UPDATED Friday, July 13, 2012 --- 4:35 p.m.
By: Barclay Pollak
Greg Bussler is the agency's Deputy Chief. He says each week NASS releases a progress report on the state's crops. Those numbers are unofficial. But they do give us a glimpse at what may come down the road.
Bussler says, " I suspect that the ratings will go down next week too because we haven't received any moisture over this week over a large portion of the state. "
If you compare last year to this year you really see how bad things are now. Last year at this time only 5% of the state's soybean and corn crop had a poor or very poor rating. This year 31%.
What may be even more disturbing is only 7% of corn and 5% of soybeans are in excellent condition.
" Last year we had the second largest corn yield in the state's history of 156 bushels per acre, says Bussler. " So it will be interesting to see. We'll be no where near that this year. "
Again these numbers are unofficial and things could turn around. But Bussler doesn't believe that's likely. The official numbers are due out August 10th.
UPDATED Friday, July 13, 2012 --- 7:40 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin farmers with dwindling feeds supplies due to drought-stricken fields are considering trucking their cattle to greener pastures to the north as the dry spell continues.
Dick Cates produces range-fed Angus and Jersey beef near Spring Green. Cates says difficult times demand creative solutions. He says it's not unheard of to move cattle around, but the Wisconsin farmer doesn't necessarily think in those terms. He says there's a lot of grass in northern Wisconsin and hay is getting very expensive.
Alfalfa, for the most part, has stopped growing in much of southern Wisconsin. Dane County extension agent Lee Jennings tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/NA6Rdf ) that some farmers are chopping corn early for silage and are planning to plant a second crop in its place, hoping for rain in the future.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com
Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.
UPDATED Thursday, July 12, 2012--6:10p.m.
DANE COUNTY--"This crop should be double the size, you shouldn't even be able to walk in between these rows," said Jerry Bradley, a farmer, as he walked through his corn crop.
Bradley says conditions haven't been this bad since 1988. "I lived through that and back then we got about half yields," he said. "And today I'd be happy with that. This is actually I think is worse than 1988 at this point."
The current drought is definitely affecting his corn and soybean crops.
"In your pods usually you would have about three beans in a pod," explained Bradley. "With this kind of heat and stress you'd be lucky if you have one bean in a pod."
And if we don't get rain soon--like within the next seven to ten days--Bradley said his corn crop could seriously suffer. "Corn right now is in a critical situation, it needs rain for pollination," he said. "If we don't get any moisture and that happens it could be literally a hundred percent wipe out, it really could be."
"All these plants are suffering, you know whether it's corn or soybeans or any of the other crops that are out there they're suffering quite a bit," said Lee Jennings, of Dane County U-W Extension. "And the ground is getting so dry that it's going to take a lot of rainfall to make any crop recover."
No one knows just how big the crop loss will be, but Jennings guesses it could very well be more than half.
Bradley at least has crop insurance, but for those that don't: "I would say if there are some farmers out there that don't have insurance and if we're looking at hundred percent losses I would say they're probably going to be in trouble," said Bradley.
Even if you're not a farmer--you will be feeling the affects of the drought too."Prices are going up now as we speak," said Bradley.
"You'll see prices go up, it will get back to the consumer eventually, if it gets to be any more severe."
Thursday, July 12, 2012--3:20p.m.
DANE COUNTY--Those that earn their living working the land are being especially hard hit by these dry conditions.
One area farmer tells us he hasn't seen conditions like this since 1988. He says back then they got about 50 percent yields on their crops. He says right now, he'd be happy if yields could hit that amount.
He calls the current situation very serious--and describes the next week or so as a critical stage.
"Corn right now is in a critical situation," said Jerry Bradley, a farmer in Sun Prairie. "It needs rain for pollination, as the plant tassels, that's the pollen that comes down to pollinate the silk that makes the kernels on the ear--and if we don't get any moisture and that happens it could be literally a hundred percent wipe out, it really could be."
While Bradley doesn't know yet how big his losses will be, he says he's expecting to lose in the six-figure range.