Fieldwork going well, but rain still needed in many areas of Wisconsin

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Sunny, breezy conditions were favorable for baling dry hay last week, throughout much of the state. Here a hay merging master makes quick work of this hayfield in Calumet County July 11, 2018.

A great week for field work, some much needed rain and armyworms sums up crop progress for last week. 

Sunny, breezy conditions were favorable for baling dry hay and harvesting winter wheat this week.  Daytime temperatures were in the upper 70s and low 80s. Light precipitation on Friday and Saturday was just enough to keep ahead of drying soil conditions. 

Crops across the state are in good condition, but could use a soaking rain in some areas, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report. 

St. Croix County got "just a few drizzles" last week and the crops are starting to get dry, the reporter noted.

Clark County only got scattered showers, but "the saving grace" of lower temperatures and humidity reduced moisture stress on crops, however, lack of rain is taking its toll on some crops. 

Rain in Waupaca and Outagamie counties lessened the dry weather stress on most crops, but also slowed hay harvest. 

Light showers in Shawano County kept crops in "overall good condition," the reporter said. 

Armyworms are often go unnoticed in fields until injury is severe. Larvae feed primarily at night and may cause damage before being detected.

Much-needed rain in Kewaunee County may not have helped corn, depending how far along the corn had developed, the reporter noted.

"After a few weeks of missing out on any substantial precipitation, this area finally saw a good rainfall this past week. Anywhere from around an inch to one and a half inches came down," the Kewaunee County reporter said."  Because of the slow moving storm system in the area, a rather impressive looking shelf cloud and heavy rain approached from the east instead of the west. This is unheard of, but for those waiting for the rain, it didn't matter how it came. The crops had been in dire need of moisture, especially the corn, which was showing severe stress from very little rain."

Rain on July 20 and 21 was welcome in Columbia County and crops are looking better. However, armyworm are attacking some cornfields and Western Bean Cutworms are on the rise as well, according to the report. 

Related:Farmers battling back against armyworm infestations

There were reports of armyworm activity and damage in Eau Claire County and in Vernon County, armyworms hit 10 acres of corn. 

"Farmers should be scouting their crops as we are finding unusual insects, which is typical in a dry year," said the Clark County reporter. 

Armyworms may be little but the damage they cause to crops adds up to big economic losses.

Unfortunately, weeds are growing quite well in Kewaunee and Shawano counties with ragweed and waterhemp "rearing their heads" in some soybean fields in Shawano County. While ragweed in Kewaunee County is getting taller, it won't affect the forage, but will have an impact on the oats harvested for grain, the report said. 

Soybeans are doing well in most parts of the state, "looking better than ever" in Shawano County, despite weed problems. Soybean condition was rated at 81 percent good to excellent with 66 percent bloomed — five days ahead of last year and the average. Twenty-six percent were setting pods, three days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average. 

A little more than half the state's corn acreage has reached the silking stage, one week ahead of last year and five days ahead of the five-year average. 

The second cutting of alfalfa was 86 percent complete, three days ahead of last year, and six days ahead of the average. Third cutting is getting underway with 10 percent complete, five days ahead of last year and a week ahead of the average. 

Winter wheat coloring is almost complete, a couple of days behind last year. Harvesting was reported at 28 percent complete, five days ahead of last year. 

Oats are even with last year, with 96 percent headed. Oats turning color was one day ahead of last year, reported at 67 percent.