Progress in fields starts out good, stalls with cold rainy end to week

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
As farmers took advantage of clear weather, they avoided low spots and heavy soil last week.

A string of days with clear skies gave farmers a chance to get crops in the ground wherever possible. However, there were still low spots and heavy soils where the ground was wet enough to cause rutting and stuck machinery. 

"While some field work was done this week, it was very common to see ruts left behind, tractors and equipment stuck and fields planted that were mudded in," the Shawano County farm reporter stated. 

With a little more than four days suitable for fieldwork, heavy rains over the weekend halted fieldwork yet again, according to the USDA Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report. As if that wasn't enough, temperatures fell into the 30s on some nights with frost reported in northern Wisconsin and soil temperatures remained unfavorably low for crop emergence. 

Winter freeze damage to alfalfa in the state was rated at 25% severe, 18% moderate and 17% light. Forty percent of alfalfa was reported as undamaged, compared to 82 percent from last year. 

Farmers around the state started spring with fewer acres of alfalfa due to winterkill. The state was rated at 25% severe, 18% moderate and 17% light. Forty percent of alfalfa was reported as undamaged, compared to 82 percent from last year.

In Polk County lots of replanting and interseeding of hay fields was taking place, as well as Chippewa and Eau Claire counties where substantial winterkill is reported. 

"It has been just too cool and wet for alfalfa and winter wheat to overcome the harsh winter weather we had. Many alfalfa fields are going to be taken out due to the severe damage," the Shawano County reporter said.

In Waupaca County hay is in short supply and many farms are out of stored feed. 

In Kewaunee County some fields have "pretty severe damage" while others look good, and many others are somewhere between the two extremes, according to the report. 

"The first crop alfalfa harvest most likely will be delayed. This is due in part to the alfalfa not being quite mature enough, but also because crop planting is so far behind," noted the Kewaunee County reporter. "Many producers will want to get enough forage planted before the hay is cut."

Corn planting is 11 days behind the average and five days behind last year at 35% complete. 

In Vernon County, farmers are concerned about prevented plant acreages since May 31 is "fast approaching," according to the report. In Clark, Price and Taylor counties producers are calling the FSA office about the USDA Risk Management Agency plant deadline for corn. 

Along with winter kill and delay of crop planting, producers in Kewaunee County a few producers are dealing with full manure pits during planting season. 

"Some manure will have to be applied to fields before they are planted to help bring down the level in the pits," noted the Kewaunee County reporter.

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at