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The Season of Uncertainty for Wisconsin Crops

Timely rain has helped crop development after delayed planting this spring.

In south-central Wisconsin, Doug Rebout’s crop on his 4,000-acre farm looks beautiful.

Earlier this spring, Rebout, along with most farmers in Wisconsin, was limited to the short spells between rainfalls to begin and finish planting. The cold, wet weather has affected the crop’s progress a little, but overall, and especially for corn, the crop has nearly caught up to normal.

“We were still getting a bunch of rain this summer, but there were some gaps in between so that the crop wouldn’t drown out. It was timely rain.”

However, once the corn started tasseling, the rain stopped, and now more than ever, they could use some timely showers.

Rainfall didn’t only challenge planting this year, but also spraying fungicide and insecticide. "There are a lot of insects out there right now; they’re especially bad in our late-planted soybeans."

Planning Ahead

Rebout and others have been holding off on marketing in anticipation of the USDA August Crop Production Report Monday, hoping the prices will jump up.

And as for what’s next, Rebout says, “We’re looking forward and planning when to chop our corn silage for our cows. Otherwise, we wait and see. This has been the season of uncertainty."

As of August 4, the USDA rates topsoil moisture supplies at:

  • 2% very short

  • 12% short

  • 76% adequate

  • 10% surplus

USDA-Rated Subsoil Moisture Supplies:

  • 1% very short

  • 5% short

  • 82% adequate

  • 12% surplus

The drought monitor for Wisconsin shows only 1.22% of the state as abnormally dry.

August 2019 Wisconsin Drought Monitor
National Drought Mitigation Center

The precipitation totals between August 1-August 8, 2019 show south-central Wisconsin received upwards of 2.69 inches of rain, a pocket in eastern Wisconsin received 4.04 inches of rain, and there was little to no rain along the border of northwest Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Precipitation Total August 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

The USDA Crop Progress Report also identifies:

  • Corn silking is 53% complete, 13 days behind last year and 10 days behind the five-year average; 4% of corn has reached the dough stage. Corn condition is 65% good to excellent, up 2 percentage points from last week.

  • Soybeans blooming is at 66%, 13 days behind last year and 11 days behind the average; 29% of soybeans were setting pods, 12 days behind last year and 11 days behind the average. Soybean condition was 69% good to excellent, up four percentage points from last week.

  • Of all winter wheat acres, 97% were coloring, 11 days behind both last year and the average. Winter wheat harvest is reported at 46% complete, nine days behind last year and six days behind the average. Winter wheat condition was 64% good to excellent, up 3 percentage points from last week.

  • For oats, 74% had colored, 11 days behind both last year and the average. Oat harvest was reported as 24% complete, four days behind both last year and the average. Oat condition was 76% good to excellent, up five percentage points from last week.  

  • The second cutting of alfalfa hay was reported as 87% complete, 12 days later than last year and 10 days later than the average. The third cutting was reported as 23% complete, eight days behind last year. All hay condition was reported 58% in good to excellent condition, 4 percentage points above last week.

  • Pasture condition was rated 63% in good to excellent condition, down 2 percentage points from last week.  

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