies were 1 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 19 percent surplus, compared to the previous week's 74 percent adequate and 25 percent surplus.

The lovely stretch of favorable weather and warmer, drier soils allowed for rapid advancement of fieldwork as farmers worked through the night planting oats, potatoes, corn, soybeans and spring vegetables as quickly as possible.

"The weather was perfect and it has been wild," the Rusk County reporter said. "Many growers are done with corn, some are done with everything and those that aren't are going like mad to get things in before the predicted rain comes."

By Mother's Day, 71 percent of the state's spring tillage was done, three days ahead of the  five-year average.

Corn planting was 48 percent complete, two days behind the average, with three percent of the crop emerged. 

"Corn planters look like they are going nonstop," the Chippewa County reporter observed.

Oat planting also pulled ahead of average, with 81 percent complete by the end of the week, putting this year four days ahead of the five-year average. Oats emerged was pegged at 42 percent, two days behind the average.

Potatoes were also ahead, besting last year by one day with 89 percent of the crop planted by week's end. 

In the busy soybean fields, 15 percent of expected acres was seeded down, pulling this year to three days behind average. 

Hay and forage cutting was starting up in the southern portions of the state.

Columbia County reported alfalfa ranges from 16-22 inches tall and in Green County, where planting was winding down, the first hay was cut and the winter rye forage harvest was well underway.

The report said winterkill levels were variable, and some producers were preparing to reseed or plow up damaged hay fields.

In Rusk County, there appears to be a fair amount of winter killed alfalfa, while Shawano County reported the cold and wet weather of the past few weeks has taken a toll on both alfalfa and wheat fields.

"Many alfalfa fields are being taken out due to winterkill, and winter wheat stands are very uneven in some fields," the reporter shared. "A lot of planting was done this week, but some of it was planted into soft, wet spots."  

The situation was similar in Adams and Juneau counties.

It was a good week for fieldwork, the reporter said, but wet areas remained that farmers couldn't get into, and more alfalfa fields were thinner than farmers had hoped and would be plowed under.

Walworth County was still largely on hold.

"Most producers are patiently still waiting for fields to dry out," that reporter shared. 

In La Crosse County, there is some spotty hay, but most looks good and is growing quickly.

"The pastures look good and are growing as fast as the cows are feeding on what is there," the reporter said. 

Statewide, pastures improved to 81 percent in good to excellent condition, compared to 72 percent the previous week, while the statewide condition of "all hay" was marked at 69 percent good to excellent.

Winter wheat improved from 70 percent in good to excellent condition to 71 percent. 

The "Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition Report" is a cooperative efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,  the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the National Weather Service.