Mixed progress with planting across the state

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
There were 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending May 20, 2018, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. However, there was variation in the number of days suitable for fieldwork across the state.

The sun was shining and tractors were rolling in the northern part of the state last week as farmers made excellent progress with planting and tillage. The southern part of the state however, faced wetter conditions. 

Most of the crops are in the ground and looking good in Rusk County, but seedlings will start to run out of moisture soon if some rain doesn't fall in the area. 

Reports from Bayfield and Douglas counties say it's starting to dry out and St. Croix hasn't had rain in three weeks, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Crop Progress and Condition report.

That's a stark contrast to the Southeastern district which is particularly wet, with some fields reportedly drowned out or unlikely to be planted at all. 

Dane County has wet spots in fields with standing water. Farmers in Sauk County were able to make some progress but forecasts called for more rain. 

Producers in southern Wisconsin were able to get lots of seeds in the ground before another rainy weekend slowed fieldwork.  Low spots and heavy soils remained too wet to support machinery in many areas.

Producers in Adams and Juneau counties are "contemplating whether to wait and plant, switch crops, or call it prevent plant since the forecast doesn't look very good," one report said.  

Meanwhile, farmers were gearing up to start the first cutting of hay with 82 percent of the state's alfalfa reported as having no winter freeze damage. 

However, reports from Adams and Juneau counties indicate significant winterkill in new seedings and established stand of alfalfa, but nothing more than what is expected, so farmers don't seem too concerned. 

Although the days for suitable fieldwork varied across the state, NASS reports 5.2 suitable days. Spring tillage was 69 percent complete last week, six days behind last year and three behind the five-year average.

Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 6 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Planting progress

  • Corn - 56 percent complete statewide, six days behind last year, three days behind the five-year average. 
  • Soybeans - 33 percent complete, three days ahead of last year, one day behind average. Seven percent of soybeans have emerged, four days ahead of last year and even with the average. 
  • Oats - 67 percent complete, nine days behind last year, seven days behind the average. Oats emerged was at 36 percent, eight days behind last year and eight days behind the average.
  • Potatoes - 69 percent complete, nine days behind last year. 
  • Winter wheat - 81 percent in good to excellent condition, up four percentage points from last week. 
  • Alfalfa - first cutting one percent complete. Freeze damage rated at 2 percent severe, 4 percent moderate, 12 percent light as of May 20. All hay condition 81 percent in good to excellent, up three percentage points from last week.