Continued rains a mixed blessing in Wisconsin

Carole Curtis


Multiple pieces of equipment made for speedy application and incorporation of nutrients on a field near Manitowoc.

Pastures enjoyed last week's wet, muggy conditions, but farmers trying to make dry hay, dig potatoes or who are hoping for minimal issues with soybeans did not.

"It could stop raining around here," the Waupaca County reporter observed in the "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending August 28.

The seven-day stretch featured near-normal temperatures, muggy conditions and frequent rains that cut the days suitable for fieldwork down to 4.3.

In Marinette and Oconto counties, rain has been falling every third day, while La Crosse County reported the ground is getting mushy and there is some standing water.

In Crawford County, the week brought extremely heavy rains in the northern two-thirds of the county that caused flash flooding in smaller tributaries and flooding in the Kickapoo River valley. Crops planted along those tributaries received extensive damage, especially soybeans, the reporter said. Pastures and hay fields were also damaged.

"While those areas reflect a small percentage of the county, producers in those areas did receive losses," he noted.

Some reporters in the state-wide network of contributing farmers and ag agents said that wet conditions appear to be contributing to late-season mold and diseases and soybeans, while others were concerned that muddy fields and high plant moistures might delay fall harvest activities.

In Rock County, the rain halted all field work and heavy morning dew put a stop to hay making. "Late season disease issues are showing up in corn and soybeans," the reporter added.

In Burnett and Washburn counties, where farmers were having a very difficult time trying to make any dry hay, some white mold was causing early death in soybeans, while Portage County reported a fair amount of white mold, especially in drilled situations.

White mold was also in Price and Taylor counties. Although putting in dry hay is a challenge with rain every few days, the area reporter added, corn looks excellent and cobs are filled out nicely.

The wet conditions meant the state's potato harvest fell further behind. By week's end, 16 percent of potatoes had been harvested statewide, a gain of two percentage points over the seven days, putting the harvest 23 days behind last year.  The crop was rated 88 percent in good to excellent condition, a drop of two percentage points from the previous week.

Dry weather will be needed in many areas to facilitate fall fieldwork, the report noted, although southeastern Wisconsin remains in need of rain.

The week ended with topsoil moisture supplies of 1 percent very short, 4 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 14 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 4 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 12 percent surplus.

Rusk County was riding high in the middle. "Crops continue looking very good.  Rain continues and decent temps continue to push maturities along," the reporter shared.  "Third crop hay is done and fourth is starting.  The best growers will get five crops this year."

In some areas of the state, farmers were chopping corn silage, bringing the tally to 3 percent harvested by August 28.

In Walworth County, some corn fields are completely harvested for corn silage, including some harvested earlier due to dry weather. "It seems to be two weeks early," the reporter noted.

As of August 28th, 85 percent of the state’s corn acreage was in or beyond the dough stage, three days ahead of last year, and 9 days ahead of the five-year average.  Fifty percent of corn was dented, seven days ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the five-year average.  Three percent of corn was reported mature.

The report rated corn condition at 87 percent good to excellent, a drop of one percent from the previous week.

In the soybean fields, 98 percent of the state’s soybean acreage was setting pods or beyond.  Leaves were turning color on 10 percent of soybeans, one day ahead of the five-year average.  Two percent  of soybeans were dropping leaves.

Soybean condition dropped a point over the week to 86 percent good to excellent.

Oats for grain were 94 percent harvested, five days ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the average, while the seeding of winter wheat was just beginning

Door County farmers excellent hay yields for the year.

The third cutting of alfalfa was 91 percent complete, which puts it even with last year, while the fourth cutting was 40 percent complete.

The report rated the condition of all hay at 90 percent good to excellent.  Pasture condition was rated 81 percent good to excellent, up 4 percentage points from last week.

The weekly “Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report” is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the National Weather Service.