Wisconsin crops loving heat and humidity, but some areas could use rain

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Large bales of hay dot a field in Waukesha County. First cutting of alfalfa is almost complete across the state and the second cutting well underway.

While people complained about the sweltering heat and humidity last week, crops soaked it in with corn in some areas growing to shoulder high before the Fourth of July. Later in the week there were scattered thunderstorms across the southern third of the state and a few reports of crop damage from high winds, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Wisconsin Crops and Progress report for the week ending July 1.  

"Heat and humidity have really helped the corn progress," said the reporter from Trempealeau County. "Lots of uneven corn out there, yet some places beautiful and 'person high by the 4th of July.'  Rain has been spotty in the county with intense rains in some places and just a half inch in others, but it all helps. Rain makes corn and so is very important when it’s tasseling."   

There were some reports of heat stress to crops and livestock, particularly in northern portions of the state where more rain is needed, according to the NASS report.

However, in Wood County, rain has caused yellow corn in patterns in fields, the reporter noted.  

In Marinette and Barron County, crops look good but could use some rain. The situation is similar in Washington and Fond du Lac counties where "soil moisture is growing short with all the heat and wind in the last three days," the reporter said. "Crops are still growing with some stress only showing up on the thinnest of soils."

Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 7 percent short, 84 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 5 percent short, 86 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus, according to the report. 

With about five days suitable for fieldwork, farmers made good progress with weed spraying and haying.

The hot, dry weather resulted in most of the hay being harvested in Dane County. 

Some second crop alfalfa is being harvested in Kewaunee County, "but this coming week will see a lot of it come off," the reporter said. "The weather so far this summer has been favorable for making dry hay. For the most part, the second crop won't be as heavy as the first crop was, but there will still be a lot of it to store away."

The first cutting of alfalfa was reported as 96 percent complete, 4 days behind last year, but 4 days ahead of the average. The second cutting was 35 percent complete, 2 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of the average. All hay condition was reported 84 percent in good to excellent condition.

Corn condition was reported as 84 percent excellent, with a few reports of corn in the silking stage. 

Nearly all soybeans have emerged and 13 percent of soybeans have bloomed, 3 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of the average. Soybean condition was 83 percent good to excellent.

Oats headed was reported at 68 percent, a day ahead of last year and even with the average. Oats turning color was reported at 16 percent, one day ahead of last year. Oat condition was 88 percent good to excellent.

Winter wheat was 93 percent headed, six days behind last year. Winter wheat coloring was reported at 50 percent, three days behind last year. Winter wheat condition was 83 percent good to excellent.