Dry hay stacks up quickly in June

Carole Curtis
Now Media Group


Stocks of dry hay stacked up fast last week as June finished out with an ideal stretch of haying weather.

The week ending July 3 provided state farmers with 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork, the 'Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report' said, and balers were busy.

Clear, sunny weather and daytime highs in the 70s allowed farmers to push the second cutting of alfalfa to 58 percent complete before the Fourth of July, with some producers even starting third cutting.

In Kenosha County, the weather was labeled 'perfect' for making hay. 'Not too hot, no morning dew, good drying. Cut one day and, next day, bale,' the reporter observed in the document created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents across the state.

In Price and Taylor Counties, hay yields were coming in above average with good quality, while dairy second crop hay was finished in Burnett and Washburn counties and lots of grass hay first crop was being put up beef.

About a third of second crop was off in Kewaunee County and in Portage County, where cranberries were in full, excellent bloom, farmers put up an abundance of baled hay with generally good yields and quality, despite some fields being still very soft.

Looking back over the past ten years, 2016 is in second place for the fastest pace of second cut by July 3, trailing only 2012's 73 percent. Last year came in third with 35 percent.

In La Crosse County, plenty of peas and oats were chopped for silage, some second crop hay was made and most farmers finished spraying their fields. In Kenosha County, a somewhat shorter than usual crop of oats and peas was being cut for forage.

Snap bean planting being nearly complete in Portage County, early potatoes were in full bloom and barley looking good and heading out. Most of the poor quality oat fields were harvested for oatlage, the reporter added.

Corn liked the weather, responding with a burst of growth that put it well over knee-high by Independence Day. The condition of the crop notched 85 percent good to excellent

'Corn and soybeans took a leap last week and most fields look good,' the Taylor County reporter observed.

The dry week may have been good for making hay and growing corn, but it lead to an overall decline in soil moisture for many areas.

'The irrigators are running. We need rain,' the Pierce County reporter said.

Topsoil moisture

Patchy rain did fall midweek, dropping 0.20 inches on Green Bay, 0.24 inches on Eau Claire, 1.18 inches on La Crosse and 1.78 inches in Madison. In Vernon County, a small, fast storm moved through on Thursday with up to 1.5 inches of rain and gusting winds from 54 to 60 mph.

On July 3, topsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short and 14 percent short, compared to the previous week's 0 percent very short and 9 percent short. Subsoil moisture supplies fell from the zero percent very short and 8 percent short to 1 percent very short and 11 percent short.

Reporters in areas missed by the recent rains said crops were stressed by the dry conditions.

Corn in Rock County had started to roll its leaves during the day, as was some corn in Kewaunee County.

'Over the past couple of weeks, not much rain has fallen in our immediate area, and the shortage is being felt now in the deteriorating condition of the crops,' the latter reporter shared.

Crops on lighter and shallower soils needed rain the most, he said, noting weeds were very prevalent in the soybean fields, to the point that the second herbicide treatment will be needed to keep yields from decreasing too much.

Other crop progress

Statewide, soybeans were showing good growth and beginning to bloom. By the holiday, 24 percent of the state's beans were blooming, 7 days ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the five-year average. The report rated 83 percent of the crop in good to excellent condition.

Potatoes were rated 95 percent in good to excellent condition, as was 87 percent of all hay and 79 percent of the state's pasture land.

'Everything is progressing well at this point', the reporter for Florence County commented.

In Washburn and Burnett counties, the corn was shoulder high and looking good. Soybeans were starting to flower, winter rye was turning color and oats are almost fully headed.

Statewide, small grains were ripening nicely.

On July 3, oats had pulled seven days ahead of average with 86 percent headed. Twenty-seven percent of the crop was colored, three days ahead of last year, with a condition rating of 86 percent good to excellent.

Winter wheat was also turning color faster than usual. By week's end, 79 percent was changing hue, giving this year an eight day edge over last year.

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.