Crops thriving in the heat

Carole Curtis
Now Media Group


Corn and beans soaked up the sunshine, small grains were maturing rapidly and cranberries began blooming last week, thanks to another stretch of hot and steamy weather.

'Corn is starting to pop,' the Rusk County reporter said in the 'Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report' for the week ending June 19 that gave farmers five full days to work their fields.

Temperatures ran above normal, with La Crosse and Madison topping out at 88 degrees, while Eau Claire hit 87 and Green Bay heated up to 85 degrees.

The season has, thus far, provided 736 growing degree days, the Fond du Lac reporter said. 'Nice rains without too much wind are keeping things moving along very well', he commented. 'The average corn height is 12 inches, and field operations and crops are on schedule.'

The second full week of June included scattered thunderstorms that dumped two or more inches of rain on many areas, along with some high winds and isolated damage to fields. La Crosse got 3.5 inches of rain, while Eau Claire got 1.8 and Madison get 1.5 inches.

'Much rain has fallen this past week,' the Trempealeau County reporter commented. 'Unfortunately, some came rapidly and insubstantial amounts.'

Southwest Crawford County was treated to heavy rain, and small tributaries incurred flash flooding. Some crops planted in fields along those areas may have been damaged, the reporter said, but are expected to recover.

The last of first crop hay was rained on and remains laying out in the field, he added. 'Overall, crops in the county look good, but we need some dry weather in order to catch up on herbicide application,' he noted.

Lincoln and Marathon counties were also hoping for a break. 'We could use some dry weather to get stuff sprayed,' that reporter said. 'The crops have all gotten in, but it has been tough making some first crop hay with all the rain.'

Farmers in Florence and Forest counties were having trouble with hay, too. 'It's more than ready to put up, but weather is making it a struggle to harvest,' the reporter said, noting alfalfa is starting to flower, clovers are in full flower and grasses are well headed with some already gone to seed.

Rain gauge levels in Juneau County were surprising. 'Showers have been spotty and vary greatly,' the reporter said. 'Amounts have varied by one to two inches within a mile of each other, but, overall, things are looking pretty good.'

Hay status

First crop hay was good quality and quantity if the cutting was timed well.

Across many parts of Wisconsin, the storms ushered in clear and sunny weather, allowing farmers to rev up their haying and spraying machinery.

Good thing, because the last of first crop hay was very mature and second crop was growing rapidly. By week's end, 93 percent of first cutting alfalfa was in the barn, compared to 82 percent last year and the five-year average of 78 percent.

In Rusk County, second crop was coming in with good quality and good quantity. Statewide, farmers polished off 14 percent of second cutting before the summer solstice, well ahead of last year's 4 percent and the five-year average of 7 percent.

The report ranked the condition of all hay at 90 percent good to excellent, up from 83 percent the previous week, while pastures rose from 76 percent good to excellent to end the week at 81 percent.

Topsoil moisture supplies stayed fairly level with the previous week, with 0 percent very short, 6 percent short, 82 percent adequate and 12 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 6 percent short, 85 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus.

Waushara County was among those on the short end. 'High temperatures and hot weather are putting the sand country into a short moisture situation. Corn was curling yesterday,' that reporter shared.

Other crops

By June 19, corn had emerged on 99 percent of Wisconsin's expected acreage and earned a condition rating of 86 percent good to excellent.

In Dane County, where 1.8 inches of rain fell during the week, farmers were chopping second crop alfalfa and pleased with their plantings. 'Corn is growing very well and there are a number of fields that are thigh high,' the reporter said.

Soybeans were chugging well ahead of average. As of June 19, 97 percent of the state crop had emerged, 14 days ahead of the five-year average and two days ahead of last year.

Potatoes were also enjoying the fine growing conditions, earning a condition score of 97 percent good to excellent.

Oats were outpacing average with 51 percent headed, five days ahead of the five year mark.

Winter wheat was also turning in a fine performance with 93 percent headed, beating last year's mark by seven days.

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.