Wisconsin crops endure another week of hot, muggy weather with isolated showers

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Rows of corn in Waukesha County show signs of heat stress. Crops in many parts of the state are showing the effects of the hot humid weather with little rain.

A lack of rain and high temperatures is starting to hit northern counties hard with grass turning brown, pastures declining daily and crops on more dry soils showing significant signs of heat stress. 

Irrigators are running everywhere in St. Croix County and fourth crop hay on unirrigated land is nonexistent. Rain skipped over Trempealeau County with some areas in the middle and southern part of the county getting blessed with rain and crops look good, but other areas are "crying for moisture," according to farm reporters and ag agents in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition report for the week ending Aug. 12. 

Rainfall last week was concentrated in the southern districts of the state, while portions of the northern and central districts received no measurable precipitation. With corn and soybean pollinations wrapping up, some reporters were concerned that soil moisture may be inadequate in their area during the critical stages of cob and pod development.

It was a week of spotty showers in Clark County with most areas receiving some moisture, but somes areas were missed. However, crops look good in the county the reporter noted. Corn and soybeans in Clark County are looking good, with early planted corn possibly ready for silage harvest in early September. 

The warm humid weather has allowed crops to grow in Adams and Juneau counties, even though the area didn't receive much rain. Sandy knolls and light soils are showing significant signs of heat stress, but overall crops look good and harvest of forage progressed well last week, according to the report. 

Kewaunee County saw wild swings in crop conditions because of rain one week and nothing the next week. 

"Overall, this summer has been more dry and warm than expected and the crops are suffering," the Kewaunee County reporter said. "Some of the corn that was planted late is being hit especially hard, with short growth and curling leaves. Depending on how much, if any, rain falls in the next few weeks, some of this corn may have to be chopped for silage much earlier than normal."

With grain being made at this time of year, yield will go down without adequate rainfall, added the Kewaunee reporter. While the heat and lack of rain has resulted in less third crop alfalfa growth, the weather has been favorable for harvesting wheat, oats and baling hay. 

"The moisture content of the grain and the hay has been much lower this year, making for better quality of both," noted the Kewaunee reporter. 

It was a bit of a different story in southern counties. 

Walworth County got some much-needed rain last week and hopes to get more this week. 

In Dodge County, the reported noted "another great week of weather." 

"Temperatures in the 80s and scattered showers across the county makes good conditions for growing corn and beans," the Dodge County reporter said. "The areas that didn't receive rain were able to make dry hay. Crops are all looking good right now."

Longer, soaking and widespread rains are needed to boost seed development and promote growth in pastures and hay stands, according to the crop report. 

Crop conditions across the state range from 76 to 79 percent in good to excellent condition last week, a several points below the previous week when crops were reported between 80 - 86 percent good to excellent

The potato crop, at 13 percent complete, held onto a higher condition rating at 86 percent good to excellent. 

Oat condition dropped five percentage points from last week at 79, with oats turning color reported at 96 percent and oats harvested for grain at 50 percent complete, four days ahead of last year. 

Ninety-four percent of the state's corn acreage has reached the silking stage, six days ahead of last year and 45 percent of the corn has reached the dough stage, five days ahead of last year.

Soybeans are two to three days ahead of last year, with 93 percent bloomed, and 80 percent setting pods. 

Alfalfa is on track with last year with 68 percent of the third cutting complete, and 6 percent of fourth cutting complete. 

Winter wheat, at 92 percent complete, is two days ahead of last year.