Approaching rain poses farming risks

By: Max Hess - Email
By: Max Hess - Email

Posted Thursday, August 28, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

Just outside of Belleville lies a quiet, peaceful farm.

On that farm, you'll find Becky Olson.

"I love it, absolutely love it," she said, adding "the days are long and I won't say I never get frustrated but it's definitely something I enjoy doing."

Becky has been on the farm for 10 years now.

"Of course we do feel lucky to live here...everyday I'm grateful for the chance to be out here," she said.

As much she loves her job, something is always on her mind -- the weather.

"It really matters, we watch your forecasts with great detail and interest," she explained.

A rainy stretch coming up this weekend and the month of August with above average rainfall makes for tough farming.

"Really it's the timing of the rain, and the amount of rain...how hard it falls, whether it's gentle... if you have too much rain all at once, that's not a good thing," Olson said.

Shawn Conley with UW-Madison's agronomy department knows where the ideal amount should be.

"If we could an inch to an inch and a half of rain every single week... that would be perfect."

The month of August was so inconsistent it made farming especially hard.

On August 4th, for example, Madison saw 1.74 inches of rain in a day... followed by weeks of close to none at all.

"We're working with all of this climate change and all these variability models and it's very weather dependent, very site specific," Conley explained -- meaning for people like Becky Olson, it's a wet poker game.

"You know we're never happy...we always want it to be perfect."


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