Farmers race to catch up with spring planting

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Corn planting in Wisconsin was at 81 percent complete for the week ending May 27, according to  USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

It was as if Mother Nature knew Wisconsin crops needed a boost and cleared the skies and cranked up the heat. Despite the wilting-like conditions for humans, farmers welcomed the sunny skies and hot temperatures as they raced to catch up after a late spring.

In Outagamie County, corn that was planted emerged in less than a week with the favorable weather, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report for the week ending May 27. Oats, winter wheat and corn have good green color. Soybeans are going in and farmers were beginning to cut some alfalfa. 

The story was similar in other counties as temperatures soared into the 80s and 90s, driving rapid crop emergence. Reporters noted that many farmers were starting to cut hay as soon as they wrapped up planting

"Six weeks ago there was almost 2 feet of snow on the ground and now we have 100 + degree temperatures," the Trempealeau County farm reporter said. "Concern of too much heat, too fast."

The progress was welcome as producers had 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork last week. 

"Everyone surely made up some lost ground this last period," said the report from Fond du Lac and Washington counties. 

Midweek showers brought much needed moisture to northern Wisconsin, where some areas have not seen measurable precipitation since the last snow.

While alfalfa growth has been stunted on course soils and hilltops due to a lack of moisture in Chippewa County, heavy localized rains in Buffalo County dumped 4 - 6 inches of rain in areas on May 25, leading to some field washing, small mudslides and localized damage, according to reports. 

Waterlogged soils in the southern portions of the state dried out enough for round-the-clock planting activity, though some farmers were still avoiding wet spots.

Producers in Kenosha County were hit with more rain last week, causing washouts in planted fields as farmers tried to finish planting. Replanting will be done later, if it dries up, the report stated. 

Planting progress

  • Corn — 56 percent complete, six days behind the average. Corn emerged at 21 percent, one day ahead of last year but one day behind the average. 
  • Soybean — 33 percent of state's expected acres planted, three days ahead of last year, one day behind the average. Seven percent have emerged, four days ahead of last year, even with the average.
  • Oats — 67 percent complete, nine days behind last year, seven days behind average. Oats emerged are at 36 percent, eight days behind last year and the average. 
  • Potato — 69 percent complete, nine days behind last year.
  • Winter wheat — 81 percent of the state's winter wheat is in good to excellent condition, up four points from last week. 
  • Alfalfa — 1 percent complete. Freeze damage at 2 percent severe, 4 percent moderate and 12 percent light as of May 20, with 82 percent reported with no winter freeze damage. Hay condition reported 81 percent in good to excellent, up three points from last week.