February 9, 2016

Drought conditions damaging crops

With almost no rain over the past month, Dave Hansen with the State Ag Department says crops in the southern part of the state are in rough shape. And, if rain does not come for the region soon, he says there could be widespread crop losses in the region.

Hansen says corn planted in late-May is now “burning up” in many fields, with the leaves turning brown. Even corn crops planted earlier in the season have started to tassel, which could damage their development.

Governor Walker has officially declared a state of emergency in 42 Wisconsin counties due to drought or abnormally dry conditions. The move will allow for expedited permits for farmers to use stream or lake water for irrigation. Farmers are also being asked to report crop conditions to their local U.S. Farm Services Agency office.

While the rain would be helpful for saving many of those fields, Hansen says he is concerned that it might not be enough to save many crops that are past the breaking point now. He says what’s really needed is several days of sustained rain, rather than brief summer storms.

The recent heat has likely damaged crops, although Hansen notes that if rain levels were normal, conditions would be almost ideal for this time of year.

DATCP can offer advice on dealing with the dry conditions, and is also trying to make it easier for farmers who need to find feed for livestock. Farmers are urged to contact the agency or UW-Extension offices for assistance. Counseling is also available for those dealing with extra stress or financial problems brought on by the dry weather.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:04)

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