Fine crops and floods detail wet week

Carole Curtis
Now Media Group


Rain blanketed Wisconsin last week.

For many farmers, it came as light, intermittent showers. Not so for Northwestern Wisconsin, where multiple thunderstorms on Monday dumped up to 10 inches of rain, causing extensive flooding that damaged crops, roads, buildings and the coastline. A state of emergency was declared in eight counties.

Rainfall totals broke records in parts of Ashland, Bayfield and Iron counties. 'Ashland and Iron counties were especially hard hit,' the area reporter said in the 'Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report' for the week ending July 17.

'Some low-lying fields along waterways are a total loss,' he added. 'Throughout the area, many crops are turning yellow in low-lying sections of fields, due to excessive moisture.'

Elsewhere, gentle rains and normal temperatures through the week brought welcome heat and moisture as corn began to pollinate.

A nice 1.25 inches of rain fell Sunday morning to freshen things up in Waupaca County. 'Overall, crops are in about the best condition for mid-July in many years,' that reporter said.

As of July 17, 33 percent of Wisconsin's corn had reached the silking stage, four days ahead of both last year and the five-year average. The condition of the crop was holding at 86 percent good to excellent.

'Corn progress this past week was outstanding. Timely rains and adequate heat units have been really good,' the Trempealeau County reporter said.

The week of humid weather was less favorable for making hay. 'Hay crops continue to be abundant, but it's challenging to make dry hay,' he added.

Other reporters felt the same way.

'Second crop of hay in this county is a challenge if you want dry hay,' the Clark County reporter said. 'We just can't seem to string three or four days of good weather together.'

Plenty of moisture in July makes crops grow very well, the Shawano County reporter observed. 'That's the case here,' he said. 'Corn and soybeans are looking very good, the lawn is still getting cut twice a week and the alfalfa is great, but we cannot make dry hay.'

In Chippewa County, some farmers were cutting in the rain. 'The hay harvest needs to occur this week on most second crop, if quality hay is to be made,' the reporter noted.

By week's end, state farmers used the 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork to finish off 84 percent of second cutting of alfalfa and 14 percent of third cutting, well ahead of the five-year averages of 69 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

The condition of all hay was marked 89 percent good to excellent, even with the previous week, while pasture condition dropped a point to 77 percent good to excellent.

Statewide, moisture supplies held fairly steady with topsoil moisture supplies ending the week at 1 percent very short, 11 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus, much the same as subsoil moisture levels.

Sheboygan County said additional rainfall would be welcome as corn pollination begins, while Dodge County said dry weather was needed for the harvest of hay and winter wheat.

In Adams, Marquette and Waushara counties, dry conditions were stressing crops on lighter soils. 'But,' the area reporter said, 'a good rain on Saturday night made everything look good again.'

The winter wheat harvest got rolling, with 11 percent of the crop harvested by July 17, five days ahead of last year. The condition of the crop rose a point to 89 percent good to excellent.

Farmers in Kenosha County were harvesting wheat, but in Chippewa County, where the wheat and the farmers were ready, the weather slowed harvest to a crawl.

Soybeans remained well ahead of average with 70 percent of the crop at or beyond the blooming stage, 11 days ahead of last year and 13 days ahead of average. Twenty-three percent of the beans were setting pods, seven days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the average.

In Clark County, some bean fields feature areas of phytophthora. Wet conditions in June may have helped the disease, the reporter commented.

Statewide, the crop held at the previous week's condition rating of 85 percent good to excellent.

'Soybeans are growing very tall this year,' the Chippewa County reporter observed. 'Corn looks very good, too, although there are some signs of lack of nitrogen as it starting to yellow.'

The potato crop earned a condition rating of 95 percent good to excellent, as reports came in of some being harvested.

Oats were also ahead of average with 97 percent headed and 68 percent coloring, putting this year three days ahead of last year.

By week's end, farmers had taken 8 percent of the oat crop being grown for grain, five days ahead of last year and three days behind the average. The condition of the crop came in at 85 percent good to excellent.

'So far, crops throughout the county look good, including hay, fruits and vegetables,' the Crawford County reporter commented. 'While we've had some storms go through, we have had very little, if any, crop damage.'

Livestock, he added, seemed to be holding their own during the warmer temperatures.

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.