Rain, rain, go away

Carole Curtis
Many fields across the state have wet spots, yellowedm thin rows of corn after days of rain.

MADISON - Frequent rains kept soil moistures high, puddles full, and baling hay efforts down last week, while cooler temperatures applied the brakes to crop development.

"Six inches of rain across the county over the last two weeks has everything pretty soggy, to say the least. Fields are supersaturated," the Manitowoc County reporter said in the "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending June 25.

Seemingly endless rain dampened the time farmers could work their fields down to 3.2 days, the report noted, while muddy conditions kept most growers from applying nitrogen and herbicides.

In Rusk County, where the last of the corn and beans were finally mudded in, spraying and in-season nitrogen application was ongoing, but farmers were finding it hard to get much done between the rain showers.

"The nighttime temps are in the low 40s, as well," the local reporter added. "This has been a bad spring."

Many farmers told of drowned out areas, corn yellowing in low spots, and stress to crops.

In Calumet County, numerous areas of crops are standing in water.

"Field work has, for the most part, halted until things dry up a little," the reporter said. "We have had rain each day for the past 10 days, with more in the forecast."  

The third full week of June didn't  offer a window of clear weather long enough for baling hay.

In Columbia County, where some corn fields have yet to be planted, it was another challenging week.  

"Rain every night or every other day makes it hard to get hay dry," the reporter observed.

Over two inches of rain fell on Florence and Forest counties during the week's five days of rain.

"Some hay was cut, but farmers struggled to get it off the ground," the reporter said. "We haven't had two full days of drying in the past two weeks."

In La Crosse County, some farmers cut hay at the beginning of the week, but were unable to get it into storage.

"It is still laying in the field," the reporter shared. 

By June 25, state farmers managed to clear off 94 percent of first cut alfalfa and 13 percent of second cut. The condition of the crop rose slightly, with "all hay" ending the week 80 percent good to excellent.  

In Waupaca and Outagamie counties, many fields have become yellow, corn and beans have drowned out in spots, and some corn and soybean fields are becoming quite weedy, thanks to spray operations being prevented by the very wet conditions.  

"Rain fell every other day, making it challenging to get anything done," the reporter said.

As of June 25, the state's topsoil moisture supplies were 27 percent surplus, 70 percent adequate and 3 percent short, while subsoil moisture supplies were 26 percent surplus, 72 percent adequate and 2 percent short. 

In Dane County, the early corn is between knee high and waist high, but there are wet spots in some fields where the corn is yellow or drowned out or not even planted.

The week of wet, cool, unsettled weather following earlier heavy rains have started to degrade the crop conditions on the lowest soils in Washington and Fond du Lac counties.

"But where the soils aren't waterlogged, the earliest planted corn is hitting a nice stride and reaching around a foot of height," the reporter said.

Statewide, corn emergence hit 98 percent, five days ahead of the five-year average and eight days behind last year. The condition of the crop dropped two percentage points to 69 percent good to excellent.

Soybeans were nearly all planted, with 99 percent of expected  acres seeded down by week's end. Emergence was pegged at 94 percent, two days ahead of average and eight days behind last year. The condition of the crop fell four points in the course of the week to 74 percent good to excellent.

Winter wheat was 93 percent headed, four days behind last year, while 39 percent had colored, also four days behind last year. The condition of the crop rose three percentage points to 76 percent good to excellent.

Meanwhile, the condition of potatoes fell four percentage points, ending with 81 percent in good to excellent.

Oats also fell behind, finishing the week with 48 percent headed, four days behind average and seven days behind last year. Three percent of oats had colored, while condition fell two percentage points to 79 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition fell slightly to  79 percent good to excellent, a one percentage point drop.

The report said heat and dry weather are needed to improve crop growth and allow mid-season fieldwork.

The weekly "Wisconsin Crop Progress & 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.