Abundant moisture

Carole Curtis
Now Media Group


Temperatures climbed above normal and storm clouds rolled in over the last two weeks, bringing heat and rain that boosted crop growth across Wisconsin.

The rains interrupted planting and haying in many areas and clipped the days suitable for fieldwork down to 4.1 for the last week of May, but farmers made good progress between the storms.

'It was a productive three days in the field before the thundershowers kicked in,' the Fond du Lac County reporter said in the 'Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report' for the week ending May 29.

Corn planters were particularly busy. By week's end, 97 percent of the state's corn crop was in the ground. The figure is impressive, not just because it puts 2016 three days ahead of last year, but because 2000 was the only other time in the last 20 years that corn planting hit that mark by May 29.

Haymaking also went well, with 52 percent of first cutting alfalfa in the barn before the calendar turned, well ahead of last year's 28 percent and the five-year average of 24 percent.

Of the state's expected soybean acres, 85 percent were in, two weeks ahead of the average and two days ahead of last year.

The report pegged emerged corn at 75 percent, eight days ahead of the five-year average and three days behind last year, and gave the crop a rating of 85 percent in good to excellent condition.

In the soybean fields, 51 percent of the crop had emerged by Memorial Day, eight days ahead of average and a trace behind last year, while 97 percent of the state's potato crop was in the ground by May 29.

Precipitation scattered

Precipitation through the last full week of May was scattered with totals ranging from a trace to several inches, even within the same county. In a few areas, heavy downpours caused erosion. Waushara County got a dump load with 1.75 inches of rain falling within 30 minutes on May 25.

Fond du Lac County reported a total of two inches of rain over the week despite the hit-and-miss nature of the storms. 'The warmth has made for excellent corn and bean germination. The stands are very uniform,' the reporter observed. 'All crops are well poised for June growth.'

Pastures also fared well, rising in condition to 72 percent good to excellent, while all hay was ranked 83 percent in good to excellent shape.

The week ended with the state's topsoil moisture supplies at 1 percent very short, 14 percent short, 75 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 13 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus.

The calendar switched to June, but the pattern of frequent rains and thunderstorms continued, again trimming days suitable for fieldwork back to four.

'When it rained, it poured,' the Barron County reporter said in the June 6 report. 'Too much rain, too fast halted fieldwork and created some erosion issues. Some wet field areas will be skipped if the crop isn't already drowned.'

In Waupaca County, some lower field crops were under stress with standing water, while Dodge County got hit with high winds that toppled trees. 'One fence line had 40 down trees on it,' the reporter shared. 'Lots of cleanup to do.'

As of June 5, Wisconsin's topsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 8 percent short, 76 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus.

'Things were getting dry, but we've received anywhere from 1.0 to 4.5 inches of rain during the last week to 10 days and crops have responded tremendously,' the Juneau County reporter said.

Crop progress

The amount of emerged corn hit 90 percent, 11 days ahead of the five-year average with a condition score of 86 percent good to excellent, up one percentage point from the previous week.

Ninety-five of the state's expected soybean acres were in, over two weeks ahead of average. Emergence was pegged at 74 percent, beating the five-year average by 10 days.

By week's end, 5 percent of the oat crop had headed, putting 2016 one day behind the five-year average. The crop earned a condition rating of 84 percent good to excellent.

Winter wheat was 58 percent headed statewide with a condition rating of 89 percent good to excellent, up one point from the previous week, while pastures held their ground at 72 percent in good to excellent condition and potatoes were rated 84 percent good to excellent.

Farmers polished off 69 percent of first cutting alfalfa by June 5, nicely ahead of last year's mark of 52 percent and the five-year average of 44 percent. The report pegged the condition of all hay at 85 percent good to excellent, two points higher than the previous week.

Although the hay harvest was hampered by the rains in many areas, farmers in Manitowoc County were close to done. 'The recent rains should make for a bumper second crop of hay, provided temperatures cooperate,' the reporter added.

In Eau Claire County, hay quality was quickly getting away from some dairy farms and, in Clark County, ruts were obvious in some hayfields. 'Hay has reached the point where it should be harvested, but wet weather is causing delays', that reporter said.

Rain was also limiting timely alfalfa harvest in Sheboygan County, resulting in lower quality forage than desired. However, the rains have been very beneficial for recently planted grain crops, which are off to an excellent start, the reporter commented.

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