Hot, humid weather spurs crop growth

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
After a very slow start, the corn crop on the Schumacher farm in Fall Creek has taken off.  One week earlier, this field was knee high, but by July 4th, hot and humid weather in Eau Claire County gave it a real boost. The height of this corn may be an anomaly as compared to some parts of the state.

While humans may not appreciate the recent hot, humid weather and rain, crops certainly did as they grew quickly, trying to make up for lost time. 

With daytime temperatures in the 80s and 90s much of last week with warm nights, scattered thunderstorms hit on several days resulting in four days suitable for field work for the week ending July 7, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report. 

"Finally, a week with actual warmth with overnight lows from 67 to 70 degrees. Crops are the better for it," the reporter from Fond du Lac and Washington counties said. "The beans put on some vegetative growth but in the by and by the best fields are still only 50 percent of closed canopy."

Heavy rain fell on still-soggy fields in some areas, while others got just enough rain to maintain adequate soil moisture. Conditions continued to be wetter in east and central Wisconsin than in the western portions of the state, according to the report.

Rain was sporadic in Buffalo and Pepin counties with some areas getting up to 3 inches in one day and others not more than a sprinkle or two all week. 

Many reporters noted ongoing difficulty making dry hay and spraying muddy fields. 

In Columbia County, farmers were finally able to complete cutting their first crop hay, while passing rain in Barron County kept some growers from cutting second crop hay. Farmers in Vernon and Dane counties were also having a hard time getting any hay harvested. 

"It has been difficult to make hay and/or haylage due to the rainy days," the Dane County reporter said. 

Chippewa, Eau Claire, Ashland and Iron county producers saw progress on hay harvest with drier weather in their areas. 

In Shawano County, rainy weather was also an issue. 

"Crops that need to get sprayed had fields that were too wet to get into. Making alfalfa hay was also a problem with showers and high humidity," the Shawano reporter said. "The one big positive was the welcomed heat along with moisture to make the corn and soybeans start to come alive and grow very well. Strawberry picking finally in full swing this week."

Even with the warm temps and growing spurts in some areas, places like Calumet and Manitowoc counties have considerable amounts of yellowing and noticeable growth stunting due to excessive rain and standing water. 

"A warm and relatively dry forecast will hopefully allow crops to bounce back," the reporter said. 

Fond du Lac and Washington counties reported improvement in corn "on the gentle slopes," but much of the low ground corn was still struggling.

"Across the board this growing year, "highly variable yields" may be the story," the Fond du Lac and Washington county reporter said. 

Corn emerged was 22 days behind last year and reported at 94% complete. Corn condition improved 4 percentage points to 59% good to excellent. 

The first cutting of alfalfa was 92% complete, 11 days behind the average. Second cutting was reported 19% complete, also 11 days behind the average. All hay condition was reported at 42% good to excellent, the same as last week. 

Soybean planting was 20 days behind last year at 96% complete with 89% emerged, 19 days behind last year. Soybean condition improved three points to 64 percent good to excellent.

At 87% headed, winter wheat was 11 days behind last year. Forty percent of winter wheat acres were coloring. Winter wheat condition improved one point from last week at 55 percent good to excellent. 

Oats emerged was at 96% complete with 56% headed, 11 days behind last year. Eleven percent of oats had colored, nine days behind last year. Oat condition is unchanged from last week at 71 percent good to excellent. 

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