Ideal conditions help move planting season forward

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
A farmer spreads fertilizer on a field near Fond du Lac County on April 5, 2021.

Favorable weather conditions may give farmers a jump start on the spring planting season.

With the spring thaw well underway by the end of March, there was little to no snow cover across the state though soils in northern Wisconsin were still partially frozen.

Strong, warm southerly winds along with little to no precipitation over the weekend helped to improve soils conditions across the state. 

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress report, farmers had 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending April 4, 2021.

Spring tillage had begun on lighter soils. Farmers were also prepping machinery and spreading manure on alfalfa and winter wheat. Overwintered crops were beginning to break dormancy; they were reportedly in good condition thanks to persistent snow cover during cold weather and a mild March.

Reporters across the state noted that planting should start early this season if favorable conditions hold. The maple syrup season had already ended in some areas as nighttime temperatures rose above freezing.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 7% very short, 25% short, 64% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 5% very short, 18% short, 71% adequate and 6% surplus.

Winter wheat condition was rated 69% good to excellent statewide, down from 84% good to excellent at the end of November. Four percent of oats are planted, 3 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of the 5-year average. Spring tillage was reported as 8% complete, 9 days ahead of last year and 13 days ahead of the average.