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Recent rains give crops boost
A soybean field adjacent to a small creek on Melvin Rd. south of Monroe is one of many that has had no shortage of rain recently. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - The tallest corn in Wisconsin is in the south central and southwest regions, which includes Green and Lafayette counties.

Corn in these areas is averaging 19 and 16 inches high respectively, compared to the state average of 12 inches, according to the USDA Wisconsin Crop Report released June 24. The state five-year average is 20 inches.

But corn in Green County is averaging about 24 inches tall, according to Mark Mayer, UW Extension agriculture agent, late Tuesday, June 25.

"Anywhere from six inches to three feet tall, depending upon whether it was planted late or early," he added.

The recent rains came at a good time, "fortunately," Mayer said. "We were getting pretty dry. The corn was suffering and starting to curl."

June is normally the month of heaviest rain fall, Mayer added. But normal is about 4.9 inches.

Mayer measured eight inches of rain in the past three days, with 3.75 inches Tuesday morning and 4 inches the day before. Overall, parts of the county received 3-8 inches.

"Mt. Hope Road still has eight inches across it, but it's not a major flooding - not as bad as I expected," Mayer said of the road in the far southeast corner of Green County.

It's also fortunate that the heavy rains didn't come 2-3 weeks earlier, before corn and soybeans had grown enough to create a canopy that helps prevent erosion, Mayer added.

This part of the state is also ahead of every other region for soybean planting and emergence, oat heading and first cut hay, the USDA reported.

Like every weather report, there's some good news and bad news. While crops sitting in the wet low-lying areas may be lost, those growing on high ground will benefit from the rains.

The rains will bring in "a good second cutting of hay," Mayer noted. But thunderstorms that brought heavy rain and strong winds in the last three days have pushed down some oats and other small grains. Taller plants with heavy heads are more susceptible, he added.

Oats in the state are about 28 percent headed, according to the USDA. South central and southwest area oats are at 70 and 62 percent. In the northwest and north central, most of the oats have still not headed. The five-year average is 52 percent.

The USDA reported first cutting alfalfa at 61 percent harvested across the state. Reports of quality were mixed, as some alfalfa had developed past the window of best feed quality before it could be cut. The second crop was reportedly coming in quickly.

The southwest and south central regions are 83-85 percent complete. Green County's first cutting is about done.

Taylor, Crawford, Richland, Columbia, Dane and Green counties have all reported flooding, and Mayer said the Pecatonica and Sugar rivers overflowing their banks could be expected with the extra rainfall.

Out in the fields, crops under water for 24 hours will be fine, Mayer said. However, he said crops under water 24-48 hours will show some damage; those under for more than 48 hours will asphyxiate.

Corn planting has ceased for most farmers, and some soybean planting may be prevented as well due to wet conditions, the USDA report stated. Farmers were reportedly considering alternative forages, as feed supplies remain tight. Some reports noted Wisconsin corn was yellow or stunted due to moisture stress. However, the crop was reportedly growing well due to warmer overnight temperatures.

USDA reported precipitation totals for last week ranging from 0.93 inch in Green Bay to 2.6 inches in Madison. Green Bay was 4.7 inches above normal and Madison 11.72 inches above. La Crosse was 9.6 inches above normal.

Reports from Waupaca and Dane counties noted excess moisture was affecting strawberry quality. Apples and other fruit trees were reportedly showing a heavy fruit set across the state.