June finished on a wild note, but the first week of July offered many Wisconsin farmers a welcome chunk of clear dry weather.
According to the July 7 “Wisconsin Crop Progress & Condition Report”, severe weather during the last week of June spilled over into Monday, June 30. Extreme straight-line winds damaged crops and toppled trees and structures across southern Wisconsin. In Grant County, where most corn was 5 to 7 feet tall, the wind destroyed many buildings and flattened oats and corn.
The weather cleared midweek, providing farmers with 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork statewide. Farmers scrambled to make hay, but patchy and locally heavy rains continued to disrupt fieldwork.
“Finally, two days in a row without rain had everyone cutting hay. Hay quality will be below average for early cuttings, but at least some hay is being made,” the reporter from Barron County said in the document created with input from farm reporters and county ag agents across the state.
Waupaca County enjoyed a week of favorable weather that allowed producers to finish the harvest of rather mature first crop hay, begin their second crop hay harvest in earnest and spray their weedy cornfields.
However, the weather made haying tough in Green and Florence counties. “We can’t get more than two days of sun. We had showers, scattered, with some very heavy,” the Florence County reporter shared, while hay was getting made as weather permitted, meaning only periodically, in La Crosse County.
By week’s end, farmers had finished 95 percent of first cutting, up from last year’s 90 percent by and close to the five-year average of 97 percent. Second cutting was 24 percent complete, up from last year’s 12 percent, but well behind the five-year average of 37 percent.
In Bayfield and Douglas counties, farmers had started to bale dry hay, but frequent small rains made the progress slow. It was the same story of spotty showers in Marathon County, where some were trying to harvest first crop and others, able to harvest hay earlier, were starting on their second crop.
With precipitation totals for the week that ranged from 0.14 inches in Eau Claire to 2.76 inches in Madison, average topsoil moistures fell from 37 percent surplus to 30 percent surplus.
The week ending July 6 was a tad cool. Temperatures averaged 1 to 3 degrees below normal, with highs ranging from 77 to 80 degrees and lows between 57 and 61 degrees. Milwaukee made it to 87 degrees, while Madison and La Crosse topped out at 86. At Green Bay and Milwaukee, nighttime temperatures fell below 50 degrees.
“We need more heat, less rain,” the Marathon County reporter said, speaking for many.
The report held a litany of weather-related issues. Crops on poorly drained soils were struggling after months of excessive moisture, while the inability to spray has spawned high weed pressure in some areas. Soggy hay stands were rutted and damaged as farmers worked on the first two cuttings of hay.
Sheboygan County has lots of grass in the corn, while Lincoln County got a lot of rain, falling in patches. “Depending where the clouds let go, some farmers could get into fields and some couldn’t,” that reporter said.
As excess water built up in Walworth County, sections of corn fields were starting to yellow from leaching, while corn in Washington County ranged from 8 inches tall to 5 feet. “The 8-inch corn is stressed,” the reporter observed.
According to the Barron County reporter, the pest issues, in order, are weeds, diseases and insects. Crops are growing well, but threatened from many sides, he observed.
Crops were also reportedly growing well in Door and Marathon counties.
The report said that the majority of the state’s crops and pastures were in good to excellent condition. Most corn was knee-high or better by the Fourth of July and exhibiting normal development.
Waupaca County reported some early planted corn now waist high and with good color, except on heavy, poorly drained soils where it’s yellow in places.
As of July 6, 77 percent of the state’s corn crop was rated in good to excellent condition, as was 77 percent of soybeans, 85 percent of oats, 72 percent of winter wheat and 92 percent of potatoes. Hay fields were rated 89 percent in good to excellent condition, as was 91 percent of pastures.
Soybeans were 5 percent blooming, just behind the five-year average of 7 percent, and 74 percent of oats were heading, compared to the five-year average of 83 percent, with 16 percent turning color.
In the winter wheat fields, 97 percent was heading with 55 percent turning color.
As early planted sweet corn was beginning to pollinate, strawberry picking was wrapping up after a later than usual season. Potatoes were in full bloom in Portage County and peas were being harvested in Trempealeau County.
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.