Crops leave average in the dust

Carole Curtis
Now Media Group


Early planted corn was starting to silk, small grains were nearly ready to harvest and 'excellent' is many farmers' descriptor of choice.

It came up a lot in the 'Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report' for the week ending July 10, which said the majority of crops in the state are in good or excellent condition and on a great pace toward harvest. The amount of second cutting alfalfa taken, oats headed and coloring, soybeans blooming and setting pods and winter wheat coloring were all running nicely ahead of the five-year average.

'It was a nice week for all crops,' the Rusk County reporter said in the document created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents. 'Corn, especially, seems to be jumping.'

In St. Croix County, corn was beginning to tassel and an excellent crop of green beans was flowering.

Moisture was a stickler for some, however, as this summer's pattern of spotty rainfall continued with patchy thunderstorms that dumped variable amounts of rain and left scattered pockets of limited soil moisture across the state.

While La Crosse got drenched with 1.76 inches of rain and Eau Claire got 1.91 inches, Green Bay got 0.26 inches for the week and Milwaukee got 0.13 inches.

Some of the storms carried strong winds, sparking reports of corn and small grains lodging and some farm buildings damaged by wind.

Midweek, an F-0 tornado hit Vernon County with 80 mile-per-hour winds. No buildings were damaged and a very small area of crops were affected, the reporter said, but lots of trees and power lines went down.

The reporter for Dunn/Pepin counties reported thunderstorms with excessive winds in some spots, causing damage to crops, especially corn, and buildings.

As of July 10, the state's topsoil moisture supplies stood at 1 percent very short, 11 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture levels were 1 percent very short, 10 percent short, 82 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus.

Rain continued to hamper fieldwork progress in Ashland and Iron counties. Hay baling was coming along slowly, the reporter said, and some grain crops look to be suffering the effects of excess moisture.

In Barron County, where midweek storms dumped heavy rain and high winds caused localized damage, dry conditions remained obvious in parts of the fields.

'Overgrazed pastures look like my lawn: dry brown and crunchy,' that reporter observed. 'For the most part, though, crops are looking very good.'

Corn and beans on the hillsides in Fond du Lac County were just beginning to show afternoon stress when a rain shower on July 6 provided 0.15 inches of rain. The next day, a severe thunderstorm dropped 2.40 inches in 35 minutes.

'These rains made for a timely rescue,' the reporter said. 'We were most fortunate, even though some oats were lodged as a result.'

Insect and fungal pressures in the county were low and most weeds were very well under control, he added. Apples and pears were looking good.

Farmers in Ozaukee County were pleased with the weather. 'The beneficial rains this past week were very welcome,' the reporter said. 'Crop conditions continue to be very good.'

Farmers weren't stressing much over the quality or quantity of this year's hay, either. Rusk County continued to haul in hay of good quality and quantity, while Marinette and Oconto counties reported very good quality for second crop, with some even better than first crop.

Third cutting

starting up

In Dane and Green counties, third cutting got rolling.

By July 10, 3 percent of the state's third cutting alfalfa was already in the barn, along with a hefty 71 percent of second cutting. For comparison, last year's mark for second cutting on July 10 was 57 percent and the five-year average was 51 percent.

'The hay harvest has been excellent and the weather has been cooperative,' the Juneau County reporter observed. 'Everything is looking excellent.'

To top it off, the report marked the condition of all hay up 2 percentage points to 89 percent good to excellent, while pastures came in at 78 percent good to excellent condition.

The first full week of July also ended with 4 percent of the state's corn crop silking and a condition rating of 86 percent good to excellent.

In Fond du Lac County, corn shot from around knee-high to head-high, while some early planted corn in Green County was shooting tassels. 'Most corn and soybean fields look very good, with light disease and insect pressure,' that reporter commented.

Soybeans are OK

Rusk County growers were ladling out lots of top dressing of nitrogen, but that would end soon as the corn stretches too tall. 'Soybeans are not coming around quite as nice as corn, but they are looking OK,' that reporter added.

Although soybeans in Juneau County looked short in some areas, they, too, were moving along nicely. In Barron County, late planted soybeans were struggling to outcompete the weeds.

Statewide, beans were in high gear with 45 percent of the crop at or beyond the blooming stage by July 10, eight days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of the five-year average. Five percent of the beans were setting pods, 3 days ahead of last year and 7 days ahead of average.

Statewide, the condition rating for soybeans came in at 85 percent good to excellent, while potatoes were doing well with 95 percent rated in good to excellent condition.

Oats were seven days ahead of average with 94 percent headed by week's end and 49 percent coloring, which beats last year by three days. The condition rating was pegged at 86 percent good to excellent.

There were a few reports of farmers harvesting oats for grain.

Winter wheat pulled nine days ahead of last year with 93 percent of the crop turning color and 88 percent in good to excellent condition.

'Excellent wheat yields expected here,' the Door County reporter shared.

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.