Wisconsin farmers find ways to adapt to wet weather

Published: Sep. 18, 2019 at 6:34 PM CDT
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Heavy rain and cold weather is to blame as farming experts are calling this the worst planting season to date, but some farmers plan to adapt.

Terry Parisi said she's never seen a planting season like this one. She explained the weather is unpredictable, but she plans to roll with the punches.

She has been planting organic crops for over a decade from sun up to sun down. With the heavy rain this season, she's just doing her best to stay afloat.

"It’s always good to get to the end of the season and see crops in the ground to feel like you've been productive, but it has been a tough year," she said.

Parisi saID the wet weather has a domino effect leading to an increase in bugs and weeds, and she’s losing crops because of it.

She’s growing her crops differently to combat the unpredictable weather. Potatoes are typically grown with a “trench and hill" method, but Parisi is going another route to avoid erosion.

"We’re not digging anything. We're just laying the potato on the ground and continuing to add wet hay. We're not destroying the structure at all," she said.

Crop experts said a relatively dry spring with an inch of rain a week is considered a "perfect" season, but Parisi said she’s not certain she'll see it any time soon.

Additionally, she’s growing some of her crops in a hoop house where she can control the climate.

"It’s very strong. It withstood pretty high winds,” she said. “It's covered in plastic and the sides go all the way up and you can enclose it and it can be a pretty secure environment in there so it doesn't get rain."

The wet weather isn’t a problem only in Wisconsin. Crop experts said farmers have seen similar issues across the Midwest.

"We’ve had a lot of issues getting crops planted on time. Many significant rainfall events in a cool growing season," Shawn Conley, UW Crops Expert said.

The uncertainty lingers as frost is the next concern for farmers. Experts said some crops won't make it to maturity due to the frigid temperatures.

"A killing frost slows down how the crop dries in the field and makes it more of a challenge to get the crop dried so growers can go in and put it in their bins," Conley said.

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