Dave Laatsch, interim Dodge County Extension crops and soils agent, says the challenges of this year's growing season has provided plenty of teachable moments for farmers.
Laatsch says crops in Dodge County received little rain in May after heavy rains the first week of May and less than an inch in June. Crop saving rains arrived July 26 and 27 dumping as much as 3 inches across much of the county.
"The three inches of rain has lifted the stress not only on the crop but on the people," Laatsch says. "The stress was building. I felt the stress among farmers. I sensed it with every call I took and every farm visit I made. You could see it on the faces of folks I talked too. You could really see it on the faces of farmers who don't have crop insurance."
About 60% of Wisconsin farmers have crop insurance statewide.
"But that doesn't tell you what kind of coverage they have," Laatch says. "Some may just have hail insurance."
Laatsch notes that crops today have a potential value of as much as $1,200 to $1,500 per acre.
"Why wouldn't you take out crop insurance to insure that investment? That is the No.1 lesson that is going to come out of this drought. And crop insurance is subsidized 63% by the federal government. Premiums range from about $17 to $23 an acre. Some farmers are wondering if crop insurance is worth it. But a lot of those farmers who didn't have it didn't sleep for six weeks.
Farmers were asking Laatsch ''what is the feed value of my corn?"
"How could I give them an honest appraisal of a crop that was anywhere from 8 feet tall and tasseling to other stalks in the field that were a foot and half tall and burned off three quarters of the way up the stalk? I couldn't give them the answer they wanted. In Wisconsin we have fields with a wide variety of soil types. Yields within fields will vary greatly."