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Despite late winter storm, spring's on its way, farmers head to fields

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Jeff Schumacher chops cornstalks from last fall's corn harvest on his farm in Fall Creek on a warm April day.

As temperatures hit the 60s last week and even 70s in the southern part of Wisconsin, farmers hit the fields with manure and fertilizer applications. 

Spring sunshine and breezy conditions helped soil moistures fall during the early part of the week, though many fields remained too wet to work, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Services (NASS) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report on April 13.

On well-drained soils producers began spring tillage, oat and potato plantings, while some were harvesting last year's crops. Winter wheat is greening up and spring calving is in full swing. However, it is Wisconsin and a late winter storm brought cold winds and heavy precipitation over the weekend. Some areas of the state received rain, but in northern Wisconsin farm reporters recorded up to 10 inches of wet snow on Sunday night.

With topsoil moisture reported at 70% adequate and 29% surplus, many fields aren't dry enough to be worked yet, limiting field work to lighter, sandier soil. As of April 12, spring tillage was 7% complete statewide, a week ahead of last year and four days ahead of the five-year average, according to the NASS report.

Oat planting, while only 9% complete, is eight days ahead of last year and three days ahead of the average. 

Sixty percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in good to excellent condition.

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or carol.spaeth-bauer@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carol.spaethbauer.