Planting wraps up as farmers make hay between showers

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Warm temperatures and recent rainfall have helped crops like this field of winter wheat.

With close to normal temperatures last week, farmers worked to wrap up spring planting while scattered showers throughout the state only slightly delayed some planting. However, the showers prevented baling dry hay for some farmers. 

Heavy rains fell in southwestern Wisconsin over the weekend, but missed many areas where precipitation was needed where reporters noted uneven germination due to dry soils. 

Haymaking was in full swing in Barron County, but some cutting got "washed off" prior to dry down or chopping, according the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report. 

Farmers in La Crosse County were "going long hours into the night" to get the hay crop in, the reported noted. 

While all hay condition is reported as 83 percent in good to excellent condition, Portage and Wood counties report that "hay is poor all the way around." 

"Three years and older alfalfa killed out due to the late spring and early heat, even the grass has headed out very short," the reporter stated. "Cut it off and hope for a good second crop is the philosophy."  

In Shawano County, alfalfa yields vary considerably, with some fields "hit quite hard with winter damage, while others look very good," said the farm reporter.

Although topsoil moisture is reported as 77 percent adequate and 16 percent short, soil surface conditions in Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties are dry resulting in delayed germination in areas.

Farmers in Kewaunee County are also dealing with dry soil conditions. 

"While most of the crops are doing okay at the present time, their overall condition is getting worse because of the lack of rain over the past few weeks. Some rain has fallen, but it hasn't been enough to get all the planted seeds germinated," the Kewaunee County reporter stated. "The result are fields that are spotty. If producers were fortunate enough to get their crops in a week or two earlier, the germination and emergence was much better, and thus the crops look better too. There is still quite a bit of moisture under the soil surface, but the topsoil is getting dry."  

All crops are reported as 95-97 percent complete, with corn and soybeans being slightly ahead of last year and oats four days behind last year. Winter wheat is 50 percent headed two days behind last year.