Heat pushed crop progress into overdrive

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Corn has started tasseling and reached the silking stage in parts of the state.

The heat has proved to be good for something as crops in some parts of Wisconsin are developing rapidly, are in good condition and ahead of average. However, livestock and outdoor workers weren't enjoying the heat and humidity as much last week.  

Midweek thunderstorms brought variable amounts of rain to the state, with a few reports of crop damage from high winds, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Services (NASS) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report.

"The combination of much-needed rain and hot weather provided ideal conditions for crop growth," said the reporter from Calumet County. "Corn planted early is beginning to tassel. Wheat harvest has begun and should be in full swing this week, providing weather conditions remain favorable."

Golden stalks of winter wheat are backlit by the setting sun in Waukesha County. Winter wheat coloring was reported at 90 percent across the state with some areas starting harvest.

From Adams and Juneau counties the reporter said, "For the most part it was another good week for crops. The first part of the week was very hot and stressed a lot of the crops. Things were getting very dry but then we received about an inch of rain over the last couple days that encouraged growth in corn, soybeans and hay crops."

Drier areas of central and northern Wisconsin reported crops curling and showing stress, particularly on light soils. Reporters in these areas noted that rain received this week was helpful but more moisture was still needed. 

"This week had enough rainfall to keep crops going, but not enough to replenish soil moisture levels," the Chippewa County reporter noted. "Crops on sandy soils and hilltops show moisture stress most of the day."  

It was a hot week for Fond du Lac and Washington county farmers. 

"The corn spent the better part of the past crop week curled up while the soybeans languished," the reporter said. "There will be yield reduction to beans and corn on the thinnest soils as significant stunting occurred. The Friday evening thunderstorms dropped varying amounts of rain in Fond du Lac County — from eight tenths to two and three quarters inches. There are still cracks in the soils where the lower rainfalls fell."

Corn is silking in Trempealeau County with some showing severe distress.

In Chippewa County there was enough rain during the week to keep crops going, but not enough to replenish soil moisture levels, the reported noted. 

Chippewa County also reported pea aphid populations starting to decline, but leafhoppers are above thresholds on some new alfalfa seedings, the reporter said. 

In Rusk County, armyworms are quickly becoming a problem, with some spraying going on, according to the report. 

Dodge County seems to have come out of the heat unscathed, as "crops are still looking good right now," the reporter said. "We have plenty of moisture to keep things green and growing. Wheat harvest should start soon, while second crop harvest is wrapping up."

Corn is seven days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the five-year average. 

Second cutting alfalfa was reported as 73 percent complete, one day ahead of last year and four days ahead of average. The third cutting has just started. 

Soybeans are five days ahead of last year and four ahead of the average with 49 percent bloomed. Thirteen percent were setting pods, four days ahead of both last year and the average. 

Oats are even with last year and the average with 92 percent reported headed. Oats turning color is two days ahead of last year at 51 percent. Farmers have just started harvesting oats. 

Winter wheat is a day behind last year with coloring at 90 percent. Harvest was reported at six percent complete, four days ahead of last year. 

The condition of all crops was reported as good to excellent for 81 to 87 percent of the crops.