Spring Fieldwork Will Require Patience This Year

Badger View

Farmers likely won't be in the fields in most of Wisconsin before May 1.

Published on: April 19, 2013

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

That is certainly true when it comes to our weather. Last summer, nearly everybody was praying for rain in June and July in the southern half of the state and there was little rain to be had until the end of July. Showers were widely scattered throughout August and much of the state grew dry again during September and the first half of October.

After a snowy, cold winter, spring has been much colder than normal and extremely wet. Concerns about drought again in 2013 have now been replaced with concerns about when will it be dry enough to start getting in the fields?

Much of southern and central Wisconsin have had so much rain and/or  snow in recent weeks that fields, rivers and streams are flooding throughout much of the state.

Many farm fields across the southern two-thirds of the state are wet and flooded like this one near Waupun.
Many farm fields across the southern two-thirds of the state are wet and flooded like this one near Waupun.

And the 10-day forecast doesn't offer much relief. Rain is predicted every day between Friday, April 19 through Sunday, April 28 except two days – Saturday, April 20 and Thursday, April 25. These are only predictions and we all know that it's tough enough for the weathermen to get the forecast right for the next day much less 10 days out. So hopefully they are wrong and there will be more dry days than what is forecast.

Not only does wet weather delay farmers from getting in fields to begin fieldwork in preparation of planting crops, but dairy and livestock producers throughout the state have not been able to haul and spread manure due to the wet conditions. All of that will have to be done as soon as weather permits before farmers can venture into fields to begin tilling the soil and planting.

Not only is it wet, it is also cold. The high temperature on Friday, April 19 was only 39 degrees with a low of 25 degrees. Normal highs for this time of year are in the mid-50s. Temperatures during the next 10 days are forecast to below normal all expect one day on Monday, April 22. Trees and bushes have not begun getting leaves. Daffodils and tulips are still not blooming. I don't expect my daffodils to begin blooming until April 28 at the earliest. Most years, my daffodils begin blooming the second week of April. Last year, which saw a record warm spring, I had daffodils blooming March 15. In 2011, my daffodils started blooming on March 30.

I've heard that some Wisconsin farmers, fearing the worst, and are already lining up to return their 110-day seed corn and trade it in for 90-day and 95-day seed corn. That may be a bit premature at this point, but it's looking like it will be May 1 or later before farmers can begin venturing out into their fields to begin fieldwork. While farmers in the southern half of the state like to have all of their corn planted by May 12, that may not happen this year depending on how much you have to plant.  Hopefully everyone will have some of their corn planted by then, but likely most will still be planting corn after Mother's Day.

It's one of those years when farmers will likely be waiting and then hurrying up. Make sure you pack your patience this spring. It's likely you're going to need it.