Excessive moisture continues to plague farmers

Carole Curtis
A farmer digs in the soil to check the condition of soybean seeds in the saturated ground.

MADISON - Wet soils, cool weather and frequent showers slowed tillage last week and made haying a chore.

The last full week of May gave farmers only three days suitable for fieldwork with cooler than normal temperatures, rain showers and overcast skies.

"Wet, wet, and more wet," the Green County reporter said in the "Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report" for the week ending May 28, lamenting the fact that rain also featured heavily in the weather predictions.

"If it wasn't raining, it was cloudy and unwilling to let the soil dry," the Sheboygan County reporter added. "Producers are starting to get worried about outcome of crops if they can't get the seed in the soil soon."

The first cutting of hay was being chopped during the few days suitable for fieldwork.

Many producers opted to cut hay while waiting for their unplanted fields to dry out, the report said, although field conditions in many cases were soft and prone to rutting, and the weather made it difficult for the hay to dry.

In Shawano County, where lots of planting remains and many fields are too wet to work, some alfalfa was chopped, but the trucks needed assistance getting out of the fields.

Statewide, 22 percent of the first cutting of alfalfa had been taken by Memorial Day.

In Rock County, hay cut during the week was still laying on the ground. "The corn that is up does not look very good, either," the reporter added.

As of May 28, the state's topsoil moisture supplies were 63 percent adequate and 37 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture supplies were 67 percent adequate and 33 percent surplus.

Spring tillage was 89 percent complete statewide, 13 days behind last year and one day behind the five-year average.

The week ended with 98 percent of the state's potato crop in the ground, one day ahead of last year.

All other crops lagged the average.

Corn planting was 77 percent complete, 12 days behind last year and five days behind the average. Corn emerged was pegged at 47 percent, five days behind last year and three days behind the average.

In Adams and Juneau counties, isolated storms dropped a lot of rain in places, leaving many fields with standing water and some farmers saying they have never seen a spring this wet.

"A lot of producers are going to keep trying to plant and take their chances," the local reporter said, noting one producer had already switched to 92 day corn

In Lincoln and Marathon counties, where the cold has stunted hay fields and is raising concerns about the ginseng crop, the emerging corn and soybeans do not have good color and many areas of the fields that did get planted were either washed out or did not grow.

Trempealeau County also reported most corn is very yellow and some will need replanting.

Overall, 61 percent of the state's corn crop was rated as good to excellent in condition.

Farmers across the state are eager to get seed into the ground, however, wet weather has not only prevented them from entering fields but some fields may have to be replanted due to standing water.

Soybean plantings plugged along with 45 percent of the state crop seeded down by week's end, 10 days behind last year and six days behind the average. Emergence was marked at 12 percent, seven days behind last year and five days behind the average.

Growers had planted 92 percent of this year's oats, 12 days behind last year and three days behind the average. Oats emerged was at 81 percent, six days behind last year and even with the average, while the condition rating rose a point to 71 percent good to excellent.

Winter wheat was 14 percent headed, three days behind last year, although the report noted that heading levels were quite variable from county to county. The crop was rated 73 percent in good to excellent condition overall.

The condition of pastures and ranges was 79 percent good to excellent, while 72 percent of all hay was in good to excellent condition.

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