Moderate Drought expands into southern Wisconsin
UW Scientist: Lack of rain leads makes it easier to plant crops in the near-term. Persistent drought will create agricultural impacts.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The latest drought monitor has expanded the D1 (Moderate Drought) zone into much of south-central Wisconsin. To-date, Madison has received less than half of average April rainfall. Most of southern Wisconsin is in a similar situation. The drier than average April has led to a short-term Moderate Drought. According to USDA statistics, about 21% of Wisconsin topsoil is dry or very dry.
UW Associate Scientist Jason Otkin says the drier conditions aren’t necessarily bad for farmers right now. As a matter of fact, it can be easier to plant crops when the soil is drier. But, if the drought persists into May or even June, impacts will start to crop up. “If the crop is sitting in dry soil, it’s not going to germinate. It’s not going to grow. It’s going to go down-hill really fast”.
According to Otkin, the drought of 2012 is by far the worst in recent memory. Barely any rain fell over the hot summer. There’s no indication that will happen this year. During the month of April, southern Wisconsin should see about an inch of rain per week. In order to get back on-track, we’ll need to see that and a bit more in order to fight back on the deficit.
Luckily, there’s some more rain in the forecast next week. Models suggest that may start to eat at our rainfall deficit.
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